New ‘vaping’ trend the future of recreational society?

“Vaping bars” are becoming the hot new trend for smokers and non-smokers alike. (Image:

According to a 2013 survey by Wells Fargo, the US investment bank, the answer is yes. They believe that e-cigarettes will be outselling conventional cigarettes within a decade.

The idea for the electronic cigarette was developed by China National Tobacco Co., the largest tobacco company in the world, in 2003. Since then, the market has skyrocketed, with all the major tobacco groups including Altria, British American Tobacco Company (BAT) and Imperial Tobacco jumping on the bandwagon. The e-cigarette market is estimated to be worth £91.3 million a year.

E-cigarettes have been described by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as “electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). They are devices that do not burn or use tobacco leaves but instead vaporise a solution the user then inhales.”

The term “vaping” comes from the action of inhaling the vaporised solution, or “e-juice”, which has now become a growing underground scene where ex-smokers and nonsmokers alike gather in “vaping bars” to experiment with different flavours and models. Manufacturers of “e-juice” currently have free reign to decide the quantities of liquid nicotine in each e-cigarette. There are currently 8,000 flavours on the market, including fruit, candy and alcoholic drinks. WHO have called for a ban on these flavours and adverts that could encourage non-smokers and teenagers to use these devices.

E-cigarettes can be manufactured to look like ordinary cigarettes, household objects or novelty objects such as pens or USB sticks. The e-cigarette modification (modding) world is growing rapidly with a wide network of modding community forums spreading via the Internet, enabling its users to share images and ideas for their own e-cig creations. 

Smokio, a Paris-based company, have recently launched the world’s first smart e-cigarette. The model has a seven hour battery life which can be recharged and synchronised with your smart phone. The latest, and most expensive “e-cig mod” at €59.90, summarises the impact on the health of the user, calculates how many real cigarettes the user would have smoked had they not switched to the electronic version, thus showing how much money they have saved, and compares the user’s life expectancy before and after the switch from traditional tobacco products. 

The popularity of e-cigarettes stems from clever marketing campaigns which convince the consumer that by switching to e-cigarettes they have a greater chance of giving up smoking tobacco. It might be surprising to know that evidence proving that e-cigarettes are a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes is still incomplete and unverified. WHO argues that the consumer is being guided under false pretences. For the 6th Conference of the Parties (COP) meeting which will be held from 13-18 October 2014 in Moscow, the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) will be on the agenda. The meeting will focus specifically on the issue of e-cigarettes in the hope of implementing a minimum age of 18 for purchasing e-cigarettes and setting a legal standard for the ingredient measurements. 

The world is divided on the use of e-cigarettes, since the health benefits are yet to be realised. Chicago and New York City decided to ban the use of e-cigarettes in public places in April this year. As a result, a “vape-in” was staged in Play, the bar in New York City’s Museum of Sex, with many arguing that the ban was counter-productive since many e-smokers would now be more likely return to their traditional nicotine habits.

Advocates of e-cigarettes celebrated World Vaping Day in March 2012, and this year’s event was held on 18 September. Whether the regulations on “vaping” will be implemented, or whether they will even have much effect on the growing e-cig modding phenomena, is yet to be known…Watch this space!