Difference between E-Cigarettes and Conventional Cigarettes

Union Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister Nirmala Sitharaman addresses during a Cabinet Briefing, in New Delhi on Sep 18, 2019. (Photo: IANS/PIB)

Also called as vaping, the use of e-cigarettes is on a sharp rise. A lot of people consider e-cigarettes as a safer alternative to smoking the conventional cigarettes. Here we discuss the differences between e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes to understand what they are and how they can impact human health.

How do conventional cigarettes and e-cigarettes compare with each other?

As far as we talk of their commonness, cigarettes and e-cigarettes hardly have anything in common between them excepting their names carrying the word ‘cigarette’. Both cigarettes and e-cigarettes are habit forming and addictive in the first place. Both of them carry the risk of making people dependent on them.

In a study undertaken by the Northwestern University, the head of the study Matthew Olonoff remarked, "Before we start making policy changes, such as controlling nicotine or flavor options in e-cigarettes, we need to better understand what role these unique characteristics have."

The studies that compare conventional cigarettes and e-cigarettes view e-cigarettes as a unique kind of sophisticated nicotine delivery system. However, looking deeply, there are a number of key differences we can note between cigarettes and e-cigarettes.

How do Cigarettes and e-cigarettes differ from each other?

Nicotine intake

The amount of nicotine contained in e-cigarettes vary significantly from product to product. We cannot expect any consistency in the devices used for vaping (e-cigarette). The amount of nicotine intake during vaping depends on the device used and the vaper’s behavior. Whereas, the nicotine contained in a conventional cigarette is already known and well-defined.

How nicotine is taken in?

While smoking, the smoker consumes the smoke containing nicotine. The user of an e-cigarette inhales (vapes) nicotine by taking in the e-liquid through the device used for vaping.

Control over the usage

E-Cigarettes allow more control over how they are used. It is possible to stop them and restart with them. This gives room for more variability in terms of the intermittent use and consequently how much nicotine is consumed by the vaper. The nicotine intake is completely predictable in case of conventional cigarettes.

Legalities of using them

Cigarettes are widely banned in a number of regions across the world. In some places where the conventional cigarettes are banned, e-cigarettes are permitted.

Risk factor

Teens are at a greater risk for becoming addicts to e-cigarettes more than the conventional cigarettes as e-cigarettes travel forward on the most alluring technological innovations to be able to attract the youth in a better way.

Policy matters

e-cigarettes found their debut in mid-2000s. Since those times, they are commercially available to the people. Since their advent, the vaping technology is continuously advancing in a rapid phase. Hence it becomes very difficult to set any up-to-date policy initiatives.

They have very less things in common as per studies

Commenting on the differences between the conventional cigarettes and e-cigarettes, Olonoff said, "From a research perspective, when we call it a 'cigarette,' we know how many puffs are typically in a cigarette, how people use it, the amount of nicotine in it. Even though it has the word 'cigarette' in it, e-cigarettes are not the same thing."
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