This interim report is a review of the progress in the project that critically analyses the electronic cigarette. It includes a critical and well researched and analyzed literature survey on the subject of electronic cigarette.

The Theory Used                                

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This being a social issue, the project makes use of a general social theory. This is because of the socio-cultural context of the issue. Smoking is a social concern and may also be viewed in the cultural context. The theory examines the electronic cigarette from a wide perspective right from its onset to the components, benefits, health risks and legal aspects. Thereafter a conclusion is drawn.

      Resources used

For the successful completion of this project, resources such as documentary sources, the internet, and journals have been effectively utilized.

Literature Survey

This literature survey examines the issues of electronic cigarette. It begins with a definition of electronic cigarette. The similarity between this type of cigarette and the conventional one is also critically examined and reviewed here and the difference brought out clearly. The benefits, if any and the health risks of this cigarette are also looked at in this survey. Furthermore, a brief history, components and legal aspects of this type of cigarette are well examined.

An electronic cigarette, also known as a vapor cigarette can be defined as an electrical inhaler which is normally known to vaporize a polyethylene glycol or glycerin, a liquid solution, into a mist known as an aerosol. This combination is familiar with the stimulation of tobacco smoking. Electronic cigarette has a similarity with the conventional cigarette in its physical form. The design is actually similar to that of the conventional cigarette (Gilbert Ross, 2012, p.98). Besides, the amount of nicotine that is released is also almost equal to that which is released by the conventional cigarette. The only difference comes in the type of inhalation. While in the e-cigarette, the inhalation is electrified, the conventional cigarette is manually inhaled.

Brief History of E-Cigarette

The origin of e-cigarette can be traced back to 1963 when one Herbart Gilbert patented an idea which resulted in a device that was referred to as a smokeless non-tobacco cigarette. This effectively eliminated and replaced the burning of tobacco and paper with heated, flavoured and moist air. This device was capable of heating the solution of nicotine and as a result, producing steam. This individual was approached by several companies. Unfortunately, his device was never commercialized and so by 1967, the idea was thrown into the dustbin of history.

In 2000, Hon Lik, a Chines pharmacist, invented the idea of utilizing piezoelectric ultrasound to aid in vaporization of the pressurized liquid jet containing nicotine which is diluted in a solution of propylene glycol. Hon Lik is credited with the invention of the modern day e-cigarette. His design produces a vapour that looks like smoke which can be inhaled. The device was released for the first time in the Chinese market in 2004. This was with a view to cease and replace smoking. He worked for a company called Golden Dragon Holding. This company started exporting the products in 2005. The first international patent for the product was issued to the company in 2007 (Tierney, 2011, p.44-8).

The Physical Components of E-Cigarette

The electronic cigarette is composed of a cartridge, an atomizer, magnet adaptor, battery and liquid. The cartridge allows for the passage of the liquid into the atomizer and vapours from the atomizer to the mouth of the person using it. It is designed in such a way that it does not allow the liquid to leak into the user’s mouth. Most cartridge models make use of a plastic sponge which aims at holding the liquid firmly in place. However, refillable tanks can also be used to perform a similar purpose (FDA, 2009, p.69).

The atomizer has a small coil which heats and vaporizes the liquid. It is generally composed of a simple filament and a metal mesh whose purpose is to draw the liquid inside it. The atomizer’s efficiency fades with time and requires constant replacement. The magnetic adaptors are generally made of stainless steel. The adapter is used to combine the electronic cigarette battery with the atomizer. It converts the battery for use.

The battery, usually portable power units, makes up the largest component of the device. Sometimes, the battery contains the electronic air flow sensor which is activated by simply drawing breath into the device.  The liquid that produces the vapour is famously known as the electronic juice.

Benefits of E-Cigarette

The proponents of e-cigarette argue that this cigarette delivers a very wonderful smoking experience as compared to the conventional one. This minimizes the smell that is associated with tobacco cigarettes. The proponents, therefore, recommend it as an effective replacement of the conventional cigarette.

The base liquids such as the vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol, and polyethene glycol have been largely used as food additives. They have been utilized as base solutions for personal care such as tooth paste and also devices used in the medical field including the asthma inhalers. The proponents of the device argue that since these additives do not pose any serious health risk and instead have a lot of benefits, it follows then that electronic cigarette has a lot of health benefits (Dawkins & Turner, 2009, p.87).

However, the health effects of inhaling the vapour into the lungs have been uncertain. They have always been subject to wide debates making it almost impossible to comprehensively deduce that they are of serious health benefits. The effects of the exhaled nicotine and the other substances contained in the vapours for the second or third-hand smoke are also subjects to serious uncertainty.

This type of cigarette is also known to reduce the cases of addiction that is a harmful feature of tobacco smoking. It also eliminates the withdrawal syndromes that are also seen as side effects of tobacco smoking. As a result, they curb these side effects.

E-cigarettes can be as effective as a public health tool since they resemble the real thing. While e-cigarettes provide nicotine addicts with almost the same amount of nicotine of a conventional cigarette, they don’t produce the equal amount of toxic smoke which can bring about lung diseases and cancer-related illnesses when inhaled for a long time. There are evidently no products of combustion for inhalation, so no tobacco toxins are inhaled into the lungs.

Many schools of thoughts and other health departments including American Association of Public Health Physicians, Boston University School of Public Health, and Health Canada have all agreed that electronic cigarette is much safer than the conventional one. It is therefore encouraged to be used instead of real tobacco smoking which poses very significant health risks such as cancer. This is a serious health benefit that should not be underestimated if what these individuals pose is something to go by.

Health risks

Electronic cigarette seems to pose certain serious health risks. This explains why public health officials have initiated a ban on the habit of smoking it. The argument is that since it resembles the actual cigarette, it may as well be as harmful and health risk as to the actual cigarette.

The World Health Organization argues that no rigorous studies which are necessarily peer-reviewed have been conducted to show that electronic cigarette is safe and good enough for the health of the smokers. That this cigarette can be used as an aid or cessation to tobacco smoking is well acknowledged and appreciated by W.H.O, however, the reasoning is that this cigarette lacks effective clinical backing. As a result, the possibility that it could also pose serious health risks cannot be entirely ruled out (Siegel, 2010, p.56).

The Food and Drug Administration seems to disagree with the proponents of e-cigarette. It states that a poisonous and hygroscopic liquid was detected in one of the cartridges. Cancer-causing agents were detected in all the cartridges. This allays fears that this type of cigarette may not be a public good as earlier thought by its supporters.

Legal aspects

Following the novelty of technology and relationship to cigarette legislations and the medical drug regulations, electronic cigarette regulations and public health accords are currently ongoing in a number of countries. Because of the ban on flavoured tobacco cigarette products (except menthol), and increased consumption tax on roll-your-own products, the electronic cigarette is increasingly becoming the viable alternative to these products in the United States and other countries. The 2001/95/CE (6) EU directive on product safety provides for preventive and restrictive measures on products established to be health and safety hazards to consumers. However, the legal implication of using electronic cigarette depends on its positioning within the legal framework of the EU. Whether its consumption falls under 93/42/EEC Directive of the EU on medical and health policies depends on the intended purpose and whether the intended claim is cited in the directive. “It is for each national authority to decide, account being taken of all the characteristics of the product, whether it falls within the definition of a medicinal product by its function or presentation” (Dawkins & Turner, 2009, p.89). Because of this divergent position of the EU, every country advanced internal legal amendments to protect their citizens and have a legal statute regulating the use of an e-cigarette. For instance, in the U.S. different states have varied legal treatment for electronic cigarette. In 2009, FDA acting on the authorization of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, banned flavoured tobacco as it was very appealing to children. Wagner further warned that using flavouring drinks such as chocolate has the potential of encouraging childhood use, and hence serving as an opportunity to cigarette smoking among children (FDA, 2009, p.67).

According to Food & Drugs Administration, the e-cigarette is a drug delivery device which is subjected to regulation and control under the FDCA chapters before importation or sales in the U.S.  However, this classification was challenged by Richard J. Leon, a Federal District Court Judge. In his ruling, he cited that “the devices should be regulated as tobacco products rather than drug or medical products” (Duff, 2010, p.23-4). The court directed the FDA to eliminate the barriers to importation and sales of e-cigarette. He further clarified that the FDCA only applies to tobacco products but not drugs or medical device such as an electronic cigarette. Tobacco legislation “expressly excludes from the definition of ‘tobacco product’ any article that is a drug, device or combination product under the FDCA, and provides that such articles shall be subject to regulation under the pre-existing FDCA provisions” (Duff, 2010, p.23-4).


Even with the global rise in the consumption of E-cigarette, the world health organization has raised public safety concerns. WHO and other drugs regulatory bodies such as FDCA advocates for regulation and strong legislation limiting the use of e-cigarette in conjunction with other flavoured tobacco substance. However, the actions adjourned by the legal institutions have strongly barred the implementation of such regulatory acts on the electronic cigarette. Besides, formers smokers argue that e-cigarette is very healthful and has a great capacity for reducing mortality and morbidity associated with smoking. These sentiments of former smokers are asserted by scientists and research experts drawn from California University.




Dawkins L., Kent, T. & Turner, J. 2010. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 24 (suppl.3), A32.“The Electronic Cigarette, p.86-9

FDA .2009. “FDA and Public Health Experts Warn About Electronic Cigarettes”. Food and Drug Administration (US). Retrieved 22 July 2012.

Wilson, Duff, 2010. “Judge Orders F.D.A. to Stop Blocking Imports of E-Cigarettes From U.S.”.The New York Times, p.23-4.

Siegel, Michael, 2010. “E-cigarettes as a harm reduction strategy for tobacco control: A step forward or a repeat of past mistakes?”. Journal of Public Health Policy, p.56

John Tierney, 2011. “A Tool to Quit Smoking Has Some Unlikely Critics”. New York Times.

Gilbert Ross, M.D. 2012. The Deadly Crusade Against E-cigarettes. New York: American Enterprise Institute, p.98.


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