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Nicotine but without inhaling smoke or tar
Electronic Cigarettes are electrically powered devices which provide an experience similar to the smoking of tobacco cigarettes, but without some of the drawbacks.
Traditional cigarettes involve pieces of dried leaf of the tobacco plant wrapped in paper and set alight. The inhaled smoke contains a small amount of the drug nicotine which has been quite popular. The downsides of normal cigarette smoking became obvious some time ago when deaths occurred because of prolonged effects of inhalation of smoke. Most of the things that are bad for you about cigarettes are to do with the products of burning dead leaves. In contrast, the desirable product of smoking is the nicotine. Electronic cigarettes are designed to provide nicotine and at the same time the behaviour rituals involved in cigarette smoking, but without some of the dangerous elements.
Nicotine is an addictive drug, so you still have to be careful. Nicotine is more addictive than many other drugs, some of which were illegal during the prohibition era. However, whether nicotine itself is harmful is something yet to be the subject of scientific research. It's difficult, because there's a lot of nonsense and disinformation generated and proliferated by various political factions.
The fact is, with electronic cigarettes, you can now inhale nicotine vapour without noxious combustion products from burning plant-leaf, tar, saltpetre, and paper ash. The elimination of the smoke particulate also presents a severe challenge to the puritanical lobby who would like to deprive people of pleasure and are using the "no smoking" idea to further that end. Whereas the anti-smoking lobby had a valid point about secondary smoking (the harm done to non-smokers in a smoke-filled environment), they are now trying to make up very weak excuses to ban electronic cigarettes, and are looking increasingly silly.
Electronic cigarettes are legal in some countries and illegal in some other countries. It's up to you to check up what the law is in whichever country you live in, and then decide whether you're going to obey the law or flout the law.
Ultimately there is a fact which is that it is better to inhale nicotine than it is to inhale nicotine and at the same time inhale burnt leaf matter and paper. However you look at it, electronic cigarettes have got to be less bad than smoking tobacco cigarettes. It's like the way that drinking a glass of scotch is less bad for you than drinking a glass of meths.
Here are a few online places where you can get electronic cigarettes...
ROK electronic cigarettes - UK - established name in the business
Smart Smoker - UK - (gone) - useful explanation of how electronic cigarettes work
Freedom Cigarettes - UK - legal, even in the UK!
E-Lites - UK - nicotine, but no tobacco, no tar, and no carcinogens
eCig Wizard - UK - supplier of electronic cigarettes, e-liquid and accessories
Fresh Cig - UK - based Electronic Cigarette Company
Clear Smoke - UK - Free Electronic Cigarette Trial
Smoke Relief - UK - smoking, but without smoke, and nothing is burnt
Smoke Stik - USA - eCigs manufactured in the US of A
Totally Wicked - UK - go on, be a devil!
Cigarti - USA - the look and feel of traditional cigarettes!
South Beach Smoke - USA - with the glowing orange crystal tip!
The Electronic Cigarette Company - UK - temporarily lapsed and we are waiting for their return
There are a few other cigarette-related references that have been found in this site. Some of these are relevant to some extent because of the concepts...
Miracet - a possible way to quite smoking
Hypnotic Tracks - suggested as a method of giving up smoking.
Smoke Room - prohibition coming in for some serious criticism
Anti-terrorist Nonsense - in which it has been pointed out that cigarette smoking was allowed even on the Hindenburg, even though it was run by the Nazis, and was filled with inflammable hydrogen gas. This pours scorn on the extremism and prohibitionism associated with flying on conventional airlines in the zero-zeroes decade.
Argos budget office chair - purely mentioned because there's a warning not to put a cigarette on it, because of the fire risk.
ICRA filter - includes notes about hypocrisy associated with trying to ban cigarettes
What to do if you are in debt - makes note of the fact that smoking can take a slice out of your weekly budget
History of the relationship between Zyra's affiliate website and LinkShare - Note the paragraph in which it is commented that it's OK to have a sign saying "No Smoking" in a building, but not OK to expect people to change their lives in order to comply with a rule outside the jurisdiction.
The advantages (and disadvantages) of living in the UK - included because of the nanny-state nature of the UK.
The absurdity of legislation about electronic cigarettes is making legalistic regimes look even less credible than they previously might have been. It may even highlight the fact that it is time to call for an end to the Prohibition Era and to legalise all drugs. Governments have no business telling you what you can and can't ingest into your own metabolism. Provided it doesn't hurt anyone else, it should be entirely your own affair if you want to take drugs, and the choices should be your own.
Of course, you should be careful to avoid becoming addicted. But you don't need anyone to tell you that; it's just a matter of good sense.
Following the success of electronic cigarettes, who knows what's next? Electronic whisky? Or even electronic wild wild women?!