After being introduced to the public in the early part of the 21st Century, electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) or ‘vapes’ as they are now widely known, have skyrocketed in popularity.

Is this because of the appeal to smokers as a safer way to get their nicotine hit? Or has its adoption by the bearded hipsters made it now the seemingly cool thing to do?

An independent survey revealed that 94% of people asked felt that e-cigarettes had become more than just an aid for a smoker to inevitably stop smoking. Instead it is widely felt that e-cigarettes have become something much more, its own subculture known as ‘vaping’.

Jack Hobbs, an employee at Steam Machine Portsmouth, stated “vaping has become more than just stopping smoking, it’s become a hobby, a community.”

So what’s the appeal? Nine months prior, the managing director of Steam Machine, Paul Cheapé, was selling e-cigarette fluids out of a bedroom. Five months later, he was turning over £10,000 a month, which has enabled Steam Machine to become the name on every vapers lips within Portsmouth. With a personal license already obtained, Paul hopes to have a bar up and running by January, complete with Xboxes and projectors.

“Vaping has become a subculture” Paul began. “Other shops just sell the basics and have little knowledge about the products. We source the world for the best flavours, and have staff capable of fixing any problems with your item.” The pride Paul felt for his business was clear. “We have a lounge for people to come in and try flavours, and a back area to have modifications done to your kit. We’re a lounge more than a shop.”

Surely then, it can be very daunting for someone who is trying to stop smoking to enter this community?

Paul countered this notion by stating, “the customers we receive are a 50/50 split. People come in here knowing what they want, others come in because they want a safer alternative to smoking and maybe don’t know where to begin. That why I always make sure I have someone on the door ready to help”.

One doesn’t have to look far on the internet to find various videos of people producing vast clouds of steam, or others producing videos mocking it. Of course, as with everything in today’s society, it is easy to find a wealth of memes poking fun at those who choose to partake in the vaping culture.

Yet Paul treats this mockery as nothing more than light-hearted banter. “I don’t mind it, it’s part of being a subculture, every subculture gets their fair share of abuse”.

So then are the people who are interested in places like these, those who are looking for a safe alternative to smoking, or is there the chance that people who have never smoked before find the massive plumes of vapour that can be produced appealing?

In the beginning, those who wished to stop smoking were faced with no more than tobacco or menthol flavour. Now flavours range from Monster’s ‘Rossi’ energy drink to the much love cocktail ‘sex on the beach’. This gulf in flavours is sure to only increase the appeal to those who wish to go smoke-free and also to those looking for a new hobby.

There are growing fears however, that many people do not realise that when they take up this hobby. they are still inhaling nicotine, which is the main cause of addiction amongst smokers. Due to this; as of 2016, e-cigarettes are set to undergo strict regulations and be treated as either tobacco or medical products, which could see a change in the way many people treat ‘vaping’.

However, an expert independent review published by the Public Health England (PHE) has concluded that E-cigarettes are 95% (at closest estimate) less harmful than smoking.

In conclusion it would appear that e-cigarettes have created this vaping culture that accepts previous and non-smokers alike. And whilst the health implications are as yet still unclear, it certainly seems to be a successful vice to aid those who wish to wean themselves off tobacco based products and is a culture that doesn’t look like disappearing anytime soon.

By Ryan Foy – December 04, 2015



One in four e-cigs will be banned in Britain next year after being branded too strong in European Court ruling



One in four e-cigs will be banned in Britain next year after being branded too strong in European Court ruling

  • Experts are concerned that e-cigs are gateway for teens to smoke tobacco

  • Under new EU directive e-cigs will have to carry a health warning on them

  • New rules, in May, could also see cigarettes only sold in packets of 20

  • Around 2.6 million adults in UK have used e-cigs in the past decade

By Ben Spencer – December 23, 2015

A quarter of e-cigarettes are set to be banned in Britain next year after Europe’s highest court paved the way for tough new regulations.

Juliane Kokott, advocate general to the European Court of Justice, warned that e-cigarettes may act as a ‘gateway’ for teenagers to go on to smoke tobacco.

Dr Kokott, the EU’s most senior legal officer, said regulation is needed because of ‘possible risks to human health’.

Her intervention will have huge implications for the debate currently raging between health experts in Britain, some of whom insist that e-cigarettes will save thousands of lives, and others who are concerned that they have not yet been proven to be safe.

Dr Kokott said an industry challenge against the new rules – which are due to be introduced in May as part of a new EU directive – should be dismissed.

Judges at the court will have the final say when they deliver a ruling in March.

If they take Dr Kokott’s advice, and dismiss industry objections, vaping devices will no longer be allowed to contain more than 20 mg of nicotine per ml of liquid.

Analysis by London Economics, a policy consultancy, suggests that 25 per cent of the gadgets currently on sale use liquid stronger than this threshold.

The EU Tobacco Products Directive will also mean adverts have to be much more strictly regulated so that teenagers are not targeted.

E-cigarettes will have to carry health warnings telling people they contain a ‘highly addictive substance’.

And the size of refills and of the ‘tanks’ on the gadgets will also be limited for the first time.

Dr Kokott also said that a separate challenge from big tobacco firms over plain packaging for cigarette boxes should be dismissed, paving the way for rules to be brought in from May.

If that change goes through, cigarette packets will only be sold in boxes of 20, the packets will only allowed to be brown or green, and will carry a health warning covering 65 per cent of the box.

E-cigarettes contain a liquid form of nicotine that is heated into vapour to be inhaled, avoiding the harm caused by tobacco smoke.

Industry figures yesterday warned that the new rules will mean vapers are ‘outlawed’ and may go back to smoking if they cannot get the strongest e-cigarettes – but health charities say it is right that emerging industry is properly regulated.

Health experts agree that the devices are much safer than smoking tobacco – but some are concerned about unresolved safety concerns.

The World Health Organisation has warned that they may be toxic to bystanders, many rail companies have banned people from vaping on trains or in stations, and the Welsh Government is planning to prohibit the practice in restaurants, pubs and offices from 2017.

Yet Public Health England claimed in a report earlier this year that vaping was ‘95 per cent safe’ – a claim that was widely criticised when it emerged that it originated with scientists in the pay of the e-cigarette industry.

Dr Kokott said in a written ‘opinion’ presented to the court yesterday: ‘It is not manifestly wrong or unreasonable to accept that e-cigarettes possibly cause risks to human health and that that product could — above all in the case of adolescents and young adults — develop into a gateway to nicotine addiction and, ultimately, traditional tobacco consumption.’

Around 2.6 million adults in Britain have used e-cigarettes in the decade or so that they have been on the market.

Public health experts are keen to promote the gadgets as a smoking-cessation tool.

But they are concerned that the devices are being advertised as a lifestyle accessory – in much the same way that tobacco was in the past.

Ian Gregory, who runs the 100K group of e-cigarette companies, threatened that vapers would feel ‘outlawed’ – and would vote to leave the EU in a bid to rid themselves of the regulation.

He said: ‘Britain’s vapers are determined to save the devices which they believe save their lives.

‘They will now start playing a game of Brexit Poker with the Commission – threatening to vote for Britain to leave the EU in the referendum unless the Commission insists on Britain having an opt-out.

‘There is little awareness yet among politicians as to just how damaging the EU Tobacco Products Directive could be for the e-cigarette industry.’

He claimed that the ban on stronger e-liquid would drive so many vapers back to smoking that it would cost 105,000 lives every year across Europe.

But Alison Cox, director of prevention at Cancer Research UK, said regulation is needed.

‘We believe e-cigarettes need light touch regulations which will help guarantee products are safe and effective, and prevent them being promoted to non-smokers and children,’ she said.

‘But the implementation of these regulations needs to be monitored to ensure that they don’t prevent smokers who want to use e-cigarettes from doing so. It’ s important that people who want to, are able to move away from tobacco cigarettes, which are responsible for one in four cancer deaths.’

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of health charity Action on Smoking and Health, added: ‘Growing numbers of governments around the world are banning the sale of electronic cigarettes.

‘The EU, by regulating them as consumer products, and allowing their sale and use, is recognising the value of these products as alternatives to smoking.’

Totally Wicked, the Blackburn-based e-cigarette company which headed the legal objection, last night played down the significance of the document.

Fraser Cropper, Totally Wicked’s managing director, said: ‘This is not a formal decision, nor a legal judgement on the questions we raised in our challenge.

‘It is a legal opinion prepared to assist the judges in making their decision and will be considered alongside the written and oral submissions. It is not binding.’

One in four e-cigs will be banned in Britain next year after being branded too strong in European Court ruling