What are electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) and vaporizers (vapes)?
Both are delivery systems that allow the user to inhale chemicals contained in tobacco and other plant material in vapor form without the tar and smoke created through burning such substances. The latest generation of devices use rechargeable batteries which powers a heating element that converts the chemicals and flavors found in liquids, oils, waxes, solid concentrates, or herbal blends into a vapor or mist.
What’s the difference between e-cigs and vapes?
Electronic cigarette is the term commonly used for compact vaporizers roughly the size and shape of traditional cigarettes (usually slightly larger) and are designed specifically for vaporizing nicotine liquid. Vaporizers are typically larger than e-cigarettes and are usually designed to be used with herbal blends (flower) and/or concentrates in the form of oils (dabs), solids (shatter) or waxes (budder). This is why all e-cigs are a type of vaporizer but not all vaporizers are e-cigs. Vaporizers that look similar to e-cigs (often called vape pens) are popular for their convenience and discreteness, but larger devices typically have longer battery life, more powerful and adjustable heating elements, modular components and other features not found in more compact devices. In addition, there’s cigalikes, which are e-cigs designed to mimic the appearance of tobacco cigarettes in size and color pattern. Typically considered entry level nicotine vaping devices, they are often disposable or use disposable cartridges, produced by Big Tobacco corporations and contain on average five times less battery power and liquid volume than larger devices.
Can vaporizers and electronic cigarettes aid smoking cessation and are they safe?
While nothing can be called 100% safe, current research indicates they are magnitudes safer than tobacco cigarettes. According to the conclusions of a study published in the Journal of Public Health Policy called “Electronic cigarettes as a harm reduction strategy for tobacco control”:
We conclude that electronic cigarettes show tremendous promise in the fight against tobacco-related morbidity and mortality. By dramatically expanding the potential for harm reduction strategies to achieve substantial health gains, they may fundamentally alter the tobacco harm reduction debate.
(Cahn, Siegel, 2011 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21150942 )
According to Jacques Le Houezec, a French public health consultant specializing in tobacco dependence, e-cigarettes have been found to contain minute levels of harmful substances, but the levels of toxicants are up to 450 times lower than in cigarette smoke. Other studies which show the efficacy of e-cigs as a harm reduction strategy:
Because e-cig users are able to more precisely regulate the level of nicotine in the vapor they inhale (self-titrate) than smokers inhaling cigarette smoke, smokers would be potentially more empowered to reduce and/or end nicotine dependence if they were determined to do so. For smokers trying to switch to e-cigarettes, here’s a few other tips: https://cascadiavape.com/2014/10/30/tips-for-smokers-switching-to-e-cigarettes/
While traditional cigarettes are the leading cause of fire-related deaths in the US, the e-cigs and vapes we carry do not rely on open flames and the heating elements are insulated enough to not cause fires if left unattended. Most models also require holding a button down and have lock mechanisms to prevent accidental activation such as when storing them in a pants pocket. Of course not all e-cigs and vapes are equal, and more expensive higher quality devices will tend to be sturdier and safer than cheaper devices.
Also, just as children should always be kept away from cigarettes and matches, one should always keep them away from e-cig liquids and vape concentrates. Oral ingestion or transdermal absorption of such substances can lead to a dangerously high and sudden intake of chemicals. Be careful when filling e-liquid tanks. If you get liquid on skin or clothing, wash off immediately with cold water and soap. Before traveling by plane, it is advisable to empty the liquid chamber of e-cigarettes and store the cartridges and liquid bottles in a waterproof bag, as cabin pressurization may sometimes cause liquids to leak out of containers that are normally sealed.
What are the materials vaporized by e-cigs and vapes?
The nicotine liquids vaporized by electronic cigarettes typically contain varying levels of nicotine (usually indicated on the label), flavoring, and diluents including propylene glycol (an ingredient found in foods and fog machines), vegetable glycerine, and aqueous glycerine. Higher quality liquids such as the variety that we carry use only food and pharmaceutical grade ingredients. It should be noted not all e-liquids contain nicotine. For example, we carry only liquids which contain CBD and Kava.
Vaporizers typically use grinded herbs or oil, solid and wax concentrates. Herbs (flower) may include cannabis though there’s many other aromatherapy herbs made for vaporizers with adjustable temperature settings. Concentrates such as oils (dabs), solids (shatter) and waxes (budder) are typically extracted through the use of butane (BHO) or carbon dioxide (CO2) solvents. Products created through the CO2 method are safer to produce since it’s not flammable and generally considered safer to ingest. However, some people prefer the taste of BHO products and professional manufacturers have made great strides in their ability to remove residues. It‘s not uncommon for vape kits to come with interchangeable adaptors which allow the device to be used for herbs and different varieties of concentrates. Less common are models which allow users to use herbs and concentrates as well as nicotine liquids but there’s a few great kits on the market such as the Gentleman’s Brand Ambassador and Vapor Dab Rebuildable.
Are vapes and e-cigs a better investment than traditional forms of smoking?
Generally speaking, the answer is yes because though there’s a higher initial investment for quality vaping equipment, in the long run it’s more economical because vaping is a more efficient delivery system allowing one to enjoy the chemical content of the vapor to the fullest with little waste and less unwanted by-products being inhaled. Unlike cigarette smoking, vaping allows one to smoke less then a cigarette’s worth of nicotine (or more) without needing to commit to smoking an entire cigarette nor having to discard unused portions when one stops. A more nuanced answer depends on the usage patterns of the individual and what one is comparing it to. Herbal concentrates are more expensive than natural herb because of the value-added processing, but because they’re concentrates one needs relatively less of the material to achieve the same effect. When comparing e-cigs to traditional cigarettes the savings are even more dramatic. Pack-a-day smokers spend upwards to $300 a month for their habit. A decent quality e-cig kit including all components and liquid would be more than half as much on average. When factoring in indirect costs such as health and insurance, potential property damage caused by smoke, odors, ashes, and fires, effect on appearance (ie. stained teeth and nails) and increasing social stigma of tobacco cigarettes (while social acceptance of vaping continues to rise) e-cigs and vapes are undeniably less costly.
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This website does not provide medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care providers regarding medical conditions or treatment.