These are also known as Electronic Cigarettes or Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems. These products are designed to look and feel like cigarettes and are marketed by the manufacturers as a healthier and cheaper alternative. It should be noted that these products are manufactured as an alternative to smoking and are not licensed as smoking cessation aids. Due to this, they are not part of our smoking cessation arsenal.
Generally an E-Cig consists of three sections; a battery, an atomizer and a cartridge which contains the nicotine suspended in glycerine and water. When a ‘smoker’ sucks on the device a sensor heats up the nicotine suspension so that it vaporises and delivers the nicotine to the user.
There is no smoke but a water based vapour is released into the air as the user exhales.
There are safety concerns around the absence of product regulation and quality control. At present there is no regulatory body overseeing the manufacture and marketing of these products which means that the effectiveness of the devices can vary greatly between brands. It also means that the cartridge nicotine content and effectiveness of delivery is also variable. In 2009 the US Food and Drug Authority (FDA) laboratory analysis of electronic cigarette samples found that they contained carcinogens and toxic chemicals such as diethylene glycol, an ingredient used in antifreeze