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How Do E-Cigs Work?

Instead of producing smoke like cigarettes do, these battery-powered smoke-free alternatives typically create a vapour. An e-cigarette, otherwise known as a vape, contains several different components. This often includes a mouthpiece – part of the cartridge, a battery and in many cases an atomizer which includes a coil. To work, the typical vape’s battery powers the atomizer which, in turn, heats the e-liquid – the solution that then provides the flavour and vapour. E-liquids often provide nicotine, so it is important to remember that vapes are not risk-free as they provide nicotine, which is addictive.

E-cigarettes can provide an alternative experience for adult smokers switching from cigarettes. There are different vape types and each works in a slightly unique way. Understanding the differences between device types can help an adult smoker make the switch to vaping from continued smoking.

How Different Types of Vapes Work

There are two basic categories when it comes to e-cigs which we’d like to explore. The short-term disposable vapes, and the longer-term rechargeable vapes.

Disposable vapes are not designed to last. In a disposable vape typically you do not need to replace parts, such as the battery, and this could be convenient. However, the downside is that the device needs to be discarded once the battery runs out, or the e-liquid has been consumed. There are various types of disposable vapes too, as refillable and single-fill options are also available. The e-liquid can be replaced by refilling it, whereas the e-liquid cannot be replaced in single-fill disposables. Once the e-liquid runs out, these particular vapes must be discarded.

Rechargeable e-cigs, or vapes, are an alternative option for adult smokers who want a device that lasts longer than a disposable, and typically require you to recharge them. We have broken rechargeable vapes into the four following categories:

1. Cigalikes

    An imitation of cigarettes, both in how they look and feel. However, there are flavour and technological limitations. Cigalikes were one of the earliest e-cigarette types and design and technology developments have come a long way since the invention of these devices.

    2. Mods

      Generally, the biggest type of vape. There is plenty of variation made possible by mods, but these devices are often complicated to use.

      3. Vape Pens

        These particular devices look like a pen, hence the name. They are a common form of e-cigarette – and they could be what you picture when you think of vapes. Smaller than mods, vape pens are typically more accessible and easier to use.

        4. Pod Systems

        These typically consist of two components; a pod, filled with e-liquid, and a battery. Connect the two for a complete pod system vape.

        For clarification purposes, the term ‘e-cigarette’ used in this article refers to vapes and not the entire smoke-free category. There are smoke-free options other than e-cigarettes, such as heated tobacco. These are a very different type of product.

        How Other Smoke-Free Alternatives Work

        Heated tobacco provides a unique experience. Essentially, these devices heat tobacco instead of burning it. Smoke-free products should not burn tobacco.

        Although not risk-free, the absence of combustion in vaping products has the potential to significantly reduce the levels of harmful chemicals generated. However, the lack of combustion and the reduction in formation of harmful chemicals should be substantiated on a product-by-product basis.

        Vaping products work by heating e-liquids, many of which contain nicotine.  By not burning tobacco, e-cigarettes in general don’t create tobacco smoke and their aerosols should contain fewer and lower levels of harmful chemicals compared to cigarette smoke. Of course, it is a matter of scientific assessment of each particular vaping product to see if this is actually the case. Vaping products are not risk-free, and they provide nicotine, which is addictive.

        Nicotine pouches are not actually a device and therefore they are different from the experience of a cigarette. The pouches are placed between the gum and lip where they provide a gradual release of nicotine throughout the day.

        Learn more about the different smoke-free alternatives to cigarettes by following the link to our article on the subject Smoke-free Alternatives to Smoking Cigarrettes.

        With some understanding of how vaping works, you might be interested in learning more about technology developments within the e-cigarette market.

        New, Innovative Smoke-Free Technology

        Recent years have seen developments in smoke-free technology. Whether you are using a modern vape or heated tobacco, you can expect improvements previously absent from earlier iterations.

        In the case of IQOS’ heated tobacco range IQOS HeatControl Technology heats tobacco instead of burning it to deliver the taste of real tobacco. IQOS provides real tobacco taste and satisfaction. IQOS provides cigarette-like satisfaction.* Studies* showed that the satisfaction of those who switched completely to IQOS is comparable to those who continued to smoke cigarettes. As a matter of fact, IQOS is the #1 tobacco heating system**.

        The best decision any adult smoker can make is to quit tobacco and nicotine use altogether. It is worth noting that IQOS is not risk-free and provides nicotine, which is addictive. IQOS are not alternatives to quitting and are not designed as cessation aids.

        * 3 month clinical studies conducted in US and Japan with 160 adult smokers each under real conditions (ambulatory).

        ** PMI global estimate of total In-Market Sales of Heated Tobacco Units as of April 2022. (excluding China and US).

        If you are looking for an alternative to cigarettes, learning how an e-cigarette works can be helpful when deciding which type of product is right for you. Ultimately, the choice requires a focus on personal preference and taste.

        This article is for general information and educational purposes. Some of the information in this article is based on external, third-party sources and we make no representations or warranties of any kind regarding the accuracy, validity or completeness of such information.

        This product is not risk free and provides nicotine, which is addictive. Only for use by adults. 

        E producto aki no ta liber di riesgo y ta contene nicotina, cu ta adictivo. Solamente pa usuario adulto. 

        Dit product is niet risicovrij en bevat nicotine, wat verslavend is. Alleen voor gebruik door volwassenen.