E-cigarettes, also known as electronic cigarettes, are battery operated devices that are meant to look and feel like a conventional cigarette or cigar. However, they are different from regular cigarettes because they do not contain any tobacco. So, if you’re a smoker or someone who is looking to get into smoking, taking up e-cigarettes is an alternative you can choose, if you don’t want to smoke regular cigarettes. It is important to note, however, that e-cigarettes should not be considered as a better alternative to conventional smoking – they’re just another option available to consumers.
Where did e-cigarettes begin?
E-cigarettes have grown significantly since their creation in 2003. Indeed, the modern battery-operating smoking device was invented by a Chinese pharmacist by the name of Hon Lik. However, the earliest idea of an e-cigarette can actually be traced back to 1963, when Herbert A. Gilbert invented a non-tobacco cigarette. Like Lik’s device, Herbert’s invention produced flavoured steam, without the harmful nicotine. Unfortunately, Herbert’s device never gained commercial traction and only prototypes were made. This is because smoking was still seen as fashionable during the time and the health effects associated with it were still relatively unknown.
To this day, most e-cigarettes are manufactured in China. Lik came up with the idea for the e-cigarette when he considered using a high frequency, electric ultrasound emitting element to vaporise liquid that contained nicotine. His initial design sought to create a vapour that delivers nicotine. Following the success of his prototype, Lik filed a patent in 2003 and, subsequently, the first electronic cigarette was manufactured in Beijing, China in 2004.
Since then, the recreational use of e-cigarettes has grown exponentially. According to the BBC, a well-established e-cigarette retailer known as Juul, has grown into a $38 billion company in the space of just over a decade. Juul now own over 70% of the US e-cigarette market.
The growth of the e-smoking culture
There has been an incredible amount of growth in the e-cigarette market. An article from the BBC outlines that the number of vapers has increased dramatically – from approximately 7 million in 2011 to 35 million in 2016. At the same time, expenditure on e-cigarettes has also grown quite substantially. The global vapour products sector is now worth over $22.6 billion, while the US market is by far and away the largest.
What is in an e-cigarette?
A generic e-cigarette consists of several key components. These include: a mouthpiece, a battery, a heating element (atomizer) and a microprocessor. The atomizer generally contains a coil that is used to vaporize the liquid, which is drawn into the coil through some sort of wicking material.
According to E-cigarette Club the battery on an e-cigarette can be charged like a regular mobile phone battery. Normally, it is a lithium-ion battery and the process of recharging is pretty simple. The battery is connected to the vaporising chamber, where the vapour is created from the atomizer.
The mouthpiece is fixed to the end of the tube. Within the mouthpiece is a small plastic cup that holds the liquid solution. The cartridge can be refilled or replaced at any time.
The liquid solution that is attached to the device does not contain any tobacco. Known as e-juice or e-liquid, the solution is made from extracting nicotine from tobacco. This extract is then combined with a base of propylene glycol. Additional flavourings are added to improve the user experience and overall taste of the vapour.
How does an e-cigarette work?
When it comes time for use, the process is pretty seamless. A fully-set up electronic cigarette will have a full tank of e-juice, a charged battery and the heating element. When the user presses down on the button, the battery will commence feeding power to the atomizer, specifically the coil. The coil is made of an incredibly thin metal, so it doesn’t take very long for it to heat up.
As the coil heats up, so too does the liquid, since it is connected via a wicking material. Almost instantaneously, the coil is surrounded by a dense cloud of vapour. The person smoking the e-cigarette, sometimes known as a vaper, can take a puff. The smoke is drawn through the air holes fitted into the mouthpiece. The vapour will leave the chamber via the mouthpiece, which will allow more liquid to evaporate, creating more dense smoke. The coil will continue creating vapour until the airflow stops.
Smoking an e-cigarette or vape is very similar to smoking a normal cigarette. It can be a little strange the first couple of times you do it. Whether you’re a seasoned vaper or someone who’s never done it before, some of these techniques can be really helpful if you’re looking to smoke in a safe manner, while also maximising your enjoyment.
Rest the e-cigarette in the side of your mouth
This smoking technique allows the flavoured smoke to pass over your taste buds more effectively. What this does is maximise your enjoyment and ensure that you truly enjoy the liquid flavours!
Slowly draw on the e-cigarette for 5 seconds
A lot of tobacco smokers will inhale quickly, since that was the generic habit when smoking regular cigarettes. However, inhaling quickly with a vaping cigarette does not work as effectively. Instead, if you’re thinking of giving it a try, consider taking long, drawn out breaths, as this will allow the atomizer to fully heat up. If the atomizer is heated up fully, you’re enhancing the amount of vapour your electronic cigarette will produce.
Exhale through the nostrils
When vaping, hold the smoke in your mouth for several seconds. After the smoke has entered your lungs, release it through your nose. This technique is proven to ensure that the benefits of your vapour are maximised.
Hold between thumb and index finger, not index and middle finger
Most traditional smokers will hold their cigarette in their dominant hand, usually between their index and middle finger. However, an e-cigarette or a vaping device can sometimes be much larger than your generic cigarette, so holding the device between your index and middle fingers during use is not viable. Instead, hold the device between your thumb and index finger, as it is much more comfortable this way!
The long vape
This method involves two key steps. Firstly, the user takes two short draws on their e-cigarette. This is to prepare the mouth and lungs for a longer, more potent draw on the device. After taking two short draws, wait a few seconds before taking a longer, slower draw on your device (generally five seconds).
It is important to recognise that smoking e-cigarettes needs to be treated the same way as smoking a conventional cigarette. It’s also important to understand that there is not a consensus regarding the laws surrounding the public use of electronic cigarettes or vaping devices. So, if you’re new to e-smoking or are seasoned in the field, be sure to brush up on your etiquette with the following tips. The last thing you want to be viewed as is an impolite smoker.
Research your state’s laws
As outlined earlier, most Australian states tend to have different laws regarding the use of e-cigarettes or vaping devices. For example, the NSW Parliament passed laws in early 2018 that would see e-smokers fined up to $550 for using e-cigarettes in public places. This also includes when using public transport, shopping centres, libraries, sports grounds or dining areas. Essentially, it means that wherever smoking is banned, e-smoking is also banned.
On the other hand, South Australia has introduced even tougher regulations regarding the sale of e-cigarette devices. The Tobacco Product Regulation Amendment Bill was passed by the South Australian Parliament in mid-November 2018. The new laws make the online sale, advertising, promotion and price specials of e-cigarette products illegal.
The passing of the laws has been quite controversial, however, what is more important is that e-smokers need to recognise and understand the active laws in their states. The alternative is copping a massive fine from their respective state government or local authority.
Are electronic cigarettes safe?
Many believe that they are safe, however there is not much significant research. Many government websites have negative or neutral position bout them. Here is The Australian Government’s position on e-cigarettes.
As one of BBC shows explains how e-cigarettes have impact on our health and if they are safe.
Always ask for permission
It is pivotal that you seek permission before “lighting up.” When you’re at a friend’s house or a family gathering, be sure to ask those around you if it would okay for you to smoke on your battery-powered cigarette. If those around you are comfortable with the activity, then feel free.
A lot of people are going to be curious about e-cigarettes. It makes sense, since the habit has only be around for around 15 years. As a result, it’s important to educate yourself and not come across as elitist or sanctimonious.
Just be polite and inform any individuals regarding the differences between traditional smoking and e-cigarette use. A lot of people are unaware that smoking without tobacco or nicotine is an option.
Don’t blow large clouds
After vaping for a while, a lot of people suggest that blowing large clouds can be quite enjoyable. You need to understand, however, that this isn’t going to be fun for everyone. In fact, a lot of people are going to find it rude and impolite. So, be sure to avoid blowing large clouds of smoke in the direction of people. Save the long draws for when you’re at home or in a private space.
Avoid enclosed spaces
It’s really important to be considerate of those around you. Be aware that if you’re in a small, private space with other people, it’s probably not the best time to whip out the e-cigarettes for a quick puff. The smoke produced will just build up and most likely annoy other people. Whether it’s someone’s living room or vehicle, sometimes it’s best to just wait it out for when you’re alone and not bothering anyone.
What are the advantages of using e-cigarettes?
As an alternative to conventional smoking, e-cigarettes possess some advantages. So, if you’re someone considering e-cigarette smoking, check out the following.
Making the switch to e-cigarettes could be one way to soften the blow on the wallet. The average smoker can spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars a month just on purchasing cigarettes. That doesn’t even take into consideration the costs after the point of purchase, such as smoking breaks at work or cleaning costs to have the smell removed from one’s private home or space.
On the other hand, switching to an electronic cigarette kit can save you money. Once your device has been purchased, all you have to do is purchase e-liquids and the occasional maintenance fee. In the long term, it can be far cheaper than smoking cigarettes.
Another advantage of using e-cigarettes is that they are more durable than regular cigarettes. A cigarette is temporary and perishable, meaning they will be more costly for those increasingly addicted to nicotine. An e-cigarette can be used again and again, as long as it is fully charged and equipped with a liquid cartridge.
Easier clean up
With an e-cigarette, there is no actual burning involved. This reduces the likelihood of fire hazards relating to smoking and reduces the need to have ashtrays to dispose of your cigarettes. Instead, simply switch off your device when finished and place into a bag. No need to dispose of any ash.
A wide choice of flavours
Finally, another benefit of choosing e-cigarettes over normal cigarettes is that they come with a great range of flavours and scents. Picking the right flavour for you can take some time, however, when you find the right flavour for you, it’s just a matter of choosing your desired nicotine level and then you’re good to go.
What are the disadvantages of using e-cigarettes?
While there are some benefits of using e-cigarettes, there are also many disadvantages associated with their use.
According to E-liquid Mate, e-cigarettes can still be fitted with nicotine solutions, which is a highly addictive drug found in conventional cigarettes. Consuming nicotine can increase the risk of alcohol use, addiction and drug abuse. In addition, nicotine has been linked to damage to the nervous system and the cardiovascular system, much of which can be attributed to it changing the user’s brain chemistry.
Can enhance regular cigarette use
Because e-cigarettes can lead to further nicotine addiction, it can actually lead some individuals back to regular cigarettes. Instead of the e-cigarette becoming an alternative, sometimes it just serves to fuel an individual’s existing nicotine addiction, which just exacerbates any existing health conditions.
Likewise, unfortunately a stigma has developed, which suggests that a lot of e-cigarette users are rude and impolite. This is why abiding by e-cigarette etiquette is really important in breaking down the perceived bad image of vapers and the use of e-cigarettes in public.
The smell remains
E-cigarettes still produce scented smoke that can remain long after you have stopped vaping. It can absorb into your clothing and your furniture, meaning you’ll likely need some cleaning services to ensure that your home or apartment doesn’t reek of scented smokes for a long period of time.
If your device is found to be faulty or defective, it can be a pain to have it replaced. There have been some issues relating to the longevity of the lithium batteries and issues relating to the atomizer. As a result, if your device is consistently defective, it might be worth switching to a more suitable, high-quality brand. Otherwise, you could be paying some pretty hefty maintenance costs just to keep your device working. On top of this, faulty devices could become a fire hazard if not treated properly or left unattended.
So, what is clear is that there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing electronic cigarettes or regular cigarettes. The best answer is quit smoking both! There are many websites with great tips to help you quitting smoking, here is a good start or watch the below video.
But if you decided to keep the bad habit and you still think about them, the debate continues between conventional smoking and electronic-based smoking alternatives. There is insufficient evidence to say that one is better than the other. If you’re someone who is tired of smoking regular cigarettes, consider switching to a vaping option as a way of changing things up. Nonetheless, if you do decide to pick up e-smoking as a habit, it’s really important to consider several key things.
You need to understand how e-cigarettes work and what they are made of. Once you know how they work, you can begin practising how to use one effectively, using the techniques outlined in this article. Likewise, one also needs to be aware of current etiquette and acceptable smoking behaviours, so as to not come across as a rude or impolite smoker. Furthermore, laws surrounding e-cigarette use are changing drastically, so it’s really important that you’re up to date with all the recent laws, should you choose to pick up the habit.
Tom is an editor at Best in Australia, journalist and a writer and tutor with a passion for marketing and human resource management. He strives for reliability in his writing and is particularly interested in political topics, the world of sport and entertainment.