What Are Electronic Cigarettes?

To answer this question, let us define these electronic cigarettes and then look at their different components that qualify them to be said to be electronic.

The definition
Also referred to as e-cigarettes, e-cigs or even vaporizer cigarettes, electronic cigarettes are electrical devices that simulate the tobacco smoking act. This is done by the production of a vapor which is inhaled by the smoker. This vapor has the appearance, the flavor, and the physical sensation of an actual inhaled tobacco smoke only that it does not have the odor, the over 4,000 hazardous, toxic and carcinogenic chemicals, and the health risks that are associated with tobacco smoke.

inside the electronic cigarette
The e-cigarettes have a refillable liquid which may or may not contain nicotine. Some of these liquids are only flavored to give that nicotine taste but do not actually contain the nicotine. They are the modern nicotine supply method being an alternative to smoking. However, as noted above, you can also use them without the nicotine.

Why are they called “electronic” cigarettes?
These e-cigs are said to be electronic because they are normally powered by a rechargeable battery or have a wired USB adapter. They also have an electronic circuit somewhere within them through which the power flows. This electronic circuit is housed on a circuit board.

Besides the circuit, the e-cigs also have a multi-purpose LED indicator light. This indicator may, for instance, flash several times to alert the user that the battery is low. Again, it also indicates whether the device is activated as the user inhales. Some auto electronic cigarette models have an air pressure switch too.

The making of an e-cig
The e-cigarettes are made up of a number of components. Below is a brief discussion of some of them.

  • The battery – There is a battery, or batteries, which is the power source. In most cases, the battery is a lithium ion one and is rechargeable. This battery is used to power the heating element. The battery life in these e-cigs varies from model to model. It also depends largely on the regularity of use (how often the device is used), the type of the battery, the environment where it is being operated, and the size of the battery. In most electronic cigarettes, the battery is the largest component.
  • The Atomizer – This is the other name for the heating element found in these e-cigarettes. Its role is to heat up the e-cig liquid, vaporizing it in readiness for inhalation by the user. Unfortunately, this element does not last long and needs to be replaced regularly, usually every 3-6 months, for the best functioning of the e-cig.
  • The Mouthpiece – This is the part of the electronic cigarette that is regularly referred to as the cartridge. It is the part that is fixed on the one end of the e-cig tube.

Within the mouthpiece is a small plastic cup whose role is to hold the absorbent material that is drenched in the electronic cigarettes’ liquid solution. This part of the e-cig can either be replaced with another cartridge that is already pre-filled or it can be refilled.

Sometimes, depending on the user’s preferences, the absorbent material can be removed. Then, you have the liquid drops directly placed in to the atomizer’s bridge.

Within the e-cigs, you also get electronic circuits through which power flows to the various parts where it is needed. In the newer e-cig versions, you may also find a sensor. This sensor activates the heating method automatically immediately the user sucks on the device. In other models, there is a button instead of a sensor. All you need to do is to press this button as you suck to activate the heating.

Also commonly found in different models and versions of these electronic devices are Light Emitting Diodes (LED) which alerts the user when the device is active during use.

Finally, there is the liquid solution. This is the core of the e-cigarettes’ functionality. It is the one responsible for the smoking experience that is associated with these devices. It may contain nicotine but in some cases it does not. The liquid gets vaporized in to a mist by the atomizer when one activates it, either through a switch/button or when one sucks air through it for the automatic models. You then inhale this vapor, getting the same satisfaction you would get if you were smoking a real cigarette.

The refill liquid comes in a number of flavors with the most common ones being tobacco, menthol, desserts, caramel, and toffee. These liquids also come with various strengths of nicotine, from very strong to none at all. The strength of the nicotine or its lack thereof, is solely dependent on the user’s preferences.

Why Use An Electronic Cigarette?
These devices are mainly used as a matter of customer choice. Most people are just looking for an alternative to smoking tobacco cigarettes. Basically, the idea is to have your daily dose of nicotine in a controlled environment where there are fewer health risks compared to the inhalation of the toxic tobacco smoke.

E-cigarettes provide the desired nicotine together with a number of other ingredients that are all approved as fit for human consumption. However, some people just use these devices for the simple physical act of hand to mouth that simulates a smoking activity. They do this while using the different flavored liquids that contain no nicotine.

Who Should Use an Electronic Cigarette?
These devices are designed to be used by smokers who are seeking an alternative to tobacco cigarette smoking. If you are under the age of 18 years, you should not use them. Again, if you are not a cigarette smoker, then it would not be wise to start smoking these electronic cigarettes.

Look at it this way; nicotine is a consumer drug. It is a drug just like caffeine and alcohol. The key word here is DRUG. So, no one, in their right mind, should willingly start taking it. Only those who are already deep in to it should go for this alternative which is a more sensible option for them.

Can Electronic Cigarettes Help You To Stop Smoking?
Being an alternative to tobacco cigarette smoking, can one use the e-cig as a stepping stone towards quitting smoking? This is one very debatable question whose answer depends on the smoker and the perception towards smoking.

The electronic cigarette is an alternative form of nicotine supply and a smoking replacement. They offer a satisfying alternative that matches actual cigar or cigarette smoking minus the harmful combustion products.

To some users, this is an exclusive smoking option. They may use the liquids that have no nicotine at all, while some prefer to have some level of nicotine within the liquid. Some will use the e-cig but with some occasional tobacco cigarette smoking. These are some of the many user profiles that exist.

Amongst these many user profiles, there are some users who do not have any intention of quitting smoking. Others use these devices to cut down on the tobacco smoking. However, others go for this alternative as they seek a way out of smoking completely, with the belief that the e-cig will help them stay in control and eventually help them quit altogether.

However, the e-cigarettes are not really designed to offer a complete smoking cessation. They are simply made to provide a healthier smoking alternative that reduces the user’s exposure to harm and health hazards. If your intention is to completely cease smoking, then you should get advice from your health professional to see if it qualifies in your case as a lifestyle change. Remember that a major lifestyle change is one of the very first and basic step towards beating your drug reliance and abuse.

Are all e-cigarettes the same?
There are many different types of electronic cigarettes. In the next chapter, we will look in to some of the different types of electronic cigarettes and how you can differentiate them.

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