The first time I came across electronic cigarettes, I was walking through the mall where I was approached by countless cart vendors peddling their wares. From the guy who wants to sell you an custom embroidered cap to the lady who wants to take your picture and put your mug on a mug right then and there, this little subdivision of the mall experience is a unique one. After I passed the sunglass cart I was approached by a guy smoking a cigarette. This caught my attention for obvious reasons. First off, this was an indoor mall and smoking is not permitted and second of all, he was working and I am pretty sure taking a smoke break while you are still working was frowned upon.
It was then that I discovered he was actually demonstrating his product, the electronic cigarette.
Electronic Cigarettes, also called e-cigarettes or e-cigs, are an alternative to regular tobacco cigarettes that employ a 2 part mechanism that simulates the look, sensation and some of the effects of smoking.
Stopping to learn more about the history of electronic cigarettes proved to be a great decision!
In older models, the e-cigarette would be composed of three parts, the cartridge that serves as a mouth piece where the vaporized liquid is stored, the atomizer that is responsible for vaporizing the liquid and the power supply which houses the circuitry that operates the mechanism. In order to reduce costs for manufacturers and consumers, most e-cigarettes come as two parts, with the cartridge and atomizer being combined into a single, often disposable component called a “cartomizer”. Because it is disposable, the cost has gone down dramatically and it has also improved the user experience. You know longer have to refill the cartridge and worry about an even amount. It is as simple as unscrewing the cartomizer and replacing it with a different cartridge that comes prepackaged from the factory.
The liquid that is stored in the cartomizer generally come in two forms, with or without nicotine. The option without nicotine is for people who have already successfully quit smoking but still have the need for the oral sensation as well as the tactile sensation of having a cigarette in your hands. The types are usually flavored with fruit flavors or vanilla and chocolate but can also reach out into more exotic flavors like Boston cream pie and cappuccino. For the user who wants to simulate the taste of a cigarette as well as the feel, there is tobacco or menthol flavored options, some that even simulate a pretty close resemblance to popular brands of tobacco cigarettes.
The nicotine based options usually serve two different kinds of consumers, one who is trying to quit smoking and wants to be slowly weaned off and the other is the smoker who wants the same sensation as smoking a cigarette without the side effects of stained teeth and other ugliness associated with traditional tobacco cigarettes.
As a smoking cessation device, e-cigarettes allow users to control the amount of nicotine in the cartomizer. Although there is no standard measure of doses across the e-cigarette industry, most fit roughly into four categories, low, medium, high and extra high depending on the concentration of nicotine in the solution. With traditional tobacco cigarettes, you might switch to light but in the end you would also have to control the amount of cigarettes you are smoking daily. In the case of electronic cigarettes, you can start off with the extra high dose and slowly work your way down until you no longer need it and feel you can go to the flavored options.
The question is, who is going to use this and how?
Imagine you are sitting at your desk at work and you have time for a break. What was before a quick step outside for a smoke has become a rigorous march through a sea of disapproving eyes as you try to find the designated smoking area that has been conveniently placed next to the dumpster, grease trap or parking garage, all places that already smell horribly. But is the person using an electronic cigarette going to be willing trek out to the designated smoking area? The answer is probably no because they are going to be surrounded by actual smokers and second hand smoke that they are theoretically trying to get away from. At first it might be a good way to start, but if you are trying to escape smelling like an ashtray, the designated smoking area is not where you want to be.
So, what are your options? It is highly unlikely that workplaces will allow you to just smoke an electronic cigarette at your desk or in the break room. Some places, like New Jersey, treat electronic cigarettes and regular tobacco cigarettes the same under the New Jersey Smoke Free Air Act, meaning they can’t be smoked indoors. The reason for this is because they look and act like cigarettes and because it can also encourage children to smoke. Some counties in Washington State on the other hand, prohibit sales to minors but allow smoking of electronic cigarettes in places such as bars and workplaces.
One common misconception regarding electronic cigarettes is that it is a completely safe alternative to tobacco cigarettes. Studies have shown that while the vapor inhaled is free of the cancer causing carcinogins, the nicotine content in some brands can have negative health effects.
Also, considering this is a relatively new alternative, long term studies still have to be conducted on the effects electronic cigarettes might have. Because of this lack of concrete information, the Federal Trade Commission does not allow electronic cigarettes to be marketed as a healthy alternative to tobacco cigarettes.
So while it seems electronic cigarettes are a healthier alternative to tobacco cigarettes, the companies can’t come out and say that. As more research is done and more studies are conducted, consumers will be better informed on the option of electronic cigarettes.
I will conclude that I am a BIG advocate of electronic cigarettes. I was turned onto them after ready Andy Gray’s E Cigarette Reviews. I have been using them since that notorious day in the mall. I have been, and will continue to, reccomend them to friends, family, and any0ne who will listen.