E-cigarette FAQ


  • What are e-cigarettes?
  • Who makes them?
  • Are e-cigarettes safe?
  • Are e-cigarettes addictive?
  • Can e-cigarettes help me stop smoking?
  • Are e-cigarettes legal?
  • Where can I buy e-cigarettes?
  • What is “vaping”?
  • How big is the e-cigarette industry?
  • What is ECigIntelligence?
  • I am a student/journalist/market researcher/secret agent gathering information on the e-cigarette business – where can I find out more?


What are e-cigarettes?

An e-cigarette is an electronic device that can be used to inhale a vapour containing nicotine, which it creates by heating a liquid solution of nicotine. Although the technology is different from that of tobacco products such as cigarettes and cigars, the experience from the user’s point of view can be somewhat similar.

Many e-cigarettes resemble tobacco cigarettes visually, although many others (especially more recent models, often known as “tank systems”) don’t look like cigarettes at all. Some are disposable (once all the nicotine has been used, they are thrown away or recycled), while others are refillable (the nicotine can be replenished).

Who makes them?

A large number of companies market e-cigarettes. Some, but not all, also make tobacco products. The industry is probably too new for clear market leaders to be identified with certainty, although rapid consolidation means some are now emerging.

Are e-cigarettes safe?

The short answer is, nobody knows for sure. There is a broad consensus that they are probably not nearly as harmful as tobacco products, which have been known for many years to be highly injurious to health. But e-cigarettes have not been around long enough for the long-term effects of regular use to be understood with certainty.

Are e-cigarettes addictive?

Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is addictive, although there are nicotine-free products too.

Can e-cigarettes help me stop smoking?

This is hotly disputed. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that e-cigarettes can help people stop smoking tobacco, but there are also counter-arguments that they may actually prolong the smoking habit. It is worth noting that e-cigarettes are not generally sold as aids to smoking cessation. A doctor or pharmacist can give you advice on stopping smoking appropriate to your personal situation.

Are e-cigarettes legal?

The law on e-cigarettes varies around the world. Few jurisdictions ban them outright, but in many there are restrictions on who can buy them, where they can be bought, and where they can be used.

For example, there have been recent major regulatory steps in the European Union and the U.S., which we have been covering in detail. Tracking this complex regulatory world is one of the prime purposes of ECigIntelligence.

Where can I buy e-cigarettes?

Again, this depends on where you are located. E-cigarettes are often sold in the same places as tobacco cigarettes, for example convenience stores and supermarkets. Unlike tobacco cigarettes, they may also be available in pharmacies. Online sales are common too. The law on who can sell and buy e-cigarettes varies among jurisdictions.

What is “vaping”?

“Vaping” is another term for smoking an e-cigarette, adopted by many users because of the apparent contradiction in the term “smoking” (the point of e-cigarettes is that they do not produce smoke).

How big is the e-cigarette industry?

There are no reliable global statistics on the sector as a whole. Compiling these is a top priority for us at ECigIntelligence. The respected researcher Euromonitor suggested that in 2012 the industry sold $2bn worth of products. We have compiled more detailed and current figures for many major markets.

What is ECigIntelligence?

We are an independent service providing essential information for professionals involved with e-cigarettes. For more information, see About ECigIntelligence.

I am a student/journalist/market researcher/secret agent gathering information on the e-cigarette business – where can I find out more?

The very best thing to do would be to subscribe to ECigIntelligence. If mysterious cosmic forces prevent you from doing that, you can find some pointers to sources of further information in our resources section.