Your Quick Guide to How E-Cigarettes Work

Electronic cigarettes or ecigs have taken the United States by storm. In fact, it’s only been around for a few years yet it is already a one-billion-dollar annual industry. According to some estimates, it’s going to double in size soon enough. That’s how much interest there is in electronic cigarettes.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions regarding what ecigs are and what they’re not. According to some people, electronic cigarettes are not much better than traditional cigarettes. This could not be further from the truth.

If these people only knew how electronic cigarettes work, they wouldn’t make that claim. You have to understand that traditional cigarettes burn stuff. That’s their definition. How do you classify something like a cigarette or a cigar? There’s actually burning.

With electronic cigarettes or vaporizers, there’s something else going on. The liquid in e-cigarettes is turned into an aerosol or water vapor solution and is drawn by the person enjoying the electronic cigarette. In other words, they are not puffing smoke. They’re not sucking smoke into the sensitive, thin, inner linings of their lungs. They’re not doing any of that.

Instead, an electronic cigarette uses a cartridge that contains a liquid which is turned into a vapor by an internal heating device. This aerosol solution is so much healthier than traditional cigarettes.

The Key Difference between Electronic Cigarettes and Traditional Cigarettes: Smoke

Smoke is defined as a gaseous cloud produced by burning. When you burn anything, you heat up all sorts of chemical compounds and this ends up in the air.

The same applies to the tobacco leaf. Whether it’s finely chopped up or in the form of a cigar, you’re still dealing with smoke. When the tobacco leaf is burned, it releases hundreds of chemicals. A lot of these are carcinogenic (cancer causing).

Electronic cigarettes, on the other hand, create an aerosol. This is basically a heated-up water vapor produced when the e-liquid or e-juice loaded in the electronic cigarette is heated up by the internal vaporizer heating coil or heating device within the ecig unit.

This is all powered by a battery. You don’t have to light it up. You don’t have to ask people for a lighter. You don’t have to rub two sticks together. You don’t have to do anything.

You just have to click a button and, depending on the design of the electronic cigarette, you just wait for an indicator light to go on and then you can draw the vapor. Quick, easy, and healthier. There’s nothing being burned and there are no harmful, foul chemicals being released into this aerosol. This is how e-cigarettes work. It’s pretty straightforward.

Educate Yourself

It’s very easy to fall for all sorts of misinformation. Given the panic some health authorities seem to be in regarding e-cigarettes, you would think that they’re looking at an inherently dangerous device.

The truth is compared to traditional cigarettes, electronic cigarettes are so much healthier. Not only do they help people eventually quit nicotine; but they also enable people to enjoy nicotine in a healthier way.

A lot of people would like to say that people shouldn’t be smoking or inhaling nicotine in the first place. I think most people would agree with this, but the problem is we have to live in the real world. The issue is a lot of people are hooked on nicotine. No amount of wishing and hoping is going to make that reality go away. What do we do with these individuals?

Instead of demonizing them or just leaving them to their own devices by cutting off or banning electronic cigarettes, the health benefits of ecigs should be more broadly discussed. There should be an open discussion regarding why electronic cigarettes are a great alternative to traditional cigarettes.

Unfortunately, in certain administrative and bureaucratic circles in Europe, this discussion is simply not happening. It seems that as far as regulators are concerned, the electronic cigarette issue is a black-and-white issue. Either we stick to the devil we know, which is burnt tobacco and its long, sad history of carcinogens or we get scared stiff by the dangers we don’t know.

Admittedly, there are unknown dangers regarding electronic cigarettes. I mean, after all, no device is 100% safe. I’m not talking about the rather isolated cases of electronic cigarette batteries blowing up and people burning themselves, that kind of thing. I’m not talking about that. Those are too rare and too few and far between to be a serious issue. Those are just statistical distractions.

The real issue is how safe is e-juice formulations. Put in another way, are you putting yourself in harm’s way when you vaporize e-liquids? Looking at the current literature, if we were to look at electronic cigarettes as a transition device for people who are looking to quit nicotine, this is a risk worth taking because apparently according to a British study, electronic cigarettes can have a net positive health effect because they make it easier for people to quit.

However, going beyond that, we have to look at the way these devices are set up. If safety is really the issue, then the main point of discussion is the safety of e-juice formulations. It’s not the electronic cigarette itself that’s the problem. It’s the specific formulation of nicotine water and other chemicals that make up the e-juice.

It would not be foolish to say that, at this point in time, there is room for improvement. This is uncharted territory so, basically, there’s a lot of selection out there as far as e-juice is concerned. Some may have a lot more glycerol. Some may have propylene compounds. Others maybe heavier on water. Regardless, this liquid will always have nicotine.

Instead of just saying that the electronic cigarette itself should be banned, maybe it would be better for this fast-growing industry to focus on standards regarding juice safety because this is really where the wild, wild west frontier element is.

Currently, it’s anything goes. One brand would load up on propylene and other compounds. Others would focus on water or other more natural liquids. At this point in time, it’s still an open question of which approach is healthier.

This is why it’s a good idea for the industry to pay attention to not just consumer trends and preferences regarding certain flavor formulations and combinations, but also to what constitutes a healthy e-liquid formulation.

This is still being decided by the market and for the government to say that e-cigarettes should be banned across the board would be like trying to burn down your house because there’s a cockroach infestation. It doesn’t make any sense. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

Electronic cigarettes have a lot going for them. Do yourself a big favor. Understand how e-cigarettes work. Compare it with traditional cigarettes so you can be fully informed as to what potential regulatory issues are.

Studying this would also clue you in on your rights as a consumer. Shouldn’t consumers decide? Shouldn’t they be given a voice or at least a seat at the table regarding the regulatory discussions about electronic cigarettes?

It seems that in the European Union, at least, it’s a foregone conclusion that regulators are going to crack down on e-cigarettes. This really is too bad because the market is so fast-evolving that there’s a tremendous amount of innovation.

Maybe by channeling this innovation, the industry could come up with something that is demonstrably far and away so much healthier than traditional old-school cigarettes. Hopefully, this will play out in the United States.