Our last blog post dealt extensively with a number of Big Tobacco companies opening vape shops ostensibly for the purposes of educating consumers about vaping as a smoking alternative. In light of the information contained in that post, we want to take the opportunity of this piece to address some information out of the US that is somewhat disturbing: many Americans apparently do not know what is actually in cigarette smoke. It’s probably safe to say that at least some Britons are in the same position.
A UPI story dated 7 December (2016) says that a national survey of American teens and adults reveals they have very little understanding of the chemical constituents of cigarette smoke. Even more troubling is the fact that up to 72% of survey respondents mistakenly believe that it is the additives tobacco companies put in their products that are responsible for the deadliest chemicals and carcinogens found in smoke.
Why is this a problem? Because one of the latest marketing tactics coming from Big Tobacco is highlighting the elimination of tobacco additives. They are playing on the ignorance of consumers to put forth the notion that their products are less dangerous because additives are being removed.
The Problem Is Combustion
Those of us in the vaping industry have long maintained that one of the most important advantages of vaping as a smoking alternative is that it does not involve combustion. The reason behind this is as simple as understanding that it is combustion that creates the majority of the problems associated with smoking.
Combustion is a process that alters the chemical make-up of the substance being burned through the process of oxidation. The reduction-oxidation reaction of combustion is that which separates leaf tobacco into separate chemical components that are then transformed, through heat, into deadly chemicals and carcinogens. Therefore, the problem with leaf tobacco is not the additives they contain; it is the fact that combustion is required to deliver nicotine.
The combustion process is so chemically altering as to be dangerous to human health no matter what is being burned. This is why firefighters wear oxygen tanks and masks when entering a burning building. It is just as dangerous to inhale smoke from a structure fire as the smoke produced by burning cigarettes. The simple truth is that combustion is bad. If people don’t understand this, it makes it more difficult for them to understand why burning tobacco is so dangerous.
Vaping Bypasses Combustion
A lack of knowledge about the constituents of tobacco smoke is certainly something to be alarmed about. But it’s also an open door for the vaping industry to more clearly define the differences between our products and those of Big Tobacco. It is an opportunity for us to more aggressively promote the differences between vaping and smoking by clearly defining the constituents of cigarette smoke versus e-cigarette vapour.
This sort of outreach should include an explanation of atomisation. As we all know, the personal vaporiser transforms e-liquid into an aerosol mist through the process of atomisation. We also know that atomisation does not change the chemical make-up of e-liquid as long as the vaporiser is working according to specifications.
What is atomisation, you ask? It is the process of transforming a liquid into a vapour using either pressure or heat. Atomisation is what turns that household cleaner from a liquid state into a mist by forcing it through a high-pressure nozzle. Personal vaporisers accomplish the same thing by introducing heat. It’s no different than creating steam by putting a saucepan on the cooker.
By eschewing the combustion process in favour of atomisation, the vaping industry’s products make it possible for current and former smokers to continue enjoying the same kind of experience without exposing them to the thousands of toxic chemicals and carcinogens we already know exist in cigarette smoke.
Ignorance Is the Real Danger
In the ongoing discussion over whether vaping is as dangerous as smoking or not, one thing is clear: ignorance is the real danger. One can see proof of this by looking at the attitudes toward vaping as found in both the UK and the US.
We are fortunate in the UK to have made such positive progress over the last several years. It wasn’t too long ago that the future of vaping was looking grim here thanks to punitive regulations written by the EU. But we have overcome those regulations with scientific study and facts. As a result, the vaping industry enjoys tremendous support here in the UK. That support includes millions of current and former smokers who have gladly switched to vaping.
Things are remarkably different across the Pond. In the US, current and former smokers are much more likely to believe misinformation suggesting that vaping is as dangerous as smoking, if not more so. Despite the fact that there are now more than 3 million vapers in the US, millions more have decided not to make the switch for fear that they will be doing something more harmful.
The biggest problem for the vaping industry in America is consumer ignorance. The fact that so many don’t even understand the dangers of smoking, despite decades of education, is undoubtedly stunting the growth of vaping in a country that should be leading the charge. Perhaps it’s time for those of us in the vaping industry to get back to the basics.