Electronic cigarettes or the smokeless cigarette is an electrical device which gives you the feeling of smoking a tobacco cigarette. It produces a mist that is inhaled, which has the physical sensation, flavour and appearance of a normal cigarette. Electronic cigarettes use heat to vaporize an e-liquid solution to produce an aerosol mist. The process is like vaporization that happens in a nebulizer or a humidifier where different solutions are vaporized for inhalation. Most smokeless cigarettes are similar to tobacco cigarettes in look, but sizes might vary depending on the battery capacities. Reusable electronic cigarettes with replaceable and refillable parts are available in the market and some disposable electronic cigarettes are also available. The modern smokeless cigarette design that is in use now was devised by Hon Lik, a Chinese pharmacist in 2003. But the concept of electronic cigarette was developed by Herbert A Gilbert in the year 1963. To know more about e-cigarettes visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_cigarette.
Components of an electronic cigarette
- There are three essential components present in an electronic cigarette. They are the cartridge, an atomizer and the power supply.
- The cartridge is the mouthpiece and it holds the liquid that has to be vaporized. It is a small disposable plastic container that has openings on both ends. One end fits onto the atomizer and the other end in the user’s mouth.
- The cartridge allows the passage of the contained liquid into the atomizer and also allows the vapour from the atomizer to reach the user’s mouth. An absorbent sponge like material is used to accomplish this.
- The atomizer is responsible for vaporizing the liquid and is the heating element. It is generally made up of a wicking mesh to draw the liquid in and a simple filament.
- The atomizer is connected to the cartridge on one end and to the power supply on the other.
- The power source is usually a lithium ion rechargeable battery which can be charged as any other electronic device.
- In automatic electronic cigarettes, an electronic airflow sensor is used that triggers the vaporization by drawing breath through the e cigarette.
- In the case of disposable electronic cigarettes, the cartridge and atomizer is fused into one and is called a cartomizer.
Types of liquids available for electronic cigarettes
The liquids that are used in electronic cigarettes to produce vapour can be got as bottled products or as pre filled disposable cartridges. These liquids come in hundred of flavours and there are liquids that are made to resemble the taste of traditional cigarettes like regular tobacco and menthol. Food flavours like coffee, vanilla, strawberry, Boston cream are also available. The liquids are also available in varying nicotine levels from low doses of nicotine (6-8 mb/ml) to extra high levels of nicotine (24-36 mg/ml). The nicotine concentration ratings are often printed on the packing materials and on the containers. The bases for these liquids are hygroscopic components like glycerine, polyethylene glycol and propylene glycol.
Health concerns regarding electronic cigarettes
The effect that electronic cigarettes might have on one’s health is currently unknown. There are several studies being held regarding long term health effects that inhalation of nicotine vapour might have on people. Since electronic cigarettes do not contain harmful additives like tar, hydrocarbons and gum, it is safer than regular cigarettes.