HARARE – Electronic cigarettes imported from the United States are being sold in Harare’s Borrowdale suburb, in supermarkets and night clubs.
The cigarettes come in five flavours, Menthol, Marlboro, Camel, Davida and tobacco, with the prices ranging between $25 to $50.
Research shows that an electronic cigarette contains three essential components: a plastic cartridge that serves as a mouthpiece and a reservoir for liquid, an “atomiser” that vapourises the liquid and a battery.
According to a local expert, the electronic cigarette is an invention that everyone who smokes should know about.
Edgar Mhizha, a local medical expert, said the patented electronic cigarette effectively simulates the experience of smoking like an actual cigarette, without any of the health or legal issues surrounding traditional cigarettes.
“The electronic cigarette, is also known as a smokeless cigarette or e-cigarette, and it is changing the legal landscape for cigarette smokers around the world,” he said.
Mhizha said the difference between the traditional cigarettes and the electronic cigarettes is the function, however both feel and taste the same.
“While electronic cigarettes do not actually burn any tobacco, it is designed in such a way that when the smoker inhales , they activate a ‘flow censor’ which releases a water vapour containing nicotine, propylene glycol, and a scent that stimulates the flavour of tobacco,” said the local health expert.
He said the cancer causing agents found in traditional cigarettes such as tar, glue, and other additives and hydrocarbons were absent in e-cigarettes.
“In addition to being healthier than traditional cigarettes, and the advantage of the electronic cigarettes is, they are completely legal.
“Because electronic cigarettes do not involve tobacco, smokers can legally smoke them anywhere whereas traditional cigarettes are prohibited in such places as bars, restaurants, the workplace, even on aeroplanes.”
He said smokers can smoke the electronic cigarettes with no fears of inflicting harm on others due to nasty second hand-smoke.
“The refillable cartridges come in a multitude of flavours as well as nicotine strengths. You can get regular, menthol, even apple and strawberry flavoured cartridges and nicotine strengths come in full, medium, light, and none,” he said.
Mhizha said electronic cigarettes are technically a “smoking alternative” rather than a smoking cessation device.
“The range of nicotine strengths offers some obvious potential as an aid in the ones attempts to quit smoking and seems to be proving popular within that market.
“The nice thing about electronic cigarettes as opposed to say, nicotine patches, is that e-cigarettes produce the same tactile sensation and oral fixation that smokers desire, while satisfying one’s tobacco cravings as well,” Mhizha said.
He added that when a smoker takes a drag from an electronic cigarette, he or she actually fills their lungs with a warm tobacco flavoured smoke and when he or she exhales, the smoke billows out of the lungs just like regular smoke.
While e-cigarettes have been around for a while, it has been recent advances in technology and ever increasing restrictions against smoking that have propelled them into a newfound popularity.