E-cigarettes and tobacco heaters: Less harmful than cigarettes?
More and more people who smoke now use electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and tobacco heaters. While they are both less harmful than cigarettes, they are not without risks. They can be the lesser evil for people who aren't able to completely give up nicotine.
E-cigarettes have a small cartridge filled with liquid, and a heating element. The heating element is heated up using a battery. This causes the liquid to vaporize so that it can be inhaled (breathed in). "Smoking" an e-cigarette is also referred to as "vaping."
A wide range of products are available: There are e-cigarettes with pre-filled cartridges that are removed and replaced after use. Other models have permanent cartridges that you refill yourself. Some e-cigarettes even have software that can be used to set the electrical voltage of the heating element and analyze use data, like how often and how much you inhale.
Tobacco heaters are made up of a casing with a battery where a tobacco stick is inserted. The stick looks like a conventional cigarette. The tobacco is heated up to 250 to 350 degrees Celsius by a battery and then generates an aerosol, a fine vapor which is inhaled. The aerosol is inhaled like when smoking by sucking on the tobacco stick. The aerosol is fed through a filter when inhaling. Unlike conventional cigarettes, tobacco heaters don't burn the tobacco. So they don't produce any smoke, ash or cigarette smell.
Tobacco heaters cost between 30 and 80 euros, and tobacco sticks cost about the same as cigarettes. Like cigarettes, tobacco heaters and e-cigarettes are only allowed to be sold to people over 18 years of age to protect young people’s health.