If you weren’t paying attention, you might feel like new terms like vaping, vape shops, and e-cigarettes popped up out of nowhere. If you are someone who is ready to stop smoking, vaping can be a life-changing discovery that can get you closer to ending your use of tobacco. However, just like anything new, vaping can seem overwhelming at first. From the terminology to the products themselves, it is hard to know where to start. If you’re reading this, we’re happy to tell you that you’ve come to the right place. We will discuss the finer points of vaping so you will know exactly what you need to get started.
Is Vaping Safe?
Vaping is relatively new, having arrived on the scene in only the last decade or so. Since it has not been around as long as smoking cigarettes, it makes sense that there are a lot of questions about it. Most of us know that smoking usually involves inhaling smoke from a burning paper tube filled with shredded tobacco. The inhalation of the smoke from the combustion of tobacco leaves is what delivers the nicotine to a smoker. In addition to the nicotine, which is what makes cigarettes addictive, there are thousands of other toxic and carcinogenic chemicals in cigarette smoke.
Is It a Cigarette?
Vaping follows the same principal of inhalation but uses a liquid that may or may not contain nicotine. A small heating element in the vaping device turns the liquid into vapor which is inhaled by the user. Unlike smoking cigarettes, vaping does not involve combustion, which in turn removes the need for many of the chemicals that fuel the combustion process. There’s no fire, no smoke, no odor. In short, vaping is using an e-cigarette that delivers vapor, not smoke.
Anatomy of a Vaping Device
Before delving into the mind-boggling number of vaping options, we’ll quickly walk through how vaping devices work. Every vaping device has three basic parts: a rechargeable lithium battery, a vaporization chamber, and a cartridge that can contain flavored liquid with or without nicotine. The battery can typically be charged with a micro USB cable. It is then connected to the hollow vaporization chamber that contains the electric controls which are attached to the atomizer that controls the vape. A cartridge is attached to the vaporization chamber and includes a tip that serves as the mouthpiece for inhaling.
How Do Vaporizers Work?
Adults who are vaping inhale as they would with a traditional cigarette, so the feeling is very familiar. The inhalation activates the atomizer, which heats the liquid in the cartridge. Cotton wicks absorb the liquid, and the heat makes the liquid evaporate. The heated, evaporated liquid becomes vapor which is inhaled. If the vaping liquid contains nicotine, it will be delivered to the lungs during this stage of the process. The user then exhales a vapor that only looks like cigarette smoke but has none of the properties, smell, or toxic chemicals that come along with traditional cigarettes. In addition to kicking the health hazards to the curb, it feels great to say goodbye to the smokers’ signature yellow teeth and fingers, too. For people accustomed to smoking tobacco, the feel of a vaping device as well as the inhalation and exhalation mirrors the sensation of smoking but without the dramatic dangers. Many e-cigarettes even have an LED light at the end to create an artificial flame that replicates the look of a cigarette flame during inhalation.
What Are the Choices of Vaping Devices?
Image via Flickr by Broke Dick
There are a dizzying array of options and styles of vaping. Without getting a Ph.D. in vaping, let’s go through the basics. Standard vaping is often done with an electronic cigarette, or e-cigarette for short. Beginners often start with an e-cigarette because they are a fairly easy and straightforward way to vape. Also sometimes called cigalikes, they are typically sold as part of a system that includes one or two batteries, packs of cartridges, a charging device, and case. E-cigarettes and vape pens are typically slim devices that are small and discrete enough to fit into a pocket or purse. One drawback of e-cigarettes is that both their battery and vape juice capacity are on the lower side. While some users may be perfectly happy with a charge that can get them through a day of casual vaping, more rigorous users may become frustrated at having to recharge more frequently. Those seeking more power and capacity may want to explore standard vaping with a mod and refillable tank. A mod is a type of e-cigarette that is assembled from basic parts or created by modifying existing systems, hence the name “mod.” Mods differ from traditional vape pens in that they typically have a larger battery for longer charges and a more generous tank capacity. Think of mods as the hot rods of the vaping world, offering a slew of different types of components for your own customized vaping device. Compared to traditional slender vape pens, mods are often larger and more box-shaped in their design.
What is Vape Juice?
Now that we’ve got the world of vaping devices covered, an important question arises: what goes inside the vape pen? The majority of vaping devices use vape juice, also called e-liquids, which are used in cartridge or tank. Some vaping devices use dry herbs or waxy concentrates.
What is Vape Juice Made Of?
Vape juice, the most common material used in vaporizers, generally consists of propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, and flavoring. Nicotine is usually present and is available in a variety of strengths depending on where a user is in his or her progress to reducing reliance on nicotine.
What Are the Flavors of Vape Juice?
E-juice is available in literally hundreds of flavors to suit your taste preferences. Recall your days at a summer carnival with flavors like cotton candy, blue raspberry, bubble gum, and watermelon. Or cater to your gourmet interests with such unique flavors as tiramisu, vanilla butternut, and pina colada. The best part? You get all of the delicious taste with none of the calories. Menthol and tobacco flavors are also available from the many online and brick-and-mortar purveyors of vape. Tobacco flavor gives the sensation and taste of cigarettes without the dangerous side effects of burning it. Even savory food-flavored vape juices have appeared, like jalapeno and bacon. While certainly not for everyone, these flavors can provide a unique experience to true foodies. Some vape systems use their own brand of refill pods, while others include a refillable tank that can be filled with any type of e-liquids. In today’s world of crafting and DIY, there are also dozens of recipes for making your own vape juice.
Where to Buy?
As with every other product in the world, everything you need for vaping is available on the internet. A quick Google search will reveal several websites that sell vaping devices, starter kits, vape juices, and every other component you may need to begin your journey. A number of brick-and-mortar vaping chains have also popped up, so you can physically browse the merchandise in a store before making a decision. An expert consultant in a vaping store can be particularly helpful for someone new to vaping, as it is a bit like learning a new language. These physical stores also often have a tasting bar where customers can sample different flavors and intensities of products. The stores can also help to custom-blend vape juices to meet your specific interests, which is not as easy to accomplish when shopping virtually.
Is Vaping Legal?
As vaping becomes more prevalent, laws have arisen state by state around age legality and locations for vaping. The sale of vaping equipment, vape juice, and any other related component to minors is illegal. While some states do not permit people younger than 18 to participate in vaping, you must be 21 years old in most states to take part. In 2016, the United States Food and Drug Administration extended its regulatory power to e-cigarettes to evaluate ingredients, product features, and health risks.
Where to Smoke?
As vaping laws continue to change in response to the growth of the industry, individual states have made their own rulings on locations in which vaping and e-cigarette use is permitted. Some states, such as California and Delaware, have instituted statewide bans on indoor vaping, meaning that the use of e-cigarettes in restaurants and most other indoor areas is prohibited. Other states have indoor bans for certain counties or portions of their states. Certain countries have made provisions to make the use of e-cigarettes in public illegal, including Lebanon, Brazil, and many others. The laws change quickly, so be sure to consult local legislation before taking a pull in a public place.
What Is a Vape Bar?
As the country’s obsession with frozen yogurt continues to wane, many of the retail spots formerly occupied by froyo shops are now home to vape shops. In most parts of the country, vape bars and shops have become as prevalent as dry cleaners. Vape bars have emerged to fill many needs and wants for vapers. They are often the first place where someone will try out and purchase a vaping system, so the expert salesperson’s advice is very useful. The e-juice “bartenders,” if you will, can also provide guidance on flavor profiles as well as the right amount of nicotine that should be included in your vape juice. Vape bars have also become a social gathering place of sorts, where people who vape can meet up with other like-minded adults. In addition to the knowledgeable e-juice bartenders on staff, it can be nice to meet up with other people who are committed to a smoke-free lifestyle. Some vape bars are built with a keen design eye, including eye-popping splashes of color on the walls or notable works of art. Bar stools and sometimes even a DJ booth give some vape bars a comfortable, loungy feeling that immediately puts customers at ease.
What Are the Financial Costs of Vaping?
Beyond the health and social issues that arise from smoking cigarettes, there is also an enormous financial burden. In addition to removing the deleterious impacts of tobacco and countless chemicals, vaping is also much easier on the wallet. First, consider the startup cost of purchasing a vaping device, which can start at around $10 for a very basic model to over $100 for a decked-out vape mod. Vape juices can run from about $3 to $20, depending on the capacity and type of pod or cartridge. Low-frequency vapers can expect to need a new pod about every two weeks, while someone who vapes regularly may need a new pod every four days or so. Depending on usage, monthly costs for vape juice can start at around $50 per month or $600 per year. The cost of cigarettes is at least $6 per pack in most states, with a pack costing a whopping $13 in New York. Assuming that someone smokes one pack of cigarettes each day at $6 per pack, they would spend upwards of $2200 for cigarettes each year. While science and research on the topic are still coming in, all signs point to vaping as a promising way toward smoking cessation by adults. As the price of cigarettes becomes more prohibitive and the health community continues to amass evidence about the negative health impacts of smoking, the hope is that vaping can help people to stop using tobacco. Vaping is a comparatively less dangerous way to feel the buzz that cigarettes provide when you choose a vape juice that includes some amount of nicotine as an active ingredient. Vaping also offers the ability to taper down the amount of nicotine that you are using if you are striving to kick the habit altogether. Newbies to the vaping scene may find the lingo and materials a bit confusing from afar, but the benefits of vaping over smoking cigarettes reveal themselves very quickly. Make sure you avail yourself of all of the health and operational information from the various vaping websites for further information about your specific vaping needs.