Simply The Best? Electronic Cigarettes And Quitting Smoking
Many vapers will tell you that electronic cigarettes are the best way to quit smoking. But are they the best? What exactly are they? How do they work? Are they Safe? Read our impartial overview below.
Note: Electronic cigarettes are not FDA approved tobacco cessation products. They are electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).
For those uninitiated to the world of electronic cigarettes all of these terms can seem confusing at first. You are not alone, we were just as in the dark as you once.
What Are Electronic Cigarettes?
Electronic cigarettes are battery operated devices that attempt to mimic the sensation of smoking a cigarette. They vaporize a liquid (called e-liquid) by heating a metal coil to produce a vapor, which is then inhaled. E-liquid usually contains nicotine (but not always) and comes in a variety of strength levels depending on the severity of your addiction to cigarettes.
The main difference between an electronic cigarette and a normal cigarette is the lack of combustion. Nothing is burning when you use an e-cig, it is a vapor.
(A nice analogy - think of e-cigs like the steam coming from a pot of boiling water on your stove, and think of normal cigarettes like the smoke from a bonfire in your yard)
Because of this lack of combustion you are not inhaling the toxic smoke that is an inevitable byproduct of burning plant matter. This is where the majority of the carcinogenic chemicals in normal cigarettes are produced.
By using an e-cig and not burning anything you are reducing your exposure to these chemicals massively.
Activating and using an e-cig is usually as simple as pushing a button and inhaling. (Some electronic cigarettes do not even require you to push a button and you can just inhale like you would do with a normal cigarette.)
There are various different kinds of electronic cigarette, and they can be categorized into 4 different types. Disposables, cigalikes, vape pens, and mods. (We will discuss the differences between each of these later in this appendix.)
Regardless of the type of e-cig you have, they all contain the 3 main components that make up an electronic cigarette.
The E-liquid, the battery, and the atomizer. (Advanced electronic cigarettes also contain a 4th component. The Mod.)
E-liquid (AKA Juice, e-juice, or just liquid) is the fluid that fuels all electronic cigarettes. It is the substance that is vaporized by all e-cigs to produce vapor that is then inhaled.
Unless you are using disposable e-cigs it is the main thing you will need to replace (refill) regularly.
It is made up of 4 main ingredients. Vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol, nicotine, and flavorings.
(Commonly abbreviated to just VG) is a non-toxic vegetable extract that is thick and sweet. It is commonly used in many types of food and hygiene products such as toothpaste.
(Commonly abbreviated to just PG) is a non-toxic solvent that produces thick clouds of vapor. It is most commonly used as the fluid in smoke machines you see at nightclubs.
are nearly always food grade flavorings intended for use while cooking or candy making that are FDA approved for ingestion.
There are literally thousands of different flavors of e-juice all over the Internet and vapeshops around the world. Each one of these flavors will usually be available with different levels of nicotine concentration.
The atomizer is the part of the e-cig that produces vapor. There are many different types of atomizer with many different names. Clearomizers, cartridges, tanks, cartomizers, attys and many more.
Regardless of their name, for the purposes of this introductory appendix they all serve the same purpose. They hold a reservoir of e-liquid and they contain a heating element- usually in the shape of a coil.
When the button on an e-cig is pressed the heating element is passed electrical current, which starts to vaporize the e-liquid.
For optimal usage most atomizers are generally not supposed to be fully submerged in e-liquid. So to ensure a steady and optimal flow of juice to the atomizer a wick is used, which is usually made from cotton.
When the atomizer vaporizes the e-liquid on the cotton the wick automatically draws more juice in from the reservoir to ensure a constant supply.
With the exception of disposable e-cigs you will have to replace the coil and wick regularly. This is a very simple procedure.
How often you need to do this depends on the quality of your e-cig and how much you use it. To give a ballpark figure, you may need to do this around once a week. (See the maintenance section of this appendix for more details).
At the risk of sounding very obvious – the battery provides electricity to the atomizer enabling it to vaporize the e-liquid.
As a rule, the more power going to your atomizer the more vapor it will produce. The type of battery your e-cig uses depends on what type of e-cig you have.
Cigalikes will have small batteries that are not able to produce a large amount of power. Pen vapes will have modest batteries that are portable and produce a reasonable amount of power. Mods will take large 18650 batteries that can produce large amounts of vapor and are usually much larger (but still portable).
There are two main types of battery. Automatic and manual. For most new vapers there is a good chance your battery will be automatic.
Automatic batteries are usually found in cigalikes and as you may have guessed - they work automatically. This means you will not need to push a button to get vapor from the e-cig. An airflow sensor detects you are inhaling and the battery automatically provides current.
Manual batteries are the opposite of this, they require a button press to activate and produce vapor.
Automatic batteries usually charge quicker and are easier to use for a novice vaper (slightly). But they are less powerful than manual batteries and there is also usually a delay between when you inhale and when the vapor is produced.
The science behind cigarette batteries is complex and important but is a little out of scope for this introductory appendix.
If you are buying a cigalike or a vape pen without a removable battery you need not concern yourself with batteries at all. The battery your e-cig contains will be appropriately rated and you can start vaping immediately.
But if you are buying a advanced vape that requires you to choose which batteries you are going to use – you need to ensure you get the correct battery rating (just because it fits, does not mean it is correct).
When used correctly e-cigs are perfectly safe, but mismatched batteries can lead to fires and explosions. Certainly not something you should guess – contact your local vape shop if in doubt.
The Four Types Of Electronic Cigarette
For many people cigalikes (AKA Minis) are the first things they try when exploring the world of vaping. They are easy and intuitive to use and look and feel like an ordinary tobacco cigarette.
They are the smallest kind of e-cig and are very portable and discreet. From a distance no one will be able to tell that you are not smoking a regular cigarette. You will find them available everywhere. These are the e-cigs you have probably seen on sale in gas stations and convenience stores.
They are the cheapest kind of electronic cigarette and are intended for smokers that are mainly social smokers or people who smoke less than a pack a day. Their small (but very portable) battery means they produce a small amount of vapor compared to other kinds of e-cigs and require regular recharging.
Heavy to average smokers may find them inadequate.
Disposables are cigalikes that cannot be refilled or recharged. Once the battery has drained or the tank is empty you simply throw it away and get another one.
They are usually lower quality than cigalikes and produce less vapor. They are very cheap, and widely available.
They are however a false economy and are not recommended at all.
They are more expensive than a reusable cigalike over the long term and provide a very bad vaping experience. In fact they are so bad that they put some people off the idea of electronic cigarettes forever.
Avoid them at all costs.
Note: Not all cigalikes are disposables, but all disposables are cigalikes.
Vape pens are the middle ground between low powered cigalikes and high-powered mods. They are undoubtedly currently the most popular choice around the world.
They are larger than a cigalike but are still slender, light, and portable. Roughly the size of a thin cigar, they can easily fit in a pocket or a handbag.
Their larger size means that they can hold more charge in their battery and provide more current to the atomizer. The tank size is also considerably larger so you can go longer without refilling. Overall this means bigger clouds of vapor for much, much longer.
They usually have a manual battery which means you will need to press a button to produce vapor. This does make their operation slightly different to a tobacco cigarette, but is a change many people adapt to quickly.
Vape pens are usually recommended for people who are moderate to heavy smokers. Improving upon the areas that cigalikes can be a little lacking in sometimes.
But despite their improvements upon cigalikes, vape pens remain to be a very cheap option that will satisfy most smokers.
Mods (AKA APVs) are the Ferraris of the vape world. They are the ultimate vape experience.
They are larger than a vape pen and come in various shapes and sizes. They are entirely customizable.
When you purchase a mod you will usually only get the mod itself. They do not come with batteries or an atomizer. The batteries they take are usually 3.7 volt lithium ion and provide huge amounts of power compared to vape pens and cigalikes.
They often contain much more advanced software on the chip that is inside (nearly) all electronic cigarettes, allowing for things like variable wattage, temperature control and comprehensive digital displays.
This is the true customized experience of vaping. Once you have selected a mod you will then (usually) need to select an atomizer to go with it. There are hundreds of mods available and hundreds of atomizers. Finding the best combination is an exciting process for many vape enthusiasts, but can be daunting for a beginner.
Due to their complexity it is not usually recommended for new vapers to get a mod as their first e-cig. A vape pen is usually more appropriate.
However if you do want to dive in at the deep end, help is at hand. Just go into your local vapeshop and say you want a mod setup. They will be more than happy to make recommendations for you and ensure that all your components are compatible.
Mods can look daunting at first and many setups can be quite complex. But there are several easy to use and maintain mods and atomizers that should be recommended to you by vape shop staff.
As you might expect a mod will cost you more than a vape pen at first and can cost between $70 and $200 including the atomizer. But they are well worth the extra cost for many experienced vapers. The difference between a mod and a vape pen is night and day.
Electronic Cigarette Maintenance
So now you know the different types of electronic cigarette and their components.
While it may sound daunting, to be totally honest using and maintaining an electronic cigarette is not difficult at all.
(We will only be covering what needs to be done for cigalikes and vape pens here. Mods are out of scope for this appendix.)
So you have got your first e-cig and there are a variety of weird and wonderful things in the box. Where do you start?
Charge The Battery
First thing is first – charge the battery. Do not be tempted to start using it immediately, e-cigs often ship with charge. Read the instructions and charge it fully. A full charge before first use extends the life of the battery and the few hours of waiting will pay dividends in the long run.
Once the battery is charged it is time to assemble the e-cig. If you have a cigalike that has sealed, prefilled tanks then simply follow the instructions and screw the tank onto the battery and you are ready to go.
Fill The Tank
If you have something a little more advanced that requires you to fill the tank - you have one more step.
When you look inside the tank you will see what is an obvious airflow hole. You cant miss it, a large hole / tube in the center of the tank. You do not want juice to go down the airflow, it will leak out the bottom of your e-cig and you will get juice in your mouth while using it.
Simply tilt the tank at a slight angle and fill it to a level that does not overflow into the airflow hole. Close up the tank and attach it to the battery. You are then good to go!
It is usually not advised to use all the e-liquid in a tank before refilling, try and keep it above 25% full at all times. This is because the holes that contain the wick are usually higher than the base of the tank.
If your wick does not have any juice to draw to into the coil you will get what is called a dry hit – essentially burnt cotton. This tastes disgusting and contains a whole host of dangerous toxins you do not want to inhale. You will also then need to replace the coil / atomizer, as it will be burnt and taste bad.
Sounds scary – but easy to avoid. Keep your tank as full as possible!
After you have your e-cig set up and have been vaping for a while, you will need to do small amounts of easy maintenance. Ensuring you can vape whenever you need to without issue.
In a vape pen over time the coil inside the atomizer will get old and will need to be replaced. If you notice your vape start to taste a little funny – this is the time to replace it.
How often you need to do this depends on how much you vape and how high your wattage is. A rule of thumb is around once a week, replacement coils are cheap compared to cigarettes. So do not be afraid to be liberal with your coil changes. Doing this is an easy process that differs between manufacturers. Instructions are usually clear and very similar to what you did when you set up your e-cig for the first time.
Where can I buy an electronic cigarette?
You can buy an e-cig just about anywhere these days. Most gas stations and convenience stores stock cigalikes.
For something a little more advanced you will need to find dedicated vape store, they are easy to find in most cities and large towns.
Vape store staff are renowned for being friendly and knowledgeable about the use of e-cigs. They are usually thrilled to talk to a new vaper about the right kind of e-cig and e-liquid to use.
As always you can also buy e-cigs and vaping supplies online. There are a multitude of websites all over the world that can supply you direct to your door.
I saw an advert for a free e-cig, is it legitimate
99% of the time no. These are often scams, which require you to enter your credit card details to receive the free e-cig. If you read the fine print you will see that you will be rebilled for a large amount monthly and sent more of these “free” e-cigs in the post.
These free trial e-cigs are well known for being exceptionally low quality and will stop working very quickly. We recommend avoiding them at all costs.
How Much Do E-cigs Cost?
the price range for e-cigs varies massively deepening on what type of electronic cigarette you buy. you will be able to find low quality disposable e-cigs in gas stations for under $10.
on the other end of the spectrum a high end box mod can cost you up to $200. and as you can imagine there are a whole other range of options in between to suit all budgets.
What Is The Best Electronic Cigarette For Me?
This is a question that is not easily answered. different people will want different things out of their e-cigs. some will want large clouds of white vapor from a high power box mod. others will want a discrete and small pen vape that is easily transported.
We recommend visiting your local vape shop and talking to the staff face to face. don’t be afraid to say it’s your first time trying an e-cig. the staff are very passionate about vaping and love nothing more than welcoming a new person into the world of electronic cigarettes.
because of the genuine passion vape shop staff and owners have, hard selling you an expensive e-cig because you are new is very uncommon and staff can usually be trusted.
Cancer Research UK
FDA E-Cig Directive
Our Position On E cigs
To complement Quitza’s social cessation technologies we started thinking about creating a resources section for our users to quickly and easily get information about various smoking related topics.
Electronic cigarettes were always going to be a controversial topic. Many of us use e-cigs here at Quitza. However we have always been unsure if we should publically take a position as an organization that reflects our personal beliefs. (Due to the anti e-cig positions taken up by other large cessation organizations).
Head vs Heart
We wanted to share our experiences of vaping but did not want to cut ties with these large cessation organizations. We wish to work with them, as any small project like ours does.
However, it would be irresponsible and disingenuous for us to not provide information on electronic cigarettes if they were as good as, or better than forms of FDA approved nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) for reducing nicotine withdrawal cravings.
You do not have to go far on the internet to find thousands of vapers providing anecdotal evidence of how they have successfully quit smoking by switching to e-cigs. (Ourselves included on our private social media profiles and various forum accounts.)
We were not comfortable withholding this information on electronic cigarettes. We were only doing so because of our fears of being cast out from the cessation community. We felt trapped.
E-cigs are a new technology, but there have been several studies done on many aspects of their sale and usage. Studies have been done (and continue to be done) on their health benefits and risks, their appeal to younger people, their regulation, and what we are most interested in, their efficacy as a ENDS.
Which is when we realized what a unique position we are in as technology based cessation organization with thousands of users.
For us to take a position on vaping we could find out the answers for ourselves by studying our users. If electronic cigarettes helped them reduce nicotine withdrawal cravings as much the most popular forms of FDA approved NRT, we would see it as a mandate to come out as an organization and support the use of electronic cigarette technology.
So that is what we did. But we messed up.
The data overwhelmingly pointed towards the conclusions that e-cig users are much more likely to crave less, and relapse less than other quitters. The amount of improvement was large. But we do not and cannot claim this as fact due to our errors, and do not wish to be quoted on this in any way.
Our methodology was flawed, in the interests of transparency we will list our errors here.
Data on the nicotine content in the e-liquid of users electronic cigarettes was not collected. (The users were asked if they are using nicotine replacement therapy, but we do not know the concentration of nicotine used)
Similarly we did not know the strength of the nicotine patches that were used by the nicotine patch users.
As we did not collect data on the nicotine content of e-liquid or nicotine patches - we also did not know if our users reduced the strength of their patches or e-liquid over the 30 day period.
We also did not collect data on the types of electronic cigarette that were being used. This is very important data as there are vast differences between the different types of e-cigs available.
There is a vast difference between a disposable cigalike, a vape pen, and a advanced 200 watt box mod.
All Quitza members who did not opt out were included in this study. We did not select any members for inclusion or exclusion. We used our entire user base. This does mean the members included in the study were not a true statistical random sample.
As a result of these inaccuracies we are not going to release the results of this preliminary study, we have corrected the issues above and will be publishing a new study in due course.
We will collect a larger data set, using true random sampling, over a greater expanse of time. We will be collecting information on nicotine concentrations of both nicotine patches and electronic cigarette e-lqiuid. And we will be comparing the various types of electronic cigarette to the various other forms of NRT and cessation medication available.
To be totally honest while this data was very exciting to collect and analyze it was not a total surprise.
As we mentioned at the start of this article, many of us here at Quitza have quit smoking by using electronic cigarettes. The majority of us have tried quitting with other methods in the past. Any of us could have told you how much easier quitting with an e-cig was compared to any other method we tried in the past.
We now see the results of our study (despite the flaws mentioned above) as a clear mandate from our members.
From this moment onwards Quitza fully supports the use of electronic cigarette technology.
We unfortunately do expect future partnerships and collaborations with cessation non-profits to be limited by our new position. We do not expect this to change until the evidence advocating for the use of electronic cigarettes becomes too overwhelming to ignore.
Regardless, we stand with vapers on what will be the right side of history.
The potential to save millions of lives by embracing the biggest public health innovation in a century should be advocated, studied, and celebrated.
And that is what we intend to do.