With a rise on legislation restricting where and when people are allowed to smoke in public spaces, electronic cigarettes have become more and more popular. Unlike a traditional cigarette, an electronic one doesn't produce smoke, making it safe for people wishing to smoke inside restaurants or other shared spaces.
An e-cigarette is similar in size to a normal cigarette, but instead of burning tobacco it produces an inhaled mist that can have the same appearance, flavour and nicotine content of tobacco smoke, but without the smell and some of the negative health effects associated with it. This makes it very convenient for anybody who cannot or doesn't want to give up smoking but also prefers not to inconvenience third parties or leave a tobacco smoke scent trail.
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Electronic cigarettes are usually composed of a cartridge, an atomizer and a power supply, usually a battery. Often the cartridge and atomizer are combined, so they can be replaced when the contents run out, instead of just refilling the cartridge. The cartridge holds the liquid that will be vaporized, and allows those vapours to reach the smoker's mouth without letting the liquid contents do the same. The atomizer is just a heating device, usually very simple, that heats the liquid using power from the battery.
The liquids used to refill the e-cig cartridge come in a variety of flavours, and are usually formed of water, flavourings and nicotine in those designed to act as a nicotine replacements. Flavours are not restricted to traditional tobacco and menthol, and you can find e-cigarette cartridges tasting of vanilla, fruits and food. In that is similar to shisha tobacco smoked on a waterpipe, but without the smoke. You can also find models that cannot be refilled and just use a replacement cartridge once the installed one runs off, a process that many people find more convenient.
One of the main benefits people who use electronic cigarettes enjoy is the fact that those refills are, generally, much cheaper than a packet of smokes. This makes e-cigarettes cheaper for smokers, but it depends on the brand of electronic smoke refills you are purchasing. However, it's easy to agree that for most people, it can be a way of saving money if they are not ready to give up smoking just yet.
While old models were quite bulky and, admittedly, didn't look very much like a replacement, the continuous improvements many brands of electronic cigarettes have made means that modern models look very similar to cigarettes. They are becoming more and more popular, and popular interest on them doesn't seem to be fading any time soon.