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Electronic Cigarettes Might Just Be Ideal

This article was written by in Frugality. 13 comments.

This is an article by Consumerism Commentary staff writer, Smithee.

This article assumes that some people smoke and some people don’t. It won’t address the notion that smokers shouldn’t smoke, and I hope you will also avoid that controversial viewpoint in the comments below.

People are vaporizing all over town, but don’t worry, they’re doing it on purpose using a “personal vaporizer,” also called electronic cigarette or e-cigarette. These are basically just alternatives to the normal cigarettes you and I have known about all our lives. An e-cigarette is made of plastic, has a battery, is re-usable, and lets you decide what to fill your mouth with.

If the advertising is to be believed, this is a product which doesn’t rely on smoke, or fire, or tobacco, not to mention dozens of foreign toxins normally found in cigarettes, for example, tar.

So how would this affect a smoker’s finances?

It’s almost certainly less expensive

E-cigarettes use cartridges to store the liquid that gets vaporized into your mouth when you take a puff. A cartridge is equivalent to about 10-12 normal cigarettes. Taking the low end of the estimate, a cartridge lasts about as long as half a pack. Assuming a pack of cigarettes costs an even $5.00, and you can get five e-cigarette cartridges for $9.00, you’d be saving about $1.40 per “pack” if you switched from regular cigarettes to the electronic variety.

Some models don’t use disposable batteries, either. You can get one that plugs into a USB socket in order to charge it.

It’s almost certainly less offensive

As an added bonus, smokers don’t have to smell bad to non-smokers anymore. The cartridges come in countless flavor varieties. You can even mix them if you want. I’ve been in the room with many of them, and none of them smell even five percent as bad as normal cigarettes do. Of course, part of that might be due to the vapor traveling less far than smoke would. It might still get on your clothes, but at least you can choose to smell like bacon, or vanilla, or chocolate.

Furthermore, you won’t be needing the ashtray in your car, anymore. Your occasional passengers will appreciate this a lot more than you know.

I personally think it might even be okay to allow e-cigarettes into restaurants and other public places. It’s really that inoffensive.

Is it healthier?

Nobody knows for sure, though most companies are making bold claims about the health benefits of switching. There haven’t been many studies done on the numerous providers of e-cigarettes, or more specifically, the e-liquid that makes them work. Some countries have banned them altogether, but those decisions may be political as much as anything else.

Recently, the U.S. FDA sent letters to five different providers about how they’re not in compliance with the law, and explaining the pathway the FDA intends to take toward proper regulation of this new product. Maybe in the near future e-liquid will also come with enormous, purposely ugly warnings about the dangers of smoking, which other countries have been living with for years, but which is brand new to the U.S.

People do seem to agree, though, that moving from regular cigarettes to the electronic variety brings back one’s sense of smell and taste.

There’s no timer

Since an e-liquid cartridge lasts about as long as half a pack of normal cigarettes would, it’s much more difficult to tell when you’re done smoking. Someone who switches to e-cigarettes as part of a plan to quit smoking might actually end up ingesting more nicotine in a day than they used to.

In order not to overdo it, a person would have to start exerting a new kind of self-discipline, which is always difficult.


I’m not a smoker, but unless some new damaging evidence comes to light, I have to conclude that compared to the paper kind, electronic cigarettes are better for your body (if only just your sense of smell), better for your non-smoker friends, better for the environment, and better for your wallet.

Updated December 22, 2011 and originally published November 16, 2010.

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About the author

Smithee formerly lived primarily on credit cards and the good will of his friends. He is a newbie to personal finance but quickly learning from his past mistakes. You can follow him on Twitter, where his user name is @SmitheeConsumer. View all articles by .

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar 1 Anonymous

What about the question “Is it an acceptable alternative for the smoker?” Does it provide the same feelings or buzz or whatnot that the smoker is seeking?

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avatar 2 eric

Haven’t seen you posting lately Smithee…or maybe I’m just missing it. I had no idea they even have e-cigarettes.

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avatar 3 Anonymous

I’m an ex-smoker myself. I have not tried the e-cigarettes.

They do seem like they might be a good deal. Cheaper, healthier (?) and no 2nd hand smoke. BUT I would definitely want to make sure that the FDA approves them first. It seems they ought to be better for you than smoking as inhailing the smoke is a lot of the problem with cigarettes. Nicotine is still a drug and not great to injest. We don’t know what kind of chemicals they are using in their concoction and the health impact of inhailing the vapors of those chemicals is unknown too. So I’m a bit skeptical until I see the FDA check it out but overall they seem like they are a good idea or at least somewhat better than inhaling burning tobacco.

You could also just chew nicotine gum. Nicotine gum has already gotten FDA approval. The gum may be more expensive than smoking, especially if you buy brand name Nicorette for full retail it is very pricey. But generic versions are much more practical and possibly cheaper than cigarettes. I used nicotine gum to quit smoking myself and it worked fine.

Steve, in my experience with nicotine gum, I got the same high from the gum as smoking. SO I assume vaporized nicotine would do the same. The experience is a little different but the impact to your system from the nicotine drug should be the same however you get it.

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avatar 4 Anonymous

I’m a smoker. I see my choices as smoking or not smoking, and have no interest in innovative marketing of e-cigarettes, snus etc. I might like to eliminate my habit, but don’t care to replace it and pay anything to do it.

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avatar 5 Anonymous

I use ecigs, have for about nine months now. LOVE them :)

I was a pack and half day smoker, to none. I started at 24mg NIC and have cut down to 5mg with basically no side effects or with drawls

Its just there are some scammer companies out right now, better to do your research before you get burned by spending 200 on a crappy model. A Good model should cost about 50-70 starter kit.

To Steve, no you do not get the buzz feeling. Nicotine isnt what makes that feeling, it’s the carbon monoxide and your brain cells starving for oxygen.
But you do get the calming, focus and Ahhhh…from the Nic.

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avatar 6 Anonymous

As an asthmatic smoker who used an inhaler everyday for the last 18 years, I swear buy these products. I started “vaping” in the beginning of September after careful research of the e-cig. I am choosing to use it to quit smoking. I have already stepped down my nicotine level and have NOT USED AN INHALER FOR MY ASTHMA since I started using this. I never smoked around my kids but they would get bronchitis 2-3 times a year. Since I switched to the e-cig they haven’t had bronchitis and I have had an asthma attack. The whole set up of the e-cig gives you the nicotine(without all the other garbage), the oral fixation,the mental idea,the throat hit, the exhalation of smoke and the feeling of something in your hand. It covers all the habits of a real cigarrette smoking without all the poisons.

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avatar 7 Anonymous

Hi. I am trying to quit smoking. I was wondering which e-cig u purchased? Thank you

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avatar 8 Anonymous

I personally chose the VapeStik at VapeShak but there are many out there to choose from, hope this helps.

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avatar 9 Anonymous, its the cheapest and the best.

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avatar 10 Anonymous

I appreciate the author not making any substantive claims while also raising viable concerns and benefits of e-cigarettes.

I smoked 2-3 packs of cigarettes a day for about 30 years. A few months ago my lungs began to hurt and it was getting difficult to breathe. I decided that I needed to “give up the smoke”. I live in China, and e-cigarettes are not available in mainstream society, so it took some looking in order to find some. I was immediately taken by the feel and sensation of the e-cigarette, and by the 5th or 6th day, my breathing had improved immensely … I love to smoke, the actions of smoking, the feeling in my throat, and nicotine. The e-cigarette gives me all the pleasant features of smoking without the smoke or smell.

I don’t expect non-smokers to understand what motivates a person to smoke. I can only testify that as a smoke, the e-cigarette may just be saving my life.

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avatar 11 Anonymous

I highly recommend the electronic cigarette. I use to smoke cigarettes for 40 years and I had tried everything to quit except for an e cig and I decided to purchase one and it helped me quit. The feeling of actually holding something that resembles a cigarette helps a lot. I purchased my e cig from VapeShak, although there are many providers of electronic cigarettes out there, they treated me great and have the best prices I could find. Hope my comment helps somebody, I know how it feels to really want to quit but not be able to.

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avatar 12 Anonymous

I got this brand. I love it!

there was a store by me that specialized in vaporizers. He suggested this brand. he had a few options. they had different features. anyways. I’m really happy with these. He let me taste different flavors. They are fun. Like hooka. But I do like the tobacco flavor most. At least right now, my first day in. At the store i got a package that i dont see on the site. But it consisted of the pack charger (shape and size of a box of cig’s) a battery (the term for the reusable stem of the device) and 5 cartridges. The box is great. it holds 2 batters and 4 cartridges. you charge the box and it charges the e-cig. Really cool stuff! I REALLY love how clean it is. youll see what im talking about when you try it. smoking is so dirty! Eventually i’m hoping that i can quit by using this. Right not im having so much fun with it that im wondering if im getting more nicotine that i did smoking. lol hope it helps

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avatar 13 Anonymous

I got my electronic cigarette from VapeShak as well (, they seem to be much cheaper than Premium, I took a look at their website and can’t believe how much they charge, especially for the refill cartridges! Wow! VapeShaks one and only starter kit helped prevent me from getting confused plus it does come with the charging pack to charge the batteries on the go.

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