E-CIGARETTES (ELECTRONIC CIGARETTES)
WHAT ARE E-CIGARETTES (ELECTRONIC CIGARETTES)?
E-cigarettes, also known as electronic cigarettes and vaporizer cigarettes are devices that emit doses of vaporized nicotine that are inhaled. The device is battery-operated and can also emit non-nicotine vaporized solutions. Manufacturers say they are an alternative for tobacco smokers who want to avoid inhaling smoke. Tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 different chemicals, many of which are hazardous for human health.
Manufacturers and a significant number of users say the e-cigarette provides a similar sensation to inhaling tobacco smoke; however, there is no combustion (no smoke).
E-cigarettes are long-shaped tubes, many look like the product the user used to smoke, such as a cigarette, cigar or pipe. Some look like ballpoint pens (biros). The majority are reusable with replaceable and refillable cartridges. A small percentage of products are throw-away ones – disposable e-cigarettes.
The electronic cigarette first entered the market in China in 2004. In 2003, Hon Lik, a pharmacist from China invented the device. Golden Dragon Holdings, the company Lik worked for, started exporting into major markets in 2005-2006. Golden Dragon Holdings changed its name to Ruyan.
Most of the current models are automatic – as the user sucks on it, a sensor activates a heating element that vaporizes a liquid solution held in the mouthpiece. The user can choose whether or not to have nicotine in the flavored liquid solution. In older models (manual models), there is a little button which turns the heating element on and off. An LED indicates whether the device has been activated when the user inhales.
THE E-CIGARETTE HAS VARIOUS COMPONENTS
Most devices have a mouthpiece, a heating element, a battery (rechargeable), and some electronic ciruicts.
- THE MOUTHPIECE – also known as the cartridge. This is fixed to the end of the tube. A smaller plastic cup within the mouthpiece holds an absorbent material drenched in liquid solution.
The solution can carry varying levels of nicotine.
Manufacturers refer to the mouthpiece as the cartridge. This can either be refilled or replaced with another pre-filled one when necessary.
Instead of using the cartridge, the user can also use drip tips – the absorbing material is removed and drops of liquid are placed directly into the atomizer bridge.
- THE ATOMIZER – this is a heating element which heats up the liquid, causing it to vaporize so that it can then be breathed in (inhaled). An atomizer needs to be replaced periodically, usually about once every 3 to 6 months.
- THE BATTERY AND SOME ELECTRONIC COMPONENTS – in most cases there is a lithium-ion battery which is rechargeable. The battery powers the heating element. The battery life depends on how often you use it, its type, size and operating environment. It is usually the largest component of an electronic cigarette.
Newer versions have a sensor which automatically activates the heating method as soon as somebody sucks on the device, while others have a button you need to press when you suck.
Many have an LED (light emitting diode) which tells when the device is activated.
WHAT DO E-CIGARETTE CARTRIDGES CONTAIN?
The solutions are often referred to as e-liquid or e-juice. Typically, they contain hundreds of flavors. For those desiring nicotine without smoke, the solution contains nicotine dissolved in propylene glycol and/or vegetable glycerin – both common food additives. Experts say propylene glycol has had no serious known side effects since the 1950s when it was included in nebulizers and asthma inhalers. In fact, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), USA, includes this ingredient as one of its GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) substances.
The solutions come in varying levels of nicotine concentrations, ranging from zero to extra-high (24-36 mg/ml).
Some flavors, such as tobacco/menthol combinations, try to resemble traditional cigarettes. A number of them claim to mimic specific brands too.
THE VAPE DEBATE: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
E-CIGARETTES: Are they a safe way for smokers to stop or a gateway to getting kids hooked on a habit that’s known to cause deadly diseases of the heart and lungs as well as cancer?
Public health experts and tobacco researchers are trying to find out. So far, results are mixed.
One thing is certain. They’re not hard to find. Stores selling them — called “vape shops” — are everywhere across the country.
E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that can look like a real cigarette or pen. Some with refillable tanks look a bit different. There are hundreds of brands, and they’re sometimes marketed as a way to get your nicotine fix without the danger of cigarettes.
They all work the same basic way:
- They have containers filled with liquid that’s usually made of nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals.
- A heating device turns the liquid into vapor that you inhale when you take a drag.
Using an e-cig is called “vaping.”
ARE THEY SAFE?
Most contain the chemical nicotine, which is addictive. When you stop using it, you can go into withdrawal and feel depressed and crabby. Nicotine isn’t good for people with heart problems. And some initial research shows it may hurt your arteries.
It can also:
- Harm the developing brains of kids and could affect memory and attention.
- Damage unborn babies. Pregnant women shouldn’t use anything with nicotine.
But the concerns go beyond nicotine alone.
Some brands contain chemicals including formaldehyde — often used in building materials — and another ingredient used in antifreeze that can cause cancer.
Flavors in e-cigs also raise red flags. Some use a buttery-tasting chemical called diacetyl, which is often added to foods like popcorn. When it’s inhaled, it can be dangerous.
“Diacetyl is a well-known harmful chemical, which, among other things, causes a lung disease called ‘popcorn lung,'” says Erika Sward, assistant vice president for national advocacy at the American Lung Association.
ARE THEY SAFER THAN SMOKING?
E-cigarettes aren’t thought of as 100% safe, but most experts think they’re less dangerous than cigarettes, says Neal Benowitz, MD, a nicotine researcher at the University of California at San Francisco. Cigarette smoking kills almost half a million people a year in the United States. Most of the harm comes from the thousands of chemicals that are burned and inhaled in the smoke, he explains.
E-cigs don’t burn, so people aren’t as exposed to those toxins. A 2015 expert review from Public Health England estimated e-cigs are 95% less harmful than the real thing.
That figure is controversial and might be a little high, says Kenneth Warner, a tobacco policy researcher at the University of Michigan. But, he adds, “The worst critics of e-cigarettes would probably argue they’re a half to two-thirds less dangerous. But from a practical view, they’re probably on the order of 80% to 85% less dangerous, at least.”
Some states and communities that ban smoking in public places also ban vaping. But, Warner says, while the danger from secondhand vapor isn’t zero, “it’s probably very low.”
DO THEY HELP SMOKERS QUIT?
“We don’t have the definitive study on that,” Warner says. “My reading of the evidence is that it is quite convincing that e-cigarettes are helping some people quit smoking.”
Caren Kagan Evans, 56, of Washington DC, is one of those people. She started smoking when she was 13-years-old. Over the years, Evans tried to quit by using the nicotine patch, gum, and even hypnosis.
Vaping worked in a month, and she’s been off cigarettes for more than two years. “I’m breathing, sleeping, and eating much better since I started vaping. My ‘smoker’s laugh’ went away, and I no longer smell like an ashtray.”
But Evans’ story is the exception, not the rule.
“If there was good evidence that people were using e-cigarettes just to quit smoking, there would be wide support,” Benowitz says. “The problem is most of the e-cigarette use in the U.S. is dual use with cigarettes.” People use e-cigs in places or situations where they can’t smoke, like in a restaurant, but continue lighting up when they can, he explains.
Sward points out that according to the FDA, there’s no evidence any e-cigarette is safe and effective at helping smokers quit. She suggests talking to your doctor about medications and other strategies that are proven stop-smoking tools.
The American Heart Association says e-cigs should only be used as a last resort way to quit.
The FDA is regulating e-cigarettes and tobacco products such as hookah tobacco and cigars in the same way as cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. Key rules include:
- No one under age 18 can purchase them — in stores or online.
- Sellers will need to check ID of anyone under 27 years of age.
- The products can’t be sold in vending machines, except for in adult-only facilities.
- Free samples are banned.
E-cigarettes placed on the market after 2007 have to go through an FDA safety and approval review to enter or stay on the market. That could take years, but products can be sold while they wait for approval.
Critics say the rules will crush small makers of e-cigs because they can’t afford the time and lawyer fees to get through the process.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Lung Association are glad to have the rules. But, Sward adds, “We certainly thought [the FDA] should have gone farther — ending the sale of flavored products.” Some come in candy and fruity flavors that appeal to kids and teens.
HOW ELECTRONIC CIGARETTES BENEFIT YOUR LIFE
Vaporizers and electronic cigarettes were invented as an alternative to smoking. They are a suitable alternative for many because of the benefits they have over smoking. Chances are you searching for an alternative but wanting to understand the benefits of switching from your current brand to electronic cigarettes or vaporizers.
THE START OF HEALTHY DECISIONS
- NO TAR, NO CARBON MONOXIDE
Electronic cigarettes do not contain any tar or carbon monoxide, like the ones that are found in tobacco cigarettes. Normal tobacco cigarettes have over 4,000 harmful poisons that are not found in electronic cigarettes. If this is your only reason to try the e-cigarette, it’s a great one!
- DE-TOXIFY YOUR BODY
Many e-cigarette users feel better because their body is not getting the toxins, tar and other poisons traditional cigarettes contain. Your body will notice the relief of cutting out all of those added poisons.
- NO SECOND-HAND SMOKE
No more worrying about second-hand smoke that bothers the non-smokers around you. The e-cigarette gives off NO second-hand smoke. Second-hand smoke has been reported to be worse than smoking. The vapor released only looks like smoke and disappears in a few seconds.
Electronic cigarettes are a lot less expensive than smoking tobacco cigarettes. The traditional pack of tobacco cigarettes costs around $7-$19, depending where you live. One electronic cigarette cartridge is equal to nearly a full pack and only costs $2. That is about a $4-$9 savings on every pack! Save even more money by using E-Liguid and filling the cartridges yourself. This equates to about $1 per pack!
- YOU MAY ACTUALLY SMOKE LESS
When you smoke a tobacco cigarette you feel obligated to smoke the entire cigarette. The e-cigarette allows you to take a few puffs and put it away for another time. You may naturally smoke less because of this. Also, the electronic cigarette does not sit in an ashtray burning your money when not in use.
- LOWER YOUR INSURANCE RATES
What a bonus! You will get cheaper insurance rates since you can no longer be considered a tobacco user. Once your order arrives make sure to call your insurance companies and let them know you no longer smoke tobacco and watch your monthly insurance rates drop!
CLEANER AND SAFER ENVIRONMENT
- NO SMOKE SMELL
No more smoke making your hair, clothes, breath, and fingers smell. Use the electronic cigarette in your car and house without that smokey odor. When you use an electronic cigarette you breathe vapor which contains no odor or tar. Customers have used theirs in the homes of non-smokers with no complaints.
- NON-FLAMMABLE – NO BURNS
Electronic cigarettes do not have an extremely hot end, therefore the possibility of burn is minimal. No more burn holes in your carpet, clothes, furniture, and car interior! Since electronic cigarettes are not lit and do not heat up it is nearly impossible for you to burn a hole in anything. Simply put your electronic cigarette in your pocket when you are done.
- NO ASHTRAYS, NO LIGHTERS
With Electronic cigarettes you do not need ashtrays since they do not produce any ashes or butts. No lighter is needed either! Electronic cigarettes do not have a flame. You will no longer need to search for a lighter or book of matches. One less thing you need to carry around.
ALLOWED IN PLACES YOU CAN’T SMOKE
- MOST PLACES THAT TRADITIONALLY FALL UNDER SMOKING BANS ALLOW E-CIGARETTES
Electronic cigarettes have no flame and no smoke. They typically do not fall under the indoor smoking ban. Use e-cigarettes to get your nicotine in places where smoking is not permitted, but check with the establishment first. Now you can calm your cravings at work, in the restaurant, at the bar, or airport without having to step outside. Please be sure to check with the establishment first, as some places frown even using the electronic cigarette.