Not too long ago, the electronic cigarette, or e-cigarette, was viewed as a novelty item sold in smoke shops and convenience stores. Yet according to a 2011 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 21 percent of adults who smoke traditional cigarettes have tried the electronic ones, and that was up from 10 percent the year before.
“E-cigarette use is growing rapidly,” said CDC director Tom Frieden in a February 2013 release that announced the results of the survey.
The reason so many people giving these alternatives are a try is simple: to help them quit the real things. One survey in Britain found that 27 percent of smokers who said they were trying to quit had used electronic cigarettes for that purpose.
In a clinical study to measure the e-cigarette’s effectiveness against other nicotine replacement methods, like the patch, showed that it yielded some positive results.
The study involved 292 subjects who relied on electronic cigarettes containing a nicotine cartridge, 73 who used the device without a nicotine cartridge, and 292 who were given nicotine patches. The subjects were all adult smokers who smoked at least 10 cigarettes a day for the previous year and expressed a desire to quit.
Six months after the test started, 7.3 percent of those with the nicotine-filled electronic cigarettes were able to refrain from smoking, 5.8 percent of those with nicotine patches were able to quit, and 4.1 percent of the subjects who were given the nicotine-less e-cigarettes had successfully quit. Additionally, 57 percent of the volunteers who received electronic cigarettes with nicotine but did not quit were able to cut their regular cigarette use in half.
How E-Cigarettes Work
The electronic cigarette is a tube-shaped device, sometimes designed to look like a real cigarette. The device heats up nicotine liquids using a battery, and the liquids inside the device then turn to vapor that is inhaled to deliver nicotine to the body, giving the feeling and sensation of smoking a real cigarette; only without the smoke. For this reason, it is believed by many to be much healthier than the alternative of inhaling the smoke from a regular tobacco cigarette (usually laced with hundreds of toxic chemicals).
The product’s lack of smoke also produces no odor so the user’s clothing and hair do not smell like cigarette smoke, nor does the air surrounding the person using the electronic cigarette.
It is estimated that revenue from electronic cigarettes will be between $1 billion and $1.7 billion this year and according to Bloomberg, sales of these devices could surpass traditional cigarettes by the year 2047. Much of this growth is expected to come from suppliers’ ability to advertise the e-cigarette, something that tobacco companies cannot do. Cost also plays a big role. “Our products are usually about a third of the cost [of traditional cigarettes],” said Andries Verleur, CEO and co-founder of electronic cigarette manufacturer V2 Cigs. But that might change he said, as future taxes may cause prices to increase. However, he said, in 90 percent of all markets that has not yet happened.
Further studies on how much electronic cigarettes can benefit someone looking to quit smoking will likely determine how much tax, and government regulation, this newest craze will receive in the future.