Electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) are personal vaporizers. They take e-juice, or e-liquid and turn it into a smokable vapor. The e-juice may or may not contain nicotine, and it comes in a wide variety of flavors.
The biggest benefit of an electronic cigarette versus a traditional (analog) cigarette is you don’t get anywhere near as many of the dangerous chemicals. The smoke is less deadly.
E-cigs come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Some are meant to mimic the look and feel of a real cigarette, while others are not meant to replicate a cigarette but focus more on the vapor.
The initial cash outlay for an e-cig starter kit ranges anywhere from $30-$120, but after that you’re only buying replacement items. E-cigs are extremely cheaper overall than traditional cigarettes.
Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes or e-cigs) have taken the world by storm over the last several years. People are touting e-cigs as a healthier alternative to traditional analog cigarettes, and even as a tool that can help people kick the smoking habit altogether. A number of e-cigarette companies have popped up over the last few years, each catering to a different demographic by offering a wide variety of e-cig styles and flavors.
But as e-cigs have gained popularity with people, they’ve also caught the eye of the government (local, state and federal) in the U.S. and around the world. E-cigs are becoming more regulated and those who “vape” e-cigs are finding themselves under the same restrictions as those who smoke analog cigarettes.
The following is an overview of e-cigarettes, how they work, their benefits and a few tips and tricks if you’re interested in joining the e-cig world.
What Is An E-Cigarette?
An e-cigarette is like a regular analog cigarette, only it does not burn tobacco and other harmful chemicals to deliver nicotine into the lungs. Rather, e-cigs vaporize a liquid that has nicotine in it, and is also flavored to give the user a more enjoyable experience. These liquids can either be purchased in pre-filled cartridges or the user can make custom liquids for a more unique experience.
When a user inhales an e-cigarette the heating element, called an atomizer, is activated. The juice is pulled through the atomizer and instantly evaporated into steam. The steam is what users inhale, not smoke like with analog cigarettes. The steam is one of the big benefits of e-cigs. Unlike smoke, steam dissipates into the air, doesn’t cling to clothes and furniture, and doesn’t present the dangers to others that second-hand smoke does.
For most e-cigarette types, one tank of liquid can produce enough “puffs” (each time you inhale is considered a “puff”) equivalent to about a pack of analog cigarettes. This can obviously vary a little. If one takes longer puffs on the e-cig the liquid will be used up much faster.
Can E-Cigarettes Help People Quit Smoking?
While there have been no definitive studies about whether or not e-cigs can be used as a smoking cessation tool, there is an overwhelming amount of anecdotal evidence from long-time smokers who say they were finally able to kick the habit after switching from analogs to e-cigs. In fact, the Office for National Statistics in the UK found that most e-cig users were entirely former or current smokers. Further, the proportion of adults in the UK who smoke has dropped to about 19%. This means that those who previously smoked analogs switched over to e-cigs because they used them to quit, or decided that e-cigs are a healthier alternative than traditional analog cigarettes.
For smokers who do kick the habit using e-cigs, the method is relatively simple. They buy cartridges pre-filled with juice, or buy the juice and fill their own cartridges, with varying levels of nicotine. You generally can start off at a pretty high level – equal to the nicotine levels they were consuming with analog cigarettes. Then, at your convenience, you can slowly wean yourself by decreasing the amount of nicotine in your e-cig juice. Eventually you’ll be down to zero nicotine. At that point you can either keep using the e-cig out of habit (the juice still contains flavoring, glycerin and glycol), or throw them away. All the ingredients in e-cig juice are safe for human consumption.
It is important to note that in the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not classified e-cigs as a smoking cessation device, so it’s currently illegal to advertise them as such.
Different Types of E-Cigs
There is something for everyone in the world of e-cigarettes. You can buy a more traditional looking e-cigarette that looks like an analog, often called cig-a-likes. These will give you the feel of smoking an analog cigarette. All you do is inhale, that activates the atomizer while pulling the juice through and the steam goes into your mouth. This all happens extremely fast and is seamless. You can hold the e-cig between you fingers just like you do with an analog. A big benefit of these cig-a-likes is that they are relatively inexpensive. So for newbies, you can try them out without going broke.
Another benefit of more traditional e-cigarettes is how easy they are to put together. You basically screw the liquid cartridge right onto the battery part and you’re ready to go. E-cigarette companies usually sell liquid cartridges separately so you can mix and match your favorite flavors and get your preferred amount of nicotine. The battery part of the e-cig is designed to last. Some can be charged by plugging them directly into your computer via a USB cord, and others can be charged by plugging them into an outlet. It really depends on the brand you buy and how much you’re willing to spend. That said, it’s best to have more than one charged battery on hand, as they tend to go dead at the worst times.
There are other types of e-cigs that begin leaving the cig-a-like category and enter a category of uniquely designed devices that can be changed around to suit the user’s preference.
The complexity of some of these units can be overwhelming. For example, some allow you to adjust the temperature on the atomizer, letting you tweak how the juice gets heated. If the heat is too high, the steam will have a burned taste.
Other ways to personalize e-cigarettes are making customized juices. All the ingredients are relatively easy to find. However, be warned that the nicotine from pure tobacco juice can be absorbed through the skin and contact with even a little bit can make you extremely sick. Have a more experienced user show you how to properly, and safely, mix the ingredients to make a juice that you’ll love to vape.
E-cigs are a great alternative to analog cigarettes because they don’t rely on combustion (burning) to make the smoke that goes into your lungs. E-cigs only produce steam. Further, the juice in e-cigs only contains a handful of ingredients, unlike analogs that contain hundreds of different chemicals – many of which are very harmful to the human body.
The best way to find an e-cig that will work for you is to buy a starter pack from a few different companies. They will all have their own pros and cons. The best e-cig on the market is the one that you enjoy the most.