An electronic cigarette or e-cigarette is a handheld electronic device that simulates the feeling of tobacco smoking. It works by heating a liquid to generate an aerosol, commonly called a "vapor", that the user inhales. Using e-cigarettes is commonly referred to as vaping. The liquid in the e-cigarette, called e-liquid, or e-juice, is usually made of nicotine, propylene glycol, glycerine, and flavorings. Not all e-liquids contain nicotine.
The health risks of e-cigarettes are uncertain. They are likely safer than tobacco cigarettes but are of unclear effect in relation to other methods of stopping smoking. Their long-term health effects are not known. They may help some smokers quit. When used by non-smokers, e-cigarettes can lead to nicotine addiction, and there is concern that children could start smoking after using e-cigarettes. So far, no serious adverse effects have been reported in trials. Less serious adverse effects include throat and mouth irritation, vomiting, nausea, and coughing.
E-cigarettes create an aerosol, commonly called vapor.Its exact composition varies. The majority of toxic chemicals found in tobacco smoke are absent in e-cigarette aerosol. Those present are mostly below 1% of the corresponding levels in tobacco smoke. The aerosol can contain toxicants and traces of heavy metals at levels permissible in inhalation medicines, and potentially harmful chemicals not found in tobacco smoke at concentrations permissible by workplace safety standards. However, chemical concentrations may exceed the stricter public safety limits.
The modern e-cigarette was invented in 2003 by Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik, and as of 2015 most e-cigarettes are made in China. Since they were first sold in 2004 their global use has risen exponentially. In the United States and the United Kingdom their use is widespread. Reasons for using e-cigarettes involve trying to quit smoking, reduce risk, or save money, though some use them recreationally. As of 2014, the majority of users still smoke tobacco. There are concerns that dual use of tobacco products and e-cigarettes may "delay or deter quitting". About 60% of UK users are smokers and roughly 40% are ex-smokers. In the UK use among never-smokers was negligible. Because of overlap with tobacco laws and medical drug policies, e-cigarette legislation is debated in many countries. A European directive of 2016 set standards for liquids, vaporizers, ingredients and child-proof liquid containers. As of August 2016, the US FDA extended its regulatory power to include e-cigarettes. There are around 500 brands of e-cigarette, with global sales in excess of US$7 billion.
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