Not long ago someone Tweeted a photograph of a poster they’d seen at a US amusement park. Allegedly the winning entry in a school slogan competition, it said:
eBooks are still books
emails are still mails
E-cigarettes are still cigarettes
It’s a clever, striking message and it certainly grabs the attention. The only problem is the last line is completely wrong. Electronic cigarettes aren’t still cigarettes. In fact apart from the fact they contain nicotine they have nothing in common with cigarettes at all – apart from the name.
There is strong words on both sides of the debate, as mentioned http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jun/16/strong-rhetoric-ecigarettes-debate-tobacco-quit .
The first e-cigs were made to look and feel as much like a cigarette as possible. The target market was smokers, just like it is now, and the designers thought people would be more comfortable with something familiar. That was probably true at the start, but much less so now when even compact e-cigs are made with blue or green LEDs just to make sure everyone can tell the difference. And, because they were trying to make something that felt familiar, those designers went for a familiar name.
There are some health concerns highlighted by the FDA at http://www.webmd.com/smoking-cessation/features/ecigarettes-under-fire
Unfortunately it’s likely they made the worst possible choice. Smoking is now so disapproved of in the UK that just the word “cigarette” causes a visceral reaction in many people. Cigarettes are bad, they think, so that must mean all cigarettes. And if e-cigs aren’t cigarettes then why are they called that? There are all sorts of other technical terms as well, which are mentioned in http://moabc.com/e-cig-components-and-common-vaping-terms/ .
The problem is that it’s now a bit late to change the name, although people are certainly trying. “Advanced personal vaporiser” is one option; there are others, including the tongue in cheek “Personal Electronic Nicotine Inhalation System”, but none of them have really caught on. “Electronic cigarette” is just too familiar now. Try not to get caught up on it though. No matter how much you hate tobacco just remember the most important thing about an electronic cigarette – it isn’t one.