VAPE PENS VS CIGALIKES: WHICH ONE IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
Consider your smoking background and how much fiddling you want to do when you vape. Vape pens are typically filled by the user, with some variation on whether the other components are adjusted by the user, such as the coil and the vape tank. Cigalikes look and feel like a cigarette, use the same inhale technique as smoking, and there is some evidence that they are better for quitting too!
It is beginning to look like electronic cigarettes may be turning the tide on tobacco cigarettes! (1) As smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the world, a blow to smoking (if you’ll forgive the pun) is a victory for humankind.
If you are a smoker, then what are you waiting for? It’s time to get yourself a vaping device! ‘But there are so many types of device, I don’t know where to begin!’ I hear you say, dramatically.
Well, look no further! When I’m done with you, you’ll know the difference between box mods, puff pens, cigalikes and vape pod systems - and you’ll know which one is the right choice for you!
WHAT IS A VAPE PEN?
There is a wide variety of types of e cigarettes, and vape pens occupy the middle ground in the vaping arena. They come in a variety of heights and diameters, but generally speaking, they are thin, cylindrical units reminiscent of a pen - hence the name.
Vape pen users will fill the tank with e-liquid themselves, and the press of a button will channel electricity from the battery to the coil, which serves as the heating element that turns the e-liquid mixture into an aerosol. The aerosol is then inhaled, where the nicotine in the mixture is absorbed through the lining of the lungs. Almost - but not quite - like smoking!
WHAT IS A CIGALIKE?
The function of a cigalike is the same as the function of a vape pen - a battery heats a coil, which turns an e-liquid mixture into an aerosol, which is then inhaled.
There are a few key differences between cigalikes and other vape devices, but the name tells you the big one: the appearance - a cigalike is designed to look and feel close to a cigarette. Something that many quitters appreciate in the SMOKO E-cigarette!
WHAT ARE THE COMPONENTS OF A CIGALIKE?
Unless the unit is disposable - disposable vapes are very wasteful and terrible for the environment, by the way - a vape pen often includes several separately sold vapour products, including a rechargeable battery, a refillable tank, replaceable coils, and possibly a removable drip tip.
A cigalike battery is typically not as powerful as the battery found in a vape pen, and the coils are normally found in the e-cigarette refills, indicating units like the SMOKO E-cigarette are made up of only two parts: the battery and pre-filled cartridge or ‘refill’.
No filling tanks, no mixing liquids, just pop the cartridge on the battery and away you go!
WHAT IS THE EXPERIENCE OF USING AN E-CIGARETTE?
To talk about the experience with each device, we must look further than just the vaping experience. The vaping experience is a personal preference, but transporting the unit, keeping and replacing spare parts, conducting maintenance, and the overall cost of these parts alongside the cost of e-liquid, are all things to consider.
Being lower powered devices, cigalikes do better with mixtures that favour PG (propylene glycol) as these are thinner and easier to heat up. Higher levels of PG increase the throat hit, so cigalikes are going to work for anyone who is looking for a decent hit on the throat when they vape. (2)
Vape pens do have a lot more variation than cigalikes, with a variety of sizes and battery power.
The higher power offered by vape pen batteries or vape box mods - some have adjustable power options - means the thicker high VG liquids will work with them, providing a smooth inhale experience.
The inhale is another facet that differs between devices. Cigalikes are used like traditional cigarettes, with a ‘mouth to lung’ inhale - this is where you take the aerosol into your mouth and then inhale to the lungs. This similarity makes the cigalike a great choice for smokers trying to quit tobacco!
Vape pens will allow for a ‘direct to lung’ inhale - inhaling from the device straight to the lungs, but be wary that doing this with high nicotine strengths, or a high PG liquid, could result in a coughing fit due to the hit on the throat.
The safety features in some vape devices allow some protection against accidentally powering up the vape pen in your pocket. While the technology is improving year on year, with features like automatic battery monitoring improving the overall safety of the product (3), this gives another advantage to the cigalike and small pod systems in that there are no buttons to press - they are activated by inhaling on the device, literally making them the safe choice.
HOW CONVENIENT IS USING AN E-CIGARETTE?
When it comes to convenience, there is really only one choice: the cigalike style device. Whether it’s an actual cigalike, or a small pod system, the key here is pre filled cartridges.
The pre filled options mean:
- No time spent (or mess from) trying to refill your e-liquid tank or mix your own liquid.
- Coils in the refill means you replace coils every time you change refills, protecting the user from degraded coils leeching heavy metal.
- Cleaning the contact where the battery meets the refill is the most maintenance required.
- Chances of leaks are almost entirely eliminated.
- Small and robust parts mean it is hard to damage unless you really try!
- Carrying a whole spare unit is easy and doesn’t take up much pocket space.
The refillable vape pen or vape mod option means:
- Spending time filling your tank with e-liquid.
- Spare coils are needed on your person in case your coil has degraded, potentially affecting the taste and leeching metal into your liquid.
- Cleaning the device inside and out is necessary as liquid can leak inside the unit from the tank, this could cause electrical issues.
- A bigger, heavier device means it hits the floor hard, increasing the potential to break if dropped. The typical shape of these devices doesn’t help this!
- Carrying spare coils, liquids and tank means you are likely to need a bag or several pockets for transporting your vape gear.
It is worth talking about disposable vapes here as they may be seen as a convenient option - however there are several factors to note. Firstly, that they are wasteful due to the lack of recycling going on - disposables are sealed units and need to be properly separated in order to recycle effectively, otherwise the plastic and valuable lithium end up in landfill. (4)
Secondly, the rise in disposable vape use has seen a massive increase in the number of disposable vapes being thrown away, which has in turn led to a huge increase in the number fires occurring in waste collection vehicles and waste management centres. This has forced waste management companies to install special detection facilities at their processing centres, costing around £250k per installation, which may well end up impacting your local council tax in the years to come. A large price to pay for the 'convenience' of a disposable vape.
WHICH IS BETTER FOR SMOKERS WHO ARE TRYING TO QUIT?
Smokers trying to quit need to keep things simple and stress free. The most appropriate suggestion to achieve this is to go with a cigalike starter kit, simply due to the ease of use, and lack of required maintenance.
While the vape pens offer a degree of customisation, this increased level of complexity comes with an increased level of required care, and the consequences of getting lazy with the maintenance range from funny e-liquid flavours, to a short circuit battery explosion!
These more powerful vape systems are going to take up more of your time overall, and this is true of the most complex systems on the market: the box mods. Another disadvantage for more powerful systems is the evidence that using higher voltages could result in more harmful chemicals being produced in the heating process. (5)
Powerful systems are good if you want to produce a lot of vapour, but other than that, the size makes it more inconvenient to carry on your person, the number of replaceable parts means carrying lots of spares, the refillable tank means you need to carry your e-liquid bottles, so on and so forth. Carrying all the consumables, as well as the device itself, makes box mods and larger pod systems less desirable to the smoker who is trying to quit.
The financial impact of these larger systems is spread across these spare coils and tanks, bottles of liquid and spare batteries, so it can be easy to think that using these systems is cheaper because the most regular purchases made will be your bottles of e-liquid, and these are relatively inexpensive - just remember, friends, that time is money!
VAPE PENS VS CIGALIKES: WHICH ONE IS RIGHT FOR YOU - CONCLUSION
I would argue that the type of device that suits you best is dependent on where you are coming from - every smoker should start vaping using a simple device like a cigalike or closed pod system because these get you vaping with the least amount of stress and messing about.
Quitting smoking is a challenging time, it doesn’t need to be made more complex with mixing liquids, filling tanks, cleaning your device and checking parts - and making sure you have plenty of spares. One missing link in the chain and your ability to vape is… *ahem*… vapourised.
*2024 Update - The largest study to-date, conducted by Cochrane, found 'high-certainty evidence' that E-Cigarettes are more effective for quitting smoking that traditional forms of nicotine replacement therapy, such as the nicotine patch or nicotine gum! (6)
So if you are an adult smoker looking to kick the habit for good, why not check out our amazing e-cigarette and vape starter kit deals!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Written by Dan Overgage
Dan Overgage – is a former smoker of 10 years until he became a client of SMOKO E-Cigarettes. Dan started working with SMOKO 5 years ago after successfully quitting using our e-cigarettes and works across our Customer Service and heads up our content creation and research with a strong focus on all things quitting smoking. During his tenure with SMOKO, Dan has written countless blogs and consults with countless clients every day to help them to stay smoke-free.