The tobacco industry is one of the most enduring businesses today. This comes with good reason, considering cigarettes are available for purchase in almost all parts of the world. Tobacco’s reach allows the industry to keep users in staggering numbers, which, in turn, keeps the industry thriving.

Tobacco companies are also very clever in how they market their products, producing advertisements that not only appeal to the masses, but also instill in the minds of consumers that tobacco use is tolerable. According to tobaccoatlas.org, the big business of tobacco is internationally wide-reaching indeed, with each part of the tobacco business, from growing the leaf to manufacturing products, contributing to the multi-billion dollar tobacco industry throughout the world. In fact, there are six companies that lead the world’s tobacco business, and there are at least 40 smaller businesses or state-owned monopolies that manufacture cigarettes.

Each year, the tobacco industry produces six trillion cigarettes, enough to create a continuous chain from Earth to Mars and back, multiple times. Nearly 500 tobacco factories have been documented worldwide, with the location of another 200 that are suspected but unconfirmed. What’s ironic is that everyone is aware of the dangers it can bring about, yet it is still a flourishing trade.

According to Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, cigarette smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, causes many diseases, and greatly reduces the overall health of smokers. Furthermore, it is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, with more than 480,000 deaths each year. This is nearly one in five deaths.

For this reason, many are seeking help to reduce cigarette smoking and eventually quit entirely. One of the most effective yet underrated ways to do so is by using e-cigarettes. Here is everything you need to know about e-cigarettes, what they are, and how they can ultimately save a smoker’s life.

What Are Vapes?

Electronic cigarettes, also called e-cigarettes or vapes, are battery-operated devices designed to deliver vapor with flavors to users instead of smoke. They are all concentrated vaporizers in a technical sense, but they can be manufactured to look like traditional tobacco cigarettes, cigars or pipes. With more than 250 different e-cigarette brands on the market today, manufacturers create these devices to resemble everyday items like pens or USB memory sticks. Newer e-cig models, such as those with refillable tanks, may have a more unique look.

Most of the current models are automatic – as the user “inhales” from it, a sensor activates a heating element that vaporizes a liquid solution held in the mouthpiece. In older models (manual models), there is a little button which turns the heating element on and off. An LED indicates whether the device has been activated when the user inhales. Also, the majority are reusable with replaceable and refillable cartridges; only a small percentage of products are disposable.

Manufacturers and a significant number of users say the e-cigarette provides a similar sensation to inhaling tobacco smoke. The user can even choose whether to have nicotine in the flavored liquid solution used for e-cigarettes to effectively wean from the use of real cigarettes. Furthermore, some e-cig devices have been made to look similar to the products that the users may have used to smoke in the past like cigarettes, cigars, or pipes.

The electronic cigarette first entered the market in China in 2004. However, in 2003, Hon Lik, a pharmacist from China had already invented the device. Golden Dragon Holdings, the company Lik worked for, then started exporting the product into major markets in 2005 to 2006.

How They Work

The vape is electronic in nature, so it is made up of various interconnected components. Generally, these devices are comprised of a mouthpiece, a heating element, and a battery combined with electronic circuitry.

The first noticeable part of the e-cigarette is the mouthpiece. It is also commonly referred to as the cartridge, as it is fixed at the end of a tube. Attached to it is a relatively smaller cup made of plastic where the flavored liquid solution is placed.

The second major component of a vape is the atomizer. This is the heating element of the system. It raises the temperature of the liquid absorbed in the mouthpiece, enabling it to produce vapor that the user then inhales. In a period of 3 to 6 months, the atomizer is usually replaced so that the system may work at optimum level.

Finally, the battery and circuitry make it possible for the atomizer to produce enough heat to vaporize the liquid. Often, a rechargeable lithium-ion battery acts as the power source of the whole electronic system. As time goes by, e-cigs also undergo various innovations which adds features to their already astounding functionality. Newer versions have a sensor which automatically activates the heating method as soon as somebody sucks on the device, while others have a button they need to press when they inhale from it.

To complete the vaping experience, a liquid solution is used in the device. This flavored solution is called e-liquid or e-juice. What’s amazing with vapes is that users can choose what flavors they want to inhale. For those in the reduction phase of smoking, there are options to choose a lower level of nicotine so that it may lessen the withdrawal effect.

The solutions come in varying levels of nicotine concentrations, ranging from zero to extra-high (24-36 mg/ml). Some flavors, such as tobacco/menthol combinations, try to resemble traditional cigarettes. Several of the e-juice producers claim to mimic specific brands as well.

How is it Beneficial?

The logic behind cigarette smoking is that the more an individual smokes, the more nicotine his or her body ingests. The more nicotine the body ingests, the higher the chances of inflicting it with diseases such as cardiovascular illnesses. This is the same logic vaping raises. E-cigs deliver vapor with reduced nicotine levels, or without nicotine completely. Following this logic, it can be inferred that is relatively healthier as compared to using tobacco.

However, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Though some health officials have warned that electronic cigarettes should not be marketed as smoking cessation aids, a new study finds that, among people who are trying to quit without professional help, those who use electronic cigarettes are 60 percent more likely to succeed, compared with those who use straight willpower or nicotine replacement therapies. The study, conducted by researchers at University College London (UCL) in the UK, is published in the journal Addiction.

David Nutt, renowned drug scientist in the United Kingdom, fully supports vaping and argues that misinformation about its use is destroying what could have been a productive year for people who want to quit smoking. The number of smokers in England has fallen to its lowest level, with just one in six adults now lighting up, according to new official figures, which also show a recent collapse in sales of cigarettes.

Just 16.9 percent of adults in England now smoke, according to the latest data from Public Health England. Its health experts have also revealed that widespread use of e-cigarettes, nicotine patches and gum helped 500,000 smokers last year – the highest number on record – to kick the habit.

The statistics show that smoking prevalence has declined continuously and dramatically over the past 50 years by about two-thirds. In 1974, over 50 percent of men in Britain were smokers. That number has fallen to just 19.1 percent in England in 2015. Similarly, just over 40 percent of women were smokers back then. Last year, that has gone down to only 14.9 percent.