Given the fact that e-cigarettes were non-existent only a few years ago, their increasing popularity and growth has been phenomenal. Vapers are being spotted more and more in public, and the vaping industry as such has experienced an unprecedented success in sales. In the year 2010, only 750,000 electronic cigarettes were sold around the world, but sales quickly increased to 2.5 million the very next year. And so far in 2012, 3.5 million devices have been sold. The industry is showing no signs of slowing down; it is being speculated that these devices have the potential to replace tobacco cigarettes completely in the future. What makes e-cigarettes so popular? Let’s take a look.
How do E-cigarettes Work?
E-cigarettes look almost the same as tobacco ones. They even light up at the end and allow users to take puffs. But that’s pretty much where the similarities end. While analog cigarettes contain tobacco that has several toxins and produces smoke as it burns, e-cigarettes contain nothing of the sort. They only have a cartridge filled with ‘juice’, which is made of 5 ingredients – nicotine, glycerol, propylene glycol, water, and added flavorings. When the user takes a puff, the liquid is vaporized by the atomizer and this vapor is inhaled, providing a hit of nicotine directly to the lungs. The same water vapor is exhaled as well.
E-Cigarettes: The Healthier Option
One of the main reasons that make e-cigarettes so popular is that they are considered to be a healthier, safer way to smoke. Let’s face it – smokers are addicted to not just nicotine but the act of puffing as well. The reason why nicotine gum or patches don’t work is because they don’t cater to that part of the addiction. With e-cigarettes on the other hand, not only do you avoid tobacco, you wouldn’t feel like you’re missing out on anything. Because there isn’t any tobacco in the e-cig, there are almost no toxins, no carcinogens, and no unwanted odor, discoloration of the teeth or gums or bad breath. It’s just like someone took a cigarette, cleaned out all the bad stuff and left in only the good stuff – the nicotine. Of course, nicotine can be harmful if consumed in excess, or by people with certain health problems, but otherwise it’s about as harmless as caffeine. A study conducted in Greece even shows that e-cigarettes are not as bad for cardiac function as tobacco cigs are.
E-cigarettes come in a variety of flavors – cherry, pineapple, chocolate, mint, menthol and a whole lot of exotic ones as well. This vastly improves the taste, and many smokers admit to liking them better. A recent study showed that about 30% of the smokers surveyed had completely replaced their tobacco cigs with electronic ones. Some manufacturers are now producing e-cigs infused with vitamins. Critics do worry that this could attract a user group that is younger than intended, getting kids addicted to the devices. However, there are no concrete studies showing young kids using e-cigarettes.
Other Advantages of E-Cigarettes
Several countries have imposed bans against cigarette smoking. The best way to counter this is the e-cigarette, of course. During the vaping process there is no toxic smoke being exhaled, only water vapor that does not pose much of a threat to passersby. Second hand vapor is considered harmless, so vapers are free to puff away at most restaurants, subways or at the movies. However, a few questions have been raised over the lack of any research or evidence that e-vapor is completely safe. A few cities and states have already put a ban in place over e-cigs. Amtrack forbids them on trains and the U.S. Navy below deck on submarines.
Economically, e-cigarettes are a viable option and better than tobacco analogs in this aspect too. They were expensive initially, at $200 per e-cig a few years ago. However, all that has changed now, with a unit selling at approximately $21. Replacement cartridges aren’t expensive either; they cost $3 each and last as long as a-pack-and-a-half of cigarettes. With the rising costs of tobacco, consumers find that e-cigarettes do not pinch their pocket as much.
E-cigarettes are highly customizable devices. You can control how much nicotine you would like to inhale and the strength of the ‘hit’ at any given time. E-liquid is available in several concentrations with varying nicotine strengths for you to choose from. And if you’re not happy with the filler material in cartridges, you can directly fill them up with e-liquid from bottles. There are low and high resistance e-cigs, variable voltage e-cigs and automatic and manual e-cig batteries to choose from. With just a little experimenting, vapers are able to get the best possible experience out of an e-cigarette.
As you can see, there are several reasons for the ever-growing popularity of e-cigs. Celebrity endorsements do help the cause as well, like when Katherine Heigl lit one up on The Late Show and Johnny Depp in the movie, The Tourist. But more than anything else, it is probably the experience of vaping itself that has contributed to the popularity of e-cigs. As one former chain smoker said, “My brain thinks it’s still smoking. But my smoker’s cough is gone.”