Introduction To E Cigs
Electronic cigarettes, ecigarettes or ecigs as they are often called, are becoming considerably more popular, especially with those attempting to quit smoking traditional cigarettes. The Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association estimates that sales of ecigs in 2013 were more than $1.7 billion. Specialty ecigarette stores are opening across the country, and appreciative users have even begun meeting regularly to sample new e-devices. The first ecig festival is in its planning phase.
What are Ecigarettes?
An ecig is a battery-powered device that simulates smoking tobacco. Most devices look quite similar to regular cigarettes, but there is a main difference. They do not contain tobacco. Instead, a mechanism heats up liquid nicotine. Because of this action, ecigs are sometimes referred to as personal vaporizers or electronic nicotine delivery systems.
The user puffs on the device as with a normal cigarette, and the liquid is heated and changed into a nicotine-laden vapor. Inhaling delivers the nicotine to the lungs, and exhaling discharges the vapor. There is no smell, because nothing is burning. Manufacturers claim the ecig is the cigarette that can be smoked anywhere.
While most ecigs do look like regular cigarettes, others resemble ballpoint pens. Almost all varieties are reusable, with refillable and replaceable cartridges. A small percentage of the products are single use, disposable units.
In the United States alone, there are hundreds of companies manufacturing and selling ecigarettes. They are sold internationally, and can be easily purchased online. As they contain no tobacco, electronic cigarettes are not subject to U.S. tobacco laws, and can be purchased without proof of age.
The first patent for an electronic cigarette was issued in 1963, for what was called a non-tobacco smokeless cigarette. The first device used moist heated flavored air to replace burning paper and tobacco. Although there was some commercial interest, the product failed.
It took until 2003 for the idea to re-emerge, when a Chinese pharmacist is credited with inventing the ecig. The company he worked for, Golden Dragon Holdings, now called Ruyan, started marketing in China in 2004, and then internationally in 2005. The word “ruyan” means, “resembling smoking”.
Ecigarettes have continued to evolve since that time, with new designs and approaches to the production of nicotine vapor. International tobacco companies, taking advantage of new market sectors and to protect traditional products, are increasingly involved in the production and marketing of ecigs. Many of these large tobacco companies are now aggressively marketing their own brands of ecigarettes. Popularity is increasing. A 2011 survey in the United States indicated that 1 in 5 adults who are smokers have tried the electronic variety.
How Do Ecigs Work
The basic components of an ecig include:
• A container and delivery system for the liquid
• An atomizer
• A source of power
• The liquid
They are contained within a cylindrical structure looking like a traditional cigarette or other shapes such as a pipe or even a box. Most devices involve replaceable parts. However, all components could be combined into a single part that is discarded when the liquid is finished.
The atomizer is the critical working component. It contains a small heating element to change the liquid to vapor, as well as some type of wicking material that brings the liquid into the atomizer. A small piece of resistance wire is wrapped around the wicking material. When an electric charge from the battery is passed through the resistance wire, the liquid in the wick is vaporized, and can then be inhaled.
The resistance of the coil and the voltage output used can vary within safety tolerances. Often the two factors are perceived as reflecting the quality of the vapor produced by the atomizer. Different devices advertise the benefits of their particular design configurations.
A wide variety of atomizer and wicking arrangements are available. The cylindrical cigarette shaped ecigarette, for example, often contains a heating element surrounded by poly foam soaked in liquid. There are many different wicking systems available, from gravity fed to ones relying on capillary action and others that require some agitation. Manufacturers extol the virtues of their various designs.
A rechargeable battery is usually the largest component in an ecig. Some are activated by the simple action of inhalation, while others require a button to be pressed. Devices used by experienced users can include additional features, such as variable power output to adjust the power that goes through the heating element.
The liquid used to produce vapors in ecigs, often referred to as e-liquid or e-juice, is usually a solution of vegetable glycerin, polyethylene glycol and propylene glycol, mixed with concentrated flavors and different concentrations of nicotine. Nicotine-free versions are available as well. The liquid is sold in bottles or disposable pre-filled cartridges.
Pros of Using Ecigarettes
Manufacturers and a large number of users claim ecigarettes provide a sensation similar to inhaling tobacco smoke, but without the actual smoke. The product is marketed as a safe alternative for smokers who want to avoid inhaling traditional cigarette smoke, which contains over 4,000 different chemicals most of them hazardous to health.
Evidence to date suggests ecigarettes are safer than regular cigarettes. Even though there is debate about potential harmful effects of inhaling the vapor, there is general agreement that tobacco smokers are much better off with ecigs. Using the electronic device as a replacement may have some risks, but it is likely a safer choice.
Joining the Vapers
Using ecigs allows people to take part in a ritual very much like smoking a cigarette, but without the tar and carcinogens present in real tobacco. People who use ecigarettes, known as “vapers”, admit that existing research cannot provide definite answers about potential long-term consequences of “vaping”. However, they are more concerned about today’s harm reduction benefits resulting from not using tobacco.
They appreciate being able to breathe in the morning. Cessation of coughing fits is a blessing. Many ecig users claim a greatly improved quality of life.
Some members of this vaping community have come to see the use of electronic cigarettes as a hobby, and a reason for social gatherings. VapeParties and even a planned vapor festival provide opportunity for ecig smokers to try out new devices and sample different flavors such as caramel, chocolate and even bubble gum. For many health-minded individuals who want to move away from tobacco, ecigarettes are proving to be an attractive alternative.