With the increasing demand to stop smoking and with governments banning smoking in public places, it is natural for responsible adults to seek alternatives to smoking. One technology that is claiming to do just that is the electronic cigarette. These electronic devices, with some models resembling conventional tobacco cigarettes in terms of look and feel, are gaining popularity in terms of their use. The increasing popularity of this device is why a lot of people have these questions in mind: “What are e-cigarettes?” “Why are they becoming popular?”, and “Are they really safe?”. This article aims to answer these questions.
What are electronic cigarettes?
Electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes are devices powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that simulate the act of smoking in the following ways:
- The Same Look and Feel
The earlier models of e-cigarettes look like conventional tobacco cigarettes in terms of their shape and their sizes. Earlier models even had a red LED light that lights up to simulate the embers of a real cigarette whenever the e-cigarette is used.
- The Repetitive Hand-to-Mouth Action
To use these e-cigarettes, the user should imitate the repetitive hand-to-mouth movement of somebody smoking a real cigarette.
- The Inhalation
The user of these e-cigarettes can inhale and exhale an e-cigarette producing a smoke-like mist that acts like, feels like, tastes like and even flows through the air like real smoke. However, with e-cigarettes, the user is inhaling vapour with added chemicals that serve as flavouring and scent.
How do e-cigarettes work?
E-cigarettes work because of the combination of the functions of their three major parts.
- The Battery Unit
The first part of the e-cigarette, which is located in the frontal tip or the bottom of the device is the battery unit. This battery unit consists of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, and an indicator LED light. The LED light, which is either red or blue colour, will illuminate once the e-cigarette is activated. There are two ways in which the battery is activated; the first one is by holding the switch. The other more advanced type of e-cigarette involves an automatic switch which involves a microprocessor which is sensitive to airflow. This switch activates the microprocessor once the user sucks on the mouthpiece of the e-cigarette.
- The Atomiser Unit
The next component that should be discussed is the atomiser and microprocessor unit. Once the microprocessor is activated by either airflow or switch, the atomiser vaporises some of the propylene-glycol based liquid that is contained in the cartridge unit. The propylene-glycol liquid, also known as the ‘juice’ contains the different ingredients that the user wants to have in their e-cigarette. These ingredients may include nicotine and other flavourings such as vanilla, chocolate, tobacco, strawberry, grapes, and other fruity flavours that may be associated with traditional tobacco cigarettes.
- The Cartridge
The third unit is the cartridge unit which contains the juice. Nicotine levels may come in high, moderate, low or zero concentrations. Habitual smokers can use these cartridges as a means to lessen their smoking habit by gradually reducing the amount of nicotine in their cartridges. It was analysed that a cartridge having the highest concentration of nicotine provides the e-cigarette user with just a third of the nicotine content of a traditional tobacco cigarette.
Different electronic cigarette manufacturers may have developed different models that do not necessarily imitate traditional cigarettes. Nevertheless, these newer models still have the three above basic components that make them work.
If you are planning to purchase an electronic cigarette, you have to know that the batteries will need to be recharged after a time. Battery chargers are available that can be plugged into standard wall sockets, USB ports, and even car chargers.