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Electronic Cigarettes – Godsend Or Garbage?

Posted by on November 6, 2011 at 9:57 pm

The electronic cigarette, sometimes referred to as a “personal vaporizer” or, more hilariously, a “personal electronic nicotine inhalation system” has been around for quite some time. A few years, in fact.

Many people look in to e-cigs as a method of trying to get away from tobacco products, many of those because they are tired of not being able to smoke in bars or of getting yelled at by their partners for smoking too much whist enthralled in Netflix or playing video games like Modern Warfare or Skyrim.

For as long as they have been around, the questions “do they work” and “are they safe” have been at the forefront.

I would like to take a look at the electronic cigarette, the market and the devices available, and talk about those 2 burning questions.

Read on for more.

The first electronic cigarettes to hit the market were produced entirely in China. A large company based out of Shenzen produced not only the batteries but also the atomizers and the nicotine liquid which is used in them.

Before I continue on, we’ll talk about how an e-cig works, to stop any confusion.

The basic concept of the e-cig is the production of a moist vapor, achieved by heating a liquid nicotine solution to the point of vaporizing. The liquid is heated by a coil of nickel-chromium wire, in the atomizer, which is powered by a small battery (usually 3.7 volts, the same amount of power used by many smart phones). As the electricity passes through the coil, it heats up and vaporizes the liquid, which contains nicotine, water and either propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine, or a mixture thereof, which is what produces the visible “vapor” you see.

The operation of standard “mini” e-cigs, using an auto-switched battery. Many devices use a manual switch.

This vapor leads the use of e-cigs to be referred to as “vaping” rather than “smoking” and most “vapers” will readily correct you if you call them smokers.

As noted in the caption above, devices use both automatic and manual switches, each one having its own advantages and disadvantages.

The auto-switches are nice because the unit is activated instantly by the act of taking a “drag” on the device. They have the issue of sometimes being activated by noise, however, which can lead to a device failure in loud environments and the battery can be ruined if the cartridge is over-filled and some of the liquid runs into the battery. On the flip side, the manual switches are nice because they aren’t susceptible to leakage into the battery or accidental activation due to noise, with the down side being that you have to press a button to make it work.

So what does all this mean? Are they crap or do they work? Are they safe? Will they get you away from cigarettes?

Well, I’ll try to address those, one at a time.

Are They Safe?

This is a very complicated answer. Many studies have been done which would indicate that the vapor produced by these devices does not contain any chemicals, in quantities which are known to cause cancer or other negative health effects. None of these studies have been accepted by the government at this time, mostly due to the fact that so many sources of the nicotine base exist and some of them don’t test as cleanly as others.

At this point, there have been no negative health effects reported, other than sensitivity to propylene glycol which can cause an allergic reaction.

The short answer here is that the users of these devices believe them to be safe and the government says they don’t know yet. Most users are of the opinion that anything is safer than smoking a cigarette and I tend to agree. What we have learned about cigarettes in the last decade or so is shocking and is driving people to these devices in droves.

And this leads us to the next question :

Are they crap or do they work?

This one is very subjective. Some people swear by these devices and some people just aren’t satisfied by them. I know people who have quit smoking the very day they got their first device and have gone years without smoking again. I know other people who have gotten a device and its use has reduced their need for cigarettes to the point where they only smoke from time to time. I also know some unfortunate people who have gotten one and it hasn’t worked for them at all.

While this is certainly a very personal and individual experience, I think a lot of it has to do with the quality of the device and the person’s willingness to go through a bit of a learning curve.

Every single report I’ve gotten from people indicates that the devices they sell in the mall kiosks are crap. They don’t work well, they don’t satisfy cravings and they break very quickly. They’re also expensive…much more so than they ever should be. I’ve heard stories of people paying up to $150 for a “starter kit” from one of these places, which includes a couple of rechargeable batteries, a few atomizer cartridges and a charger.

This is absolute crap.

This e-cig, a popular kiosk brand, is known to be a big bucket of fail and costs around $150.00

One can order a high quality device with batteries, chargers, several atomizers, refill liquid and, quite often, a carrying case for the same price, or less. There are many manufacturers and distributors of dozens of different brands, types, styles and sizes of e-cigs, all over the internet. Just be careful. There are many companies out there who are just as bad, or worse.

Here’s a good rule of thumb. A standard starter kit, with a low-end device should run you around $50 or so. These kits will often have numbers associated with them, such as 306, 510, 801, 901, etc. They also come with multiple batteries, multiple atomizers and, sometimes, a good quantity of liquid for refills. You can buy the liquid from any of these providers, as well. Enough to last a couple of weeks (for many users) will run about $25 (way cheaper than smoking at $7.00 a pack!).

The Joye 510 (or simply 510) is one of the most popular, and highest quality starter units.

From there, you can spend more money for better devices. Let’s take a look at some of those, on the next page.


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  • Wow, Rob.  That is an absolutely fantastic primer on e-cigarettes.  Great work, a tip of the hat, sir! 

    • Rob

      Thanks, Steve!  I figured we may as well go there, since this budding technology is growing by leaps and bounds.

  • Guest

    trolling, trolling, trolling, boy I sure love trolling…

    • Oh, please, spare us.  How often do you go over to the Starbucks site and rail against caffeine?  The only reason nicotine is vilified by people like you is because of its association with smoking, not because of the effects of nicotine on the body.  When you remove the ‘smoke’ from nicotine, you remove almost every reason to object to its use, especially when compared directly to caffeine and its (very similar) effects.  And THAT’S no lie.

    • Since the smoking nazis are running out of targets, they are taking on a lower life form–the nicotine nazi.  Fun.

    • Rob

      Show valid proof they cause health problems or gtfo.

      Thank you.

    • Anonymous

      I am troll, hear me fart from my mouth!

      • Rob

        It’s clear that you have no idea what you’re talking about, which is awesome because that means I can ignore your ignorant rants now and just sit back and giggle when you post.

        How does it feel to know that you are completely full of shit?

      • Rob

        OOOOHHHHHH…I see what’s going on here.  I looked into some of your history and you’re a crusader.  You’ve been running all around the internet posting in every comment section you can find, about how evil nicotine is. 

        It seems to me that while I may be addicted to nicotine, you’re addicted to the incredibly foolish idea that you should spend your free time insulting and vilifying nicotine users.

        Well, now I know who and what you are which means your opinions hold even less than the zero weight they did before.

        You’re a troll, plain and simple.  Go troll elsewhere.

      • Rhapsodies Fire

        “Who’d want to be caught using one of these things in public”I do…every chance I get.   Thank you for asking.  I’m not afraid of you and I’m not ashamed.  I’m not smoking, and frankly that’s all I care about.  You are not even so much as a blip on my radar and frankly don’t care that you think I’m a loser.  So keep on hating, my friend.  It will get you far in life and so many friends.  Good luck with your “cause.”  

  • Shannalea

    Great article, thanks for posting.  Neither my husband or I have had a cigarette in over 140 days thanks to e-cigs.

  • You know you’ve written a decent article when the anti-electronic cigarette trolls show up.

    • Rob

      I figured it wouldn’t be too long before they came rolling in.

  • Garylee803

    Used to be out of wind just going up stairs. Started E-cig on 12th of Oct. and haven’t had any tobbacco since. I was rolling at least a pack aday and smoking all day long.  The E-cig has saved me. I don’t even want a cigarette at all and just in the little time, I am not panting when I go up stairs or when I walk a distance. Now I am lowering my nicotene dos. Just ignore tobacco.        

    • Moni1050412

      Hi,I have a question, how did you do it?My husband and I  smoke ECigarettes but still can’t stop using regular smokes.

      • Even though ecigs can be a very effective way to quit smoking, they don’t work easily for everyone. I quit all at once using one and it was still a very difficult process to go through. Having a decent quality ecig with a strong enough cartridge/liquid in a flavor that you find appealing is important. Also remember that, while vaping mimics the action of smoking pretty well, you’re not going to *feel* it the same way you feel the hit of a cigarette. 

        Aside from all that, there’s the tobacco factor. Nicotine is mostly what you hear about, but there’s other stuff in cigarettes that your body is used to getting on a regular basis (tobacco alkaloids that are MAOIs, for example). You will miss those! So even if you get enough nicotine from your ecig and are doing okay with the ritual of it, there’s a detox period that can be very tough to get through. 

        The key thing for me was convincing myself that the ecig was giving me everything I needed. I tried to think of it like I’d switched to a weaker, less satisfying brand of cigarettes. Once I adjusted, it was okay. I had added complications of experiencing depression in the first few months, though, so I also supplemented my ecig use with an occasional swedish snus (it’s the safest form of tobacco). That worked well to help even me out. And since I only used a snus every once in a while when I felt my worst, I never developed any dependency on it. You might want to give that a try too if you can’t let go of the smokes.

        Hope some of that helps you.

        • Moni1950412

          I still cannot live without the real cigarette in the morning with my coffee, or after lunch and dinner.Thanks for the tip Circadia, I will give it a try.

  • Anonymous

    I’m a troll, lol

    • Rob

      You’re still a moron and, since you’re trolling, I’m just going to go ahead and delete all of your posts and blacklist you.  

      This is supposed to be an informative article for people interested in the technology, NOT a forum to spout your misled political beliefs.

      Have a nice life

  • Rhapsodies Fire

    Excellent introduction into the vaping world!  No, not everything is perfect, nor works as advertised.  But such is life.  In everything we buy, a little solid research goes a long way.  Thank you for writing a balanced article.

  • I’m one of those first-vape-on-an-ego-never-lit-another-cigarette guys. I went from 2+ packs a day for 30+ years to being a nonsmoker in an instant. Sure, I’m still a nicotine addict, but vaping is cheaper and healthier than burning tobacco by a damn sight. I have no doubt that e-cigarettes have saved my life, and if the FDA was serious about getting America off tobacco, they’d be giving these things out to every smoker in the country.

    They aren’t, however, which shows who’s really running the show.

  • Zachary Scott

    I smoked Camels for 15 years, 1.5-2 packs a day. After my Ego 2 years ago, I’ve never touched another cigarette. I graduated to the Tank a year ago and a low resistance atomizer 6 months ago. In all that time this is the FIRST well written article that hasn’t tried to sell me an inferior product. Thank you FEZ.

  • Nowadays there is so much choice out there, but it all comes down to which atomizer you prefer. 510 or 901 fitting. Good intro for the newbie, I applaud you sir. I amazes me that there are still sites out there trying to flog cheap kit at ridiculous prices. The “look a likes” do have their place though, but they have to be at a sensible cost. Unfortunately this is where the Mall Kiosk model falls down. Often due to the nature of real “footfall”. these models are the public’s first encounter with an electronic cigarette. 

    Not all Mall Vendors are guilty of the notorious price hike but most are just in it for profit not passion and there in lies the difference.

  • Brennan

    I quit smoking 4 days ago totally, first 10hrs I went w.o cigarette and I said I need one! So at the local shop there was a small stand saying “electric cigarette” so I said “give me one! I need one cigarette only” …its been 3 days I had 2 electric cigarets (equal to 2 packs) its great! I can smoke in car while window is closed (25F snow) and I LOVE IT… btw this article was great as I am noob! once I got had 1.6mg of nicotine? I am not sure how well I would do 12mg LOL! as 1.6 is fairly enough for me… anyway great article explained a lot…now I just need a starter kit with low dosage and hopefully down the road I will quit smoking…. “BTW about those mall kiosks! I am SO glad I have not gone that route, they did offer me 1 cigarette about year ago and it was awe full! )