Our Mission

Just a few years ago hardly anyone had even heard of electronic cigarettes, but recently they have started to get a lot more attention and now they’re frequently mentioned in the news. Every day more people are trying them, and the latest evidence suggests that in the UK alone up to 1.3 million people are using them regularly. That’s an increase from about 700,000 in mid-2012, an astonishing increase.

Unfortunately there is a lot of inaccurate information going around about electronic cigarettes. If you’re not one of the 1.3 million users you were probably quite surprised at the title of this site, for example. E-cigs save lives? But how can that be? Everyone knows cigarettes are dangerous, right?

Yes, cigarettes are dangerous and everyone does know that. Electronic cigarettes aren’t actually cigarettes, though. Yes, many of them look like cigarettes, but that’s only because they were designed to look that way. In fact they work in a completely different way. Many users prefer to call them personal vaporisers, or PVs, because it’s a more accurate description of what they do.

We’ve decided to create this site because millions of people have questions about electronic cigarettes but don’t know where to find reliable answers. It’s very important that those answers are available, because right now the Medical and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is trying to bring in a law that will more or less ban electronic cigarettes in the UK. I know you’ve probably heard in the news that they want to regulate them as medicines to make sure they’re safe and effective, but the result will be a ban on most of them. Many people don’t understand this; it’s even possible that the MHRA don’t understand it themselves.

Unfortunately this proposed law won’t make electronic cigarettes safer and it won’t save a single life. In fact if MHRA succeed then up to five million people who are alive today could die unpleasant – and unnecessary – premature deaths. The fact is that electronic cigarettes have now been available in the UK for seven years and nobody has died from using one. Nobody has developed cancer from using one; nobody has had a heart attack or died from COPD. All of these diseases can be caused by smoking. In fact one of every two smokers will die because of the habit.

How do electronic cigarettes save lives, then? Isn’t it still smoking? Actually no; it’s not. When you use an electronic cigarette nothing is burned, so there’s no smoke created. It isn’t the nicotine in cigarette smoke that kills people; it’s the combustion products created by burning tobacco. The vapour produced by an electronic cigarette doesn’t contain any of these, so it’s much safer. Most doctors who have studied it believe that it’s at least 99% safer than smoking. In fact that makes using an electronic cigarette about as dangerous as drinking coffee.

Over the next few weeks this site will be growing into a source of information about electronic cigarettes, how they work, their effect on health and how they compare to tobacco. Our aim is to reassure people that they aren’t in any danger from people using an electronic cigarette near them, to correct misunderstandings about what’s in the vapour, to explain the real effects of the MHRA proposal and – most importantly – to persuade smokers to make the switch to a new and much safer habit. Please bookmark this page and check back regularly.

Clive Bates on why electronic cigarettes won’t work as medicines