The vaping industry is big business these days, and where there is a successful new market to target, there will always be unscrupulous people selling fake goods at cheap prices to the unsuspecting public. It is no different with electronic cigarettes except that the implications of buying fake e-cigs could be potentially hazardous to your health and could even pose a risk to your family.
Fake e-cigs are nearly always badly made, using poor components. They are much more likely to either not function at all or to only work poorly. You may find that they overheat easily, making them impossible to use, or that their chargers are unsafe, leading to a fire risk if you decide to power them up at home. Fake e-liquids will use cheap synthetic ingredients that may give off noxious and even dangerous chemicals. Given that the idea of quitting smoking is to not expose yourself further to dangerous chemicals, you can see why it is important to look out for the fakes and to only buy from reputable manufacturers or online stores.
Spotting a Fake Online
At first glance, it may seem almost impossible to spot a fake product if you are buying it online where you only ever see an image of the product. However, there are a few things to look out for when shopping online that could save you wasting money on a cheap knock-off.
The first clue is just that: fake e-cigs are nearly always a lot cheaper than you would expect them to be. A basic rule of thumb is that if you think a deal is too god to be true, then it probably is. If you find a top of the range, designer brand vape pen or electronic cigarette for $30 or even $50 under the price it is being sold for everywhere else, then there is a very good chance that the site is selling fakes.
A reputable business will always provide a lot of information about themselves: terms and conditions, contact information, etc. If there are no basic details about who you are dealing with on the site you are browsing — no phone number or email address, for example, in case you have any queries — then steer clear. Similarly, if the business does not offer a warranty or a return guarantee in the event of a problem with your purchase, then they are unlikely to be bona fide.
Finally, use the advice of your fellow vapers. Customer reviews are a big part of any online business, and if the site you are using has no e-cigarette reviews from previous customers — or only includes a couple of one-line comments — then the chances are it is fake — or it provides such poor customer service that all their product reviews are terrible. Either way, they are to be avoided.
Spotting a Fake in a Store
As a consumer, you should be on safer ground in a retail store in your local mall. However, there is no guarantee that the owner of the store has bought his stock from a reputable supplier, so it is worth being on your guard in case you spot anything suspicious. Poor quality packaging is a sure sign of a fake e-cigarette; there have even been cases where the manufacturers of fakes have incorrectly spelled the brand name they are trying to copy.
If the store is genuine, they will have no problem opening the outer packaging so that you can check the device itself inside. There are simple things you can look out for, even if you are not familiar with e-cigarettes; no user manual, for example, should be a red flag, as should any parts which seem poorly made or as if they are not attached properly. All the top manufacturers are keen to show off their branding, and there should be a logo or name etched or marked onto all of their devices; if this isn’t there at all, or the mark that is there looks amateurish then it is most likely a knock-off copy.
If you have any doubts at all, do not buy. And if you have had your fingers burned, figuratively or literally by a fake, make sure you leave e cigarette reviews to help keep your fellow vapers informed about the risks.
If you have recently taken up vaping or you are thinking about making the switch from normal cigarettes to e-cigs, then you may need some hints and tips about the best e-liquids to buy. E liquids are the flavored liquids that you use to fill electronic cigarettes and vaporizers and which are heated to create the vapor you inhale. Disposable e-cigarettes, which are particularly popular with new vapers or people who have recently quit smoking, usually come with their own pre-installed cartridge of e-liquid — once you have used up all the e liquid you simply throw away the e-cigarette and start a new one.
Disposable E-cigarette Flavors
Because disposable e-cigs are aimed at those who are trying to quit smoking, they are deliberately designed to look, feel and even taste similar to the real thing. This is supposed to help with the transition from tobacco to a vaporizer, to make it easier to stick to vaping and not go back to your old bad habits. As well as looking like a real cigarette, weighing about the same as a real cigarette, and even having a glowing tip at the end like a real cigarette, most disposable e-cigs come in either tobacco flavor or menthol flavor — just like real cigarettes.
Again, this is supposed to help with the transition from smoking tobacco or menthol cigarettes to vaping with tobacco or menthol e liquid. When people first quit smoking, they miss the nicotine in tobacco but they also miss the taste of their favorite cigarettes. There are lots of different tobacco-flavored disposable e-cigs and hundreds of different blends of tobacco e liquids sold for refillable electronic cigarettes, vape pens, and vape mods. It might take a little shopping around to find the blend which most closely matches your usual cigarettes.
People who are thinking about quitting smoking often try to cut down first, or switch to menthol cigarettes as they have fewer dangerous chemicals; this is why disposable e-cigs often come in menthol flavors and why there are so many minty e liquid flavors sold online and on retail vape stores.
Move on to More Unusual Flavors
Once you have become used to vaping, you may want to take the chance to experiment with some of the more unusual flavors which are developed by the best e-liquids companies. Fruits are a common theme, as are sweet flavors; everything from cola to glazed doughnuts. Some companies blend combinations of flavors together to create their own unique products. Some of the e liquids for all-day vaping are the milder flavors, such as the fruit-based blends or coffee and vanilla flavors. If you want something a bit more lively and exciting on a night out, why not choose a champagne or vodka-flavored e liquid to complement whatever you’re drinking?
Choose Your Nicotine Strength
Flavor is one aspect of finding e liquids for your device and your personal taste, but you also have to decide what appropriate strength of nicotine to choose. Most brands sell the e liquid flavors in a variety of nicotine strengths — in options running from 0 mg (nicotine-free) to 24 mg of nicotine. If you choose a nicotine strength that is too strong for you, you could end up feeling sick and dizzy. On the other hand, if you choose a nicotine strength that is too low, the e liquid will not satisfy your cravings and you will end up working your way through a lot more inhalations (and a lot more e-liquid) than you need to.
Heavy smokers — those who smoke 30 or more cigarettes a day — should use the strongest nicotine strength e liquids; 24 mg or maybe 18 mg. If you are a medium smoker, say around 20 to 30 cigarettes a day, an e liquid with a nicotine strength of between 8 mg and 12 mg will suffice. Light smokers who smoked less than 20 cigarettes a day may find they can manage on the very lowest nicotine strengths of 6 mg or even 3 mg. You can use these different nicotine strengths to reduce your intake and your dependency over time, perhaps even getting to the point where you can use 0 mg nicotine e liquids, simply to enjoy their flavor and the sensation of vaping.
Electronic cigarettes have quickly become the number one aid for people who want to quit smoking. They provide a safe way for smokers to get the nicotine hit they crave without exposing themselves to harmful chemicals, many of which can cause cancer, and the different nicotine strengths that you get in most e-liquids means that it is much easier to keep reducing your intake over time. You might get to the point where you can enjoy your e-cigs with zero strength nicotine.
How to Get Started
Most smokers start off with disposable e-cigarettes. These are usually shaped like a cigarette to help with the transition and come pre-loaded with a carved battery and a tank full of e-liquid. Once these are used up, you simply throw it away and start a new one. Disposable e-cigs last a lot longer than a cigarette, however. Most have the same capacity as up to 50 cigarettes, so if you are a light smoker it should last more than a week. Boxes of disposable electronic cigarettes should tell you how many “puffs” they have in them, which can help you figure out which model is the best value for money.
These disposable e-cigs usually come in tobacco flavor, again because this is the flavor that smokers are used to and which they identify with their craving. It helps them make the switch to vaping more easily and, hopefully, will make it easier to stick with electronic cigarettes in these difficult first few weeks. There are quite a lot of menthol disposable e-cigs too, if you have been smoking menthol cigarettes in an attempt to cut down or if you just fancy trying something new. One cool feature of disposable e-cigarettes is that they often have a little light in the end which glows when you inhale. It adds nothing to the experience really, but it is another feature which can help maintain the illusion you are smoking and help you switch to e-cigs.
The other important decision you have to make when buying your first electronic cigarettes is what strength of nicotine you should choose. Most disposable e-cigs are available in a wide variety of nicotine strengths — from 0 mg to 24 mg. This highest strength is really only for very heavy smokers — those on more than 30 cigarettes a day. If you try vaping this strength in your e-cigs when you are only a light smoker, it will certainly not help you quit smoking, and will probably just make you feel a bit ill.
Medium smokers, those on around 20 cigarettes a day, should probably start with 12 mg or 8 mg nicotine strength, while light or social smokers will be fine if they start with 6 mg or even 3 mg nicotine strength. You will soon know if you haven’t quite got the balance right; too low, and you will find yourself suffering from cravings or even withdrawal symptoms, too high and you may well feel dizzy or even a little nauseous.
Some people are happy to stick forever with the nicotine strength that matches their previous cigarette consumption. Others want to use electronic cigarettes to slowly wean themselves off nicotine completely over time. Luckily, e-cigs make this much easier. You can control exactly what strength of e-liquid you put in your device, and you can even adjust the controls of e-cigarettes to affect the strength of the vapor too.
Many people have successfully weaned themselves off nicotine by reducing the strength of e-liquid they use in their electronic cigarettes over time; some of them have stopped vaping altogether, whereas others have carried on using e-cigs but with 0 mg nicotine e-liquids, simply because they still enjoy the sensation of inhaling and exhaling vapor, and because they feel more comfortable having something to do with their hands. Both options are fine. E-liquids with 0 mg nicotine strength produce a vapor that is nothing but flavored steam — and which will do you no harm at all.
Get the basic first steps right, and there is no reason that you cannot join the hundreds of thousands of people worldwide who have successfully quit smoking, thanks to e-cigarettes.
For decades, teenagers have found the lure of smoking difficult to resist; it seems an easy way to rebel against parents and authority figures, and there is a perception — albeit a misguided one — that cigarettes are cool. Now, the e-cigs industry is having to address similar concerns: are they doing enough to make sure teenagers and children don’t start using these devices as a way to look cool to their peers?
Should We Be Worried?
Electronic cigarettes are a safe alternative to the real thing, so should we even be worried if children want to start using vape pens? The answer, of course, is yes. After all, most e-liquids contain nicotine, sometimes in very small quantities, but it is there nevertheless. Although nicotine is nowhere near as harmful as the thousands of chemicals contained in cigarette smoke, it has been linked to some medical problems. E-liquids containing nicotine are great if your alternative is nicotine plus carcinogens from cigarettes; however, if your alternative is no nicotine at all, then that is a much better option than using e-cigarettes.
While the vast majority of people using e-cigarettes are former smokers, there is a small risk that non-smokers who pick up vape pens may find themselves trying cigarettes or smoking them occasionally, having become used to the sensation, the taste and, of course, having developed a craving for nicotine. This is more likely to happen among teenagers who don’t tend to consider the consequences of their actions as thoroughly than among adults who try electronic cigarettes having never smoked before.
What Action Should the Industry Take?
In June 2016, the US Food and Drug Administration announced new guidelines for the e-cigs industry. Basically, these guidelines stated that vaping products and devices should be classified in the same way as tobacco — despite the wealth of evidence showing how successful e-cigarettes are in helping tobacco harm reduction. E-cigarette manufacturers and retailers appealed against most of the guidelines, except for two.
Most of those involved in the production or sale of electronic cigarettes accepted that there should be a legally enforceable ban on selling e-cigs and other vaping products to those under the age of 18 and they also accepted that e-liquids should be sold in containers with child-proof caps.
Most retailers already had a policy not to sell to children; the FDA rules simply made it official and also meant that anybody breaking that rule can be punished financially. And although e-liquids are perfectly safe for adults to use in the small quantities you need in e-cigs, if small children managed to get a bottle open and drink the contents — more likely with some of the sweeter flavors with brightly-colored packaging — then they could become seriously ill as a result of nicotine poisoning. It is for this reason that some manufacturers of e-cigarettes make the devices themselves child-proof so that kids cannot open up the chamber and drink leftover e-liquid or perhaps even unintentionally start up the device and accidentally inhale some vapor.
Can Anything More Be Done?
There are those who continue to criticize the vaping industry for not doing enough to discourage young people who have never smoked from picking up an electronic cigarette. Advertising for e-cigs is somewhat reminiscent of old cigarette adverts portraying users as young, attractive and confident men and women. It may be that in the future we will see further restrictions on e-cigs advertising — but this would also disadvantage smokers who might benefit from seeing such ads.
Similarly, some e-liquid manufacturers have come under fire for creating sweet flavors, packaged in bright, fun colors that critics say are “designed” to attract children. While it is inevitable that children will be attracted to sweet things, the same goes for the adult customers they are targeting in an effort to help them stop smoking. This is the same argument that emerged a few years ago when critics said the drinks industry was trying to attract teenagers by developing and selling sweet-flavored alcopops.
The fact remains that the electronic cigarette industry had very effectively regulated itself until the recent FDA interference. This is a new industry, and as new problems or potential pitfalls emerged, manufacturers and retailers were only too happy to respond and take action to keep their customers and their customers’ families safe. Too much interference from the authorities will only make electronic cigarettes seem as rebellious as smoking was to teenagers in the past.
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