Personal vaporizers, also called E-cigs or vape pens, are quickly becoming an alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes. Vaping has grown from a niche market to a multi-billion dollar industry in less than ten years. There are many compelling reasons for this growth as well as some myths and, at times, grandiose unscientific claims. As with any new technology, there are dissenters standing alongside the cheerleaders. While the debate goes on about whether or not vaping is truly a healthy alternative, there are many factors any consumer should consider when thinking about taking up vaping. |
What is Vaping?
Personal vaporizers are battery-powered devices that are used to deliver a measured amount of flavor, vapor, and nicotine. They come in many sizes and shapes from the small, pen-sized units to complex mod units that can be built to the user's specifications. Regardless of the type, they are all made up of three basic parts: a battery, a coil (also called an atomizer), and a reservoir for liquid, which is responsible for producing the vapor. Higher end units give a user the ability to adjust battery voltage, allowing for more or less vapor. There are many different products on the market and many ways to build an E-cig. Most vape shops suggest starter kits for first-time vapers since the choices are so broad, and most kits allow for add-ons later.
What is Juice?
Juice or E-liquid is the fluid that gives vaporizers their flavor, nicotine, and vapor. There are four ingredients involved. The base of the liquid is made of vegetable glycerin, and most juice makers use a certified organic version. This component creates the vapor. The second ingredient is propylene glycol, not to be confused with diethylene glycol that is found in anti-freeze. Propylene glycol is also used in asthma inhalers, and it's considered to be safe to inhale. This ingredient is used to carry the flavors. The third ingredient is also for the E-cig flavors, which are made with food-grade, natural, or artificial ingredients. The last additive found in E-liquid is pharmaceutical-grade nicotine. It is carefully measured by milligrams per milliliter, and the strength can be adjusted according to personal preference down to zero milligrams.
Is Vaping Healthy?
A 2016 study conducted by the University College London and funded by Cancer Research UK concluded that people who use E-cigs had 56 to 97 percent lower levels of tobacco-related toxins compared to individuals who smoke cigarettes. This is good news for the vaping industry, but there is a catch. These lowered toxin levels applied only to E-cig users who had completely quit smoking cigarettes. In contrast, those using both products showed no lower levels. The study ultimately stated that vaping might be less toxic than cigarettes, but no ultimate conclusion has been made yet. The findings were compared to nicotine replacement therapies like nicotine gum, patches, and lozenges, and it was found that vaping is as effective and far less toxic, especially for long term use. Although this study advances the case for healthy alternatives to smoking, there is still more research needed before declaring vaporizers safe.
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