I wondered for a while if this topic would be best suited here but eventually concluded that electronic cigarettes are a clever way to hack smoking ;)
The electronic cigarette fad appeals to me on many levels, but foremost because I believe it is a perfect expression of a technologically advanced society applying just a modicum of its potential and common sense to conquer a problem that has gone needlessly unsolved for a very long time. It has long been known that cigarette addiction has more components than nicotine. Cessation tools like patches and gums have a failure rate somewhere on the order of 90% because they do not address the physical conditioning aspect. Part of the habit involves the weight of the cigarette in the fingers, the sensation of it on the lips and the smell taste and temperature of the gasses inhaled. Tactics like sucking on a lollipop rely on an oversimplified model of the problem while electronic cigarettes promise to provide a reasonably believable smoking experience whilst delivering adjustable amounts of nicotine - minus the myriad combustion products produced by a real cigarette.
The nicotine suspension or "e-juice" has three components: a food-safe glycerol base, food-safe flavouring and optionally a nicotine dose. The solution is vaporised on a battery-powered heating element so these chemicals are absorbed directly by the lungs without any combustion to alter them. The FDA and Health Canada have advised that electronic cigarettes are not safe and should be avoided and this has lead to a lot of conspiracy theorizing. When you consider that China has an awful reputation for exporting products containing heavy metals I find it becomes easy to understand their rationale. Nontheless, it is my humble opinion that something with the kind of potential that e-cigs have should be fast-tracked to federal testing - Health Canada would have a much more budgetary room to breathe if thousands of smokers didn't require treatment each year.
I have been a smoker since the age of 15 and I have never tried to quit. I really enjoy smoking; I like the way it feels, I like the way it looks and I like the way it tastes. Despite this, by most standards I'm a light smoker. I only smoke around half a pack of king size lights a day and tend to chip them half way to finish later. I am not explicitly setting out to quit smoking by switching to electronic cigarettes but I think it would be wonderful if that was the end result. I don't want to give up "smoking" in some form and I am hopeful e-cigs can give me that without the lung problems. This will be the first in a series of articles where I review the products I buy in the course of my adventure and share tips I have found helpful.
First up, the Health E-Cigarette:
This single cigarette kit cost $15.00USD including shipping on eBay. It took just over a month to arrive from Hong Kong, which is unusual as I'm used to seeing packages from the pacific rim in 2-3 weeks. I think eBay has some sort of restriction on selling e-cigs because most listings seem to be sporadic and end up user-deleted before their natural expiration.Â This was actually the "backup" kit I had ordered; something in the back of my head told me there would be a problem with the one I wanted being delivered so I ordered this cheap one off of eBay the next day and sure enough I had to cancel my first oder due to incompetence. I was disappointed to find the cartridges that were included had no nicotine (and evidently no flavour though there is a mild off-cocnutty taste to them). Even if the vapour got me off these would never do it for me psychologically.
On the bright side, the included atomizer uses the angled "steel wool" sort of element which folks across the board indicate is better for "dipping" or "dripping" (applying e-juice directly to the element for more full-bodied hits) because it protrudes. I was expecting the cartridges to be composed of saturated foam but to my surprise they came in the form of plastic capsules with aluminum foil covering one end. I'm not particularly fond of this idea since the heating element is used to puncture the foil of the cartridge and as I understand it atomizers tend to break often. I also see these being a pain in the ass to refill for the same reason they tend to unload all of their juice if the cartridge is removed: a reliance on the "seal" made by the heating element pressed against the burst foil.
I'm not impressed with the amount of vapour this model produces. Interestingly, the atomizer has two holes and this video suggests covering one for better vapour production:
If there has been an increase on this unit the improvement has been minimal enough as to be intangible. Full disclosure: cutie in the vid sells these things.
In summary, I'm not very happy with my new e-cig on first impressions but I want to withhold judgement until I get some flavoured and nicotine-containing juice, which will hopefully make the vapour feel more full-bodied. This isn't the model I wanted to get anyway and I'm not completely put off; I'll be shopping around some more and plan to make my next purchase soon.