An electronic cigarette (also called "e-cigarette" or personal vaporizer) is an alternative to smoked tobacco products, such as cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. It is a battery-powered device that provides inhaled doses of nicotine by delivering a vaporized propylene glycol/nicotine solution. In addition to nicotine delivery, this vapor also provides a flavor and physical sensation similar to that of inhaled tobacco smoke, while no tobacco, smoke, or combustion is actually involved in its operation.
The electronic cigarette usually takes the form of some manner of elongated tube, though many are designed to resemble the outward appearance of real smoking products, like cigarettes, cigars, and pipes. A common design is also the "pen-style", so named for its visual resemblance to a ballpoint pen .
The primary stated use of the electronic cigarette is an alternative to tobacco smoking, or a smoking cessation device: It endeavors to deliver the experience of smoking without the adverse health effects usually associated with tobacco smoke, or to at least greatly reduce those risks.
When a user inhales through the device, air flow is detected by a sensor , which activates a heating element that vaporizes a nicotine solution stored in the mouthpiece. It is this vapor that is inhaled by the user. An LED on the opposite end of the device is also activated during inhalation, which serves as an indicator of use, and also to simulate the glow of actual burning tobacco.
While electronic cigarettes take many forms, they each generally employ the same basic components: a mouthpiece, a heating element, a rechargeable battery, and various electronic circuits.
The mouthpiece is a small disposable plastic cup affixed to the end of the tube. Inside, the piece contains an absorbent material that is moistened with a flavored propylene glycol/nicotine liquid solution. The mouthpiece is referred to in the industry as a "cartridge". When the liquid in the cartridge has been depleted, it can either be refilled by the user, or replaced with another pre-filled cartridge.
Heating element ("atomizer")
The heating element serves to vaporize the liquid in the mouthpiece so that it can be inhaled. This component is referred to in the industry as an "atomizer".
Battery and electronics
Most electronic cigarettes employ a lithium-ion rechargeable battery to power the heating element. Battery life varies depending on the battery type and size, frequency of use, and operating environment. Many different battery charger types are available, such as wall outlet, car ,and USB. The battery is generally the largest component of an electronic cigarette.
Electronic cigarettes require an electronic airflow sensor. Various other electronic circuits are usually employed as well, such as a timed cutoff switch to prevent overheating, and an LED to signal activation of the device. An orange -colored light is often chosen for its visual resemblance to actual burning tobacco.
While some larger electronic cigarette models employ an independently replaceable standard-size battery cell, many models are too small to house a standard-size cell and instead require a proprietary component made by the electronic cigarette manufacturer. For those models, the battery and electronic components are housed within a single replaceable part, which is generally referred to in the industry simply as the "battery" — even though it actually contains many other components as well.
e-Liquid, a liquid nicotine solution for electronic cigarettes is available in a variety of different flavors and nicotine concentrations. Nicotine concentrations range from high doses (to mimic the content of regular cigarettes) to midrange and low doses (that mimic the nicotine content of "light" and "ultralight" cigarettes). Solutions are also available without any nicotine at all.
Some flavor varieties attempt to resemble traditional cigarette types, such as regular tobacco and menthol, and some even attempt to mimic specific cigarette brands, such as Marlboro or Camel. Solutions are also available with candy -type flavoring, such as strawberry, orange, mint, vanilla, caramel, coffee, etc.
Electronic cigarettes are marketed as a healthier alternative to tobacco smoking , since most of the harmful material produced by the combustion of tobacco in traditional cigarettes is not present in the atomization|atomised liquid of electronic cigarettes. They have also been marketed as a way to keep or curtail an addiction to nicotine.
Toxicological studies of the electronic cigarettes have been conducted, with some reporting that electronic cigarettes are less harmful than traditional tobacco cigarettes. In September 2008 , the World Health Organization issued a release proclaiming that it does not consider the electronic cigarette to be a legitimate smoking cessation aid, stating that to its knowledge, "no rigorous, peer-reviewed studies have been conducted showing that the electronic cigarette is a safe and effective nicotine replacement therapy."
Legal status by country
Due to the relative newness of the technology and the possible relationship to tobacco laws, electronic cigarette legislation and public health investigations are currently pending in many countries.
- In Australia, the sale of electronic cigarettes containing nicotine is illegal.
- In Austria and Denmark, electronic cigarettes are considered medical devices, and nicotine cartridges medicinal products. Therefore electronic cigarettes need to be CE-marked, and nicotine cartridges registered as medicinal products, before either can be legally sold.
- In Finland, cartridges containing nicotine are illegal to sell, or to purchase with intent to sell, but are not illegal to purchase from overseas sources for personal use only.
- In The Netherlands, use of electronic cigarettes is allowed, but advertising is forbidden pending European Union legislation.
- In New Zealand, the Ministry of Health has ruled that cartridges containing nicotine fall under the requirements of the Medicines Act, and cannot be sold except as a registered medicine.
- In the United Kingdom, electronic cigarette use is currently unrestricted, with celebrity nightclub Chinawhite allowing use of the devices indoors, where traditional cigarette smoking is prohibited.
- In the United States, electronic cigarettes are currently unrestricted, but are also not approved as a smoking cessation product. Electronic cigarettes are currently not subject to restriction under the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act.
The first design for an electronic cigarette was developed in China by Hon Lik of Ruyan , and specified the use of ultrasonic technology. That patent is currently patent pending|pending worldwide. Most electronic cigarettes on the market today use a significantly altered design involving a heating element in place of ultrasonic technology.