Electric cigarettes or electronic cigarettes are a method of getting nicotine into the system without the aid of tobacco, more particularly without tobacco smoke which is carcinogenic.
This can be used as a cigarette substitute or a way to kick the smoking habit, i.e. a smoking cessation device.
It is used in the same way that people use nicotine patches or gum, it reduces the craving for nicotine that its withdrawal causes.
Of the 4000 chemicals that are reportedly present in a regular cigarette, around 25 are carcinogenic; however electric cigarettes claim to have none of these chemicals. An electric cigarette looks much the same as a regular cigarette with the white tube and brown filter tip.
The other common design of an electric cigarette is rather like a pen. It works by the person inhaling through the device, whereby air flow is detected by a sensor, which activates a heating element that vaporizes a nicotine solution stored in the mouthpiece.
This nicotine then enters the system, helping with the nicotine withdrawal symptoms that people feel when trying to give up smoking.
These cigarettes are supposed to taste just like regular cigarettes and are supposed to stimulate the same kind of satisfaction. Since there is no smoke emitted from these cigarettes you can smoke them at places even where regular cigarettes are not permitted.
Subject to the rules of any particular place, it can be smoked anywhere because it is odorless and does not cause others to suffer passive smoking.
So electric cigarettes do sound very promising for someone who is looking to kick the habit, but are they safe enough? What are their long term effects? Are they bad for health in themselves?
The FDA has contended in a suit that they have filed against distributors of the electronic cigarettes in the US that these come under the definition of a drug and a device. The FDA defines a drug as a substance that is “used for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease in man or other animals.”
The FDA has argued that the electronic cigarette is not a proven cigarette cessation device. The argument of the manufacturers and distributors is that this is an alternative to smoking tobacco cigarettes, not a device to help a person cease smoking.
On the whole reviews of the electric or electronic cigarette are fairly positive and users have attested to the fact that in their view they may “never need another cigarette again. “