Electronic Cigarette: Featured on The Doctors TV Show
What is an electronic cigarette (e-cig)?
An electronic cigarette is comprised of three components: (1) electronic cigarette battery, (2) atomizer, cartomizer or cartridge and (3) E-juice or E-Liquid.
(1) Electronic Cigarette Battery:
An e-cig battery is a power unit that contains a rechargeable lithium ion battery, which is generally the largest component of the device. The battery may contain an electronic airflow sensor whereby activation is triggered simply by drawing breath through the device. Alternatively, most models employ a power button that must be held during operation. There are many different models available that all have the same basic purpose: supplying power to the electric heating element.
(2) Atomizer, Cartomizer, and Cartridge:
- The atomizer is the central component of the electronic cigarette. It generally consists of a small heating element responsible for vaporizing the e-liquid, as well as a wicking material that draws the liquid into the heating element.
- The cartridge generally serves as both a liquid reservoir and mouthpiece. It is designed to contain the e-liquid, allow for the passage of the liquid into the atomizer, and for the passage of the vapor into the user’s mouth. Depending on the model, the empty cartridge can either be refilled or discarded and replaced with one that is pre-filled.
- A “cartomizer” is basically a component that combines the atomizer and cartridge into one piece that is discarded once the atomizer loses efficiency due to sediment buildup. The piece consists of a heating element (atomizer) surrounded by a poly-foam, which holds the liquid.
(3) E-Juice or E-Liquid:
E-liquid or e-juice is the liquid that is heated to produce the vapor in electronic cigarettes. It is a solution comprised of propylene glycol (PG) and/or vegetable glycerin (VG), which is mixed with concentrated flavors and a variable concentration of nicotine. There are almost an endless number of flavors available and the individual user can decide the level of nicotine in the e-juice. The level of nicotine in the e-juice is measured in milligrams per milliliter (mg/mL) which typically falls in the range of 0 mg/mL up to 24 mg/mL. It is common for vapers to start with a higher concentration of nicotine and gradually reduce the level all the way down to 0 mg/mL of nicotine, effectively eliminating their dependence.
The earliest electronic cigarette can be traced to Herbert A. Gilbert, who in 1963 patented a device described as a “smokeless non-tobacco cigarette” that involved “replacing burning tobacco and paper with heated, moist, flavored air.” This device heated the nicotine solution and produced steam. Gilbert was approached by several companies interested in manufacturing the device, but it was never commercialized and disappeared from the public record after 1967.
In the year 2000, Hon Lik, a Chinese pharmacist, invented the first generation of the electronic cigarette. He came up with the idea of using a piezoelectric ultrasound-emitting element to vaporize a pressurized jet of liquid containing nicotine diluted in a propylene glycol solution. This design produced a smoke-like vapor that could be inhaled, providing a vehicle for nicotine delivery into the bloodstream via the lungs. He proposed using propylene glycol to dilute nicotine and placed it in a disposable plastic cartridge, which served as the liquid reservoir and mouthpiece.
The device was first introduced to the Chinese domestic market in May 2004 as an aid for smoking cessation and replacement. Hon Lik worked for Golden Dragon Holdings, which changed its name to Ruyan (literally meaning “resembling smoking”) and started exporting its products in 2005-2006. Ruyan received its first international patent for the electronic cigarette in 2007.
Electronic cigarette sales increased from 50,000 in 2008 to 3.5 million in 2012. As of 2011, one in five adults in the United States who smoke had tried electronic cigarettes. In 2013, 11% of regular smokers in the United Kingdom were using electronic cigarettes, and 24% had used them in the past, 1% of non-smokers had tried them and 0% continued to use them.
The tobacco industry has become increasingly involved in selling electronic cigarettes because the electronic cigarette market is continuing to grow each year. Currently there are four electronic cigarette models marketed by tobacco companies: Vuse, Blu, MarkTen, and Vype.
What are the health concerns?
There have been no conclusive studies to date as to the effects on health caused by the sustained use electronic cigarettes, but the American Association of Public Health Physicians supports them “because the possibility exists to save the lives of four million of the eight million current adult American smokers who will otherwise die of a tobacco-related illness over the next twenty years.”
This comprehensive list of documents details some of the research and conclusions reached from the studies that have been conducted thus far:
- Dublin Benchtop E-cigarette Report
- FDA Evaluation Of E-cigarettes
- Gamucci Electronic Cigarette Lab Study
- Intellicig E-cig-Data Report
- Nicotine Solution E-Liquid E-Juice Report
- Propylene Glycol Produc Safety Assessment
- Propylene Glycol Research Study Results
- Super Smoker E-cig Toxicology Report
- The Electronic Cigarette Co CHEM Analysis
- University Of Auckland Electronic Cigarette Effects
What are the benefits of e-cigarettes?
If you are a current smoker of traditional cigarettes, the benefits of switching to electronic cigarettes are almost endless. As a former heavy smoker of cigarettes myself, I can vouch for the benefits and I can truly say that the electronic cigarette positively changed my life in a way I could never have imagined. Here’s a breakdown of the benefits:
- Health Benefits: Every smoker, weather being a heavy smoker or occasional social smoker, knows about the smoker’s cough. This is one of the most noticeable and prevalent health benefits smokers realize when they switch to using electronic cigarettes. Because electronic cigarettes do not produce carcinogens or tar which coats the lungs of a smoker and damages the back of the throat, causing the body to produce mucus, the “smoker’s cough” goes away. The lungs of the smoker also become healthier and the difficulty breathing is reduced after switching to electronic cigarettes. This is due to the fact that electronic cigarettes do not contain any toxins like those found in tobacco cigarettes, specifically hydrogen cyanide, which causes the lungs to swell, constricts airflow, and inhibits the lungs’ natural ability to clear themselves. Furthermore, another chemical produced by smoking tobacco cigarettes, carbon monoxide, binds to the hemoglobin preventing the body from absorbing the proper amount of oxygen. Therefore, circulation is improved once a smoker switches to electronic cigarettes. Additionally, smoke from a traditional tobacco cigarette damages the taste buds, so when a smoker switches from cigarettes to electronic cigarettes, the sense of taste is enhanced. Finally, there is practically no risk of second-hand harm from electronic cigarettes because the vapor exhaled by the “vaper” does not contain any of the harmful toxins contained in tobacco smoke.
- Financial Benefits: Electronic cigarettes are much cheaper than tobacco cigarettes. A pack of tobacco cigarettes costs somewhere between $4 and $12, depending on where they are purchased. This quickly adds up if you are smoking a pack or more a day. An electronic cigarette starter kit typically costs between $40 and $60, and the savings start adding up from there. Where as most tobacco smokers spend somewhere between $5 and $20 a day to support their habits, e-liquid generally costs $1 per mL and a very heavy “vaper” will not consume more than $2-$3 worth of e-liquid per day. For the cost of 20-40 tobacco cigarettes worth of nicotine, you can get the equivalent of 100 with electronic cigarettes. Beyond the daily savings, a smoker’s health insurance costs will decrease after switching to electronic cigarettes, because “vaping” is not smoking, which is the leading cause of preventable death.
- Social Benefits: Vaping electronic cigarettes eliminates the foul odor of tobacco cigarettes from your life. You will not stink of cigarette smoke and your clothes, car, and furniture will not have that lingering odor. Since there is no combustion with electronic cigarettes, you will not need an ashtray and there won’t be any cigarette butts to dispose of. All in all, electronic cigarettes are much cleaner. One of the most impactful benefits is the ability to stay inside while still getting your nicotine fix. You will no longer have to separate yourself from friends and family. Finally, there is no risk of accidental burns and the fire hazard is eliminated because there are no flames involved in electronic cigarettes.
There are so many benefits of electronic cigarettes over tobacco smoking that it is becoming more and more apparent that tobacco cigarettes are a thing of the past!
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