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November 10, 2012

What is an Electronic Cigarette?


When I first discovered electronic cigarettes, my life was in transition. I had been a smoker for years, and I was preparing to move to a state in which my price per pack of cigarettes would nearly double. I had suffered one price hike after another, but this was too much — smoking would cost a projected $3,000 per year in my new home. It was around this time that I began to see advertisements for electronic cigarettes online. Immediately, I was full of questions — what is an electronic cigarette? How do electronic cigarettes work? Are they safe, and can I really replace real cigarettes with them?

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I committed to giving electronic cigarettes a real chance. As soon as I received my first starter kit, I finished my last pack of real cigarettes and switched to electronic cigarettes for good. Before long, I was trying every product I could, writing e-cigarette reviews and covering the e-cigarette industry as a journalist. Electronic cigarettes have been truly life-changing for me, and my primary reason for starting this website was to collect all of the information I’ve learned into one comprehensive resource and help people avoid some of the mistakes I made when I was first starting out.

If you’re not interested in the details and simply want a product recommendation, skip straight to my article about the best e-cigarette for beginners. Otherwise, let’s get on with the question at hand.

What is an Electronic Cigarette

What is an Electronic Cigarette?

Put simply, an electronic cigarette is a personal vaporizer. You load it with nicotine liquid — usually by screwing in a disposable cartridge — and it vaporizes the liquid so you can inhale it. Since you absorb the nicotine through your lungs, it feels more like smoking than other alternative nicotine delivery methods such as gum. When you exhale the vapor, it looks very much like smoke. Also, since the liquid is flavored, electronic cigarette vapor can taste very much like tobacco — or practically anything else, depending on your preference.

Why Would I Want an Electronic Cigarette?

You should think about buying an electronic cigarette if, like me, you’re a committed long-term smoker who is unable or doesn’t want to quit. When I switched to electronic cigarettes, I had given up on the idea of ever quitting because I had found over-the-counter smoking cessation aids ineffective and didn’t want to use prescription medication. Switching to electronic cigarettes gave me the ability to discontinue tobacco usage without actually quitting.

Other Benefits of Electronic Cigarettes

Discontinuing usage of tobacco is only one of the benefits of switching to electronic cigarettes. However, there are many other great reasons for switching:

  • Much lower costs — about 75 percent less than cigarettes
  • No more bad breath or foul-smelling clothes
  • Available in any flavor you like
  • No flame, much lower fire risk
  • No tar
  • No carbon monoxide
  • No secondhand smoke
  • Not subject to smoking bans in many areas

The list goes on and on. These are just a few of the reasons why, for me, the electronic cigarette has truly improved my quality of life — and you can’t say that about many products.

What Are Electronic Cigarettes

How Do Electronic Cigarettes Work?

A lot of the electronic cigarettes on the market look very different from one another, but they all work in essentially the same way. You have a power source, a heating element and a nicotine liquid that most electronic cigarette users call “e-liquid.”

Although more complicated designs are sometimes preferred by people who have been using electronic cigarettes for a long time, the design I always recommend for people first making the switch is the “two-part” electronic cigarette. This design has only two elements: the battery and the cartridge or “cartomizer.” The cartomizer is a simple twist-on cartridge — shaped like a cigarette filter — containing both the heating element and the e-liquid. When you start to get less flavor or vapor from your electronic cigarette, it’s a simple fix; you either need to throw the cartridge away or charge the battery. It doesn’t get much simpler than that!

Are Electronic Cigarettes Really Satisfying?

Out of all the different forms of nicotine supplementation, the electronic cigarette is the only one that, for me, is truly satisfying. That’s because of what electronic cigarette users call “throat hit” — the feeling you get when your throat absorbs nicotine. You get that feeling when you smoke, and you also get it from electronic cigarettes. However, you don’t get it from nicotine gum, lozenges or patches.

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