Category Archives: Vaping

Attack of the Vapers: Happy Vapoversary!


Despite conflicting arguments, bad press, and junk science working against the movement, more and more people are switching to vaping and electronic cigarettes. I have to loudly say, “Congratulations!” to all of those who have chosen to make a better choice for their health (Action on Smoking and Health, 2014) and their finances by switching from combustible toxicants to vaping and electronic cigarettes. So, good job to all of you!

We just attended the one-year vapoversary of a local establishment, Vapor Boss. I’ve not been to a vast number of vaping events, but I was truly impressed with the turn out for this one. It also made me happy because the folks who own and run this store (and a large portion of their regular patrons) are part of what I consider the responsible voices and presence in the world of vaping and electronic cigarettes.

As it happens this particular vapoversary corresponds with what will be a year free of combustible tobacco in my own home. Since that time, I have watched people I never expected to switch over move from trying to vaping occasionally to even becoming vaping enthusiasts and advocates. I’ve watched social media participants and interest groups become well-informed and take action to make vaping responsible and keep it viable. I have seen vapers and vendors alike become more knowledgeable and resources to their peers and customers. By no means have all obstacles and outcomes been measured, but I have truly been pleased with the fact that vaping has not been a trend or a fad but a true lifestyle change for a lot of people… and one that has been positive for the majority.

What are some of the contributing factors to vaping success?

Technology. Just from my own observation, I would have to say that one of the biggest contributing factors is that the technology has evolved… a lot… in a hurry… and continues to do so. Nothing keeps the modern day internet-and-tech-loving human connected to a trend like the advent of newer and better toys. I’m not kidding, and I don’t mean that in any way as a negative commentary. I’m pretty certain that the advances in mods (mechanical and digital), tanks, and drippers that not only improve the quality of vapor but also engage the ingenuity of the person vaping (not to mention the “shiny” factor) has kept many a dabbler interested long enough to become a full-time vaper. If everyone was still stuck with only the PG (propylene glycol)/PEG (polyethylene glycol) cartridge style e-cigs with no other option, I would bet my favorite mod that the people who have switched to full-time vape would probably be back on their combustible tobacco. No offense to the look-a-likes, but the quality of those original e-cigarettes was deplorable, and without the improvements that the industry has made, I seriously doubt that vapers would be at the 2.7 million strong population in the United States (not counting other countries that have also embraced the vape) that last tallies estimated (Statistic Brain, 2015).

E-juices. This is another area where innovation and human creativity/ingenuity has improved quality and made the industry more viable and given more longevity to the efforts of those making the choice to switch over to what proposes to be a healthier alternative to combustible tobacco. The elimination of PEG has improved quality and decreased some of the identified hazards of the initial electronic nicotine delivery systems. Flavor options, VG (vegetable glycerin) increase, and improved distilling have opened up new options for people and have given those starting on the vaping journey better and more varied choices to help them find what fits their tastes. Additionally, the fact that there are many creative vendors creating new flavors and custom blends has been a boon to the market and kept many a die-hard cigarette user from returning to the ashtray.

Responsibility. For all that people were up in arms about the government sticking their nose into their vaping lounges and taking away their right to flavors, so far, it has not happened. That is not to say that there will not ever be an imposed FDA regulation. It is likely that at some point, the federal government at the behest of lobbyists from the moneybags of corporate America (like big tobacco and big pharmacology) will start to impose tariffs and restrictions on the local markets and small businesses that may sting (a lot). However, one of the major movements that has probably staved off the “big brother” invasion for the time being is self-regulation by the vaping community. Responsible vendors and advocates have recognized that while most of the adult vaping community might be trusted to act in an appropriate way, not everyone who choses vaping for their nicotine delivery system is a responsible adult. As I said to another friend at the vapoversary today, “Irresponsible people are why we can’t have nice things.” (I might have used different words than “irresponsible people” but we won’t go into that.) What has truly been inspiring is how the vaping community has stepped up to self-regulate things like underage sale bans, the use of appropriate e-liquid containers, normalization of content and warning labels, and customer education. Organizations such as TSFA (TN Smoke-Free Association), CASAA (Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association), and The Vaping Militia have stepped forward with other organizations to provide a voice of reason and advocacy by promoting safe practices and responsibility in the use of electronic nicotine delivery systems. Are there still disreputable vendors out there who don’t care what the sell or whether anyone gets injured/ill from their products so long as they make a profit? Of course there are, but the community as a whole has stepped up in providing education and those types of businesses are starving out little by little as the customer base starts recognizing who they can and cannot trust.

Community support. Humans are social creatures, and whether we admit it or not (excepting, of course, certain antisocial or avoidant elements of society), we all appreciate a little peer support now and again. The prevalence of social media groups, local meet-ups, local and state advocacy groups, and YouTube channels have allowed for vapers to connect with each other for support, education, and organization. People are able to find out from other vapers the do’s and don’ts, vendors that can be trusted (and those who really shouldn’t be), the safety concerns of particular devices or practices, “cloud-chasing” tricks, and the latest concerns about “big brother.” That connection has helped spread the word and helped vaping be safer and more reputable. It has served to provide forum for all the previously mentioned factors.

So, my parting shot for this AOTV post is: Keep up the good work, vaping community! Congratulations to all of you who have done your homework and made informed choices. And last, but certainly not least… Happy Vapoversary!

Action on Smoking and Health. (November, 2014). Electronic cigarettes.

Statistic Brain. (February, 2015). Electronic Cigarette Statistics.

Attack of the Vapors: A Juice by any other Name…

For so many of the friends and family I have who have been switching over to vaping from smoking, the biggest complaint has been about trying to find a flavor that suits them. The taste options are so much vaster than with combustible tobacco, but it is still a very different experience for most lifetime smokers.

Contrary to what the media and the anti-smoking coalitions have been screaming for many years, most smokers did not start because of pretty colored cigarettes or sweet flavors. Most smokers started with plain ol’ tobacco or possibly menthol. And, the stupid cartoon camel had relatively little to do with coaxing them to the “dark side”. There was possibly a “cool” factor. Their friends were doing it. More likely, their parents were doing it. They may possibly have thought James Dean and Steve McQueen looked super-cool lighting up, but the majority of the young adult population today couldn’t even tell me who those people are.

So, the smokers of today, predominantly, smoke tobacco-flavored cigarettes in a rather bland looking carton, and most likely purchased whatever happened to be cheapest and didn’t give them immediate headaches or nausea. Still, prices went up and sin taxes attempted to wage war against poor health choices. The pharmaceutical companies promoted various options in gum and patch and pill form to help people who wanted to quit smoking. However, all parties concerned never considered that there were people who didn’t want to quit. They knew it was bad. It wasn’t even necessarily the nicotine. People felt comfort in the ritual of lighting up. There was camaraderie in the smoker’s circle, shed, hovering around an ash receptacle.

But I started this talking about the juice, not the ritual. The point I was trying to make was that there have been a number of people that I have spoken to about vaping, and the common thread is that they really cannot find a juice that tastes right to them. Tobacco flavors tend to taste like “wet cigarettes” (according to my informers), the heavy PG types smell and taste like the fog machine juice, there is often a chemical aftertaste with the electronic cigarettes, and the fruit flavors are fine for a while, but many have stated that they just don’t like the “sweets.” The folks that can’t find their go-to juice for that daily vape by and large tend to drop back off the vaping wagon and go back to their old friend, the “ciggies.” It isn’t that they didn’t have the fortitude to stick with it, and it usually isn’t a resistance to change. They just don’t like it. It doesn’t feel or taste the same, and without the familiarity of the comforts ingrained in the habit, they just can’t get what they need out of the new practice.

Is there a magic formula that makes some people transition successfully to vaping while others do not? Is it something different about the people who choose to vape and give up on combustible tobacco products? It may be a combination of all of it, but here is what I have noticed in talking to people on both sides of that coin.
First is the amount of nicotine in the juice. While the ritual is definitely part of the process and one of the reasons vaping works for people for whom pharmaceuticals and patches did not, the active addicting ingredient is still the nicotine. If there is not a high enough level in the vapor inhaled, it isn’t going to satisfy that part of the smoker’s draw. Everyone is different, but for the moderate to heavy smoker, most of the “pen” variety of vaporizers do not produce a big enough spike in nicotine to fulfill the craving of that first cigarette of the morning (or last at night). The vape pens and starter kits generally provide a level of nicotine and vapor to keep a maintenance level of nicotine in the system. I’m not going into the electrical jargon of it all (there are way too many people I know who could do a better job at that), but for the spike issues, a variable wattage or dripper tank that produces a higher level of vapor as desired generally fulfills that part of the deficit.

The second part of the equation, and the more tricky part, is the flavor conundrum. There are two different arguments on this score. There are those who want that flavor associated with their old “friend,” and there are those who want to get clean away from any suggestion of the cigarette flavor that might just make them want to go back. Almost universally, tobacco flavors do not do well for new vapers. Again, I call your attention to the phrase “wet cigarette.” Now, the exception to that has been some of the pipe or cigar tobacco flavors with hotter vapes. The “hotter” usually refers to higher wattage and dripper rigs that produce literally warmer clouds of vapor that taste and feel more like smoking a pipe or cigar. Also, rumor has it that there is a manufacturer who does naturally extracted tobacco processes and has managed to come up with some decent flavors, River Bottom Fog Sauce. However, all their juices have some percentage of PG. Johnson Creek also produces a number of decent tobacco flavors with VG only options. Also, there has recently been a reddit discussion specifically about tobacco flavors that don’t suck. So, for those who really want the tobacco flavor, it might be worth a read. So for those of you, who just really want your tobacco flavors, check out some of the links below. Something may work for you, and the folks producing liquids are getting better every day with replicating flavors. No need to despair.

For the cooler vape and smokers who like or even tolerate menthol, most of the menthol liquids manage to come closer to the mark and make for a reliable daily vape. For those folks wanting to get away from the tobacco flavors, there are a plethora of options. Most of the local vape shops and dealers have a wide variety. Some mix their own and can do custom liquids for you. Custards and fruit flavors tend to be popular. Chocolates are more difficult to replicate, but frequently have more of a cocoa flavor. Coffee flavors often do pretty well, and spices like cinnamon transition to the vape medium nicely. Some flavors need to steep, meaning they need to sit for a while to allow the liquid (PG or VG) to absorb the flavors, and some tend to fade with time if not used. Several people I have spoken with like to try different flavors and have their “special sauces” for dripping or for the after dinner or social vape and then something else that is more constant for their “daily vape.”

Something else to keep in mind, when you first start vaping after smoking, your sense of taste and smell are still a smoker’s. What do I mean by that? Smoking combustible tobacco tends to dull the taste and olfactory senses. The longer you are away from smoking, the more your sense of smell and taste return. The liquid you liked so much at the beginning may not taste the same after being combustion-free for a couple of weeks. That is when it is usually time to adjust and possibly change over to something different.

For anyone having trouble with the transition but are still wanting to make the change from combustible to vapor but have not been able to find that right flavor, just keep looking. If nothing in your local area works for you, try some of the available options online. Join some of the social media groups or follow some vape lines on Twitter, and register for free samples. The point is that it may take some trial and error to get what works for you. Also, what you need to get you past the first hurdles may not be what you stick with for a daily vape forever. For those sensitive to chemical tastes (perhaps even have reactions to PG) try some of the 100% VG options. There are more available than there used to be. If you have a good vapor lounge or vape shop in your local area, talk to your vendors and let them help you find something for yourself. If they have smaller bottles (like the 10 ml options), try several just to see which one works for you.

EC Blend –

Ether Vapes, LLC –

eVape Lounge –

Johnson Creek Smoke Juice –

Knoxville Vapor –

Orb Vapor –


Reddit thread about tobacco flavors –

River Bottom Fog Sauce –

Saffire Vapor –

Up-N-Vape –

Vapor Boss –

Velvet Cloud –

Vintage Vapors –

Attack Of The Vapers: Hey You! Get Out* of My Cloud!

It’s been a while, good readers, since I posted the last AOTV. Now that you are all up on your jargon and lingo in the world of vaping, and since the world at large has had other topics about which to foam at the mouth, and since vaping has taken serious hold with more people blowing clouds that ever… it is time to talk a little about a little something I like to call etiquette.

Manners, people! That is right. We have all been taught them at some point, whether we actually absorbed the lessons, actively attempt to use them, or let them flow over us and pass on to continue in our unseemly gaucheness. So, what in the world have manners and etiquette to do with vaping? Well, I will happily tell you.

As vaping has become more prevalent in the populace and gained popularity with smokers and former smokers alike, the various apparatuses and paraphernalia of vaping can be seen far and wide. For example, this past holiday weekend, I visited Atlanta for the annual gathering of science fiction and fantasy aficionados, Dragon Con ( It is always quite an interesting time to be had. People are so creative in their cosplay… but I mustn’t get distracted. I might talk about that another time. For the last couple of years, we have seen people with electronic cigarettes. In fact, last year, we saw a pipe rig that went with a Gandalf type costume. Very clever, and for the non-smoking indoor situations, it was just right. However, this year, it was a whole new ballgame (or quidditch match, or Parrises squares…). The vapers were everywhere. They even had a meeting on Thursday prior to the start of *Con. Everywhere we went, the vapers would find each other and compare rigs or discuss tanks or talk coils and dripping juices. It had become a new phenomenon of the *Con experience. Those that vape together, flock together… or something like that. It was actually quite pleasant to find oneself walking out of hotel lobbies and through crowds outside without reeking of smoke, but merely experiencing a bit of various vapor (and vaper) odors and added humidity. Not so bad, really.

Don’t get me wrong. There were still considerable amounts of traditional combustible tobacco in use (as well as other products, I’m sure, but I honestly tried to maintain plausible deniability on that score). All in all, though, the *Con seemed a good deal less smoky that last year. Perhaps, it was just my greater sensitivity to it. Point being, vapers were in greater number… as were their clouds. Great, rolling, fragrant clouds, marvelous to behold…

Not always so marvelous to walk through; which brings me to what started this whole particular train of thought. I am pro-vape. I’ve made no secret about it. Financially and health wise, I’ve done the research, and I still feel that it is the way to go for those that do not fancy pharmaceuticals or enjoy the ritual of smoking and have no active desire to quit but are not so fond of the hit in the wallet or the chronic cough. There are still the hysterics out there who are screaming that it is worse for you be vaping than smoking… Um, no. Read a medical journal, or have one read to you and translated, but that hyperbole it most definitely is NOT. There is currently no medical research that indicates that vaping is worse than smoking. Is it better than quitting all together? Probably not. In fact, I will say definitely not, if we talk in absolutes. Paying for the equipment and supplies of vaping is more expensive than not using anything (but still less than paying for cigarettes or patches and drugs). And, yes, it would be healthier all around to quit cold turkey. But conversely, in that case, no one should drink alcohol or eat bacon (Now, I’m gonna get hate mail, and yes I know “all things in moderation”). Truth is people enjoy their vices. People should be free to do so, within legal limits and without causing harm to others. And… I got off on a tangent again. Then again, not really… that is a pretty good segue back to my original point.

The fragrant clouds produced by vaping have been measured at considerably less carcinogen levels, less nicotinic particle levels (especially for people using zero nic juice), and less combustible toxicants than traditional combustible tobacco for both the vaper and the second-hand exposure. That doesn’t mean that it is ok to blow vapor straight into the face of the innocent bystander. There are still people who are very sensitive to the small amounts of residuals in the vapor, not to mention the liquid in which it the nicotine and flavors are suspended. It is not polite to indiscriminately puff away until the vapor is so thick you cannot see the person to whom you are speaking and said person can no longer breathe easily. Would you do that with a cigarette? No, or at least I hope not. That would be extremely rude, not to mention the disregard for your companion’s potential respiratory response (especially those sensitive to smells or allergic to smoke). The same can be said about vaping. While it may not be as noxious as smoke, non-vapers and non-smokers have the right to not be exposed unwillingly to something they have not chosen to do. In fact, many non-smokers choose activities and locations that are non-smoking to avoid breathing in air that may trigger anything from distaste to asthmatic arrest.

So, what am I getting at? If the vaping community does not want to be branded as a bunch of rude, entitled jerks who put public health at risk with their inconsiderate disregard for their fellow patrons and residents on the planet we call Earth, try to be a little more aware of the non-vapers around you. It is unnecessary to blow a huge cloud of vapor into the face of the person next to or in front of you (or heck, even behind you if you are walking). In crowded or unventilated areas, perhaps cloud chasing is not the best activity. You can show off your latest build and your dragon impressions when not in close quarters with non-vapers. Try an apology if you accidentally blow a cloud into someone’s face. Even in vape-friendly establishments (not including vapor bars or lounges specifically catering to vapers), be reasonable. Cloud chasing on a quad-coil until the room is blue and the servers are tripping over the spill mats behind the bar? Bad idea, and very poor etiquette likely to result in having vaping banned from the establishment in question. No one is trying to cramp your style, steal thunder, or rain on your parade if you are a vaper, but it is just good manners to be considerate of the non-vapers around you. A bit of polite consideration of others might prevent other organizations, institutions, and businesses from putting the kibosh on our choices to vape.

Thank you for your attention, and happy vaping y’all.

*My apologies to the Rolling Stones for the artistic license.

Attack of the Vapers: What does that Mean?!?

Vape the Rainbow

So, I’ve been silent for a while, I know. Truth is, things are moving so fast (in the world of vaping and in the rest of my life), I’ve just been dizzily clinging to the safety straps and waiting to see what shakes out.

They do say that the sign of a cultural phenomenon is when a trend develops its own language. As many non-vaping friends have remarked, listening to a bunch of vapers talking can be as incomprehensible as trying to eavesdrop on an alien invasion force. Aside from the technological jargon that is associated with vaping activities, vaping vocabulary has expanded to include a variety of terms to describe the behaviors, supplies, and people participating in the change. The following is a truncated list of terms, a vaping glossary if you will, to assist the non-vaper or neophyte vaper understand the conversation of their vaping friends. So, without further ado…

Vapev. The action of inhaling vaporized nicotine suspension medium from an electronic cigarette or other electronic nicotine delivery system. v.t. vaping; n. vaper

510 threaded connector – Electronic nicotine delivery devices usually have two basic sections: A battery or power supply and a vessel of some sort that holds the liquid suspension providing the vapor/flavor/nicotine inhaled. For most of these, the vessel is connected to the battery with one of two connectors which involve threads that allow the vessel to screw onto the battery. The 510 threaded connector is one type of these. It allows for a post to screw down into a couch type gizmo… and, nevermind. Point is, this is the skinny one with the threads on the inside of the battery and the outside of the vessel connection.

Atomizer (aka tank) – This is one type of vessel that holds the suspension medium discussed above. Believe me, it gets confusing trying to figure out what is meant, and I am pretty sure that people use the names interchangeably with no real differentiation, but here is what I was able to glean from those more in tune with the technological aspects. The atomizer draws juice from the wick and heats it to a vapor. The wicks are generally suspended in the liquid which is held in some sort of container (glass, plastic, acrylic, metal). It works very much like an oil lamp would, provided you have ever seen an oil lamp in action.

· RBA (Rebuildable atomizer) – While some atomizers/tanks are disposable, most vapers eventually move to the rebuildable variety. The initial cost of the RBA can be slightly more… or more than slightly more than the disposable variety, but the cost in the long run is less. Instead of buying new tanks to replace an old burned-out one, only the coil need be replaced. There are pre-made coils for some models, but the tinkers and adventurous vapers build their own.

· RDA (Rebuildable dripping atomizer) aka Dripper – Yet another type of tank. They are constructed so that the suspension medium is added by dripping directly onto the wicking material. Drippers are usually rebuildable to allow the vaper to adjust the coils to allow for more resistance (remember physics and electricity) and thus more heat, and that produces more vapor. Also, due to the temperature difference, the taste of the vapor in a dripper is often very different than that in an atomizer tank.

· Hybrid tank – These are a type of atomizer that works somewhat like a dripper in that the coils are rebuildable and often produce higher temperatures and more vapor, but instead of requiring the vaper to drip liquid a few drops at a time, they have a tank that will automatically drip onto the wick rather than draw constantly (like the oil lamp type).

Beauty ring – Nope, not some type of body modification. This goes with those 510 connector doo-hickies (technical term) or post conversions for other connectors (see below). You’ve heard of innies and outies? Well, this is when the innies and outies are somehow mismatched. While, the vessel and battery actually will attach to each other, it sometimes produces what appears to be a very unstable and not-so-very esthetically pleasing construction of a skinny post screwed into a skinny connector. The beauty ring covers that up to make a smooth transition from the power supply to the tank, thus saving those of us with a touch of the obsessive compulsive from a full meltdown.

Cartomizer – This is another of those vessels I mentioned earlier. While the atomizer is more like an oil lamp, the cartomizer is … not. I really don’t have much of a metaphor for this one. This one uses wicking material (polyfil) that is soaked with the suspension medium and surrounds the coil to keep it wet and producing vapor like laying a wet blanket on a stove eye. Ok, that didn’t sound good, but you get the idea. The main point is that there is no free liquid medium. It is all soaked into the wicking material that is wrapped around the metal coil.

Cleartomizer – This is possibly the most confusing term to me. It means… a tank, frequently see-through so that you can see the level of juice that is currently in it so you know when to refill. Well, the confusion for me is that some people call the ones that are metal (meaning you can’t see through it unless you are Superman) the same thing. Seems a little counterintuitive to me. So, how about let’s go with cleartomizer being the see-through variety.

Clone – No, this is not some science fiction character or science experiment. In this case, a clone is a replicated version of some particular equipment design, frequently referring to tanks or mods (see below). The replication often addresses flaws in the authentic design and is more often than not a good deal less expensive. However, readers beware, clones are not always better than the original. Some are produced with less attention to quality control and may not function as well. Less scrupulous vendors may also try to sell the knock-offs as originals/authentic. So, just be careful and try to stick with reputable vendors.

Cloud chasing – The activity of trying to produce the largest amount of vapor on the exhale. This has been turned into a proverbial art form. People will build coils and rigs for the sole purpose of producing the biggest clouds. There are YouTube channels devoted to this.

Daily vape – This is the go-to flavor that any vaper will tell you is what they are generally using all the time. The flavors tend to be the one that the vaper does not tire of readily and are not generally the more expensive juices.

Drip tip – A removable mouthpiece which allows access to the wick in a dripper tank, but is also prevalent on various cleartomizers or liquid tanks used to allow people to express their individual identities and styles. Drip tips can come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and materials. There are some quite beautiful versions in blown glass, and there are tips that are designed for the long opera cigarette holder or pipe stem effect.

Dry hit – When all of the e-juice has evaporated from wick or polyfil, the draw is a hot, burned cotton or chemical taste that is unpleasant to most vapers. This is called a dry hit. It is accompanied by the dry hit face that generally looks like someone tried to feed the vaper a spoon full of ipecac combined with ear wax.

E-cigarette, e-cig – While most would say that these terms apply to all of the non-combustible nicotine dispensing systems, most vapers use these terms to refer to the devices that look like traditional cigarettes.

E-juice – see juice

E-liquid – see juice

Ego threaded connector – So, remember the first definition about the connectors (the 510)? This is another one. It gets the name from one of the most common type of starter batteries, the Ego. The threads for this one are on the outside of the battery and the inside of the tank so that the tank screws down over the battery connector to create a smooth connection.

Hookah pen – This is a term used to describe the electronic nicotine vaporizers that look like an ink pen and have a drip tip making them resemble the tips on a hookah; can also be called an e-hookah.

Juice – This is the liquid suspension medium that is heated to produce the vapor inhaled by vapers much like traditional combustible cigarette smoke, but with no combustible toxicants or resulting ash from burned product. The suspension is usually a combination of propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerine (VG), flavor, diluting ingredient, and nicotine.

· Dripping juice – These are juices that are meant for drippers. Often they taste better dripped than tanked. They may also be expensive, and dripping makes them last longer. Sometimes, these juices are thicker or have flavor ingredients (such as cinnamon) that might gum up or degrade a regular liquid tank.

· Tankable juice – These juices are more diluted and wick easily without gumming up or degrading a holding tank. The flavors are generally the ones that people prefer as a regular or daily vape.

· PEG – Polyethylene glycol. Suspension medium that was used in most first generation electronic cigarettes. It has a number of uses in the chemical and medical world, one of which is as a laxative. While not terribly deadly, it does occasionally aggravate certain respiratory sensitivities.

· PG – Propylene glycol. Another suspension medium and one of the most frequently used for current e-juices. It is also commonly used in a number of chemical and medical applications, but it (like the PEG) aggravates certain respiratory conditions.

· VG – Vegetable glycerin. It is a carbohydrate derived from plant oils. That’s pretty much it. It is viscous (thick) and is used as a suspension medium like PG or PEG. People who are sensitive to the other chemicals generally are able to use higher VG e-juice with fewer problems. VG is thicker than the other chemicals and many vendors prefer to use PG or a blend of the two. Often vendors will indicate that higher VG liquids are ok for dripping, but not tanking. However, there are tankable high-VG juices available on the market.

Kanthal – A type of wire from which coils can be constructed. Most of your run-of-the-mill vaping types are not going to care one way or another about this word. However, the coil-building tinkers and cloud chasers are always looking for a good price on Kanthal.

Mod – This is not a fashion craze denoting the hipness inherently displayed by the young, privileged mid-20th century. Well… yeah, I know it actually is, but in this case it isn’t. The term mod, in this case refers to a power supply device. Specifically, these are something that has been modified to use battery(s) to transfer power to the coil of the vaporizing device. Mods can be simply a case with battery and switch, but they also can get much more complex.

· Mechanical mod – There is some sort of switch and the body of the mod makes the connection to transfer the electrical current to the coils of the tank/atomizer.

· Semi mechanical mod – This one involves wires and such to create the circuit.

· Hybrid mod – The atomizer is built into the power supply, all-in-one gizmo.

· Regulated Vs. Unregulated – So, this one was hard for me to wrap my brain around… mostly because when I was asking, people have a very hard time defining the terms without using the actual terms. However, this is what I finally was able to gather: The regulated vs. unregulated situation is somewhat like an electronic funnel. Unregulated devices dump power from the battery to the coil of the atomizer with no real way of knowing how much is feeding into it. The regulated ones have electronics acting as a funnel or gatekeeper that keeps the amount of power consistent at a known amount.

· Variable voltage and Variable wattage – I am so not going into this. Leave it as there are devices that are regulated and allow you to use the electronics to actually adjust the amount of power that is transferred from the battery to the coils of the atomizer. Why on earth would someone do this? Um… well, this goes back to the amount of vapor and the flavor. More power = more heat = more vapor/different flavor.

· Sub-ohm – Again with the trip down memory lane to the physics class. This basically is a term that you will hear from the tinkers and cloud chasers. It involves building coils that have lower resistance that will allow more electricity to flow, resulting in more heat, and thus, more vapor. That’s all I gots to say ‘bout that.

· Protected vs. Unprotected battery – This is the equivalent of the battery version of a ground fault protector or fuse. A protected battery has a saving throw against shorts. So, why in the heck would anyone have an unprotected one? Apparently, unprotected batteries are cheaper, and protected batteries of a given size may not be available. The consensus seems to be that protected is always the better option, though not absolutely required.

Nic’d out – Becoming lightheaded, nauseous, or developing a headache from too much vaping and getting too much nicotine in the system. It’s a slang term of the vaping community. While the term itself implies having too much nicotine in the system, the feeling can occur with zero nicotine juices. Often, the phenomenon is much like what would happen if you hyperventilate into a paper bag. Point being? Take it easy and take good full breaths of non-vapor in between puffs folks.

Tank – Any vessel for containing suspension medium and vapor to be inhaled by the individual using an electronic nicotine delivery device. See atomizer, cartomizer, cleartomizer.

Vape pen – Another name for the electronic nicotine delivery devices that do not look like a traditional cigarette.

Vape tongue – The phenomenon that occurs after repeated vaping or trial of multiple juices resulting in a numbing or inability to differentiate tastes. The effect dissipates readily with hydration and abstaining from vaping for a while.

Voob – I really almost hate to include this and the following term, mainly because they are just silly. However, I feel that no glossary (even a truncated one) would be complete without a few of the strange slang and bizarre practice terms that have been coined in the process. This one, voob, is the “selling with sex” part of any new trend. And now, I’m just procrastinating. This particular practice is for a female vaper to place between their breasts a vape mod and thereby holding said device vape hands-free. Ta-dah. Look ma! No hands! Um… yeah. Obviously, this requires a certain amount of exhibitionism, appropriate foundation garments, and certain anatomical features not always gifted in the appropriate amount to achieve said goal. So, there!

Voop – And… enter the potty humor and proof that there is an adolescent inside the mind of most adults. It was bound to happen (heh heh, bound). Vooping is the act of vaping on the crapper. Yep. That’s it. People sit, @#$%, and vape. Now, I need to go wash my hands. Pass the mental floss, please.

And that, my friends is the basic vocabulary of the vape, though by no means comprehensive. It seems every time I think I have my brain wrapped around all the ins and outs of vaping, someone will throw out a term I’ve never heard before. Every day brings changes, improvements, and adventures in the world of vaping. With those changes, the language expands to accommodate the new. So, now that you know (and knowing is half the battle, right?)… Happy vaping, y’all!

Attack of the Vapers: Misrepresentation and Hysterical “Science”

So, the internet and the vaping community blew up this week with news of the National Institute of Health (NIH) Addiction Science Award being given to a young woman for her study of “thirdhand” nicotine exposure from electronic cigarettes (NIH, 2014).

I read the report of this study, and while I commend Ms. Lee for her ambitious and timely experiment, I have been compelled to write a response and rebuttal to what I find to be a deplorable attention to validity in hypothesis and methodology. I also have a very hard time believing that her study which beat out two other powerful entries was truly the best design. I fear that the judges were swayed by the amount of attention electronic cigarettes and vaping have garnered in the media and legislation. Did the judges truly believe that the study and results were the best contribution to the fund of knowledge in science, or were they influenced by the legislative and regulatory debates filling the press sheets?

So, let’s talk for a moment about “thirdhand smoke.” In truth, it isn’t truly smoke at all. First hand smoke or nicotine exposure is the smoker or vaper who draws the vehicle of transport (smoke, vapor, transdermal, etc.) into the body where it enters the bloodstream. Second hand exposure is anyone not actively using the device of nicotine delivery inhaling the smoke or vapor expelled by the primary user. Third hand has been defined by Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights (2014) and Tobacco Control Legal Consortium (2013) as exposure to the deposited nicotine residue from combustible cigarette smoke or electronic cigarette vapor. The smoker or vaper breathes out a cloud of smoke or water vapor in an environment where the particulates and residual chemicals will deposit on surfaces. Any person touching those surfaces at a later time may be exposed to the residual levels of nicotine or toxicants that were suspended in the originally expelled smoke or vapor.

Now, we come to the studies done. First, Ms. Lee was not the first to consider this question. In fact, her study and experimental design were almost identical to a study published by Roswell Park Cancer institute (2014). Ms. Lee used a syringe to draw vapor from three brands of electronic cigarettes and then “exhale” it into a room. A syringe was used to insure consistent puffs. After a period of puffing, the surfaces of window sills and items in the room were swabbed and nicotine levels were measured.

Anyone see the problem yet? The vaping community responded in a roar on various forums pointing out the lack of validity in the study, the overblown “significant increase” description of results, and reminders that the chemicals deposited by combustible cigarettes were vastly worse (E-cigarette Forum, 2014). The problem that I am baffled by is that the judges failed to notice that Ms. Lee did not measure what the title of her study claims to do. That’s right. That is what I said. The study is invalid. It does not measure what it says. The researcher used a syringe to draw the e-cigarette vapor. High school biology teaches us about lungs. If that is the way they worked, the oxygen exchange that delivers that gas to our blood streams would not work, and we would not be inhaling air containing oxygen (among other elements) and exhaling predominantly carbon dioxide. When a vaper or smoker inhales the products of their respective nicotine delivery devices, they are using their lungs to get the nicotine into their bloodstream. In other words, the majority of the nicotine stays in the body of the smoker/vaper. What is exhaled may have some residual nicotine, but nowhere near the amounts that merely pumping the vapor of the electronic nicotine delivery system directly into a room would have.

What Ms. Lee measured in her study was not third hand nicotine exposure. It was first hand nicotine exposure. Incidentally, third hand nicotine exposure is real. Anyone detailing a smoker’s car can prove it by wiping down the dashboard and other surfaces. It is real. However, if you are going to give a prize for a study measuring it, then shouldn’t it be measuring what it claims to measure? Kudos to the young lady for thinking of this and picking a politically hot topic and media worthy. She definitely has achieved the goal of getting attention. I just wish she had remembered enough about biology to produce a valid study.

Contrary to some of the claims of vapers in the forums that nicotine in the residual levels measured are completely harmless (E-cigarette Forum, 2014), I will say that third hand nicotine exposure can still be dangerous to sensitive populations. However, I also believe that vaping produces less residue with lower nicotine levels and fewer dangerous toxicants than combustible tobacco. Others in the scientific community concur, and more people are acknowledging that electronic cigarettes are 60% more successful in smoking cessation efforts than over the counter methods and pharmaceutical smoking cessation products (Kelland, 2014). Bottom line: It appears that there are still a lot of people who are letting hysteria lead the way in the media. Poorly informed and invalid science should not be the basis for regulation decisions or legislation. Regardless of what we don’t know about long term effects, we do know that electronic cigarettes are still safer than combustible tobacco. I would hate for decision makers to be influenced by ignorance and hysteria driven “science.”


Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights (2014). Third hand smoke. Retrieved from

E-cigarette Forum. (May 17, 2014). Forum thread responses to Study of third hand nicotine from e-cigarette. Retrieved from

Kelland, K. (May 21, 2014). Study: E-cigarettes very effective at helping at helping smokers quit. Reuters. Retrieved from

National Institute of Health. (May 16, 2014). Study of third hand nicotine from e-cigarette exposure wins top NIH addiction science award. Retrieved from

Roswell Park Cancer Institute. (February 7, 2014). Roswell Park researchers present findings of 2 e-cigarette studies at SRNT meeting. Retrieved from

Tobacco Control Legal Consortium. (2013). Thirdhand smoke: A select bibliography of recent studies. Retrieved from

Attack of the Vapers, Part duh… The Empire Strikes Back

My apologies for the long delay in what I thought would be a quick follow up to the first Attack of the Vapers (AOTV). However, if you have been reading along with the program, you have seen that there has been a big dust up recently with the proposed regulations and legal ramifications of using alternative nicotine delivery systems. However, given the timeline of the Federal Food and Drug Administration decisions, I decided to stop procrastinating and get this out there to maybe provide some information and encourage individuals in the vaping community to use their voices to impact the future of the phenomenon while there is still time to do so.

First, I will start by saying that there are a lot… let me repeat that… a LOT of rumors and speculations flying about the internet and the various vaping shops. Everyone has a perspective and a perception. I am going to give you my best, objective summary, and I am going to give you a bit of my opinion (as well as some I have gotten speaking with shop owners and enthusiasts in my local area). However, I am also going to provide you with a list of my references with links. Read what is available, and not from only one source. Educate yourself, and be knowledgeable about what is being proposed. Then, get involved. And now, I’m getting ahead of myself.

What Is Going On?

Since the first patent on the electronic nicotine delivery system in 1963, there has been resurgence in the evolution of the electronic cigarette. Since 2008, the number of electronic nicotine delivery system users has increase exponentially. In part, this is due to the indoor clean air regulations and non-smoker rights activists. There are fewer and fewer places for smokers to light up. People turned to alternative methods of acquiring nicotine. In 2009, the FDA was allowed by law to regulate tobacco products. However, that did not apply to electronic cigarettes. Additionally, the regulations imposed by the FDA were targeted to prevent smoking in the youth population of the country. Tobacco companies were restricted from using pretty colors, cartoon characters, and “candy” flavors that were seen as marketing to a younger user (Whitcomb & Gorman, 2014).

Tobacco companies complied. However, with the change to the cigarette prices, flavors, and restrictions, adults sought other ways of meeting their nicotine and behavioral desires. The original e-cigarettes were cartomizers with primarily propylene glycol and polyethylene glycol and tobacco flavoring in a system looking much like a cigarette. Many former smokers tried these, but in truth, they were found by and large to be a poor substitute to the smoking ritual and flavor. However, innovation is fed by deficits in the system, and smokers can be very innovative about getting their nicotine. While some chose to use the smoking cessation alternatives, the gum, patch, and medication routes were successful in approximately 6% of the population. Additionally, not every smoker actually wants to quit. That generally comes as a shock to the anti-smokers of the world, but some people enjoy their smoke. That being said, the removal of some of the flavors allegedly used to market to children was essentially punishing adults who may also enjoy flavored cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and now, vapors. In response, nicotine vapor alternatives became more and more prevalent, and they grew in popularity.

Several things occurred. Cigarette sales decreased as more smokers switched over to electronic nicotine delivery. Vaping does not carry the same taxes as the tobacco products, and there was a decrease in tax revenue as smokers switched to the less expensive vaping options. Anti-smoking activists were alarmed by the increased number of people mimicking smoking behavior regardless that it merely produced water vapor. Public health concerns about the long term effects were raised. Because there were no regulations, there were significant concerns about sales to minors. Lawmakers claim that e-cigarettes are a gateway drug to draw children and teens into smoking (Hunt, 2014; Moskowitz, 2014). Complaints are that marketing uses celebrity status to make e-cigarettes attractive. Additionally, free trial offers and samples concern critics. Critics also claim that e-cigarettes keep people from “quitting altogether,” neglecting to acknowledge the fact that people may not want to quit (Moskowitz, 2014).

What Does the Law Say?

Initially, the regulation and ban of vaping indoors was left to individual businesses, but more broad legislation has been proposed and ratified to restrict vaping indoors (Opfer, 2013). Currently, there are precious few clearly stated laws about vaping, but that is changing with each passing cloud of fragrant water vapor. In March of this year, Los Angeles joined New York, Boston, and Chicago in banning vaping from public venues such as restaurants, bars, and nightclubs (Whitcomb & Corman, 2014). The map of legislation is currently in flux. More and more states are scrambling to understand the phenomenon and regulate use in a meaningful way. There are varying laws in the U.S. restricting sales and use of e-cigarettes and their vaporizing counterparts, but there are still surprisingly few that forbid sale to minors (License to Vape, 2014). There are no regulations on the chemicals used or the disclosure of ingredients that could be potentially dangerous to vapers. However, beware vapers! A man in New York received a citation for vaping while driving. New York has a law that prohibits the use of electronic devices. Though electronic cigarettes are not specifically named in the law defining the devices, the judge ruled he had violated the law (Sherwood, 2014). We won’t actually discuss how distracting dropping a lit cigarette in the crotch is while driving, but apparently that is still legal.

What Is Proposed By the FDA?

The FDA proposed regulation April 24th, 2014, that while not as restrictive as feared (Craver, 2014; Sullum, 2014), still concerns many in the vaping community. The released proposal expands the definition of tobacco products to include electronic cigarettes, pipe tobacco, hookah tobacco, dissolvables, gels, and some cigars. It also covers products that could be considered paraphernalia, such as papers, tubes, charcoals, and hookah flavor enhancers (Langley, 2014). The FDA is proposing required health warnings on products (including addictive properties of nicotine), ban on sale to minors, prohibition of free samples, and disclosure of chemicals used in e-cigarettes (Burton & Esterl, 2014). Additionally, the FDA proposed that manufacturers of e-cigarettes will have to substantiate claims that they are safer than traditional cigarettes. Manufacturers may be required to register with the FDA for products and submit to premarket ingredient review, inspection, and approval (Devaney, 2014; Langley, 2014). Though Senate Health Committee Chair Tom Harkin is pushing to ban “candy” flavors, claiming it is marketing to children, the FDA stopped short of banning sweet flavors (Moskowitz, 2014). The primary focus of the language in the proposed regulations appears to be the e-cigarette devices of the cartomizer variety, such as Blu, NJOY, Logic, CB, and Nicotek (Burton & Esterl, 2014; Craver, 2014).

What Is Tennessee Proposing?

According to CASAA (2014), Tennessee is proposing a bill that would identify vapor products (e-cigarettes, vape pens, etc.) as non-tobacco, and therefore not taxed as such. They would also not be subject to the Tennessee Clean Indoor Air Act. This means that while smoking in certain indoor venues is banned, vapers would still be free to puff away. While the vaping community would be pleased with this outcome, the non-vapers and anti-smoking activists in Knoxville have expressed displeasure. Some people are still very sensitive to the residual PG or nicotine in some of the high nicotine vapor expressed by those using devices, and some are merely fearful believing that the water vapor is “just like smoke.” The bill proposed in Tennessee legislature mirrors one proposed in Oklahoma on April 16th, 2014. The law would also prevent proposed “sin” taxes such as that attempted by Vermont on April 7th, 2014 for 92% (honestvape, 2013). The proposed Tennessee law has met with some opposition from tobacco lobbyists for revenue and tax concerns, according to local vape vendors in Knoxville and e-cigarette enthusiasts.

Arguments Get Heated

Electronic cigarette companies such as NJOY expressed concern that a push to ban vaping is a deterrent to individuals switching from combustible tobacco. Instead of changing over to electronic cigarettes or their vape counterparts, people may choose to continue smoking rather than quit (Whitcomb & Gorman, 2014). The claims that strict regulations will encourage people to quit nicotine entirely ignores the fact that some people still enjoy their vaping after tapering down to zero nicotine. Critics feel that the FDA is not aggressive enough (Burton & Esterl, 2014). Many critics still feel that the flavors, ads and internet sales are a targeted marketing towards children and teens, again neglecting to recognize that adults favor flavors in their e-liquids much like they do flavored beverages.

Vendors, manufacturers, and enthusiasts are concerned that innovation and industry growth will be stifled in the newly regulated market (Craver, 2014). Individual manufacturers, such as small to mid-sized companies will be unable to afford staying in business and “Big Tobacco” and pharmaceutical companies will be the only entities capable of paying for required approvals (Craver, 2014; Moskowitz, 2014; Opfer, 2013). Without the ability to expand and the creativity of the community with the ability to experiment, devices proposed by medical and technology professionals inspired by the new vaper devices for smoking cessation and abuse resistant medication delivery devices may never come to light (Clark, 2014).

One of the proposed regulations is that the FDA would require proof of claims that there are health benefits to switching to e-cigarettes from traditional combustible tobacco (Burton & Esterl, 2014). Currently, the FDA claims there is no substantiation for claims that vaping is healthier than smoking. However, the FDA arguments appear to be primarily founded on first generation devices, and enthusiasts and vendors feel that there is more current research that shows the positive impact of vaporizing devices over combustible tobacco with regards carcinogen production and combustible toxicants (Toole, 2014). Anecdotal evidence from those who have switched indicates improved taste and smell, becoming less winded after activity, and overall feeling better (Moskowitz, 2014). These narrative reports from vapers are supported by positive evaluations from medical professionals that indicated not only are those who switch over feeling better, they have measurably increased lung capacity (Toole, 2014). Contrary to arguments to the contrary, e-vapor appears to be less addictive than the smoke of traditional cigarettes, as vapers tend to decrease their nicotine levels over time, often continuing to vape at zero nicotine levels (Craver, 2014). Oliver Kershaw of the E-Cigarette Forum worries about the selection and availability of products for vapers in future as he believes most of the current products will not qualify with the FDA approval requirements (Sullum, 2014). Public health professionals indicated that the FDA proposals are a victory for “Big Tobacco” as smaller players in the market could be driven out of business due to cost of earning approval for any new or existing products, and individuals losing their flavor options and expense benefits may return to combustible tobacco products (Craver, 2014; Moskowitz; 2014, Sullum, 2014). Still, the proposed regulations seem to be of little concern to the “Big Three” tobacco companies who have their own foot in the door of the electronic cigarette market (Mangan, 2014). The new federal regulations are not expected to make any impact on the expanding e-cigarette phenomenon. Industry giants acquiring existing lines may be the only way for certain juices and devices to stay on the market (Moskowitz, 2014). Bill Godshall of Smokefree Pennsylvania says, “What it will do is effectively give the entire industry to big tobacco,” (Opfer, 2013).

Safety is the biggest consideration in the argument for regulation. Spot tests conducted by the FDA claim to have found that nicotine levels and labels were vastly inconsistent with zero nicotine liquids still showing evidence of nicotine content (FDA, 2014). Many distributors refuse to disclose their ingredients claiming proprietary recipes. For people with allergies, this is a red flag and possibly a deterrent to purchase from said vendor. Strangely enough, the FDA is not trying to ban traditional cigarettes which have been shown to be far more dangerous (Sullum, 2014). The FDA and public health officials claim that “we just don’t know the long term effects of electronic cigarettes.” Well, we didn’t know about cigarettes for 20 years either, but they haven’t banned them yet. By the same logic, nicotine gum, dissolvables, patches, and inhalers are still on the market, despite somewhat poor outcomes for smoking cessation, and they are already approved and regulated by the FDA as pharmaceuticals (Sullum, 2014).

There are hopes that FDA regulations with “spike the guns” of various states imposing much stricter regulations (Craver, 2014). With broader federal guidelines, it would normalize the laws across the board and give less opportunity for wide variance of infraction from state to state.

Word On the Street

Local vendors and customers alike are worried about what the proposed regulations will do to their ability to vape inexpensively and have access to the same quality of products to which they have become accustomed.

One patron of Knoxville Vapors stated that government involvement will reduce options and access to quality e-juices and increase the cost. He agreed that regulation is needed to prevent sale to minors, but he is concerned that regulation won’t prevent unscrupulous vendors from selling to whomever they please. “It will only be the good folks who wouldn’t sell to kids in the first place who will be hit, and we will all be hit in the wallet.”

Vintage Vapors Knoxville owner echoes the concern, elaborating that producers of their most popular juices cannot compete with the big companies with an added cost of FDA approval which can cost between $5000-$10,000 per flavor per nicotine level. “The only ones who can afford it will be Big Tobacco or Big Pharmacy.”

Where Does This Leave Us?

People are still woefully ignorant of the science and the proposed regulatory legislation. It is time to read up, people. There are 75 days from the time the FDA proposal was released during which arguments and public comments will be heard.

Regulation is needed to prevent poor quality, sale to people less than 18 years old, and preserve safety to end users. From my own perspective, I want to know what is in the e-juice. That doesn’t mean I want a detailed list of their “secret special recipes,” but knowing the percentages of VG or PG (which can aggravate respiratory conditions or other allergies) is important. I believe knowing what ingredients have contributed to the flavors is reasonable. Again, people have allergies! Health warning labels are always a good idea, and child-proof caps, PLEASE! Nicotine is still a poison, and no one wants a child accidentally exposed.

So, my suggestion? Get involved in your local vape community, organizations, online groups, etc. Get educated. Voice your opinions to the FDA and your government representatives. If you do not want the government or large corporate entities controlling your vape, you need to heed the call to action and speak up to the people making the decisions.


Burton, T., & Esterl, M. (April, 2014). E-cigarettes face first regulations. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from (February, 2014). Call to Action! (UPDATED) SUPPORT Tennessee Bill that Excludes E-Cigarettes from Smoking Bans and Tobacco Taxes. Retrieved from

Clark, T. (May, 2014). E-cigarettes become an unlikely inspiration for new medical devices. Huffington Post Business. Retrieved from

Craver, R. (May, 2014). Reaction mixed to FDA e-cig regulations. Winston-Salem Journal. Retrieved from

Devaney, T. (April, 2014). FDA proposes regulations for e-cigarettes. The Hill. Retrieved from

FDA. (April, 2014). E-cigarettes: Questions and answers. Retrived from

honestvape. (August, 2013). E-cig state laws: Current and pending. License to Vape. Retrieved from

Hunt, A. (April, 2014) Marketing rules too lax on e-cigarettes critics say. USA Today. Retrieved from

Langley, A. (April, 2014). New FDA regulations affect vape pens, e-cigarettes and other smoking products. Summit Daily. Retrieved from

Mangan, D. (April, 2014). E-cig makers say proposed FDA regs should keep sales smoking. NBC News. Retrieved from

Moskowitz, E. (April, 2014). FDA e-cigarette plan brings complaints from both sides. The Boston Globe. Retrieved from

Noll-Marsh, K. (April, 2014). FDA regulation of e-cigarettes: huge costs, little or no benefit, says CASAA. Retrieved from

Opfer, C. (November, 2013). Coming Soon to the E-Cigarette Regulation Debate: A Sliver of Clarity. The Atlantic Cities. Retrieved from

Sherwood, J. (March, 2014). Electronics cigarette lands a man a traffic ticket in Upstate New York. The Examiner. Retrived from

Sullum, J. (May, 2014). Will FDA regulation preserve or destroy the e-cigarette industry? Forbes. Retrieved from

Toole, J. (April, 2014). N.H. health officials pleased by U.S. regulation of e-cigarettes: E-cigarette regulation praised by health officials, questioned by retailers. Eagle-Tribune. Retrieved from

Whitcomb, D., & Gorman, S. (March, 2014). Los Angeles moves to ban e-cigarettes, joining NY, others. Reuters U.S. edition. Retrieved from

Honorable Mentions

Knoxville Vapors.

Vintage Vapors Knoxville.

Smokey Mountain Vapers.

Vapor Boss.

An Attack of the Vapers… Er… Vapors?

Unless you have been a shut-in with a phobia of all forms of media, you will be aware of an up-ticking trend in nicotine use. It involves the use of the electronic cigarettes. There has been recently and increase in the debate concerning regulation and health concerns regarding the use of these alternatives to combustible tobacco use. Warning, dear readers, this may get “sciency”. I’m not going to apologize. In this particular issue, science is a significant player in the regulation debate. So, with the disclaimer out of the way, on with the show…

What Are Electronic Cigarettes?

The first electronic cigarette, vaporizer, or nicotine delivery system was patented in 1963 (Gilbert, 1965). The devices work by using an electric heating source to heat a solution to vapor state by which it can be inhaled (Czogala, et al., 2013). The liquid solution or “e-juice” is usually a mixture of propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerine (VG), and or polyethylene glycol (PEG). These chemicals are mixed with flavors and nicotine. These days, there are a wide variety of flavors. Additionally, not everyone is keen on PG and PEG to which many are allergic and/or it exacerbates asthmatic conditions. So, there are 100% VG versions that do not contain any PG or PEG. The solution of nicotine is also variable these days, generally from 24 mg down to 0 mg of nicotine. The user breathes in the vaporized solution, and exhales mostly water vapor. Unlike other smokeless nicotine delivery systems (gum or patch), the electronic cigarette more closely resembles the feeling of the physical and behavioral aspects of smoking.

With the expansion of non-smoking laws and limitations, the popularity of non-combustible tobacco options grew. There are a wide variety of electronic cigarettes that closely resemble traditional cigarettes. Some brands also have a glowing tip that mimics the fire of traditional cigarettes. There are disposable options. Other options have disposable cartridges that attach to rechargeable power sources. With the increasing popularity of the vaporizing trend, there are a wide variety of power sources (batteries) with varying power charge and time. More advanced options include ability to adjust power and delivery. With these new power options there are detachable tanks that run the gamut from disposable tanks to artisan crafted hand-blown reusable options.

As the number of electronic cigarette users increased, the language also expanded to incorporate new vocabulary associated with the trend. Because the mechanism is vaporizing the solution, the behavior has been labeled “vaping.” The devices have been called e-cigs, e-fags (U.K. primarily), e-hookahs, or hookah pens (Richtel, 2014; The Time Out London blog, 2014).

Why Are More People Vaping?

So, why the up-tick in the vaping trend? In four years, from 2008-2012, the number of e-cigarette sales increased by nearly 7000%. It seems that while the mere restriction on smoking in public places may have pushed traditional smokers to the non-combustible alternatives, this may not be the only reason for the increase in number of vapers. So what are the leading reasons for people to choose e-cigarettes?

  • Avoidance of smoke-free laws (Koch, 2012)
  • Convenience (Noguchi, 2014)
  • Smoking cessation (Pokhrel, et al., 2013)
  • Health concerns (Farsalinos & Polosa, 2014; Koch, 2012)
  • Financial (Koch, 2012)

The concern for environmental factors and second-hand smoke made more and more indoor environments become non-smoking. Smoking sections in restaurants, airplanes, hotels, and other facilities became a thing of the past. Smokers were relegated to outdoor designated areas. Complaints about non-smokers entering buildings through a cloud of second hand smoke, prompted building owners and businesses to post boundaries and zoning to bar smokers from proximity of the doors. However, more and more organizations, companies, etc. are moving towards the smoke-free environment entirely. The push has been for users to choose smoking cessation options, such as nicotine gum or the patch. However, the new prevalence of e-cig options have made vaping a more convenient option. Vapers can remain at their desks (in places where vaping indoors has not yet been banned) rather than being pushed into the weather for their break (Noguchi, 2014).

Some people saw the e-cigarette as an alternative to smoking cessation (Koch, 2012; Pokhrel, et al., 2013; Richtel, 2014). While there is a significant lack of evidence to support the efficacy of e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation intervention; people still believe that vaping is a viable alternative to nicotine gum, the patch, or other pharmaceutical options.

Even for those who do not desire abstinence from nicotine, there are aspects of vaping that have smokers switching in hopes of improving their health (Farasalinos & Polosa, 2014; Koch, 2012). Detractors have argued that there are still dangers and volatile chemicals associated with the vaping process that endanger the health of humans (Koch, 2012; Reasons Supporting Regulation of E-Cigarettes, n.d.). Additionally, nicotine is still a poison and can be dangerous to anyone inhaling, ingesting, or absorbing transdermally (Glatter, 2014). Nicotine toxicity is a concern for those handling the nicotine infused e-juices. Additionally, the risk to children who might mistakenly consider the intriguing smells and colors to be something edible supports the push for child-proof closures on e-juice containers. The detractors also are concerned with the second hand vapor expelled into the environment. However, much to the chagrin of those who want to claim harmful effects of vaping as being as dangerous as combustible tobacco, what little research is out there has shown that the negative effects of vaping on the primary user and the innocent bystander from second hand exposure are a fraction of what would be experienced with traditional smoking (McAuley, Hopke, Zhao, & Babaian, 2012; Noguchi, 2014). Studies have shown that there is still some nicotine expelled in the vapor resulting from e-cig use, but that it is ten times less than the amount found in traditional combustible cigarette smoke making it less harmful to those exposed second hand (Czogala, 2013). Additionally, there is none of the “side smoke” (fumes from the burning tip) that occurs with puffing a traditional cigarette. Goniewicz, et al. found in 2013 the levels of other toxicants to which vapers are exposed were 9-450 time lower than by traditional cigarette smoking. Most sources acknowledge that the research is just very limited at this time and more time and studies are needed to examine the long term effects.

There are many anecdotal accounts by former smokers who have reported that vaping has improved their own perceived health (Koch, 2012). Vapers indicate that the traditional “smokers’ cough” disappears after a short period. An unexpected development for some former smokers switching to vaping is a return of their olfactory sense. One former smoker/new vaper stated, “I went outside to sit and vape and smelled something. I couldn’t identify what it was, but it didn’t seem very pleasant. After looking around, it finally dawned on me… I was smelling the ash tray [that was still sitting on a table for smoking guests].” Because the oral behavior and nicotine are present, many report that they have not seen the weight gain that accompanies other types of nicotine replacement systems, and even though there is no current research supporting vaping as an effective smoking cessation method, the ability to step down the e-juice nicotine to zero might provide options for those who wish to break their nicotine addiction (especially for those to whom the “ritual” of smoking is as important as the actual chemical addiction).

One of the other major foci of the people against vaping has been the aspect of vaping as a gateway for young people and the behavioral aspects of the trend. Several outspoken antagonists of the vaping trend say that the “candy” flavors and colorful packaging target the young (Richtel, 2014). Additionally, the non-smoker rights movement have viewed the vaping trend as setting back smoke-free society by decades by “making smoking seem acceptable” again (Reasons Supporting Regulation of E-Cigarettes, n.d.). The argument is that the “mimic behavior” of vaping is just going to draw more people to the smoking behaviors, and nicotine addiction will keep them there. The lack of federal regulation leads detractors to fear the marketing of these items to teens and children.

Finally, the last reason on this list is the financial perspective. E-cigarettes present options that are far less expensive than smoking (Koch, 2012). With the cost of cigarettes and “sin tax” making the price of combustible tobacco rise astronomically, vaping provides a significantly less expensive alternative. Even with the cost of starting (purchase of power source, tanks, and e-juice), most vapers find that the choice to vape instead of smoke significantly decreases the amount of cash expenditure monthly. Let’s look at an example of an average user:

Assuming a moderate smoker as a pack of cigarettes per day use, this averages approximately a carton of cigarettes per week. Obviously, the cost of cigarettes varies significantly from state to state, but for this exercise, we will use the prices from Tennessee. Cartons of cigarettes vary in price. The range is somewhere between $36-70 depending on brand. Taking the cheapest option as the choice, a carton of cigarettes per week gives us about $156 per month or $1872 annually. This does not include accessory costs (lighters, lighter fluid, flints, etc.); or incidental costs of accidental burns in clothing or upholstery, smokers deposits (some rental agreements), and cleaning costs of ash and smoke in clothing and environment. For this case, we will calculate cost based on one of the mid-range electronic cigarettes known as the “hookah pen.” This particular model includes a battery with removable tank that charges using a USB connector. The basic start-up kit at the local vapor emporium includes one power source, charging adaptor, one disposable tank, and one 10 ml bottle of e-juice; all for $30. Disposable tanks cost $5 a piece and last between 10 and 30 days depending on intensity of use. However, there are alternatives. There are also rebuild tanks that cost $5 new and have replaceable coils for $2. Coils last about the same time as disposable tanks. The e-juice is the primary consumable in this process. From speaking with vendors and vapers, a 15 ml bottle of e-juice is the approximate equivalent of a carton of cigarettes. This amount varies person to person according to reports. Factors that impact usage are nicotine load in the e-juice, prior smoking rate before switching, and behavioral differences in drawing vapor/smoke. In general, the cost of e-juice runs $8-10 per 15 ml bottle. Right there, you have a comparison: One carton of cigarettes, $36; the equivalent amount of e-juice, $8. To take it a bit further, let’s follow our new vaper/former smoker for a year. At the end of a year, assuming the pattern above, the smoker would spend approximately $2000. For the equivalent vaper, the annual spend would be (including start-up, additional tank purchase, and coil replacement) $473. That is a difference of $1527.

Would it be an even greater savings to quit smoking or vaping all together? Of course it would. However, for those who do not want to stop the “ritual” or abstain from nicotine, vaping provides a fiscal alternative that is far less offensive to the bank account. Now, keep in mind, these things are not currently federally regulated or taxed. Some states are imposing their own taxes, and sales tax is definitely applicable (Koch, 2012). If regulations are implemented, it is possible that the cost of vaping may increase, especially if those already lobbying against vaping succeed in their efforts. The inexpensiveness is another point they make in the risk to teens and young people for whom the cost of cigarettes has exceeded their lack of adult income.

To Vape or Not To Vape… What Was the Question?

So, what is the conclusion? There is no doubt that more research is needed. The long term effects of vaping are, as yet, unknown. There may be health impacts that we have not seen. It is still not recommended to expose children or pregnant women to electronic cigarette vapors, actively or passively. Nicotine is still a poison, and unless you are using the zero nicotine e-juice, you are still inhaling this chemical. Additionally, the danger to anyone ingesting or transdermally absorbing the nicotine solution can be significant. E-juice should be kept away from children, and vapers should always wash their hands after filling tanks to prevent accidental overdose exposure. However, as noted in the studies mentioned here, the levels of carcinogens and harmful toxicants are significantly less for e-cigarette use than for combustible tobacco. The second hand risks and impact to the environment are also decreased. Financially, at least for now, vaping is less expensive than smoking. The trendiness of vaping, along with the flavor and color associated may draw younger people. However, as with all trends, the potential for long term use may be less as the newness wears off. Since it is possible to vape without any nicotine in the e-juice, those choosing to vape initially as opposed to switching from traditional cigarettes do not face addiction risk in the same way. Also, with the capability of stepping nicotine down, it is possible for former smokers to break their own addiction to nicotine while still participating in the behavioral “ritual” of smoking. The biggest deterrent for anyone considering vaping is that there really is just not enough research to indicate what the risks and benefits might be.

Bottom line is that for those who do not smoke, vaping is an unnecessary habit to form. For those who smoke, weigh the pros and cons and do your research (there are articles listed in the references as well as links for organizations that have more scientific research to offer). Think about your reasons for switching. If it is for health reasons, set yourself a timeframe and think about the step down process. Keep a calendar and stick to it. Remember that nicotine is a poison. Keep e-juice out of reach of children and pets. For those who are looking at the financials, watch the news and be aware that regulations may decrease the fiscal benefits of vaping. Also, watch out for the “shiny” aspects. There are a lot of toys, gizmos, accessories, and flavors of e-juices that go with vaping. You aren’t saving if you are buying all the latest “shiny” new things.

Examining all the various arguments for and against as well as observing the phenomenon first hand, my own leaning is that vaping is positive option for smokers. It can save money. Vapers smell better (both the individuals and their own olfactory sense). Until research proves otherwise, I believe that this new trend is a better option for those who are forced or would like to avoid combustible tobacco but aren’t ready to let go of the “ritual.” For those who do not need the “ritual” but want to quit, there are viable options in the form of gum, patches, and pharmaceuticals. And for those who are just fine with their tobacco in fiery form, enjoy while you can as the non-smoker rights advocates chase you from pillar to post.

I know that this has been a very long post, but I hope that it has presented useful information that will help any of those teetering on the brink of decision.


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Farsalinos, K., & Polosa, R. (2014). Safety evaluation and risk assessment of electronic cigarettes as tobacco cigarette substitutes: a systematic review. Therapeutic Advances in Drug Safety, 5(2), 67-86.

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Koch, W. (September, 2012). E-cigarettes: No smoke, but fiery debate over safety. USA Today. Retrieved from

McAuley, T., Hopke, P., Zhao, J., & Babaian, S. (2012). Comparison of the effects of e-cigarette vapor and cigarette smoke on indoor air quality. Inhalation Toxicology, 24(1), 850-857.

Noguchi, Y. (March, 2014). Ok to vape in the office? Cities, feds and firms still deciding. NPR Shots. Retrieved from

Pokhrel, P., Fagan, P., Little, M., Kawamoto, C., & Herzog, T. (2013). Smokers who try e-cigarettes to quit smoking: Findings from a multiethnic study in Hawaii. American Journal of Public Health, 103(9), e57-e62.

Reasons Supporting Regulation of E-Cigarettes (n.d.) Retrieved from

Richtel, M. (March, 2014). E-cigarettes, by other names, lure young and worry experts. The New York Times (online). Retrieved from

More Resources

Scientific and Medical Information on Electronic Cigarettes, National Vapers Club –

Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association (SFATA)