What are e-cigarettes?

You might know exactly what an e-cigarette (also known as an electronic cigarette or e-cig) is, or you may have absolutely no clue – don’t panic (actually you might after reading about the ‘dangers’ of these devices), we’re here to explain exactly what these electronic devices are all about and why we dub them a ‘no go’.

What is an e-cigarette?
It’s a device that mimics the look and feel of a tobacco cigarette,  with some of these devices looking pretty much like real cigarettes! The difference is that they are electronically run and don’t produce smoke from tabacco but rather a vapour produced from an e-liquid. And so, this is where the argument to e-cigs lies – while e-cigarette companies claim that the vapour produced is only water vapour, granted that nicotine is involved, conflicting views and studies suggest otherwise.

973907-130613-e-cigarette

A battery operated e-cigarette, one of many on the market simulating the ‘look’ of a real cigarette.

How is an e-cig operated?E-cigs are battery operated nicotine inhalers. They consist of a rechargeable lithium battery, a LED that lights up the end of the e-cig when puffed to simulate the burn of a real tobacco cigarette and contains a cartridge called a cartomizer. The cartomizer is then filled with an e-liquid (or e-juice) which produces a vapour inhaled by the user. The e-liquid produces a vapour due to a heating element in the e-cig causing the e-liquid to boil, eventually vaporising.

The misconception behind an e-cigs vapour:
E-liquids typically contain the chemical propylene glycol along with nicotine, and come in an assortment of flavours (yes, that’s right, you want a strawberry or candy aftertaste… these sticks have got it – and this is a major factor contributing to the number of teens picking up these devices).

But don’t let the vapour fog up your vision because that’s NOT all that these e-liquids contain. The problem is that e-cigarettes are currently not regulated by any government body worldwide, meaning e-cigarette companies can pretty much fill e-liquids with whatever they want. One of the arising concerns is the amount of nicotine these devices actually contain, with questions surfacing to what else is hidden in that foggy vapour. Here is what a few major bodies had to say about e-cigs:

“The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found cancer-causing chemicals in electronic cigarettes, AAP News, 2013.

“E-cigs are not regulated or approved by the FDA and do not have to follow the same rules as other nicotine products. This means that the amount of nicotine and other harmful ingredients in each cartridge is not always the same,” AAP News, 2013.

A 2009 FDA analysis of e-cigarettes from two leading brands found that the samples contained carcinogens and other hazardous chemicals, including diethylene glycol, which is found in antifreeze,” Huffington Post, 2013.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “What are e-cigarettes?

  1. ben

    i doubt e-ciggies will have this negative effect as much as tobacco ciggies. i am a smoker myself and i feel that e-ciggies are not as conveniently consumable, the e-ciggies are battery operated mechanised toys, that makes it an inconvenient idea to buy and replace cos’ of wear and tear, besides, smoking tobbaco proves to be more harmful. unless, someone out there actually wants these e-ciggies to be addictive rather than help quitting smoking.

  2. Matt

    Please, educate yourself before you make a fool of yourself again. From http://casaa.org/FAQS_ecig.html

    Do e-cigarettes contain anti-freeze?

    No. This myth was created by a 2009 FDA press statement regarding electronic cigarettes. The FDA tested 18 cartridges from 2 companies. Of those 18 cartridges, 1 tested positive for a non-toxic amount of diethylene glycol (approximately 1%). While diethylene glycol is occasionally used in anti-freeze, the chemical is not a standard ingredient in e-cigarette liquid and it has not been found in any other samples tested to date.

    The base liquid for e-cigarette liquid is usually propylene glycol. Propylene glycol is considered GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) by the FDA and EPA. While it is also sometimes found in anti-freeze, it is actually added to make the anti-freeze less toxic and safer for small children and pets. Propylene glycol is a common ingredient found in many of the foods we eat, cosmetics we use and medications we take. It is also used in the fog machines used in theaters and night clubs.

  3. samoensmark

    This is just a list of popular misconceptions about e cigarettes. Sure there are many that look like cigarettes, thae are known as first generation, ie they are kind of the proto type. Those who succesfully over come there tobacco habit and sustain vaping as there means to get nicotine generally use second or third generation which look nothing like cigarettes. The article above does not really describe what an e cig is. If you want to know the whole truth trie the e cigarrete forums.
    The Flavours in cigarettes are one of the major reasons they are more attractive then tobacco cigarettes why many adult ex smokers lives have been saved by vaping. The existence of attractive alternatives to tobacco have been proven in practice to reduce not increase smoking rates, please feel free to investogate the case of Swedish Snus. These are an oral tobacco coming in many lovely flavours. Snus is banned every where in EUrope except Sweden. Sweden has the lowest smoking rates in Europe and the lowest rates of ill health caused by smoking. Because e cigs have a lot of lovely flavours they have the potential to do the same across the globe.
    Just because they are not regulated by medical bodies does not make e cigs automatically unsafe, they are regulated by other trading regulations, i think 19 other regulations in Europe. Don’t be fooled by the emphasis on Nicotine in this article. Nicotine is relatively harmless and you could use it all your life and not suffer a days ill health. In fact it is essential to us, without it we would die, it is also in tomatoes, potatoes and aubergines, non of which appear to be a gateway to tobacco use. The MHRA, the medical licencing organisation in the UK have siad themselves that its use outside of tobacco smoking is of negligable health risk. It is very hard to overdose on nicotine, you would be sick before you could vape enough to hurt you.
    Finally we are pretty well aware of what is in e juice, and they are generally accepted to be 95 to 99% safer than tobacco cigarettes.

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