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