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Electronic cigarette

An electronic cigarette or e-cigarette[note 1] is a handheld electronic device that vaporizes a flavored liquid. The user inhales the vapor.[2]Using e-cigarettes is often called vaping.[4] The fluid in the e-cigarette, called e-liquid,[5] is usually made of nicotinepropylene glycol,glycerine, and flavorings.[2][6][7]

The health risks of e-cigarettes are uncertain.[8][9][10] While they are likely safer than tobacco cigarettes, the long-term health effects are not known.[6][11][12][13][14][15] There is early evidence they can help people quit smoking[6] although they have not been proven to work better than safer, regulated nicotine replacement products.[10][16] Their value in tobacco harm reduction is unclear,[16] but they could help to lower tobacco-related death and disease if examined more thoroughly.[17] No serious adverse effects have been reported in trials.[6] Less serious adverse effects include throat and mouth irritation, vomiting, nausea, and coughing.[18] Non-smokers who use nicotine-containing e-liquids risk addiction to nicotine.[19][20][7]

E-cigarettes create an aerosol, commonly called vapor,[18][21] of flavors, glycerol and propylene glycol.[22] Its composition varies across and within manufacturers.[21] The vapor can contain toxicants and traces of heavy metals at levels permissible in inhalation medicines,[22] and some potentially harmful chemicals not found in tobacco smoke at concentrations permissible by workplace safety standards.[23] However, chemical concentrations may exceed the stricter public safety limits.[18] High aldehyde levels, which have been generated in laboratory settings by overheating e-liquid, cause a strong bitter taste.[24]

The modern e-cigarette was first invented in 2003 by Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik,[25] and as of 2015 most e-cigarettes are made in China.[26] Since they were brought to the market in 2004 their global use has risen exponentially.[27] In the UK users have increased from 700,000 in 2012 to 2.6 million in 2015.[28] In the United States e-cigarettes are used by a significant portion of young people[29] and adults.[30] Reasons for using e-cigarettes involve trying to quit smoking, though many use them recreationally.[12] A majority still smoke tobacco, causing concerns that dual use may "delay or deter quitting".[18] About 60% of UK users are smokers and roughly 40% are ex-smokers, while use among never-smokers is "negligible".[28] Because of overlap with tobacco laws and medical drug policies, e-cigarette legislation is debated in many countries.[31] The European Parliament passed regulations which came into effect in 2016, standardizing liquids and vaporizers, listing ingredients, as well as child-proofing liquid containers.[32] As of August 2016, the US FDA extended its regulatory power to include e-cigarettes.[33] As of 2014, there were 466 brands of e-cigarettes with global sales of around $7 billion.[34][35]

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