Indiana University Bloomington

Indiana Prevention Resource Center (IPRC)

E-Cigarettes

E-Cigarettes, formally known as Electronic Cigarettes, are battery-powered gadgets producing vaporized nicotine to users after each inhalation. Unlike traditional cigarettes, E-Cigs are sensory activated to heat up a liquid combination of nicotine and propylene glycol, known as "eLiquid." The amount of nicotine per puff is half that of a tobacco cigarette.

Made up of four compartments; a LED light cover, battery, atomizer (heating element used to vaporize the E-liquid), and a cartridge, the E-cigarette is just another addition to the group of current tobacco products such as cigarettes, cigars, and pipes. Nicotine is still present, but is dissolved in propylene glycol, commonly found in shampoo, food coloring and onstage theater smoke. The nicotine mixture, which is available in different flavors, is stored in a cartridge designed to look like a traditional orange cigarette filter. The cartridge can be removed and attached to the main body of the E-cigarette where a rechargeable battery can power an electrical circuit. A sensor within the circuit is activated once a smoker inhales, thus causing a red-light-emitting diode at the tip to turn on.

The consumer attraction to electronic cigarettes is the fact that once the eLiquid is heated up, it can vaporize and get sucked into the smoker's lungs without producing an overpowering smell. The general idea for the E-cigs is to provide the same "pseudo-smoking experience without causing a stinky smell."

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced July 22 of this year that a laboratory analysis of electronic cigarette samples has found that they contain carcinogens and toxic chemicals such as diethylene glycol, an ingredient used in antifreeze. Although an Electronic Cigarette contains less nicotine per puff, more scientific evaluation is needed to properly identify health risks and establish new regulations for this device.

by Rebecca Prokopiak, 10/16/2009