What is an Electronic Cigarette

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An electronic cigarette is a gadget which gives you the same sensation and experience of smoking a real cigarette without any combustion of tobacco to achieve the same affects. Essentially you are breathing in and out water vapor which makes it a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes. The water vapor looks, feels and tastes just like the smoke you inhale from a real cigarette but without many of the harmful chemicals.

Although you have probably only recently heard about electronic cigarettes they actually have their beginnings in China. Normally known for their ability to copy rather than innovate, the electronic cigarette was invented in 2003 by Hon Lik, a professor based in Beijing. He had the sad experience of watching his father slowly die after a lifetime of cigarette addiction and was scared about suffering the same fate given his 40 a day habit.

Using his pharmacist and inventor background he invented the nicotine atomizer, a tiny chamber that created a water vapor out of liquid – almost like stage fog you might see at a show. The water vapor contained nicotine, the addictive substance in cigarettes, so the smoker got their ‘fix’ without having to inhale all the other harmful substances like tar, carbon monoxide and smoke particles.

The electronic cigarette is composed of 3 (sometimes 4) parts. The nicotine cartridge, the atomizer and the battery. The nicotine cartridge is a small replaceable cylinder which contains all the chemicals in a liquid form. You can also buy cartridges which have different flavors and contain no nicotine. When you inhale, the liquid is passed to the atomizer chamber, which is powered by the battery. This creates the water vapor that you breathe in. Some electronic cigarettes even have a red indicator light on the tip of the cigarette which turns on when you breathe in. The battery can be recharged so the only part you need to replace is the cartridge.

The electronic cigarette was introduced to America in 2009 and had a rapid uptake as people realized the benefits of a smokeless cigarette. However, the FSA temporarily banned the electronic cigarettes because many companies were advertising them as a 100% safe alternative to real cigarettes. Since electronic cigarettes still contain nicotine, they can’t be said to be entirely without risk, also, the long term affects of breathing in atomized water vapor are relatively unknown. Once the electronic cigarette companies agreed to not market the products as 100% safe and not as a quit smoking aid, the FSA allowed them to go back on sale.

Since the only substance you breathe out is water vapor and there is no combustion, you are able to use smokeless cigarettes virtually anywhere – people have even been allowed to use them on a plane once the air stewards understand how the gadget works.

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