The vaporizer has gone from being a shoddy and fairly unpopular device, to the biggest smoking competitor on the globe. The world has undoubtedly been taken by storm and thousands – if not millions – of people are successfully using the vaporizer to quit their unhealthy smoking habits. It seems that, in many cases, the vape has done what it came to do. But is that the end of the story?
With money increasing in the global vape industry and new vapes being created daily, it seems that perhaps that original aim has been forgotten. The disposable vaporizer is proof of this. These devices, with their multi-colored design and various flavors, are appealing to young non-smokers in an alarming fashion and causing problems to the environment. In consequence, many officials are now calling for them to be banned outright.
Whilst the vape is a fairly modern device, it actually has a longer history than you would imagine. Some argue that the first conceptual idea of vaping a substance occurred during the Ancient Egyptians, when they used to heat hemp seeds on hot rocks and inhale the fumes. Nonetheless, it was in the early 1900s that the vaporizer was attempted. However, it wasn’t until Hon Lik – in 2003 – created the device that we would recognise today. After the death of his father from lung cancer, the Chinese inventor made it his goal to create a genuine smoking alternative. He was sick and tired of the uselessness of nicotine gum and pads. The Guardian writes about Lik’s process of inventing it:
“The breakthrough came in 2003, when he hit on the idea of using a piezoelectric ultrasound element to vaporise a nicotine solution in a device resembling a cigarette. These days battery-powered heating elements do the job, but the concept was born”
The vaporizer or e-cigarette is an electronic device that allows people to inhale nicotine without smoking it. The e-liquid is heated by the device’s battery to a temperature much lower than your average cigarette and, as a result, vapour is created. This substance is then inhaled and enjoyed by the user. When a cigarette is lit it is heated at around 900 degrees and begins the process of combustion. Combustion – when something is set alight – brings with it a whole load of difficulties. When the process occurs dangerous toxins and cancerous carcinogens are released and enter the body through inhalation.
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When you also add on top of that the addictiveness of nicotine and the damage the substance can do to the major organs, it results in a highly dangerous habit. Vapes, on the other hand, will not exceed around 250 degrees, which means that combustion never occurs. This is why vapor is released, instead of the smoke from a fire. Whilst e-cigs still have nicotine liquid inside them, the way in which they avoid combustion makes them – according to the UK government website – up to 95% more healthy than cigarettes. If you’re still unsure on why vaping is believed to be healthier than smoking, then here’s a clear explanation by Scott Roberts:
“Smoking is believed to be more harmful than vaping, which is why most experts recommend vaping for chronic smokers who’re struggling to give up the habit. In itself, tobacco isn’t a very harmful compound. However, harmful effects occur when it’s heated… The smoke contains thousands of compounds and most are considered to be highly toxic. Researchers believe that cigarette smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals… scientists have cited 250 of them as highly toxic, with 70 of them containing carcinogenic properties.”
As you can see, it is the avoidance of combustion that is crucial. Not only do vapes offer a healthy alternative to smoking, they also are becoming increasingly popular. In fact, it is believed that by 2030 the vape market could be worth around 180 billion dollars. But of course, wherever the money goes, problems usually reside. As vaporizers have changed and adapted, it seems that they may have forgotten their purpose.
The Disposable Vape
Disposable vapes have been surrounded by much controversy in recent times, especially due to their large appeal to the younger generations and their negative carbon footprint. These devices are increasingly popular in the UK and many government officials have been calling for action to be made against them. But what are they and why do they differ from what Hon Lik supposedly set out to do? First of all, disposable vapes are – would you believe it – disposable.
These devices do not have a refillable option, meaning that you cannot fill up the cartridge with more e-liquid. Instead, you have to throw it away and purchase another. Made from lithium batteries, copper and plastic, these vaporizers need to be carefully disposed of in recycling centers or are a damage to the environment. Many of those who purchase disposable vapes are unaware of this and simply throw them on the floor or in any random bin. According to BBC news, over half of these devices are thrown directly in the bin, with around 1.3 million of them being thrown every week. The issue is, these vapes have around 600 puffs in them and are worth only around £5 in the UK. The vapes that are refillable cost around £20, which makes them a more expensive option for buyers.
The disposable vape is the epitome of a short-term purchase and perhaps this is why they are increasingly popular with the younger generations. This is the second issue with disposable vapes. They are designed to ooze temptation, with many different colors and flavorings, they’re like candy in a sweet store. In fact, other than the fact they contain nicotine, there really aren’t any similarities left between these devices and cigarettes. As a result, many young people who did not even smoke to begin with are now beginning to get hooked on disposable vapes. The Guardian writes:
“Despite it being illegal to sell the devices to under-18s, research indicates a steep rise in underage vaping over the last five years, with the proportion of 16- to 18-year-olds who say they use e-cigarettes doubling in the past 12 months alone”
TikTok and other social media sites are advertising to under 18s without restriction. The question does have to be asked: what is the purpose of the disposable vape? It seems – with its colourful design and fruity flavours – that this device was made for younger people. However, none of the companies leading in the industry, such as Elbar and Geekbar, are being held accountable. In their eyes, they are not doing anything wrong.
Final Thoughts – Should Disposable Vapes be Banned?
Elfbar recently spoke to BBC news and recognized that the growing rate of the vape market does have environmental implications. Their next move is to implement recycling boxes for retailers to use to collect the vapes, as well as designing them to be longer lasting in the future. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that vaporizers have become an issue. The question is, is it a big enough issue to warrant a ban? Well, with 9% of 11 to 15 year olds in the UK using e-cigs, there does seem to be a problem.
The issue is, how can you avoid ever banning cigarettes but then suddenly decide to ban a much less harmful disposable vape. It just wouldn’t make sense. The industry is led by money and, therefore, it is highly unlikely that these appealing devices will be banned. Nonetheless, it is definite that something needs to change. There needs to be more of an effort by these companies in altering their design to stop appealing to younger generations. Why do they need to be so colorful? Why do they need to have raspberry fizz, kiwi watermelon and pink lemonade flavor?
There are plenty of actual smokers out there who enjoy the flavor of cigarettes, these e-cigs do not appeal to them whatsoever. Therefore, there needs to be some real change made in the design and some real conversations around their target audience. From a climate change point of view, it seems crazy that disposable vapes are legal to begin with. Hasn’t the environment got enough to deal with? The situation at the moment is not working. BBC writes:
“Material Focus are pushing for vape recycling to be made much easier, and for manufacturers and retailers to install collection points inside shops… Currently large shops must take back all items of small electronic products like disposable vapes in store to be recycled for free, regardless of whether the item was bought in that shop.”
Movements like these ones will hopefully change the negative effects that disposable vapes are having but, at the moment, the situation is not a positive one. The banning of anything does not seem to work and there is a great deal of history that proves that. Nonetheless, hopefully more people become aware of the harm that disposable vapes are causing. Vaporizers can do a lot of good, but it’s devices like these ones that tarnish the name.
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