Electronic cigarettes have sustained a meteoric rise in popularity over the last 5 years making it cool to a part of the electronic cigarette culture. With no long-term studies available, health risks are speculative at best. Are they a safe and effective alternative to tobacco use or temptation for young people to start smoking?
Electronic Cigarette Culture in Society and Culture
People who use electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes (e-cigs) are often referred to as ‘vapers’. Vapers have rallied around the product much like any hobby enthusiast would and support their right to utilize the device despite much of the dispute and stigma surrounding it. Many support its potential as practical nicotine replacement therapy because of the lack of carcinogens and other harmful substances in a typical tobacco cigarette. Some have gone so far as to support and lobby legislation protecting their right to use them.
Many avid vapers have joined the ever-growing industry in a variety of ways. Smoke shops have turned into ‘vapor bars’ and stores. Vapers with some mechanical and technical skills have turned creating new and original electronic cigarettes into a market for rare and high-quality products. Even more have turned creating e-liquid into a veritable art form, developing and designing new and interesting flavors. Conventions have popped up all over the country where these enthusiasts can show off their products and promote the lifestyle that accompanies it.
What are electronic cigarettes?
Electronic cigarettes are essentially just that: an electronic battery-powered vaporizing device that delivers vapor or simulated smoke to the user. E-cigarettes use a solution known as e-liquid or e-juice, which can contain a mixture of vegetable glycerin and flavoring that can be combined with different levels of nicotine. Some people also choose to smoke e-cigarettes without the use of nicotine in order to emulate the act of smoking to satiate an oral fixation.
An electronic is broken down into four parts, as pictured above. A mouthpiece which may contain the e-juice (if a tank or holding device is not separate), an atomizer or heating element such as a coil, a battery to power the atomizer and an LED or light that notifies when it is in use or the battery is low.
Are electronic cigarettes safe?
A sub-group of vapors known as ‘cloud chasers’ create and assemble devices that are able to produce a large amount of vapor at a time, a practice known as ‘cloud chasing.’ Though this is a growing trend, there is a large cause for concern about how cloud chasers go about achieving such large amounts of vapor. A typical battery is stressed to the point where the potential for failure or even explosions is greatly increased. Because of this, some members of the vaping community have voiced their concerns that this type of vaping has given the culture a bad reputation, especially while doing it in public
How much do they cost?
There are various variations of these parts, ranging in price from ‘throw-away’ versions $10 or less to collectibles worth well over $1000. Especially among the community of cloud-chasers, expensive mechanical mods, or mods for short, are coveted and prized, especially when few versions of a specific make or model are produced.
Despite this, the cost of a casual smoker switching to electronic cigarettes has been a large selling point. Where a typical smoker who may spend $5 or $10 a day on cigarettes, that same smoker may spend that much per week on e-juice and batteries when switching over.
Are electronic cigarettes going to become illegal?
A growing concern with electronic cigarette culture is how it is viewed as trendy or cool among young people and even children, and may increase addiction and use among their demographics. Because of this, the emerging culture has raised many concerns among health regulators and state governments.
Most legislation is pending in many countries and does not carry the same laws as a typical tobacco product would. Up until recently, smoking electronic cigarettes was legal in most public places, and now many cities, including Los Angeles, have implemented laws on where they can be used. Regulations in cities, states and countries vary widely from some having none to others banning the devices entirely.
Where do you stand on the rise of the electronic cigarette culture? Are electronic cigarettes a safe alternative or practical use in the aid of the cessation of smoking? Are they too appealing to young people to engage in addictive behavior? Let us know what you think!