Electric cigarette

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Fourth generation e-cigarette
Third generation e-cigarettes

The electronic cigarette , e-cigarette , electronic cigarette or vaporiser / vaporizer ( AE ) is a device that in most cases uses an electrically heated coil to vaporize a liquid (the so-called liquid ) . The resulting wet steam is inhaled or puffed by the consumer. In contrast to the cigarette, there is no combustion process.

In 2013, e-cigarettes were sold for around $ 2.5 billion worldwide. The UK Department of Health estimates that e-cigarette use is around 95% less harmful than tobacco smoking. The United Kingdom was the only EU member state to take a positive stance on the consumption of electronic cigarettes .

Tobacco smoke versus wet steam from the e-cigarette

According to the “general traffic understanding”, smoking is defined as “consciously inhaling smoke-burning parts of plants into the oral cavity or into the deeper airways and lungs”. The fundamental difference between the e-cigarette and the traditional cigarette is that there is no smoldering or smoldering combustion of tobacco or other plants. For this reason, e-cigarette users often refer to themselves as “vapers”.

From the currently available evidence, it can be concluded that the use of electronic cigarettes is a far less harmful form of nicotine intake . Considerably less damage to health is expected in smokers who switch from tobacco smoke to electronic cigarettes, which in addition to the lack of combustion gases is also due to the lack of the carcinogenic substance formaldehyde .


The concept of an electronic cigarette was patented by Herbert A. Gilbert in 1963. His idea of ​​a smoke- and tobacco-free cigarette with heated, humidified and flavored air as a replacement for the conventional cigarette never went into production.

In 2002, the Chinese Lik Hon invented today's version and launched it in China a year later. The first version still works with ultrasound, the subsequent “evaporator” technology is based on the technology used to generate fog in discos . This type of electronic cigarette has been manufactured and sold worldwide since 2007.

The company Lik Hon worked for changed its name from "Golden Dragon Holdings" to Ruyan and started exporting electronic cigarettes from 2005/2006. It held numerous patents for e-cigarettes and renamed Dragonite again. In 2013, tobacco company Imperial Tobacco bought Lik Hon's company for $ 75 million through its stake in Fontem Ventures. Subsequently, uncertainty dominated the market, as Fontem Ventures began to enforce the rights to the numerous co-acquired patents against other market participants, which in some cases led to the withdrawal from this segment.

Although large tobacco companies initially regarded the e-cigarette as a fleeting trend, they have also been trying to enter this rapidly growing market with new products since 2012, but on the assumption that new devices should not claim any of these patents. This resulted in the heat-no-burn products, as they are e.g. B. in the IQos were realized. A stick pre-filled with tobacco, which is also a mouthpiece, is placed on the battery element. An electronically controlled heating finger that protrudes into the tobacco only heats the tobacco, but does not burn it. The chopsticks are single-use products and when they release nicotine, they are roughly equivalent to consuming a cigarette.

Established companies were also taken over in order to further influence the new market. An example of this is high-end smoke, which was purchased by the British-American-Tobacco Group in 2018 . In December 2018, it was announced that the Altria Group acquired 35 percent of the e-cigarette company Juul , which markets a pod system with pre-filled capsules.

In 2008 the Joye 510 was brought onto the market by Joyetech, followed by the Ego-T 2010, which, unlike most previous e-cigarettes, did not imitate the shape of a cigarette. The popularity of this system contributed significantly to the de facto standardization of the 510 thread.

The original idea of ​​atomizing the liquid not by vaporization but by ultrasound was taken up again in 2018 by Usonicig and implemented in two versions. There is a refillable tank system as well as a pod system that uses proprietary single-use capsules. The generation of vapor from the liquid does not take place thermally through evaporation, but through microcavitation of the smallest bubbles, stimulated by sound waves of very high frequency (3 MHz) of corresponding power. The active principle has long been used medicinally in z. B. Ultrasonic nebulizers for inhalations .

Construction and function

Open self-winding evaporator with heating coil and cotton wool as a liquid carrier

There is a multitude of different devices on the market that differ in terms of the evaporator principle, liquid capacity , battery capacity and possible regulation of the supply voltage. Single-use systems are rarely used by regular e-cigarette users. These include, for example, the "cig-a-likes", which look like a filter cigarette, and some of the so-called e-shishas. E-shishas have a colorful look, contain sweet aromas and usually no nicotine. Typically, permanent e-cigarette consumers use systems with rechargeable batteries and refillable vaporizers, with the vaporizer and the device supplying it with electrical voltage - referred to as a battery or battery carrier depending on the type - are usually connected via a screw thread. This means that both parts of the device can usually be purchased, combined and exchanged individually according to the buyer's requirements and taste. Individual manufacturers use different proprietary connection mechanisms between the atomizer and the battery.

Evaporator unit

Second generation e-cigarette

In most evaporators to an evaporator head is located with one or more heating coils (English: coils ), which are powered by the battery energy. The liquid to be evaporated, the liquid, reaches the evaporator head through the capillary action of the liquid carrier, is heated and atomized in the air stream. Cotton tufts, wicks made of glass fiber or metal or sieve plates made of metal or ceramic are used as liquid carriers. There is an air flow channel in the evaporator. In the majority of devices, the volume flow can be regulated. As soon as the user pulls on the mouthpiece and presses the button to heat the heating coil (also fully automatic on some devices), the "vapor" produced (actually it is an aerosol ) is transported with the airflow and can be inhaled or puffed.

The liquid carrier and heating wire have a very limited service life compared to the other components. Therefore it meets the requirements of the company to be able to change these wearing parts easily. Evaporator types can be differentiated according to how these consumables can be changed:

Disposable vaporizer / POD systems
The heating coil and liquid carrier are permanently built into the storage tank, which can be pre-filled or fillable. With a POD system, the entire vaporizer / tank unit must be replaced when the liquid is used up and / or the heating coil is “used up”.
Evaporator with exchangeable heads
The coil and the liquid carrier are located in the evaporator unit. This head with the coil and the liquid carrier can be changed.
Self-winding evaporator (SWVD)
The user has direct access to the carrier material and heating coil and can change and adjust them as required.

Most vaporizers have a storage tank for liquid. In modern devices, the evaporator and storage tank are combined in one assembly (so-called "clearomizer", a phrase made up of clear and atomizer ). This consists of glass (mostly Pyrex ), metal (mostly stainless steel ) or plastic (mostly PMMA ). The latter can be attacked by components of some flavors. Liquid is transported from the tank into the evaporator chamber through negative pressure or the capillary effect. Some devices of the second generation (e.g. Ego-T ) had a tank (also called a "depot") separate from the evaporator unit, which could also be designed as a disposable cartridge. There are also compact devices in which the evaporator unit is combined with the battery in a single housing with a proprietary fastening mechanism. These devices are sometimes referred to by the manufacturer as POD systems, although their atomizer heads can be changed individually.

Rebuildable Atomizer (RBA)

RBA refers to a special variation of an evaporator head in which the user can / must install the heating coil and carrier material himself and which can be used instead of a prefabricated evaporator head. RBAs are not available for every vaporizer.

Rebuildable Dripping Atomizer (RDA)

Evaporators without a tank are so-called drip evaporators ("drippers"). The mostly highly viscous (glycerine-rich) liquid is dripped directly onto the heating coil and liquid carrier. With drippers this is usually enough for 5–20 puffs. When the liquid supply has evaporated, you need to dribble more. Drippers with a hollow center pin (positive pole) can be refilled from below during use - the matching battery mods with refillable reservoirs are called squonkers (derived from to squeeze). To do this, an integrated elastic miniature bottle, which connects the dripper with a hose, is compressed with the thumb.

Rebuildable Tank Atomizer (RTA)

With this evaporator principle, a winding base enclosed in the tank replaces the evaporator head. The heating wire is mounted between a positive and a negative pole. In the next step, cotton wool is pulled through the inserted wire or wires and placed at their respective liquid inlets and closed with a bell-shaped sleeve that adjoins the chimney. In this type of evaporator, the tank unit is located above the evaporator chamber.

Rebuildable Dripping Tank Atomizer (RDTA)

Tanks are called RDTA and basically represent a dripper with a tank. The cotton wool placed in the liquid trough of a dripper is placed through holes in the tank below, or the liquid is pumped out of the same by means of special wicks (mostly stainless steel ropes) to supply the heating coil (s) with liquid. The tank unit is usually located under the evaporator part, but it can also be above it. Compared to normal tank evaporators, with RDTAs the winding is always exposed to air directly from the side. Technically, an RDTA evaporator is a completely normal RTA, with the difference that the heating coil is not in or under the tank, but outside of it. It is controversial here whether an RDTA can simply be assigned to RTAs or whether it is a sub-category.


The cartomizers, which do not have an actual liquid tank, but a cartridge with a carrier material - usually cotton - that serves as a liquid storage device are now rather uncommon. You can refill this memory yourself or buy it as an already filled cartridge.

Deck types: single-coil deck, dual-coil deck, three-post deck, postless deck, clamp-style deck (goon-style deck), mesh deck, two-post deck (velocity-style Deck), four post deck.

Commonly used wire types: Round Wire, Flat Wire , Clapton, Fused Clapton, Staple, Multi Strands, Twisted, Staggered, Alien Clapton, Staggered Fused Clapton, Juggernaut, Staple, Framed Staple, Framed Staple Alien, Chain Link, Dragon Skin, Mesh. The most common materials are. FeCrAl Kanthal (A1, A or D), stainless steel (304/316/317), nickel chrome (Ni80), nickel, titanium and, in the rarest cases, tungsten, since tungsten has a very low resistance.

510 thread

A detachable electrically conductive connection is required to connect the battery and vaporizer assemblies. In addition to connectors and bayonet locks, a screw thread has already been used in the second generation of devices, which has meanwhile established itself as the unofficial standard. The 510 thread is a metric ISO fine thread according to DIN 13-3 with a thread diameter of 7.00 mm and a thread pitch of 0.50 mm (short name: MF7x0.5). The power supply is made coaxial, i. H. the internal thread of the battery unit serves as the ground and the screw connector of the evaporator is designed as a threaded bolt with a drilled hole through which the second contact is isolated. This touches a corresponding contact surface, which is also insulated from the housing, on the base of the recessed thread of the battery unit. Inadequate compliance with the tolerances could lead to a lack of electrical contact with devices of the second generation. Contamination can lead to short circuits due to leakage currents . Third generation devices monitor both interruptions and short circuits and switch themselves off.

Battery unit

Regulated carrier with evaporator
Unregulated battery mod with self-winding atomizer

The so-called eGo battery (based on the design in the widespread eGo type e-cigarettes manufactured by Joyetech) has been available in various capacities for several years . Its voltage can usually not be regulated and is 3.7 volts. But there are also some models with a VariableVolt (VV) mode and LCD display. The voltage of such batteries can be individually adjusted by the user between 3.3 and 4.8 volts. These batteries are also available in different capacities from different manufacturers. The eGo batteries have a diameter of approx. 12 to 19  millimeters, depending on the design and capacity. Likewise, these batteries usually have a double thread on the contact for the atomizer head - a union thread for the positive connection of the eGo-compatible atomizer and a 510 thread for the electrical contact.

Advanced users often use battery carriers (including exchangeable battery carriers ) that contain commercially available lithium-ion cells or, more rarely, lithium-manganese cells that can be exchanged. They transfer the stored energy to the evaporator in a regulated or unregulated manner. Battery mods almost exclusively have an embedded 510 thread without an additional eGo thread, as the atomizers usually used for this performance class are very often purchased separately and are not suitable for use with eGo batteries and therefore do not have a corresponding double thread .

  • With the adjustable battery carriers, the voltage (VV - for Variable Voltage ) or the power (VW - for Variable Wattage ) can be adjusted by an electronic circuit or an integrated circuit . Comfort and safety functions (overvoltage protection, undervoltage protection, temperature protection, resistance measurement) are usually integrated into these circuits. Many battery mods can also be regulated via the temperature of the heating coil (TC - Temperature Control or VT - Variable Temperature) if this has a special specific resistance (usually made of nickel, titanium or stainless steel wire). The changing resistance is measured and the current temperature is calculated based on values ​​stored in the electronics (temperature coefficients) of the wire materials used, and the electronics then automatically adjust the output so that the temperature set by the user is reached as far as possible, but not exceeded.
  • Unregulated (mechanical) battery carriers have no electronics whatsoever. The battery voltage is simply passed on to the winding . They are much more difficult to use and their use is often only recommended for advanced users, especially with regard to battery safety.

Consumable ( liquid )

The liquid to be evaporated is called liquid and consists of propylene glycol ( food additive E 1520) and glycerine (food additive E 422). The additives are abbreviated as PG for propylene glycol and VG for vegetable glycerin (vegetable glycerin). Pure water (H 2 O), small parts of food flavorings , and nicotine are optional. Apart from nicotine, these ingredients can also be found in the smoke fluids that have been in use for decades for smoke machines , but which, when used normally, is inhaled in a much lower concentration. The vapor of the liquid creates a sensory experience, which should correspond to the sensation of inhaling cigarette smoke, and transports nicotine and other substances contained in the liquid, which are directly absorbed by the consumer.


The carrier substances glycerine and propylene glycol are primarily used to generate a mist that is perceived as pleasant by the consumer. The hygroscopic effect of these substances causes an additional accumulation of water from the ambient air, which increases the vapor density. Glycerine has a stronger effect than propylene glycol, provided the device used provides sufficient power. The ratio of the two carriers is also used to adjust the viscosity of the liquid. This must be sufficiently low to prevent the evaporator from running dry (see section Dry-Hit ). At the same time, leakage problems in older devices meant that liquids with too low a viscosity were all too often emptied into the owner's pockets. The generally more powerful modern devices are able to preheat the liquid in the tank better, so that the devices can also vaporize liquids richer in glycerine without running dry. Since leakage problems have largely been resolved, there are currently hardly any technical limits to the composition of the liquid.

Propylene glycol is better suited as a carrier for flavors and nicotine, but it causes a slight dehydration of the oral mucous membranes , which some consumers find unpleasant. Accordingly, there is a general trend towards liquids richer in glycerine, with the lack of carrier properties being compensated for by the higher performance of the devices. Another possibility for fine-tuning is the addition of water to reduce the dehydration effect as well as to increase the vapor density and to adjust the viscosity.

Nicotine dosage

The nicotine dosage was originally identified by some manufacturers only with paraphrases such as “mild”, “weak”, “strong”, “medium” ; since 2016 , the explicit specification in the unit milligrams per milliliter (mg / ml) has been established this information is required by law (Section 27 TabakerzV). The legally permissible maximum concentration of nicotine in ready-to-use liquids has been 20 mg / ml since 2016 with an additional quantity limit of 10 ml per sales unit. The members of the Association of German E-Cigarette Manufacturers (VdeH) have already made a corresponding commitment beforehand . In general, a tendency to decrease in the nicotine concentrations consumed can be observed, which goes hand in hand with a qualitative improvement of the devices and their increase in performance. The most frequently consumed nicotine strengths are currently far below the statutory maximum.

The often-put forward argument that a commercially available liquid would contain more nicotine than a tobacco cigarette is not true. In such comparisons, the nicotine quantities of the cigarette smoke of a cigarette are usually compared with the analytical nicotine content of the liquid. The cigarette, however, contains significantly more nicotine (Ø 12 mg) and only a small proportion is absorbed through the inhaled smoke, while a large part is burned. The aerosol of an electronic cigarette has approximately the same nicotine concentration as the liquid, but the mist droplets of the aerosol are more or less diluted by the air drawn in, so that a direct comparison between smoke and vapor is not possible. In addition, there is no direct comparison of the nicotine dosages that are consumed by the consumer of the various products with each puff, the so-called nicotine retention .

A study by a Swiss institute published on May 23, 2013 shows that the nicotine content on the liquid bottles is usually correctly stated. This study also looked for admixtures and degradation products of nicotine, with impurities of up to 4.4% of the nicotine content being found, with an accumulation at 1 to 2% of the nicotine content. This mainly affected nicotine N-oxides , anabasine , anatabine , cotinine and myosmin . Half of the products tested were found to meet medical standards. In the other half, impurities were found that were above the permissible level for nicotine products according to the European Pharmacopoeia , but below the level at which they would cause damage to health. Neither ethylene glycol nor diethylene glycol , as typical admixtures of polyols , could be detected in the liquids.

As legal restrictions came into force on May 20, 2017, it has no longer been possible for private end consumers to purchase nicotine-containing products in containers larger than 10 ml, and various new products have been introduced to enable advanced users to continue mixing their liquids individually. As a nicotine source, refill containers with the maximum permitted dosage of 20 mg / ml, so-called “nicotine shots”, were brought onto the market, which can be added to the nicotine-free base liquid along with aromas. In addition, other nicotine-free products with a slightly overdosed aroma component were also created to compensate for the addition of the nicotine-containing solution. Some of these products are offered in mixing bottles with a volume reserve for adding the nicotine solution.

Since high nicotine contents of more than 3 mg / ml are already perceived as unpleasant by many vapers, following the recipe from Juul , individual manufacturers of liquids have relocated their formulations with additionally protonated nicotine - i.e. H. nicotine salts moved into the acidic range - to offer. Here is - in addition to used in Juul benzoic acid - also lactic acid , levulinic acid , salicylic acid , malic acid and tartaric acid in the salt formation apply. The total analytical content of nicotine in these formulations must also comply with the legal requirements and must not exceed the maximum limit.


In principle, all flavors are suitable for use in liquids, provided they can be mixed with the carrier substances propylene glycol and glycerine. The obvious use of commercially available food flavors has led to the flavor manufacturers developing products specially optimized for the carrier substances. Tobacco flavors make up a certain share, some of which are obtained from tobacco plants and some of which are also flavored . Natural oils from peppermint , orange or other citrus fruits, which are converted into a form that can be mixed with propylene glycol and glycerine by means of suitable emulsifiers, are also important. In addition, there are special aromas that only have a sweet or sour taste or (similar to menthol ) convey a cooling effect. The range of possible flavors is almost unlimited and can be expanded practically infinitely by combining the different flavors.

Certain flavors can occasionally separate, especially if the liquid contains water. The dissolved solids in the aroma accumulate during use and can precipitate on the heating coils of the evaporator or the liquid carrier (cotton wool, sieve or wick). Within the normal service life of the vaporizer, this effect only has an effect if some components are dosed extremely (so-called “coil killer”). For this reason, natural sugars and peptides cannot be used to flavor liquids.

The occasionally rumored statement that certain flavors pose a particularly high risk is fundamentally wrong. The aroma industry is able to generate most taste impressions through very different ingredients. A study by the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health found the additives diacetyl , 3-hydroxy-2-butanone and acetylpropionyl in 75% of 51 liquids tested . Since this study concerned the US market, no statement can be made for the German market. The substances mentioned are approved as flavorings for food in the European Union. The flavor manufacturers in Germany also offer comparable products without these substances. Diacetyl and some derivatives are among other substances according to § 28 TabakErzV i. V. m. Appendix 2 prohibited as ingredients for liquids containing nicotine.

Dry hit

In the case of the e-cigarette, a break in the liquid flow to the heating coil and the associated unpleasant, burnt taste (colloquially "fluffy") is referred to as a dry hit or dry puff . If the liquid does not flow sufficiently, the heating coil is no longer adequately cooled. As a result, the heating coil overheats, especially when using devices without active temperature control, and a large part of the liquid decomposes instead of being evaporated, which can lead to the creation of potentially harmful substances. The toxic and extremely irritating acrolein can be formed from glycerine .

There are various reasons for the evaporator to run dry:

  • mechanical defects, especially incorrectly inserted liquid cartridges or tanks
  • Insufficient fill level in the liquid container
  • too high viscosity of the liquid used
  • Tear off the after-flow due to too much cotton wool

Mechanical defects are currently very rare because the manufacturing quality of the devices has generally been significantly improved. Devices with capsule or tank systems are also increasingly falling out of use. An inadequate fill level is announced to the user by decreasing steam volume, and the fill level can easily be checked optically even with devices of the first generation. The insufficient viscosity of the liquid, which was the most common cause a few years ago, is currently no longer a problem (see previous section Consumables ).

Analysis of the inhaled substances

After adequate sample preparation , the coupling of gas chromatography and HPLC with mass spectrometry is used to determine the inhaled substances . These analytical methods can also be used to identify carcinogenic substances in the urine of e-cigarette users and regular smokers.

Technical development

Since their market launch, the design and functionality of e-cigarettes has changed significantly.

  • First generation : appearance of a tobacco cigarette; Tank and evaporator combined and not reusable; Cotton as a liquid carrier
  • Second generation : larger design; Separation of tank and evaporator; Glass fiber or stainless steel sieve as a liquid carrier
  • Third generation : tube optics; mechanical mods and mods with variable setting of power; Self-winding evaporators are becoming common; Cotton as a liquid carrier
  • Fourth generation : box look; Temperature control for filament made of nickel, titanium or stainless steel; Heating coils below 1 Ω (subohm) are common; In addition to cotton wool, bamboo fiber, stainless steel rope, mesh (wire screen) or ceramic as a liquid carrier


European single market

Electronic cigarettes and consumables, the liquid, are currently available in Germany and most of the countries in the European domestic market.

The EU Directive 2014/40 / EU (EU Tobacco Directive) was published on April 29, 2014 and came into force 20 days later. It should be used in the Member States as electronic cigarettes (defined in the EU Directive as "a product that can be used to consume nicotine-containing vapor through a mouthpiece, or any component of this product, including a cartridge, a tank, and the device without a cartridge or Tank ") and refill container (" a container that contains nicotine-containing liquid that can be used to refill an electronic cigarette "), which, due to their purpose and function, are not regulated by the Community Code on Medicinal Products for Human Use or by the Medical Device Directive . According to the directive, liquids containing nicotine may only be marketed if their nicotine content does not exceed 20 milligrams per milliliter; Refill containers should be able to hold a maximum of 10 milliliters. Further regulations concern an even nicotine release and technical specifications (cartridge / tank volume, leak protection when refilling, child safety ). Strict regulations are planned for labeling, for example an instruction leaflet is also provided. Manufacturers and importers of electronic cigarettes and refill containers should notify the responsible authorities of the products (including extensive data, including on the toxicology of the ingredients and emissions of the e-cigarette) before they are placed on the market. The directive also provides that manufacturers, importers and distributors must report sales data (quantities, type of sale, preferences of different consumer groups) and harmful effects to the competent authorities. Advertising should be prohibited. Nicotine-free consumable liquids do not fall under the scope of the Tobacco Directive.

The member states had to transpose the directive nationally by May 2016. For nicotine-containing e-cigarettes, the provisions of applicable since May 20, 2016 in Germany tobacco product law (TabakerzG, Law on tobacco products and related materials) and Austria, the appropriately amended Tobacco Act (TNRSG, tobacco and Nichtraucherinnen- or Non smoking Protection Act ).

Before that, there had been controversies in Germany about product delimitation , which is important for regulating the marketability of products. Liquids containing nicotine, despite the pharmacological effects of nicotine, were not to be regarded as medicinal products as long as they were not marketed ("presented") as a means of curing, alleviating or preventing diseases. In November 2014 , the Federal Administrative Court confirmed a corresponding ruling by the Münster Higher Administrative Court in September 2013 . In a judgment published in February 2016 on December 23, 2015, the BGH classified liquids containing nicotine made from raw tobacco as tobacco products. Since such liquids contain other additives such as glycerine or flavors in addition to nicotine, which was not permitted under applicable law, trading was illegal until the new EU Tobacco Directive was implemented at the end of May 2016.

In Austria, the parliament decided in December 2014 that from October 1, 2015, single-use e-cigarettes and liquids (both nicotine-containing and nicotine-free) may only be sold in tobacco shops. Rechargeable and refillable e-cigarettes were still not subject to the Austrian Tobacco Monopoly Act. This decision was declared unconstitutional by the Austrian Constitutional Court on July 3, 2015 and was therefore dropped; E-cigarettes and e-liquids can therefore still be sold freely in Austria.

Without prejudice to the legal regulations of the tobacco product law, the chemicals law also applies to nicotine products .

Outside of the EU

In the United States , the FDA announced on July 22, 2009 that several loads of electronic cigarettes had been seized at the border. The laboratory tests initiated by the FDA revealed that some of these products contained toxic substances. The authority took the view that e-cigarettes should be classified as drugs. FDA reporting on the toxic substances in e-cigarettes has been heavily criticized by scientists. On January 14, 2010, the lawsuit against the seizure and classification as a medicinal product, which the companies concerned had brought before the Federal District Court , was upheld . In the ruling, the FDA was criticized for "ongoing, aggressive efforts to regulate recreational tobacco products as drugs or drug applicators under US drug law ". In April 2011, the FDA announced that it was planning to regulate e-cigarettes as a tobacco product.

In Switzerland , the electronic cigarette has not been classified as a tobacco product or a substitute product since April 2012 because it neither contains tobacco nor is it partially made up of tobacco. In addition, the liquids are exempt from tobacco tax.

Use in public spaces and means of transport (Germany)

The Cologne Administrative Court ruled on February 25, 2014 that e-cigarettes may be consumed in a plaintiff's restaurant, since an e-cigarette is not "smoked" in accordance with the law, a liquid is vaporized in the e-cigarette and not a liquid Burned tobacco. In terms of the literal sense of the word, there is no smoking here. This judgment was confirmed by the Higher Administrative Court in Münster and no further appeal was permitted.

In the Free State of Bavaria , the use of e-cigarettes in restaurants is not prohibited if they are operated with a liquid.

The Lower Saxony Association of Towns and Municipalities has “no specific warnings or complaints about the use of e-cigarettes. Without a legal basis and reliable knowledge of specific dangers, cities and municipalities cannot and must not prohibit the use of e-cigarettes - for example in restaurants. "

In Hessen , electronic cigarettes are only allowed to be used in designated smoking rooms. The Hessian law on the protection of non-smokers regulates a general smoking ban, but does not provide any information on product groups. Preventive health protection is given as the reason for the ban on smoking electronic cigarettes.

The protection of non-smokers in public transport is regulated by the Federal Non- Smoking Protection Act with a smoking ban . The use of electronic cigarettes is not restricted by law. Public transport operators can stipulate corresponding bans under private law. The German railway prohibited in their conditions of carriage, the use of electric cigarette in all trains. The house rules prohibit the use of electronic cigarettes outside the “designated smoking areas” at train stations. Vaping e-cigarettes and smoking non-electronic cigarettes is permitted in the designated smoking areas. Likewise, other transport companies do not differentiate between e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes in the area of ​​smoking bans, for example at the Cologne transport company KVB, the MVG in Munich or the Hamburger Hochbahn AG, the use of e-cigarettes is also in all vehicles and underground stations forbidden.

Use in public spaces and means of transport (worldwide)

Amtrak , the US railroad's smoking policy, prohibits the use of electronic cigarettes on all trains and stations. Most airlines neither expressly allow nor prohibit the use of smokeless cigarettes. Air Canada is an exception , whose regulations for hand luggage only allow the carrying of the electronic cigarette, but prohibit its use. Since September 2009, the Irish airline Ryanair has allowed inhalation from smokeless cigarettes and offers this on its flights. However, the smokeless cigarettes offered do not have any electrical system and can therefore not be described as electronic cigarettes. In September 2011, the United States Department of Transportation proposed "an explicit ban on the use of electronic cigarettes on airplanes." This ban should apply not just to flights within the United States , but to all flights to and from the United States.

Singapore Airlines currently (January 2015) prohibits the use of electronic cigarettes during take-off as part of the safety instruction.

According to the current regulations of the ICAO , e-cigarettes may no longer be transported in checked baggage for safety reasons, but only in cabin baggage. In addition, it is prohibited to charge the batteries on board aircraft. Some cases are documented in the specialist medical literature in which outgassing of the lithium-ion batteries in the e-cigarette has resulted in injuries (especially burns) to the user. The situation is similar to that of other devices with these batteries, such as smartphones.

Sale to young people

The unregulated sale of e-hookahs and electronic cigarettes to minors until January 2016 was controversial in Germany, although there was almost unanimous consensus among the dealers concerned not to sell e-cigarettes or liquids to children and young people. As a result of changes to the Youth Protection Act , the sale and distribution of e-shishas and e-cigarettes with and without nicotine to minors was prohibited from April 1, 2016.

Two codes were created in Switzerland in September 2018 . Some market participants have committed themselves to comply with a sales ban on minors and various advertising restrictions. However, there are currently no legal requirements for the protection of minors in the sale of e-cigarettes at the federal level . This should change with the entry into force of the new Tobacco Products Act.

Benefits in smoking cessation

After quitting smoking, the use of e-cigarettes alleviates smoking cravings and withdrawal symptoms. This also applies to e-cigarettes that do not contain nicotine. Consumers justify this perceived relief by referring to the continued authenticity of the imitated smoking experience, maintaining habits, communalizing with like-minded people and identifying with the “vaper” scene.

After individual observational studies with inconsistent results, an English multicenter randomized controlled clinical study was published in February 2019 that compared the use of e-cigarettes with conventional nicotine replacement preparations in 886 smokers who wanted to quit smoking . The e-cigarette group received a free " starter pack " with an e-cigarette and 30 ml nicotine-containing liquid and had to purchase additional liquid itself. Advice was given in the control group and a nicotine replacement product of their choice was made available free of charge for three months. Smokers in both groups were encouraged to attend therapy sessions once a month. The median participants were 41 years old, 48% were women. A median of 15 cigarettes a day were previously smoked, 42% had used e-cigarettes before and 75% had tried nicotine replacement preparations beforehand.

After one year, at 18.0% of the e-cigarette smokers, significantly more participants were still abstinent than in the control group with 9.9%. This resulted in a significant relative risk for successful abstinence of RR = 1.83 and a " number needed to treat " of twelve smokers. In both groups, the replacement was rated as less satisfying than cigarettes, but the e-cigarettes were rated as more helpful and more appropriate, with less irritability, less restlessness, less concentration problems, and fewer sudden cravings. In return, more breathing problems and mouth irritations were reported initially. However, of those who were abstinent after one year, 80% from the e-cigarette group continued to use it, and only 9% from the nicotine replacement group continued to use nicotine replacement.

While there is now a consensus that e-cigarettes are less harmful to health than classic cigarettes, since the combustion products in particular are eliminated, there is still no consensus on whether they are suitable for smoking cessation, since they also generate a high rate of long-term consumers. Therefore, the scientifically recognized nicotine replacement preparations for smoking cessation are primarily recommended, and e-cigarettes at best, if the former do not lead to prolonged abstinence, and then with the lowest possible nicotine content and for a limited period of time.

Entry-level product

A meta-analysis from 2018 came to the conclusion that the use of e-cigarettes significantly increases the likelihood of later use of conventional tobacco cigarettes:

" There is substantial evidence that e-cigarette use increases risk of ever using combustible tobacco cigarettes among youth and young adults. "

The Surgeon General of the United States, the highest instance of the US public health service, has already classified e-cigarette consumption among adolescents as an epidemic for the USA due to the health risks and in 2018 called for an urgent need for regulation. Young people in the USA are prohibited from buying tobacco and e-cigarettes because the US Congress approved a corresponding change in the law on December 16, 2019, increasing the age limit from 18 to 21 years, which was signed by the President four days later.

It is feared that the spread of the e-cigarette will lead to a “rebound effect” with a renormalization of smoking and vaping in public spaces and that “nicotine will become socially acceptable again”. In a survey of 7th and 8th grade students, almost all students were already familiar with e-cigarettes and 16% had used them at least once. There was a clear social gradient, with high school students only having used them at least once in 9%. This amplification of damage to health in the socially disadvantaged is known as “deprivation amplification”.

According to official statistics from England, the proportion of smokers who first used e-cigarettes and then tobacco products in their lives was zero percent in 2019, after 5.4 percent in the previous year.

Health risks


Classification according to ICD-10
U07.0 Health disorder related to the use of e-cigarettes ( vaporizers )
ICD-10 online (WHO version 2019)

No substances are burned during consumption . Although, in contrast to tobacco smoke, no carbon monoxide , hydrogen cyanide , arsenic or carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are produced, some cartridges in the e-cigarette contain substances that irritate the respiratory tract, such as. B. the fragrance linalool . According to the British addiction researcher Peter Hajek, e-cigarettes are at least 95% less harmful than tobacco cigarettes for average consumers - but not pregnant women.

There is not yet enough data on the long-term effects of e-cigarettes and possible cardiovascular damage to be able to make reliable statements. The same applies to the question of whether e-cigarettes actually contribute to successful smoking cessation.

The German Cancer Research Center emphasized in 2014 about e-cigarettes:

Nicotine is addictive, promotes the growth of existing tumors and is suspected of causing cancer . In addition, nicotine damages the unborn child during pregnancy. There is a risk of overdosing for consumers who inhale deeply too often, and there is a risk of poisoning for children if they try the vials with the nicotine-containing liquids. Propylene glycol is classified as safe for oral use, but studies on the risk of inhalation of propylene glycol in e-cigarette aerosol are lacking. Short-term exposure to propylene glycol mist causes respiratory irritation. People in the entertainment industry who are regularly exposed to propylene glycol-containing fog (theater fog) suffer more from acute and chronic respiratory tract irritation. Some of the flavorings used can act as contact allergens. The liquids and aerosol of some e-cigarettes contain carcinogens . "

The report "E-cigarettes: an evidence update" published by the British Ministry of Health in 2015 contained the following statements:

  • The use of nicotine outside of pregnancy carries only a small health risk and even has advantages.
  • There is no risk of nicotine poisoning if e-cigarettes are used as intended, but e-liquids should be stored in "child-proof" packaging.
  • The risk of fire from e-cigarettes and the risk of poisoning from ingesting e-liquids appeared to be comparable to similar electronic devices (e.g. cell phones and laptops) and potentially toxic substances found in every household (e.g. household cleaners ), to be.
  • E-cigarette use may not be 100% safe, but the absence of most of the chemicals responsible for smoking-related diseases suggests a rather limited risk. The previously expressed estimate that the consumption of e-cigarettes is at least 95% less harmful than that of tobacco cigarettes seems to be a reasonable estimate.
  • There is no evidence that e-cigarette users are exposed to dangerous levels of aldehydes.

Compared to tobacco smoke, the aerosol of e-cigarettes contains around 1000 times fewer free radicals , but the concentration is still relatively high. Free radicals lead to oxidative stress , which can promote the development of some diseases.

Inhalation of the aerosol

In 2011, researchers investigated whether a 5-minute inhalation of the e-cigarette aerosol could damage lung functions. It was found that the use of an e-cigarette can have direct effects on lung function. Since these measured effects were very small, the researchers point out the possible lack of clinical significance of their results.

The authors of a study published in October 2012, in which the e-cigarette vapor was subjected to a risk analysis, found no significant health risk. A cancer risk analysis showed that none of the samples examined exceeded risk limits for children or adults.

The main component of the liquid to be vaporized is 1,2-propanediol (older name: propylene glycol). This is approved as a food additive E 1520. It can cause allergic reactions in hypersensitive people when applied to the skin. If ingested orally, 1,2-propanediol is considered to be harmless to humans. It is found in chewing gum, creams, toothpaste, cigarettes and also in medicines. The inhalation of propanediol is different: In a study on volunteers who exposed themselves to a propanediol mist, concentrations of 0.31 mg / l irritated the eyes and throat. The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) pointed out in a statement on hookahs that the inhalation of glycerine and 1,2-propanediol in animal experiments can lead to changes in the cell epithelium in the larynx and irritation of the nasal mucous membranes , including nosebleeds . In a medical report published in 1997, the BfR pointed out that glycerine and 1,2-propanediol are practically harmless from a toxicological point of view and have been used in pharmaceutical and cosmetic preparations for years. According to the BfR, the same increase in airway resistance that can be caused by a salt aerosol can be observed after inhaling a ten percent propylene glycol-in-water aerosol. As additional components, manufacturers add flavorings to the liquids , which are also approved as additives for food. Most liquids contain nicotine, but liquids without nicotine are also available.

In the EU directive for tobacco products, the maximum dose for liquids containing nicotine (e-liquids) was set at 20 milligrams per milliliter. In an open letter to the EU Health Minister, scientists emphasized that, unlike tobacco smoke, the vapor releases less than a third of the amount of nicotine into the body, and consider a maximum value of 50 mg / ml to be necessary.

According to a 2012 study, most of the e-cigarettes analyzed effectively deliver nicotine to consumers. The nicotine content in the resulting aerosol was subject to strong fluctuations depending on the model. Consumers compensate for different nicotine strengths through a (presumably largely unconscious) selection of the hardware-liquid combination. This will give you similar nicotine levels as you used to with smoking. This is comparable to a tobacco smoker who inhales more and less deeply in order to reach a certain nicotine level.

One study examined the long-term effects of pure inhaled nicotine on animals. The scientists stated:

"In conclusion, our study does not indicate any harmful effect of nicotine when given in its pure form by inhalation."

"In summary, our study shows no harmful effects of nicotine when it is administered in pure form by inhalation."

Zachary Cahn from the University of California at Berkeley and Michael Siegel from the Boston University School of Public Health evaluated 16 studies on e-cigarettes that looked at the ingredients of the liquid . Two of the evaluated studies showed traces of tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNA) in samples of liquids containing nicotine. The maximum total TSNA content, at 8.2 nanograms / g, was on a level similar to that in nicotine patches (8.0 nanograms / patch). Accordingly, nicotine-containing liquids and nicotine patches contained 0.07% to 0.2% of the total content of TSNA in tobacco cigarettes. The TSNA traces can be explained with the extraction of nicotine from tobacco. However, further studies and regulations (in the USA) on e-cigarettes are required.

According to the brochure Electronic Cigarettes - An Overview , inhaling the vaporized liquid can cause brief irritation of the mouth and throat, dry cough, dizziness and nausea. A scientific assessment of lung function from February 2013, on the other hand, shows that, in contrast to tobacco smoke inhalation (active), neither a short-term (active) inhalation of the vaporized liquid nor an hour (passive) exposure to e-cigarette vapor clearly disrupts normal lung function.

Exposure to nicotine-containing liquid

Pure nicotine is toxic in high doses and can be fatal if swallowed. There is a danger to life for adults from a dose of approx. 500 mg of pure nicotine. Based on documented incidents, severe poisoning from unintentional exposure to cartridges with nicotine-containing liquid is very unlikely. Although nicotine-containing e-cigarette liquids, cigarettes, nicotine chewing gum and nicotine inhalers have been sold for many years, the Federal Statistical Office has not recorded any deaths from nicotine-containing e-cigarettes in Germany in recent years, in contrast to the USA.

Passive steam

No harmful sidestream smoke is produced when using e-cigarettes . This is the unfiltered smoke from a cigarette that is created while not being drawn.

Since a consumer of electronic cigarettes exhales part of the vaporized liquid after inhaling, scientists at the Fraunhofer WKI assume that there is passive vapor. Schripp et al. placed a test person in an 8 m³ chamber, who only breathed during a 20-minute conditioning phase and then took six deep lungs from an e-cigarette and a tobacco cigarette every 60 seconds. The exhaled air / vapor mixture was then examined by means of gas chromatography with mass spectrometry coupling . It turned out that after consuming the e-cigarette the substances formaldehyde , acetone , isoprene , acetaldehyde , acetic acid and butanone could be detected in the air in very small quantities. The study pointed out that the formaldehyde was a component of the normal exhaled air of the test person, as this substance could already be measured during the conditioning phase and did not increase significantly after consuming e-cigarettes. The study also points out that the substances acetone, isoprene, acetaldehyde and acetic acid could also be part of the normal exhaled air of a person.

In 2003, Diskin and colleagues (Keele University, England) carried out a study investigating metabolic products exhaled by laboratory workers after they arrived in the morning. It was noticed that acetone, isoprene and acetaldehyde are exhaled as normal metabolic products in sometimes higher concentrations. The Schripp et al. The measured concentration of butanone was 0.002 mg / m³, 300,000 times lower than the maximum workplace concentration value. The measurement results from Schripp et al. show that no limit values ​​for indoor air are exceeded when consuming e-cigarettes. With conventional tobacco cigarettes, however, the formaldehyde standard value of 0.1  ppm for indoor air was exceeded.

In May 2012, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) declared that health hazards through passive inhalation cannot be ruled out due to insufficient data on e-cigarettes. It advised banning the smoking of e-cigarettes in non-smoking areas and treating them like normal cigarettes in order to protect non-smokers.

A study published in September 2012 showed that the effects of the examined passive steam on indoor air, when compared with traditional tobacco smoking, are hardly measurable. Furthermore, the passive vapor does not have the toxic and carcinogenic properties of tobacco cigarettes due to the lack of combustion and the lack of sidestream smoke. The measurements showed that although nicotine-containing liquid was evaporated in a 60 m³ room, no nicotine was detected in the air:

"5 vapers using e-cigarettes for 5h in a small room without renewal of indoor air do not produce detectable levels of nicotine in the air."

"5 e-cigarette users who consume e-cigarettes for 5 hours in a small room without renewing the air in the room produce no detectable nicotine concentrations in the air."

In conclusion, the researchers come to the following conclusion:

"On the base of the obtained results and on ARPA data about urban pollution, we can conclude by saying that could be more unhealty to breath air in big cities compared to staying in the same room with someone who is vaping."

"On the basis of the ARPA data on air pollution in cities, we can summarize that it can be more unhealthy to breathe in a large city than to be in the same room with an e-cigarette user."

Also in October 2012, a study by Andreas Flouris, who used to do research for the World Health Organization, was published on the effects of passive steam on people. He came to the conclusion that the steam had no effect on the blood values ​​of third parties. The author stated that when tobacco smokers use the e-cigarette, this also had no effect on the blood values ​​examined. In contrast, according to Study active and passive tobacco smoke leads to an increased number of leukocytes , lymphocytes and granulocytes .

A research group led by J.-F. In April 2013 Bertholon published a study in which, among other things, the exhaled aerosol of e-cigarettes is compared with that of tobacco cigarettes and hookahs. This study found that the half-life of passive vapor in air is 11 seconds. In contrast, the half-life of tobacco smoke in the air is 19 to 20 minutes. The researchers deduce from this that the risk of passive vapor exposure from e-cigarettes is very low.

According to the New Zealand tobacco control researcher Murray Laugesen, the exhaled vapor when consuming e-cigarettes is harmless to third parties, as it contains almost no nicotine and no combustion product.

Bill Godshall, chairman of the independent non-smoking organization "Smokefree Pennsylvania," referred to the October 2012 release by T. R. McAuley et al. published study with the words: “Smokefree Pennsylvania has been campaigning for a general smoking ban in indoor spaces for more than 25 years. Based on the results of the study, I see no reason why electronic cigarettes should fall under the smoking ban. "

A 2013 literature study by Igor Burstyn concluded that

"Exposure of bystanders to the listed ingredients, let alone the contaminants, does not warrant a concern as the exposure is likely to be orders of magnitude lower than exposure experienced by vapers"

"The exposure of bystanders to the listed ingredients, let alone the contaminants, is not a cause for concern as it is likely to be orders of magnitude below that of smokers."

In 2014, Peter Hajek and colleagues published a review in which all studies available to date on the use, ingredients and safety of e-cigarettes were subjected to a scientific review. The researchers came to the following conclusion:

“EC aerosol can contain some of the toxicants present in tobacco smoke, but at levels which are much lower. Long-term health effects of EC use are unknown but compared with cigarettes, EC are likely to be much less, if at all, harmful to users or bystanders. "

“Some of the toxic substances from tobacco smoke can also be found in much smaller quantities in the vapor of e-cigarettes. The long-term health effects of e-cigarette use are unknown, but when comparing e-cigarettes to tobacco cigarettes, e-cigarettes are likely to be much less, if at all, harmful to consumers or others. "

Injuries from e-cigarette use

Since replaceable lithium-ion batteries are used in many battery carriers, handling must be handled responsibly, as with any other device operated with them. In particular, short circuits and mechanical damage to the batteries must be avoided, as otherwise fires and outgassing can occur. This can lead to pressure build-up and explosions if the batteries are operated in an airtight encapsulation. Therefore, an outgassing hole has prevailed in commercially available battery carriers. Chemical and flame burns and explosive injuries have been reported as consequences of improper handling in the United States.

However, as the use of e-cigarettes increases, there are more reports of serious accidents due to technical problems. According to the US Fire Administration , there were 195 accidents in the United States from 2009-2016 due to an e-cigarette explosion, 38 of which were severe. In 2015, a person in Tennessee suffered a fracture of the cervical spine with partial paraplegia when an e-cigarette exploded . In 2018, a 38-year-old was killed in Florida by the explosion of an unregulated e-cigarette, a so-called "Mech Mod" without an electronic safety circuit; Metal parts had bored into his skull like shrapnel .

Illness and death

In August 2019, the US Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) first warned of a possible epidemic of acute lung damage associated with the use of e-cigarettes or other "vaping" devices what was known as "e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury" (EVALI) and only occurred in the USA. As of February 18, 2020, 2,807 cases requiring hospitalization had been reported, of which 68 died as a result of lung damage. After the cannabis industry warned against the use of the additive vitamin E acetate in exclusively THC- containing E-joints in August 2019 , which could later be identified as a pathological and in animal experiment as a presumably safe cause, the US authorities held up At the turn of 2020, the thesis was upheld that the disease was due to the use of the e-cigarette. When the inadmissible contamination became known in September, the number of new patients fell significantly. Nevertheless, studies indicate that other ingredients could also irritate the lungs, be damaging and toxic and have chronic, long-term consequences.


Web links

Commons : Electronic Cigarettes  - Collection of Pictures, Videos and Audio Files

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