More and more people in the United States are supplanting their regular cigarette habit with a trendy new nicotine delivery system: e-cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes have started to appear everywhere, from the street corner where e-cig holders chat with the regular smokers to public transportation where riders puff while commuting.
Vaping - smoking with e-cigs - has surged in popularity thanks largely to two major factors. Firstly, a lot of e-cigarette users claim that vaping is healthier than smoking a regular cigarette. Secondly, since vaping doesn’t release thick clouds of noxious smoke, it's accepted more places than traditional cigarettes or cigars.
But what is vaping, really? How does an e-cigarette work, and what are its long term effects? It's fascinating to consider how modern technology could change - or even supplant - a longtime habit.
Second-hand smoke can be dangerous to non-smokers, too. Though the poisons inhaled that way aren't as potent, they still present a potential health risk.
E-cigs pose similar threats to other people. Even though there’s no smoke, e-cigs do expose the people around the user to "secondhand emissions," which can include toxins like formaldehyde.
The idea behind classic cigarettes is pretty straightforward: tobacco is shredded, laced with chemicals, and packed into a cylinder of paper that smokers ignite to smoke.
E-cigarettes, on the other hand, are a bit more complicated. No matter the brand, e-cigs are mostly the same internally. They have a rechargeable lithium battery, a slot for a cartridge of liquid nicotine, a heating coil to atomize the nicotine in the cartridge, and a sensor that registers when a user inhales. Lots of e-cigs also have a light in them to simulate the cherry of a regular cigarette.
Basically, when you inhale on an e-cigarette or vape, the sensor triggers the heating coil to boil the nicotine in the cartridge, converting it into a vapor that you can inhale - hence, the term vaporizer.
As you likely know, traditional cigarettes contain nicotine. That’s true of e-cigarettes as well. Nicotine occurs naturally in a variety of plant life, like tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplants, though it occurs at especially high volume in tobacco.
When the human body is exposed to nicotine, it gets a jolt to the adrenal glands that stimulates the production of epinephrine, or adrenaline. It promotes the production of dopamine, too (also known as the body’s feel good juice). That's partly what makes tobacco so addictive.
When you inhale on a cigarette, there’s a scientifically observed change in your behavior. Tobacco has been proven to cause varying reactions in its users based on their individual "personality characteristics." In other words, tobacco can act as a stimulant for some, or a sedative for others.
E-cig smokers are chasing this same effect when they vape. The tobacco is just being processed in a different way.