03 August 2011

The E-Cigarette - What Is It? 3 August 2011

I've wanted to write about these for quite some time now. Our friends at Northerner.com have begun selling E-Cigarettes, so I figured it was time to pen an article about these. I know of several snusers who have switched to using snus and these to quit smoking as it eliminates your risk of cancer and helps you beat that hand to mouth habit. I know some snusers who still use these and snus. Do I consider this dual use? No. It is true that some people use these and snus - but when you're using these together it isn't adding any harm or risk, as both of these products are vastly safer than smoking. Over the coming week or so, I'm going to be reviewing many of the products for sale at Northerner.com. This article will serve as simply an introduction to e-cigarettes. As I've always done in the past - I will try to keep this as simple as possible, as it can be confusing trying to learn about how these things work.

If you're like me, you've probably asked yourself this same question recently. Just what is this e-cigarette thing? Well, an E-Cigarette is quite simply a battery powered device that provides the user with an inhaled vaporized nicotine solution. It doesn't have any of the tobacco, smoke, or combustion processes of a normal cigarette (the actual smoking part of a cigarette, no lighting up, no second hand risks). Some look exactly like cigarettes - brown filter, white tube, red light at the end. Some look kinda space age - black tube, blue light at the end, but regardless of the appearance, an e-cigarette does much of the same thing a real cigarette does, but without the risk.

How do they work? The image to the left from ElectricCigaretteMall.com shows a little of the interior workings of the E-Cig. I'll try to explain it without losing anyone. A sensor detects you "pulling" or inhaling, which in turn activates the heating process which vaporizes the nicotine solution which is stored inside the mouthpiece. That's the simplest way to describe HOW an e-cigarette works. What is in this solution? For the most part it's nicotine dissolved in a solution of propylene glycol or glycerin. Propylene glycol is an organic compound - colorless, odorless, with a sweet taste. It is also used as a food additive, so it's not as bad as the FDA would lead you to believe. Propylene Glycol can be metabolized into the human body into pyruvic acid, which is a completely normal part of the glucose metabolism process and is easily and readily converted into energy. Glycerine, or Glycerol, is a very commonly used liquid with a sweet taste and very low in toxicity. It is also used in other means - such as a filler in low-fat foods, a sugar substitute, and a humectant, and also an additive to Swedish Snus - which is a tobacco producted treated as a food product by the Swedish FDA. How strong are E-Cigs? Concentration strength (nicotine strength) ranges anywhere from 6-8mg all the way up to 16-18mg.

A little background on the E-Cigarette. In April 2003, the first patent by SBT Co was registered in association with the development of an E-Cigarette. In 2004 it was brought to China. In April 2006, the E-Cig was brought to Europe. (A funny note, in the UK it was marketed as the "Electro Fag", which many know a cigarette is called a "fag" in some parts of Europe). It is rapidly expanding in use and growing year by year due to it's ease of use, reduced harm, and ability to give the user the same experience they would get from using a cigarette, which as many know from trying to quit - is the hardest part! The hand to mouth part and the "having something in your hand" part is hard to conquer.

Are E-Cigarettes safe? Are they safer than smoking? Well, you're inhaling a vapor, it's not "smoking" in the traditional sense. By being a "nicotine vaporization" device, you're inhaling simply vapor, with the nicotine hit and no toxic smoke, tar, or risk of second hand to those around you. Since there is no burning of any tobacco, there are no combustion related carcinogens present. Granted, nicotine is present, but it's one of the more benign elements in tobacco. As there are not many studies right now on E-Cigs, the only thing that we can be uncertain about are the effects of prolonged usage of propylene glycol. I myself don't forsee it being a bad thing, as it can be metabolized easily in the body, but it remains to be seen.

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