Another View: Taxing e-cigarettes will backfire on public health

A man exhales vapor from an e-cigarette in New York. There are moves in California to tax and regulate e-cigarettes the same as tobacco products.

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All You Need to Know About the Vaper’s Tongue

Vaper’s tongue… it doesn’t sound too pleasant, does it? The good news is it’s not a medical condition. The bad news is, it still isn’t that pleasant to have.

So what exactly is it? Well, it’s basically a situation where you stop sensing the flavour in whatever e-liquid you are using. Let’s say you’ve bought a nice mint e-liquid to use. At first you can taste it fine, but after a while you realise you can’t actually taste anything at all. This is vaper’s tongue.

Except that isn’t actually an accurate name. The proper name for the experience is olfactory fatigue. As you may or may not know, olfactory relates to our sense of smell. This means it’s your nose that has the issue, not your tongue or mouth.

Is it dangerous?

No – just a bit frustrating. The effect can last for anything from a few days to several weeks. Even though there is nothing actually wrong with your tongue, your nose’s temporary inability to smell the particular flavour you like to vape with means you won’t be able to taste much either.

Who is most likely to get it?

New vapers are particularly prone to being affected in this way. Remember, you’re coming from smoking a certain number of cigarettes a day. Smoking reduces your ability to smell and taste things to the same degree non-smokers do. As such, it won’t be any surprise to find you might have trouble identifying the milder flavours used in some e-liquids.

You might also get it if you like a particular flavour of e-liquid and you never change to anything else. Your senses will get used to that same flavour time and time again, and you’ll suddenly realise you can’t taste it like you used to.

People taking various types of medication might also be affected. For example, drugs that treat depression, high blood pressure and thyroid problems can all contribute to vaper’s tongue.

Can you avoid it happening to you?

You may not be able to avoid it completely, but you can certainly reduce the odds of this affecting you.

For example, we mentioned that it can happen to people who vape the exact same flavour all the time. If this includes you, you might want to try experimenting with a few different flavours. Some people have one flavour for first thing in the morning, one for during the day and another one to enjoy after dinner. This is just an example of course, but you get the idea. As you switch from one flavour to another, you’re giving your taste buds and senses something different to experience.

You should also make the effort to drink more water. This is always a good idea for your general health anyway, but it helps to rinse out your mouth and you’ll avoid dehydration too. Surprisingly, it’s the latter that can lead to vaper’s tongue, since vaping can dehydrate the parts of your body that inhale the vapour. If you can avoid this, you can hopefully avoid vaper’s tongue as well.

Trying different flavours, drinking more water and even brushing your teeth twice a day (if you don’t already) is all going to help you. But if you are still experiencing problems, you should consider whether any medication you are taking could be having a side-effect you are not aware of.

Trying to avoid being ill is a good move to make too. You can’t always avoid it of course, but colds and illnesses can deaden your senses more than you might believe. Try and think back to the last time you had a cold. How many foods did you really enjoy eating? Chances are you lost your appetite completely – and not just because you didn’t much feel like eating anything. If you lose your senses of taste and smell because you’re feeling poorly, you won’t get any enjoyment out of your food.

If you do suffer from vaper’s tongue, don’t just try swapping flavours. Swap to something stronger than you would normally vape with, too. Many people recommend menthol to help things start moving along again. A stronger tobacco flavour or even cinnamon can also work. If you want to steer clear of tobacco flavours because you’ve left those behind, stick with menthol and cinnamon and see how you get on with those.

Persevere

Sometimes you might be afflicted with vaper’s tongue even when you have done everything possible to try and avoid it. If so, keep on repeating all the steps and suggestions given above. These should at least help keep the period of ‘suffering’ to a minimum, and get you back onto vaping you can taste and enjoy again in the near future. Most importantly of all, don’t give up and go back to cigarettes!

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How insurers are fleecing e-cigarette users

Admitting that you use e-cigarettes could cost you thousands of pounds in additional premiums. What basis is there for this price difference, asks James Daley

On what grounds are insurers choosing to categorise e-cigarettes along with ordinary smoking? Photo: ALAMY

It’s no secret that smoking tobacco isn’t great for your health. But when it comes to the world of insurance, it’s always been a little more complicated.

When you’re young, and buy your first life insurance policy, being a smoker can be costly. In fact, it’s likely to double your premiums. Same goes for any other kind of protection insurance – like critical illness cover or income protection.

But if you make it all the way to retirement as a smoker, it finally starts to pay back in your favour. Smokers can buy a better retirement income than their clean living peers.

The real reason my home insurance premiums jumped 23pc

As always, these prices are driven by statistics. Life insurance is more costly as a smoker because you’re more likely to die while your policy’s in force. And for exactly the same reason, pension companies will offer you more in retirement – because they expect to be paying it to you for fewer years than someone who doesn’t smoke.

The safe alternative to smoking?

But what about so-called “vaping” and electronic cigarettes? These have been the key to many heavy smokers giving up over the past few years – and a few months back, a UK government study even suggested it is 95% less harmful than smoking regular cigarettes.

So in the face of broadly positive press for e-cigarettes, why is it that the insurance industry has decided that they are just as bad for you as the real thing? What do they know that we don’t?

Take out a life insurance policy today and you’ll almost certainly be asked if you’ve “smoked any tobacco products over the past 12 months (including e-cigarettes)”. It’s a yes or no answer – and if you answer yes, your premium will be twice as expensive.

No evidence

If the life insurers were able to base their decision in statistics – this decision may be more defensible. But given that they don’t even ask people to specify whether they vape or smoke – they don’t even have the data. Not to mention the fact that e-cigarettes have only been around for about a decade – which isn’t enough time to compile any meaningful results.

It’s hard to see this as anything other than a cynical ploy to pocket a few extra quid

This is not the only anomaly to be found in a life insurance application form. Insurers routinely ask questions about alcohol consumption, family health history, and even your waist line. These are fairly intrusive questions – but are perhaps fair enough in terms of the clear links between these factors and an individual’s mortality. But insurers also ask if you’ve ever suffered from “stress”. Anyone who answers no to that question is surely not being honest with themselves. But anyone who answers yes may find their premium pushed up – as they’re shoved into the mental health problems bucket.

It’s time for the regulator to take a look at the way insurers set their prices – not just in life insurance, but in all areas of insurance. There are too many areas where the evidence is simply not clear enough to justify the way that insurers choose to treat prospective or even existing customers. One of my greatest bugbears is an insurer’s right to put your car insurance premium up if you’re involved in an accident that wasn’t your fault. Regardless of whether the statistics justify their reasoning, it’s simply not fair play.

James Daley is the founder and managing director of Fairer Finance (fairerfinance.com), the consumer group and financial ratings website. He is also a regular pundit on the BBC One shows, Rip-Off Britain and Watchdog, and a former editor for the consumer group Which?. Follow him on Twitter @fairerfinance

• Have a question for our experts? Emailmoneyexpert@telegraph.co.uk

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/insurance/11942194/How-insurers-are-fleecing-e-cigarette-users.html

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