Welcome to the future. Vapor technology is among the most exciting public health innovations of the 21st century. Vapor products represent the best chance for the world’s one billion smokers to lead better lifestyles by reducing the harmful effects of smoking, a global scourge that kills nearly 6 million people every year.
We all know what a cigarette is – a paper tube filled with shredded tobacco, usually with a filter at one end – but many people don’t understand exactly what it is that vapers (e-cigarette users) are inhaling from. That has led to a lot of confusion, as many people hear the word “cigarette” and assume an e-cigarette is a high-tech version of a traditional tobacco product. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
Electronic cigarettes were designed as a replacement for cigarettes. They have the same purpose – to deliver inhaled nicotine – but do it in a completely different way.
Cigarettes work by burning tobacco leaves. The inhalation of the resulting smoke delivers nicotine to the user, but also 4,000-plus chemicals, including the toxic amalgamation of chemicals known as tar and other chemicals at dangerous levels.
In contrast, electronic cigarettes–otherwise known as vaping products—don’t contain tobacco and don’t involve the burning of any substance. Instead, e-cigarette products are filled with a liquid that often, but not always, contains nicotine. A small heating element inside the device turns the liquid into a vapor that is then inhaled through a mouthpiece. There’s no combustion, so there’s no smoke.
At the heart of any vapor product is the atomizer. This contains the coil which heats up in order to vaporize the liquid, but it needs other parts too. Almost all atomizers have a storage tank for liquid. There’s also a wick to carry liquid from the tank to the coil. There’s an air intake system that lets air flow into the atomizer, over the coil and up to the mouthpiece, carrying the vapor with it. Finally, there’s the mouthpiece (or tip) itself.
To supply the device with power, the atomizer is connected to a battery. Usually it screws into the top of the battery housing, but some models are one-piece units that contain both. Studies show that established vapers, particularly those who have switched from smoking to vaping, tend to use more advanced products with removable atomizers, in part because this allows users to more easily switch among different flavors throughout their day.
Many e-cigarettes have fixed batteries built in to the device body. The body will also contain the connector for the atomizer, the fire button (which activates the coil) and a charging port. It might also have extra controls to adjust how much power is sent to the coil. Usually there is an LED screen to help adjust settings and show remaining battery life.
There are also devices with removable batteries available. The big advantage of these is that if the battery runs low the device doesn’t have to be plugged in to charge; you can just replace the batteries and recharge the flat ones in an external charger. These devices are usually called mods, and most of them have a full range of features including power and temperature control.
The last component of an e-cigarette is the liquid it vaporizes. There are a lot of inaccurate beliefs about this liquid. Many people believe it’s an oil, or that it contains tobacco. They think the liquid comes from China and is potentially contaminated.
In fact, the liquid is mostly propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin, both of which are commonly used in food and FDA-approved medicines. The last time you went to a concert and a fog machine was used, the ‘fog’ was likely produced using propylene glycol. Most liquid also contains pharmaceutical grade nicotine; almost all liquids have food-grade flavoring added. And while Chinese companies do produce e-liquid, the majority of what’s for sale in the USA is domestically produced, usually to very high standards.
Looking at all the parts of an e-cigarette, it’s obvious that these products are very different from an actual cigarette. There’s no tobacco, no paper and no filter, and it doesn’t burn. The only thing they have in common is that they let the user inhale nicotine – they’re not the same thing.
Indeed, the name “e-cigarette” is slowly dropping out of fashion among users. Many people now call them personal vaporizers, vaping products or simply vapes. The original name of ‘e-cigarette’ was chosen for marketing reasons as a way to let smokers know that the devices were an alternative to cigarettes, but it’s also confused a lot of people into believing that they are cigarettes.
Millions of smokers have switched to vaping and been thrilled with the results.
If you’re interested, find out more about the Woomi Vape e-cigarettes devices here.