E-cigarette introduction: No smoke without Fire

e-cigarette introduction

An e-cigarette introduction: One of the more advanced e-cigs

E-cigarettes, is this a new sneaky ploy of the tobacco industry to backdoor advertisements about smoking or is this product an important step in the right direction when it comes to smoke cessation. Here in part one, an e-cigarette introduction, we’ll explore what E-cigarettes are, how they’re used and what image advertisements paint of the product. All of this sourced from a review article from contemporary reviews in cardiovascular medicine.

E-cigarette Introduction

The current design of the device were engineered by a pharmacist, Hon Lik, in the early 2000s. In the patent application the device was described as a substitute for regular cigarettes that atomizes a solution, a vaporizer. By 2013 all major multinational tobacco companies have some skin in the game with these cigarette like vaporizers. Since it’s not cigarettes in any classical sense companies are free to market in TV and radio about the devices and since they are vaporizers they can get around smoke-free zones since they only emit vapor.

The devices are produced mainly in China the devices themselves vary somewhat in how they’re designed from more cigarette like devices to larger reservoirs types of cigarettes. In principle these devices works by heating a fluid containing nicotine or flavorings forming what users call a “vapor” that’s inhaled. Liquid flavorings can be anything from cola to Belgian waffles in addition to regular tobacco flavors.


Marketing of the devices includes several key phrases. In one study from 2012 authors found claims of these devices being healthier, cheaper and cleaner than regular cigarettes with other marketing ploys focusing on the “smoke it anywhere” aspect of the product. As in the cigarette commercial of old, doctors were used in 22% of websites selling the devices, further driving home the “health claims” of the products. Over half of the sites also promoted the devices as a great way to quit smoking and that they produced nothing but harmless water vapor. On TV E-cigarettes have gotten its fair share of praise with the biggest name singing its praise being Katherine Heigl in her case as a means of quitting smoking.

How are they used?

Even if they might be marketed as an easy way to quit smoking the most common users are dual users. Meaning they both smoke regular cigarettes and E-cigs. The usage also followed the marketing message of use where regular cigarettes aren’t allowed, meaning you smoke regular cigarettes until you find yourself at a smoke-free location where you use e-cigs instead.

A more worrying statistic is an avalanche of use among young people, in this subgroup use of the devices have increased tenfold or more over the last few years. Even more worrisome is the fact that 8th 10th and 12th graders are getting a hold of the e-cigs despite never trying regular tobacco cigarettes before, being introduced to a dangerous addictive substance through a fun technological gadget.

This ends the E-cigarette introduction,  In part two we’ll look at the vapor formed by the device and in what way it affect your body and if it really just is water. Until then get some nicotine patches on amazon


Image Credit: Terry Ozon via flickr.com, CC BY 2.0

  • Miles Dolphin

    Quite a few minor points here that do not seem to be totally accurate.

    “…an avalanche of use among young people, in this subgroup use of the devices have increased 10 fold or more over the last few years”
    From 1 to 10 is a tenfold increase, but the absolute numbers remain low, and most of those using e-cigs are already smokers.

    Advertisers are not generally allowed to make “Health Claims”, that gets the adverts pulled fast. The main use recommended for e-cigs and vapourisers is for “Harm Reduction”.

    The bulk (about 60%) of first generation e-cigs are produced in China, with large and growing competition from both European and American manufacturers. “Big Tobacco” currently owns about 20% of the whole market (including 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation devices), but only produces the 1st generation themselves.

    Nicotine is described by the FDA as a “relatively harmless” drug.

    I would suggest further research in European articles and scientific papers. One of the authors of this cited paper is known to be particularly anti-ecig, has produced some articles with questionable results, and appears to be ideologically motivated.

    For EU scientific and other links see:-

    For popularised articles and important links see:-

    • All of the figures are from the review article mentioned, though many business aspects are sure to have changed from when it was published it was correct when it was published.

      Read the marketing aspect of the source article and you can see for yourself what websites advertised at the time of publishing. Many buzzwords of health claims are uttered. 95% of adverts used the term healthier.

      Yes an increase from 1 to 10 is still 10 fold but the avalanche of increased use in young people were even greater In korea youth use increased from 0.5% in 2008 to 9.8% in 2011 and in the US it increased from 3.3% in 2011 to 6.8% in 2012. A lot of this increase is also users that never tried any tobacco product before so E-cigs works as a gateway to nicotine addiction. It’s pretty concerning.

      Even if an author is pretty anti E-cig I’m guessing all the figures he’s stating from 81 separate articles on the subject is correct, no? So how he feels doesn’t really matter if he has the data to back up his claims.

      • Miles Dolphin

        I have read it, several times, and I have read many of the source documents, the authors have drawn from, as well as many others.

        The conclusions in this article are cherry picked and show a distorted view of the subject. In particular the Korean research’s authors stated that the conclusions drawn in this article were not supported by their work. The same has happened in other cases.

        Basically no, the data is not there to support this article. During the period referred to in the article, there were something like 900 papers available to the authors, The 81 picked were the ones that lent themselves most to their ideological view.

        A more recent review — http://taw.sagepub.com/content/5/2/67

        • Actually i checked, that review is from feb 13 2014 and this one im working from is from May 13 2014… And also behind a paywall. What i can surmise from the abstract is that is says about the same as this review article.

          E-cigs are less dangerous than regular cigarettes, but still with drawbacks.

          Lets start with the claims in the first article here above that i wrote: what specific claims are wrong here ?

          The marketing aspects: That they use claims such as healthier, cleaner, good for quitting smoking, you can use it anywhere!

          That use is increasing extremely fast in young people. For most without previous exposure to tobacco products.

          That most users are dual users?

          These claims doesn’t seem far fetched or wrong in any obvious way.

          • Miles Dolphin

            That they use claims such as healthier, cleaner, good for quitting smoking
            This is certainly not allowed in the EU and I thought as well in the USA. MHRA (UK) and ASA rules mean that this advert would be pulled and operator fined probably. FDA rules – I believe – are very similar, maybe not as strictly applied? Note: If you include websites selling products, this may be correct, as enforcement is very spotty here and I have noticed it myself on USA websites, however much it is already forbidden.

            That use is increasing extremely fast in young people. For most without previous exposure to tobacco products.

            In no case here was “regular use of e-cigs” actually tested for. What they asked about was “trial” or “experimentation with”, (Korean study notably). The most reliable study for this particular point is the one by ASH, where they found a high rate of trial amongst already smokers, a much lower rate of trial amongst non-smokers, and almost no regular use among youths who were not already smokers. (Note: this was the point the Korean studies authors pointed out as incorrect in this paper).

            Dual Users :- There is a high proportion of dual users, who, according to several surveys, have cut back their smoking to averaging 5 a day from 20 or more. There is also a proportion who only use e-cigs in places where smoking is disallowed, but this is a much smaller percentage. (Your point granted – with caveats).

            (re paywall: sorry, I didn’t notice it)

          • Splitting hairs with the regular use line, experiment with means use, use also means use. Use was the wording i used. Using an addictive substance have the potential to turn use, or experimenting with to regular use. That’s alarming especially since it’s young people.

            Yes my feeling was that they were looking on banner ads on websites and the likes. In some countries advertisements are allowed, including the UK.

            The cutting back part is in an upcoming article so wont say anything about it before going through that section but the most common users are dual users.

  • OfJamaicensis

    Professor Peter Hajek, Director of QMUL’s Tobacco Dependence Research Unit, talks about his research on e-cigarettes.