What is an e-cigarette?
E-Cigarettes, also known as electric cigarettes or electronic cigarettes are smoking alternative devices, which allow you to have almost all of the same pleasures of smoking, without the same health implications.
E-Cigarettes essentially allow you to quit smoking - without quitting smoking!
Are e-cigarettes actually like smoking?
Many smokers find the taste somewhat different to normal cigarettes, but apart from that, they found it to provide exactly the same sensation as smoking:
It provided an instant nicotine hit, you can get different refills for different strengths too.
It gave them something to do with their hands. Nicotine patches still left me wanting, this gave them something to do.
Best of all, they could start smoking in the house - no odours or chance of burning the sofa.
Also, the thought of not getting lung cancer is a big plus!
What is important though: they say, they do not miss cigarettes!
How do e-cigarettes work?
E-cigarettes are made up on 3 components; a nicotine cartridge, a battery and an atomizing device.
The battery component is rechargeable and the e-cigarette packs come with 2 batteries and a mains adaptor charge pack, so you'll never be waiting for a battery to charge.
The atomizing device is the main component, which is activated when air is sucked in through the inhaler. The atomizing device heats liquid nicotine into a vapour form and passes it into the inhaler.
The inhaler is a replaceable component that will flavour the nicotine vapour into a cigarette (or many other flavours) taste. Each e-cigarette pack comes with a pack of inhalers, which can be replaced when they run out. Each inhaler gives you approximately the same effect as 20 cigarettes.
This means the equivalent of 20 cigarettes costs under one pound! You'll be able to tell when the inhaler is empty when no more vapour comes out.
Are electric cigarettes safe?
Cigarettes contain over 4,000 harmful chemicals such as:
Benzene (petrol additive)
A colourless cyclic hydrocarbon obtained from coal and petroleum, used as a solvent in fuel and in chemical manufacture - and contained in cigarette smoke. It is a known carcinogen and is associated with leukaemia.
Formaldehyde (embalming fluid)
A colourless liquid, highly poisonous, used to preserve dead bodies - also found in cigarette smoke. Known to cause cancer, respiratory, skin and gastrointestinal problems.
Ammonia (toilet cleaner)
Used as a flavouring, frees nicotine from tobacco turning it into a gas, found in dry cleaning fluids.
Acetone (nail polish remover)
Fragrant volatile liquid ketone, used as a solvent, for example, nail polish remover - found in cigarette smoke.
Particulate matter drawn into lungs when you inhale on a lighted cigarette. Once inhaled, smoke condenses and about 70 per cent of the tar in the smoke is deposited in the smoker's lungs.
Carbon Monoxide (CO) (car exhaust fumes)
An odourless, tasteless and poisonous gas, rapidly fatal in large amounts - it's the same gas that comes out of car exhausts and is the main gas in cigarette smoke, formed when the cigarette is lit. Others you may recognize are :
Arsenic (rat poison), Hydrogen Cyanide (gas chamber poison)
Toxicological tests have been performed on electronic cigarettes and they found electric cigarettes to be much less harmful than traditional cigarettes.
However, it is important to note that only electric cigarettes which have had rigorous testing can be considered "safe" in any regard. There have recently been reports that many cheap and untested Chinese imitations have been flooding the market. We would strongly recommend you avoid cheap imitations!
Bare in mind, Nicotine in itself is a poison, but much less harmful than the cocktail of above mentioned chemicals.
Which is the best electric cigarette?
Before purchasing an electric cigarette myself, I did a lot of research into the different types that were around. I found a distinct price jump between cheap imports and electric cigarettes that had actually been tested.
Judgement based on:
User reviews for different electric cigarettes
Safety considerations - which had been tested
Background research into the companies that produced them
The price point of each (as a last consideration).