The History of Cigarettes and E-cigs
It’s safe to say that King James I wasn’t a big fan of tobacco smokers.
“Smoking,” he raged back in 1604, “is loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, dangerous to the lungs, and in the black stinking fume thereof, nearest resembles the horrible Stygian smoke of the pit that is bottomless!”
The King, though, was in a minority. His subjects had been enthusiastically puffing away on tobacco for more than 50 years and few had any intention of giving up. Indeed it would be almost 400 years before science conclusively proved His Majesty was right all along.
Solving a King-sized problem
Tobacco smoke is a toxic cocktail of over 4,000 chemicals, including the sort you find in floor cleaner, flea powder, paint stripper, car batteries and white ant poison.
It also contains nicotine, which is the addictive by-product that keeps smokers coming back for more. And until recently, this was a big problem for those of us who enjoyed the idea of smoking but hated what we were inhaling.
Then, charging over the hill like the 7th cavalry, came e-cigarettes and, almost overnight, smoking changed forever. Suddenly, here was a clean alternative to tobacco, providing the same satisfaction to smokers but with minimal risk to the health of you and those around you.
The crucial difference is what is contained in e-smoke. Because in fact e-smoke it isn’t smoke at all: it’s vapour.
To understand e-smoke you have to understand where it comes from. E-cigarettes use a liquid most commonly made from a blend of propylene glycol, used in pharmaceutical goods and food additives, and vegetable glycerine, which is derived from plant oils.
Together, these provide the base that, when heated, create the harmless vaporised mist (e-smoke) that we inhale when we puff on an e-cig.
Nicotine can be added – but, because it isn’t a by-product, it’s a question of personal preference how much or how little you have. It’s the same with flavourings: it just so happens that tobacco and menthol are best-sellers, but these days you can choose anything, including cherry and whisky flavours.
Smoking bans were introduced primarily to protect non-smokers. After all, who wants to sit next to someone blasting out stinking lungfuls of poison?
E-smoke, by contrast, contains none of the intrusive toxins of tobacco smoke. Sit next to an e-smoker and you won’t end up smelling like an ashtray!
Quite what James I would have made of it all is a matter for conjecture. But we’re quietly confident that he would have approved. In fact we’d like to bet he would have been a menthol man.