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December 20, 2014

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FAQs about electronic cigarettes

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Paul Takahashi

Several e-cigarettes are on display at The Vapery, a vapor shop located at 8060 S. Rainbow Road, on Friday, Oct. 11, 2013. The rise in e-cigarette use among young adults and teenagers is a growing concern among health officials, who have long waged a public health campaign against smoking.

E-cigarettes

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What are e-cigarettes?

E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that vaporize liquid nicotine into an aerosol mist that can be inhaled, or “vaped.” These devices, many of which are manufactured in Asia, range in size from a traditional tobacco cigarette to a small metal pipe — called a “mod” — that resembles the tip of a hookah pipe.

The metal pipe has a button connected usually to a digital display, which controls how much nicotine is released when a user “vapes.” Vials of liquid nicotine, which comes in 6- to 32-milligram increments, are heated through a coil and vaporized into a fine vapor mist, which is inhaled.

A “mod,” short for modification, can be customized with different tips, colors, accessories and nicotine-delivery methods. Some e-cigarettes and mods come with a colorful light, which mimics the orange glow of a lit tobacco cigarette.

What substances are in e-cigarettes?

Only a handful of clinical studies have been completed so far on e-cigarettes. Although most researchers acknowledge e-cigarettes may be safer than tobacco cigarettes, e-cigarettes were found to contain carcinogens and traces of toxic chemicals and heavy metals.

E-cigarettes have been found to contain diethylene glycol, an ingredient used in antifreeze, according to the Food and Drug Administration. The nicotine in e-cigarettes is addictive and a vasoconstrictor, which means it can constrict and harden blood vessels, leading to cardiovascular disease.

What do e-cigarettes cost?

A starter kit, which includes an e-cigarette and battery, can cost around $30. A stainless steel “mod” used by vapor enthusiasts can cost upwards of $200.

E-cigarette users purchase vials of “juice,” in various flavors, from cherry, watermelon and peach to chocolate and bubble gum. Vials cost between $6 and $20.

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