Which e-cig is for me?
October 6, 2011 1:21 AM   Subscribe

Which e-cigarette is for me?

So I was over my buddy's place last night knocking back a few bottles of plonk, and he brought out his latest trinket: an e-cigarette starter kit from SafeSmoke, I think it was. He let me try one out and I thought it was pretty awesome, it gave me something to do with my hands, I got the nicotine from it, I got the hit at the back of my throat, and it gave me a cloud of "smoke".

He told me he's been smoking them for about a week or so now and they're great, he's found his lungs have cleared themselves out and he doesn't have any pressing desire for a real cigarette. He says his brother - a very, very heavy and longterm smoker - is mad for them as well.

Well, I'm a pretty heavy smoker and I've been at it for 15 years now and I've tried quitting before but all that happened is I got addicted to chewing toothpicks and found that nicotine patches were too difficult to light. I'd like to give the e-cigarette a try, because I'll be honest, I enjoy smoking but I don't like what it does to me (namely, running out of breath if I blink my eyes too quickly). Perhaps it will be a gradual weaning process or perhaps I'll just be an e-cig smoking guy.

I was hoping some fellow Mefites might have experience with e-cigarettes, with transitioning from "proper" smoking to e-cigarettes, perhaps trying a few different brands and landing on one that works out the best. From what scratching around on the internet I've done it's looking like the ProSmoke might be the best bit, but I'm daunted by the dozens of different companies and brands.

If it helps at all, I'll go on record saying that I smoke Champion Ruby pouch tobacco, with filters, and about a pack-worth a day (around 25 cigarettes). I'm not sure what I want out of an e-cigarette, exactly, but I'd have to say my concerns are principally economical and I'd also like to be having an "authentic" smoking experience, ideally with a good battery life and with a decent number of "drags" from each cartridge.

E-cigarette fiends of Metafilter, set me on the right path.
posted by tumid dahlia to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: "best bit" = "best bet"
posted by tumid dahlia at 1:23 AM on October 6, 2011

Last time I looked into it (a year or so ago), e-cigarettes were illegal in Australia. I've heard of one place (down in Logan) where they're available under the counter. I also know one person who was pinged for importing the cartridges a few years ago. Don't know if that'll factor into your decision.

(Apart from that, I'll watch this thread with interest. I'm in much the same position as you, except I can walk the length of campus before I get out of breath & smoke Bank ;-)
posted by Pinback at 1:36 AM on October 6, 2011

Response by poster: I heard they were illegal in Victoria, as in you're not allowed to sell them from your shop, but that they can be imported with no ill effects. I mean, my mate got them from Californey with no trouble, and his brother did the same. But...hmm.
posted by tumid dahlia at 1:41 AM on October 6, 2011

Response by poster: (By which I mean imported in quantities that are obviously for private use, rather than commercial distribution.)
posted by tumid dahlia at 1:50 AM on October 6, 2011

I recently read this article about Johnson Creek Smoke Juice. I am not a smoker and have not tried their product. But it may be something you're interested in.
posted by j03 at 2:30 AM on October 6, 2011

The e-Cigarrette Forum is an amazing clearing house of information. I highly recommend checking it out. I wish I had before I purchased my first PV... People there are helpful and responsive, and there are a ton of threads on the best starting equipment, where to buy, law issues, etc.
posted by smirkette at 4:53 AM on October 6, 2011 [2 favorites]

The e-cigs you see at the mall for the price of a carton can be had from dealextreme.com for less than the price of one pack. They're all from china.
posted by PSB at 5:13 AM on October 6, 2011

The model that most serious users choose is either the Joye eGo or the Joye 510. By serious users, I mean people who have participated in online forums and tried a few different models. The 510 is shaped and sized like a long cigarette and the eGo is shaped like a small cigar. The size difference is all dow n to the bigger battery which lasts a lot longer between charges. Otherwise they are the same and the parts are almost all interchangeable.
Lots of retailers sell these with their own branding and a hefty mark up. For example, TW put a logo on it and call the eGo a Tornado, but it us just an eGo.

If you go to heaven-gifts.com and order either an unbranded 510 kit or an unbranded eGo kit plus a bottle of 18-24Mg e-liquid then you'll have the best starting bundle at the best price. Watch a couple of tutorial videos on YouTube and you'll be on your way.

If you decide later you want to try something a little different, most other accessories will be compatible with the 510/eGo parts you already have or will only need a cheap adapter.
posted by K.P. at 6:53 AM on October 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: A few random tips:

* Unless you have some really compelling reason for doing so, don't bother with the faux-cigarette e-cigs. Their battery life is relatively short, and they tend to be a lot of maintenance.

* Good cheap e-cig: eGo

* Good mid-range e-cig: Janty Stick. (This is as of a year or so ago, I haven't looked since; probably there are better models in that price range now.)

* Good high-end e-cig: ProVari. (This is one of my favorite possessions. Solid craftsmanship, user-controlled voltage, and monstrous battery life. Well worth the investment, if you're serious about switching, and if having a pretty huge e-cig doesn't bother you.)

* You'll need to choose between atomizers (with cartridges or to drip directly), cartomizers, or tanks. Pre-filled cartridges (filled with wicking material that holds the liquid and applies it to the atomizer) are available, and save you time, but the price adds up quickly. In general, I've found pre-filled cartridges don't last long and start tasting crappy pretty quickly. For some reason, cartomizers (cartridges with atomizers built in) seem to last longer, but they still get that crappy taste eventually. Dripping onto an atomizer directly is great, but distracting, since you can really only get about 3-4 drops of liquid onto most atomizers before it gets flooded - turns into a constant chore. My favorite system right now is the MAP Tank, which holds ~4ml of juice and uses just a couple of threads rather than a big chunk of filler to wick the juice. Great flavor, a fill lasts a whole day, and the atomizer doesn't seem to accumulate much residue. This + the ProVari is my daily system.

* Juice: Can get expensive! The "Deals and Steals" thread on e-cigarette-forum is my guide to juice purchases. I've found a couple of suppliers I really like, and I stock up when they have a sale. My favs right now are Pink Spot Vapors and Halo, but they tend toward the pricier side and don't have a lot of discounts. A good company to start with is Void Mist - they often do 40% off sales, so you can try multiple flavors without a huge investment. (Their "Newton's Apple" juice, by the way, is DELICIOUS.)
posted by SpiralT at 6:59 AM on October 6, 2011 [3 favorites]

Regular smoker here. Got me an e-cig a couple years ago. It didn't stick.

My first mistake was I assumed my wife wouldn't mind me using it in the house. I was wrong. The fiddle factor is also really high. I was constantly charging them, refilling cartridges, etc.

It can get expensive buying new cartridges all the time. I read on some ecig forums about buying a bottle of the juice and refilling on my own. Saves money, but can be a big PITA.

The other thing I found, for the brief period I used it, was that I was using it constantly - way more than I smoked. I got some nicotine headaches.

With the e-cig, you can just puff and puff away, all day long. You're not committed like when you light up a cig. One puff here, a minute or two later a puff there. And before long I was making myself sick on it.
posted by thatguyjeff at 7:12 AM on October 6, 2011

At the time that I bought my first one, the preferred hardest-hitter was the DSE-901 model. My first one was made by Shinzen Sailebao, although I understand that there are multiple manufacturers. I am very pleased with it. It doesn't feel exactly the same, but you can tell that you're inhaling stuff, and you can see yourself exhaling stuff. That model doesn't use cartridges (which I've only read are expensive and short-lived); instead you drip juice into the mouthpiece. I had read that e-cigs require you to boil the vaporizer periodically to prevent it from getting clogged up, but I've been using the exact same one for years now and have never had that problem.

Heartily seconding Johnson Creek. They have a lot of good flavors--they have a fun sampler pack too. I've bought several big bottles from them and they came with a teeny plastic bottle, which you can fill with juice and carry around for refills. Like that guy jeff, I smoke my e-cig like a fiend, so I refill it once or twice during my work day.

If you're like me, you'll want to buy two of whatever model e-cig you purchase, because if you lose a pack of cigarettes you can just go to the corner store and buy some more. Not so with e-cigs.

Disclaimer: I have no intention of using the e-cig to stop smoking analog cigarettes. I use it to get around the fact that every place except my car and house and a few blessed sports bars are now designated non-smoking. It's awesome because with one of these things, you can smoke on a plane, in a movie theater, everywhere you used to be able to and more.
posted by heatvision at 7:46 AM on October 6, 2011

I went completely off analogs for over 6 months last year, but had the same problem as thatguyjeff: even on the weakest juice (3mg, I'm an Ultra Lights smoker) I had no sense of portions and would sometimes smoke myself sick. I did carry nicotine-less juice to try to keep that from happening, but part of the problem is that the delivery is kind of unmeasurable because no two people take the same kind of drag.

There is also a lot of fiddly. I think I ended up smoking again after I lost a battery somewhere in my bag, none of the other 3 were charged, I didn't know where my clean cartridges were, and I was just like "goddammit, I'm so tired of constantly plugging this shit in and hauling it around."

Which is not to say don't do it, but you want to make sure you have a plan for those things. And make sure you buy ample batteries, and keep chargers everywhere. I've really only used the 510s (and get most of my juice from Juicy Vapors, but I know Johnson Creek has a huge reputation for tobacco flavors) and haven't checked in the past few months for any leaps in technology on battery life and charging. I plan to go back, it really did work brilliantly for me except when it didn't, but I need to figure out my own plan for dealing with all that fiddly first.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:40 AM on October 6, 2011

Everything I was going to say has been covered, but I'll say it anyways for the sake of emphasis.

The Joye e-cigs are generally considered to to be the best "training wheel" units. I like the 510's, but that's just a personal preference. The eGo model generally gets better reviews.

If you decide to get one, I'd recommend the manual model, a the automatics can have problems with their air-flow sensor.

In my experience, the up-front cost is higher for the e-cig, but recurring costs are lower, if that's a concern. Once you've made the investment on your first kit, that's likely to be the biggest expense you'll see.

People seem, generally, to be more accepting of e-cigs in public, and are frequently interested in them. They are hugely tactile and weighty if you like to have a thing in your hands to fiddle with. If you enjoy ritual with your nicotine you may enjoy the maintenance factor. (I don't especially; see below) They can be relatively inexpensive compared to regular cigarettes.

E-cigs can be a blessing, but they can also be an ENORMOUS PAIN IN THE BUTT. You may find yourself without a charged battery, or your atomizer craps out, or you run out of liquid, or any number of other variables. There are a lot of things that can go wrong, and, at least around here, no brick-and-mortar stores you can bop down to to set things right.

On top of that inconvenience, they require a non-zero amount of cleaning and maintenance, and peripherals like chargers.

I still get nicotine-sick on my e-cig every now and then, like thatguyjeff and Lyn Never, and I've been using mine for about a year now. It's not horrible, but it's not especially fun either.

I personally find the vapor to be pretty unsatisfying. I say it's the methadone of the smoking world; it's not fun on its own, but it staves off the craving for something else you might be trying to avoid.

Despite the big "cons" section, I use and will continue to use mine for the foreseeable future, and if you're at all curious then I wouldn't hesitate to encourage you to give e-cigs a try, but be aware of the disadvantages.
posted by lekvar at 12:25 PM on October 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Everyone's pretty much got you covered upthread, but just to add my own experience:

Heavy cigarette smoker since I was 18; I'm 27 now and I haven't smoked a cigarette since I bought my e-cig 4 months ago. My roommate started researching them about half a year ago and got it down to a process, and then me and a lot of our mutual friends jumped on the bandwagon. I'm in the process of trying to wean myself off of nicotine by ordering gradually weaker juice (most of the nicotine juice sites allow you to adjust the strength of your orders). I've got a Joye eGo-T battery (from cignot.com), and I generally use Smok Tech dual coil 1.25 ohm cartomizers (from hoosierecigsupply.com).

The downsides: E-cig maintenance can be a pain in the ass. If you use cartridges, they will taste burnt if you don't have enough liquid in them and they'll flood if you put too much. After a few weeks of use you get a feel for the rhythm of it, though. If your battery dies and you don't have a means to charge it, you're screwed. If you vape too much, it will make you feel a little sick, and the only way to get a feeling for your limits is for it to happen. The build quality of e-cigs varies wildly; some are sturdy as a brick, and some will get ruined by a single drop (happened to one of my friends last week). And even though I feel better (including having less unexplained chest pains) I don't buy into them being a healthy alternative to smoking. I have a feeling that, on a parity basis, smoking an e-cig is having a less damaging effect on my body that cigarettes, but that's it. Lastly: E-cigs are great, but not perfect, cigarette alternatives. If you love cigarettes as much as I do (and it sounds like you do), this point will make itself known at random points; I'd go from being fine just vaping to having a full-on nic fit for a few minutes, but it passes.

The upsides: I can smell again. I can jog for twice as long as I used to just a few months ago. If you use it right, it can really work as a smoking cessation method. The supplies are much cheaper than buying a pack of cigarettes every day. You can vape indoors without stinking up a house. For that matter, your clothes won't stink of smoke anymore. The vapor produces a hint of a smell that vanishes quickly. In some areas you can still smoke them in bars and restaurants, though sadly not my city. You can pick different flavors on a whim. I'm also somewhat embarrassed to admit that the quasi-futuristic novelty of it is a big selling point for me, and when I'm around my other e-cig-smoking friends and we're drinking we have no problem having pretend lightsaber battles with them.

tl;dr: Get one. I highly recommend the eGo-T, but search around. Smirkette is right about e-cigarette-forum.com; start lurking there immediately. There's a ton of great information and user-submitted reviews.

Most important of all: Bobba's Bounty. Best juice on the market, in my opinion. Has a great throat feel and the taste has a very true cigarette essence without tasting like burning garbage (it actually tastes more like chocolate and graham crackers). It serves as my everyday vape, which (if you stick with e-cigs) you'll discover to be the holy grail of vapers. Read about it. Watch some youtube video reviews of e-cig users smoking it. I can't recommend it enough. It kept me from coming back to cigarettes.

Sorry if this is a bit rambling, I was writing it in between tasks at work. Good luck!
posted by kryptondog at 2:37 PM on October 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for all the great replies so far everybody. I hadn't given much thought to the possibility of making myself sick by dosing up on too much nicotine, but I'm hoping I'll be okay as I intend to use it as a replacement for smoking, not just so I can smoke at my desk or in a plane or whatever. So I'd still be popping downstairs when at work, taking ten puffs or whatever, then getting back to it.

Fiddly might actually be a good thing, too. Rolling my own cigarettes has become something of a ritual for me and is half the fun of it. So if I have to muck around with a few bits and pieces that could be a big help.
posted by tumid dahlia at 3:48 PM on October 6, 2011

Good advice upthread already. The Joye 510's and eGo are the generally accepted best starter kits. If you get serious about it, you'll move on to custom made mods.

I quit smoking regular cigarettes just over a year ago, and haven't even had a drag since December or January of last year. I very, very rarely have a craving for one, and when I do, I remember how bad they taste.

I'm no less, and perhaps more, addicted to nicotine. Like others said, the eCig gives you the potential to actually use it much much more than regular smoking. Mine is always in reach, and I tend to take a few puffs every ten minutes or so.

Someone mentioned using them on planes. This is generally a bad idea, and banned on most US airlines now. In todays terrorist scared climate, someone will likely freak out when seeing "smoke." I've taken a few sneak puffs on a plane here and there, but held in the vapor until there was nothing visible to exhale.

After the initial buy everything and experiment stage, my costs now are very low. Much, much lower than the outrageous costs of cigarettes these days.
posted by BryanPayne at 4:31 PM on October 6, 2011

Best answer: Just an addendum to the issue of legality (not saying you do or should care, because I personally wouldn't). The current state seems to be…
  • If the devices don't claim to be for smoking cessation, then they're legal to buy and sell (wasn't the case in 2009/10, but the previous ministerial determination seems to have lapsed) - but in that case, any carts / fluid that contain nicotine fall under TGA Schedule 7 (prohibited unless licenced) or 4 (prescription-only).
  • If they do claim to be for smoking cessation, the devices then need to be registered and approved by the TGA (which, afaik and can find, none have) - but the carts / fluid (regardless of nicotine content) can then be classed under Schedule 2 (pharmacy only in most cases, with some exceptions for general retail sale where ingesting the whole box won't kill you.)
  • There's a half-loophole there ("buy a device that doesn't claim to be a quit-smoking aid, buy supplies for one that does [even if no such devices are actually approved]"),which the smoke shops seem to be operating in. Note that individual state TGA interpretations of how big that loophole is differ slightly e.g. if you Google around, you'll see that Customs have been seizing devices and supplies imported into Qld quite recently. There's also a national review currently going on that covers all this, so things may change in the future.

posted by Pinback at 4:37 PM on October 6, 2011

My comment history has a lot odd babbling about e-cigs if you want to look. I'll just add that the Janty-stick is now obsolete (and they were never very durable) and I wouldn't recommend one for several reasons.
And I wouldn't compare them to methadone. They're more like diet Coke or a low-fat whatever. Disappointing at first, but when you develop a taste for it then the original starts to taste too sickly-sweet, rich, or (with cigarettes) just plain dirty.
posted by K.P. at 4:25 AM on October 8, 2011

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