Can e-cigarette replace traditional cigarette?
In early 1930, Joseph Robinson was granted with a patent for electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) in the first documented reference. But it was never commercialized and it’s unclear whether a prototype was built. Then, in the 1960s, Herbert A. Gilbert created the first device that closely resembled the modern e-cigarette and received a patent in 1965. He managed to create prototypes but failed to commercialize it. Later in 1979, one of the pioneers of computers, Phil Ray, along with his personal physician Norman Jacobson created the first commercialized variation on the e-cigarette. But then it was not actually electronic.
During the 1990s and early 2000s, numerous patents for nicotine inhaler device were filed by both tobacco companies and individual inventors. Only a few of them were fairly similar to modern e-cigarettes. Only after 2003, in Beijing, China what would become the very first commercially successful e-cigarettes was created. Hon Lik, a 52 years old pharmacist, inventor and smoker was the man responsible for this creation. The death of his father, also a heavy smoker, caused by lung cancer inspired him to create the device. Golden Dragon Holdings, the company Lik worked for then developed the device and changed its name to Ruyan, which means “like smoke”. Finally, since April 2006 e-cigarette was introduced to Europe and exported throughout the globe. (Gardner,2017).
Over the past several decades, traditional cigarette smoking among youth and young adults in the United States shows sign of decreasing according to Pesko (2017). However, recently, their use of e-cigarettes are growing. In 2014, e-cigarettes overtook cigarettes as the most commonly used tobacco product among youth (Miech et al., 2014). Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, are defined as products that are designed to provide nicotine, flavor, and other chemicals using battery.
Many smokers want to quit smoking. They are sick of trying patches that doesn’t work or taking pills that don’t give them quite the hit they need to make it through the stressful day without a ‘real’ cigarette. Now, they have the chance to quit smoking but still enjoying the huffing and puffing of smokes by replacing it with e-cigarette. But compared to ordinary cigarettes, people are still unfamiliar with e-cigarette according to Vaping Daily (2018).
There are many factors that need to be taken into consideration before smokers switch to e-cigarette. So the question that has been raised by many is can e-cigarette replace traditional cigarette? This paper will discuss the possibility of e-cigarette replacing traditional cigarette from social, health, legal and economic perspective.
2.0 Social Perspective
The social perspective argues that the smoke from either traditional cigarette or e-cigarette will not only affect the smokers or vapers directly but it may cause harm to others as well. Users and others may experience secondhand or thirdhand exposures through direct physical contact with product components or inhaling secondhand aerosol (Callahan-Lyon,2013). Smokers interacts with public every single day. They smoke at the doorway, at a cafeteria and even other public places.
Eventhough e-cigarette contains lower chemicals, but it produces more smoke than a traditional cigarette. Callahan-Lyon (2013) stated that e-cigarettes have the potential for significant impact on public health and share suggestion from Barrington-Trimis (2015). So, the public cannot ignore and pretend nothing happens. Barrington-Trimis (2015) suggests that parents should inform their children that while research into the health effects of e-cigarettes is still in its babyhood, nicotine is known to impact the developing brains of the youngsters. Parents also should be aware if their teens are spending time with someone who uses this device. The chemicals and odour were still attached to their shirts, pants or bags.
Peer influence is one of the factors that should not be ruled out. According to Seaman (2015), teenagers and young smokers are more likely use e-cigarettes to be seen cool or acceptable. They felt their peers were more likely to accept their e-cigarette use rather than traditional cigarette use. Argument from Wilson et al., (2016) reveals that close exposure to e-cigarette might trigger people who have quit recently to relapse to smoking. Usually, people who are back smoking will smoke even more and becomes harder to quit the second time.
Active involvement in society will help to decrease smoking problem. Busy activities can help to take their minds off from smoking. Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) are willing and eager to help smokers to quit and replace it with the e-cigarette. Plenty of programs can be organized to help smokers identify their smoking triggers by tracking when they smoke and what flavour they prefer. E-cigarette is known to have more variety of flavours that suit the smoker’s taste.
Unlike the traditional one, e-cigarette offers soothing and variable smells. The smokes from tobacco produce an unpleasant smell. Tan and Bigman (2014) stated that diffusion of innovation and behaviour change theories making it easier to explain how awareness of harmfulness caused by e-cigarettes could influence cessation-related psychosocial factors (e.g., outcome expectancies, subjective norms, and self-efficacy to use e-cigarettes to quit smoking) and finally cessation behaviour.
Advertisement of cessation products could influence smokers to quit. (Tan and Bigman, 2014). But then, this is a multi-million dollar business. E-cigarette company are trying hard to increase or at least maintain their profit. Feldman (2014) stated that e-cigarette companies have also engaged in a battle over the social acceptance and meaning of vaping. Public health advocates had worked for years promoting the view that smoking was an unappealing, anti-social, smelly habit and that smokers were weirdos to counter the tobacco industry’s valorization of smoking.
3.0 Health Perspective
Looking from the health perspective, e-cigarette seems less harmful than traditional cigarette to the smoker’s health. That is why young smokers prefer it. The risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, lung-related illness and cancers can be avoided. But does people really believe in it? There was still not enough evidence to support this claim. Many researches have been conducted to confirm this, but still no confirmation had been made. E-cigarette aerosol may contain less toxicants than cigarette smoke but scientific studies are still lacking (Callahan-Lyon,2013). But still, it contains chemicals. E-cigarette still contains chemicals that may seriously affect the smoker’s health (Callahan-Lyon,2013). Obviously, chemicals are harmful to people’s health.
Beside themselves, the smokers should consider others in their community. They should not think only for themselves. The health impact to the public (non-user) and environmental concerns exist. Users acknowledge that e-cigarettes may ‘not be completely safe’ and are ‘addictive’ but believe they are safer and less addictive than cigarettes (Goniewicz et al.,2013). Many people find second-hand aerosols from nearby e-cigarette activity to be a nuisance regardless of the potential health risks. It is because the e-cigarettes can include strong flavours and leave pungent smells. Many vapers smoke freely indoors especially at the shopping mall. Indoors smoking are far more dangerous especially inside crowded building. The smoke are going nowhere except being inhale by the non-smokers. It will get worse because of the air conditioning.
Effect to non-smokers should be considered seriously. Toddlers are the one who will be easily affected by the smokes. Wilson et al., (2016) argues that by allowing the use of e-cigarettes indoors of public places, may encourage smokers to replace their traditional cigarette, making it relatively more attractive as vaping would be allowed where traditional smoking is not. Second, it could minimize any discomfort that e-cigarette users may experience from smoke withdrawal when being in crowded places. Actually smoking traditional and e-cigarette look similar since both activities produce visible smoke exhaled from smokers after they have drawn on a cigarette or device.
4.0 Legal Perspective
From the legal perspective, there are no clear or specific regulations impose on the use of e-cigarette in any countries worldwide. The authority bodies still not ready to consider e-cigarette as a consumer product just like traditional cigarette. They still need to define e-cigarette. What makes e-cigarettes distinctive is the rapid emergence of an uncommonly crowded legal and regulatory web. As the result of partially, the lack of scientific and clinical data on the behavioral and health consequences of e-cigarettes, without which policymakers can justify a wide range of legal intervention contributes to the dense fabric of e-cigarette law and regulation. A few years ago, it was impossible to envision that e-cigarettes would become a popular consumer product worldwide. They seems so fake, so not original and who would have thought the idea of sucking on a piece of plastic, inhaling an addictive substance, and exhaling an ephemeral vapor will be acceptable globally?
Due to inadequacy of widespread scientific agreement of the health impact and the absence of shared social norms of e-cigs, causes divergent types of e-cigarette regulations promoted by international bodies, local and national government, industry, and small private enterprises (Feldman, 2014). To implement certain rules, especially to a new product or lifestyle is not that easy. E-cigarette regulation clearly reflects a set of well-establishes institutional opportunities and constraints. (Feldman, 2014).
The ability of the regulator to describe the product first before they can regulate it is the one most initial challenge (Feldman, 2014). E-cigarette receives better treatment than its counterpart. The legal prohibitions on most tobacco advertising and sponsorship do not apply to e-cigarettes, hence the spending on e-cigarette advertising are increasing. (Feldman, 2014).
Certain types of regulation, such as age restrictions, bans on use in certain settings, taxation should be impose as it is similar to traditional cigarette (Feldman, 2014). There should be enforcement officer to patrol and monitor in public places especially non-smoking zone. Just like the prohibitions on the traditional cigarette, the same should apply to e-cigarette. There were evidence suggests that many smokers themselves support smoke-free zone.
5.0 Economic Perspective
The economic perspective, view that comparison of cost between traditional cigarette and e-cigarette are one of the factors that will affect the smoker’s choice. Amato and Boyle (2016) reveals that initial cost for e-cigarette are higher. The cost includes the tank, charger, battery, coil and flavour. But then, smokers can buy cheaper flavour for refill. Unlike the traditional ones where smokers just have to light their cigarette when they need to smoke. It is disposable, which means smokers cannot reuse the same stick again. However, e-cigarette can be refill. E-cigarette starter kit will last at least a year despite a higher initial cost (Control, 2017).
Therefore, for a longer period of time, e-cigarette are far more cheaper than the traditional cigarette. This is why Amato and Boyle (2016) boldly claims that e-cigarette are economic substitutes as the relatively higher cigarette price increase caused e-cigarette use to increase short-term. Smokers can even share refill flavours with other smokers. Besides that, they can switch to other flavours and scent regularly without worrying about their pack of cigarette become moldy. The tank can be use over and over again.
A pack of cigarette are more expensive than a refill cartridge according to Pesko and Warman (2017). Smoking quantity can be reduce when using e-cigarette as it is a customizable device. Traditional cigarette, for example, have a limited airflow and hard for smokers to modify it. Most e-cigarette devices can be adjusted allowing the user to change the airflow manually-high and low. David (2017) explained that the higher airflow can reduce the amount of juice needed, because it remains on the coils. However, by using lower airflow, smokers gain more flavour from their devices. That’s the great thing about e-cigarette.
Pesko and Warman (2017) also found no evidence of either cigarette or e-cigarette prices influencing extensive margin cigarette use. Based on their research, they suggested that while e-cigarette taxes will reduce youth use of e-cigarettes, those that smoke will smoke more.
The disadvantage of e-cigarette is obviously the battery. The device is battery dependent. Without battery e-cigarette is unable to operate. Just like any other electronic appliances, the battery needs to be charged. So, indirectly the users need to pay for electricity bill. As published in VapingDaily (2018), based on the report by Hall (2017), the danger with e-cigarette is the exploding batteries. We often heard about such tragedies nowadays. Direct property damage due to exploding batteries of e-cigarette are commonly occur (BBC, 2014; USFA, 2014; Durmowicz, 2014). This will cost even higher extra money.
Simpler traditional cigarette doesn’t involve any batteries. Property damage due to traditional cigarette are rarely heard. Compared to e-cigarette, destruction or burnt caused by traditional cigarette is merely an isolated case. VapingDaily (2018) stated that determined by ASTM Standard E2187-04, the strength of the ignition or ember in cigarettes had to be reduced, making sure dropped cigarettes would not combust anything else.
Traditional cigarette prices strongly correlate with cigarette taxes. No exception for e-cigarette. High taxes one-cigarette will surely increase the price. This will affect the purchasing power among the youth and lower working class community. These are the people that smokes a lot. Majority of smokers come from this section of society. There were probably plenty of counterfeit, low standard devices in the black market, but the life spans of those devices are questionable. Similar to other type of counterfeit goods, surely the quality is not on par with the originals that have undergoes certain testing and meet requirements needed.
6.0 Writer’s Stance
E-cigarette will most likely be the most popular substitute for traditional cigarette. Unlike other cessation products that doesn’t involves any exhaling of smoke, e-cigarette emulating the style of the traditional one. E-cigarette are better than traditional cigarette in term of cost and health. The loosened regulations on e-cigarette gives more freedom to the users to enjoy it.
Unlike the youth, the veteran smokers will probably have a harder time to accept the new style of smoking. It is easier to just burn the tip of the cigarette with the lighter and throw it away when they’re done. They don’t have to worry about the maintenance of the intricate device. They don’t care about style or trying to follow the trends. Even worse, e-cigarettes lacked certain qualities that made traditional cigarettes so popular among older people, like the ritual of lighting up with lighter or match stick, the scent of smoke, and the aesthetic of a smoke filled room, but had the drawback of containing addictive quantities of nicotine.
For long term, e-cigarette can be a substitute for smokers to quit their habit. By switching to e-cigarette, they can save more money. Since e-cigarette contains far lower mixture of chemicals and less toxicants than the traditional cigarette, the health risk is lower. No more worries for critical diseases. This will indirectly expand their life expectancies. Environment will probably be less polluted and becomes a better place to live for everyone. E-cigarette can become a symbol for transition, from higher to lower risk and healthier living.
E-cigarette are being viewed as a rival or replacement for traditional cigarette due to the comparative advantages. It may be associated with the current smoker’s cessation intention or quit attempts. The advertising exposure and recall of cessation products played an important role influencing the smoker’s quit intentions. There are plenty of cessation products in the market. E-cigarette companies are competing with all these products to lure new prospects. Competing on the price alone is very challenging as others production’s cost were far lower.
Most of the studies shows that e-cigarette are better than traditional cigarette in many aspects. All the advantages and disadvantages of e-cigarette have been discussed from all the four different perspectives. We view it from the four most significant perspectives such as social, health, legal and economic. From the social perspective, since both activities smoking traditional cigarette and using e-cigarette involve the emissions of smoke cloud, surely these acts would affects the surrounding especially if done indoors. Directly or indirectly, it may cause harm to other’s health. Toddlers, pregnant ladies and older people are more likely to be at higher risk. Peer pressure is one of the main factor that contributes to high usage of e-cigarette among the youth smokers. They wanted to be seen cool and trendy.
The health perspective covered the impact of e-cigarette to users health compared to the traditional cigarette. E-cigarette contains lesser quantity of toxicants and chemicals making it safer and less addictive. This what motivates the smokers intention to make a switch. Of course it is still not confirmed yet. There should be more clinical and scientific test to prove this theory. Switching from traditional cigarette to using e-cigarette may decline the user harm and act as a lower risk substitute. Bear in mind that the degree of harm reduction is still uncertain due to lack of full and proper clinical research regarding the effect of e-cigarette to user’s health.
The third perspective, legal conclude that authorities that are considering policies to restrict its use should consider the optimal regulation of e-cigarette devices, including redefining where the activity may occur. Plus, the legal ban on most tobacco advertising and sponsorship do not apply to e-cigarettes, thus the e-cigarette companies going all out to promote their products. They redouble their efforts to exploit this current situation before it changes.
The last perspective is the most influential factor for smokers in determining their choice whether to stick with the traditional cigarette or the modern one. E-cigarette may cost higher initially because of the starter kit. But then, it could last at least a year or even more if the user regularly maintains their device. It all depend of the habit and behaviour of the user. Apart from that, e-cigarette are expose to property damage cause by explosion of its batteries. Traditional cigarette can cause fire too if the cigarette butt was thrown to flammable material as a result of human carelessness. But the tragedy involving e-cigarette is beyond human control. There are pros and cons between those two but the advantages seem to leaning toward e-cigarette. Lastly, with all the theories that have been presented, just let the real smokers decide what they want.