For those of you who don’t know, an E-Cig – short for electronic cigarette – is perhaps the greatest scientific breakthrough for smokers since… well, since the introduction of James Bonsack’s cigarette-making machine in 1881. After this, nothing really happened to change the face of mainstream smoking for around 120 years. This is quite surprising given the fact that virtually every other consumer product is constantly evolving
with the times,” so to speak. Well, in the first decade of the 21st century, the evolution of smoking has arrived, and it’s an evolution that has changed the very science of the act we all know as smoking.
To begin, it’s important to point out the fact that even the basic terminology of “smoking” has become outdated when speaking about e-cigs. In fact, there is no smoke involved with the use of e-cigs whatsoever. Rather, the e-cig produces a fine mist, or vapor, that is inhaled by the user; this mist is essentially water vapor with nicotine in it. For this reason, the e-cig community uses the term “vaping” to denote the usage of an e-cig. Once exhaled, the vapor behaves in a way very similar to that of real smoke. The basic principle that makes e-cigs the best alternative to smoking is that they emulate the act of smoking itself, and provide the pleasurable cues and actions that other nicotine replacement products fail to do. More on the comparison between NRT products and e-cigs in future articles.
The components of an e-cig are more or less quite simple; they include:
-A Battery; this is what constitutes the majority of the “cigarette,” the part you hold;
-An Atomizer, or “Atty”; basically a glorified heating element that heats up the “E-Juice”;
-E-Liquid or E-Juice; this is essentially the “fuel” for the device;
-A Cartridge, or “Cart”; the cart contains a filler, such as cotton or foam, that holds the e-juice, and is inserted into the atty.
Keep in mind that these are mere outlines of the components; the vaping community has created numerous ingenious modifications and varieties of hardware. Batteries and atomizers are available in countless sizes, capacities, colors, and compatibilities, some of which we’ll look at in future articles. E-liquids can be had in hundreds of different flavors, from sweets and fruit flavors to desserts, beverages, and good old tobacco flavors. Some mixers have even developed liquids that emulate the flavor of your favorite cigarette, such as Marlboro and Export A.
Charge the battery in one of several possible ways, screw the atomizer into it, insert the cartridge, and vape. Some e-cigs are activated by dragging on them (automatic) and some have a small button to activate the battery (manual). It’s all about preference.
So why switch to e-cigs? Well, here are some pretty self-explanatory reasons to lose the analogs. (A little joke – vapers refer to traditional cigarettes as analogs)
-This is perhaps the greatest advantage to e-cigs: whether you use nicotine-free juice or the strongest stuff you can find, most the enjoyment of vaping (or smoking) comes from the actual act. Many people have trouble quitting smoking because they enjoy doing it, not simply because of nicotine addiction. Vaping still has the ritual aspect of smoking; it can satisfy the oral fixation, the “hand-to-mouth” aspect, and the social aspect.
-Because vaping produces no odor or smoke, it can be done virtually anywhere. Restaurants, bars, nightclubs, shopping malls, wherever you please. Gone are the days when you must endure freezing cold temperatures during winter to get your fix, or impolitely duck out of shows, meetings, or gatherings for a quick smoke. Just make sure to ask for permission if you’re in a public place, so that other ignorant, err…”less-informed” patrons don’t see you exhaling vapor and make a scene. And if you’re on an aircraft, avoid potentially messy situations: vape in the bathroom! (your e-cig won’t set off the smoke alarm)
-You will no longer reek like cigarettes. Let’s face it, stale cigarette smell is atrocious. Your house and vehicle will no longer smell awful, either. Furthermore, your facial appearance won’t suffer from years of exposure to toxic smoke.
-Smoking has been passive for too long! Vaping provides endless ways to experiment. You can customize your hardware, buy all sorts of modifications, mix-and-match components to create a unique device, and even mix your own blends of e-juice. If you’re new to the experience, the on-line vaping community is shockingly inviting and helpful.
-The components last a long time, can be replaced cheap, and the juice runs at around $20 US for a 30ml bottle; this would last a heavy vaper two to three weeks. ‘Nuff said.
-First off, in no way should vaping be considered a “safe” alternative to smoking. Inhalation of anything other than clean air is likely to have some risk associated with it. That being said, vaping is exponentially less dangerous than smoking; it is scientifically proven that the vast majority of health risks from smoking are a direct result of combustion; the smoke itself is a killer. Vaping produces no smoke at all, and therefore common sense decrees that it’s safer than smoking cigarettes.
-Nicotine is considered one of the more dormant chemicals in cigarettes; there is no evidence that nicotine itself is carcinogenic. Certainly it can have adverse effects on the nervous and cardiovascular systems, but these effects are widely considered to be no more dangerous than those induced by your morning cup of Joe, and certainly less harmful than much of the garbage we eat on a daily basis. So while “health professionals” working for government agencies may suggest that you avoid vaping because there’s no conclusive evidence that it is completely safe, just keep in mind that there is some pretty conclusive evidence that smoking can be straight up fatal. In the future we’ll look at some of the studies that have been done on e-cigs, as well as analyse the dubious motivations for some people to knock them (*ahem* Tobacco Lobbyists).