An electronic cigarette, e-cigarette or vaporize cigarette, is a battery-powered device that provides inhaled doses of nicotine or non-nicotine vaporized solution. It is an alternative to smoked tobacco products, such as cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. In addition to purported nicotine deliver, this vapor also provides a flavor and physical sensation similar to that of inhaled tobacco smoke, while no smoke or combustion is actually involved in its operation.
An electronic cigarette takes the form of some manner of elongated tube, though many are designed to resemble the outward appearance of real smoking products, like cigarettes, cigars, and pipes. Another common design is the “pen-style”, so named for its visual resemblance to a ballpoint pen. Most electronic cigarettes are reusable devices with replaceable and refillable parts. A number of disposable electronic cigarettes have also been developed.
The electronic cigarette was invented by a Chinese medicine practitioner Hon Lik in China in 2003 and introduced to the market the next year. The company he worked for, Golden Dragon Holdings, later changed its name to Ruyan (meaning “to resemble smoking”) and started selling abroad. The mouthpiece is a small disposable plastic cup-like piece affixed to the end of the tube. Inside the mouthpiece is a smaller plastic cup which holds an absorbent material that is saturated with a flavored liquid solution. The level of nicotine varies depending on the solution. This inner cup is made such that air is able to flow around it and through a hole in the end of the outer piece; this is necessary for the device to provide the ability for suction to move the vapor into the user’s mouth. The mouthpiece is referred to in the industry as a “cartridge”. When the liquid in the cartridge has been depleted, it can either be refilled by the user or replaced with another pre-filled cartridge
Battery and electronics
Most electronic cigarettes employ a lithium-ion rechargeable battery to power the heating element. Battery life varies depending on the battery type and size, frequency of use, and operating environment. Many different battery charger types are available, such as wall outlet, car, and USB chargers. The battery is generally the largest component of an electronic cigarette.
Some electronic cigarettes employ an electronic airflow sensor to automatically activate the heating element upon inhalation, while other models require the user to press a button while inhaling. Various other electronic circuits are usually employed as well, such as a timed cutoff switch to prevent overheating and a colored LED to signal activation of the device and also to mimic the glow of a cigarette’s end tip.
Traditionally, electronic cigarettes have utilized an electronic means of activation. This involved the use of small tactile switches, vacuum switches and the related wiring and electronics necessary to run them. Users soon discovered these could be unreliable. With the advent of “mods”, several manufacturers have created all-mechanical electronic cigarettes that eliminate the use of any wiring, solder or electronics in an effort to improve switch reliability.
While some larger electronic cigarette models employ a user-replaceable standard-size battery cell, many models are too small to house a standard-size cell and instead require a proprietary component made by the electronic cigarette manufacturer. For those models, the battery and electronic components are housed within a single replaceable part, which is still generally referred to in the industry simply as the “battery”.
There have been some recent developments with the implementation of mobile phone battery technology into this market sector allowing the electronic cigarettes batteries to be charged on the go in a crumple proof box known as a Personal Charging Case. The rechargeable battery inside the Personal Charging Case allows the user to charge the battery stems inside the case and store the replacement cartomizers/cartridges too. The recharging box/case is also the same size as a packet of traditional tobacco cigarettes.
Nicotine and non-nicotine solution
Nicotine solutions sold separately for use in refillable cartridges are sometimes referred to as “e-liquid” or “e-juice”, and commonly contain some amount of flavoring, with hundreds of different flavors available. They consist of nicotine dissolved in propylene glycol (PG) and/or vegetable glycerin (glycerol) or VG. Both PG and VG are common food additives.
Solutions are also available in differing nicotine concentrations, to let the user decide the amount of nicotine to be taken in. Concentrations range from Zero Nicotine, low and midrange doses (6–8 mg/ml and 10–14 mg/ml respectively), to high and extra-high doses (16–18 mg/ml and 24–36 mg/ml respectively). The concentration ratings are often printed at the e-liquid bottle or cartridge, although the standard notation “mg/ml” often gets abbreviated to just “mg”. Solutions are also available that contain no nicotine at all.
Some flavor varieties attempt to resemble traditional cigarette types, such as regular tobacco and menthol, and some even attempt to mimic specific cigarette brands, such as Marlboro or Camel. Fruit and other flavors are also available, such as vanilla, caramel, and coffee.