Electronic Cigarette Industry Trade Association

Tel : 01639 710 558

Email : support@ecita.org.uk

You are here

ECITA ISE: Annex III Information about the Diversity of Electronic Cigarettes

22 : Annex III Information about the Diversity of Electronic Cigarette Products

Monday, November 10, 2014

Diversity: from the mass-produced to artisan, hand-crafted designs

What does an electronic cigarette look like?

Most people have now heard of electronic cigarettes, and many have seen them. However, many believe that electronic cigarettes look like tobacco cigarettes and are unaware that there is a vast range of electronic cigarette products on the market today which bear little to no resemblance to traditional tobacco cigarettes at all.

There are those that look like tobacco cigarettes, although even these come in quite a few variations:

But there are also:

‘Pen-style’ electronic cigarettes

Electronic cigars

Electronic pipes

It is clear from the above images that electronic cigarettes, cigars and pipes come in a considerable variety of ‘ready-assembled’ kits, as well as some interesting artisanal variations on the theme. However, this is to barely scratch the surface of what the millions of ‘vapers’ all over the world are actually using on a daily basis. In reality, the choices of each of the various components are almost limitless, as we can see from the following.

Drip Tips

‘Drip tips’ can be used with most types of atomiser, cartomiser, clearomiser or tank system to replace the section which goes into the mouth. As clearly demonstrated below, these can be mass produced in interesting varieties, or crafted into works of art, allowing the consumer to tailor their electronic cigarette to suit their own personal taste:


The basic atomiser is quite out-dated now, since the technology has moved on in leaps and bounds. A cartridge, comprising some kind of fibrous material filled with nicotine eliquid, would be pressed onto the atomiser which, when heated, would produce the vapour. However, as part of this technological advance, we have seen the introduction of rebuildable atomisers, which have a small but dedicated following in the market:

Rebuildable atomisers:

In reality, rebuildable atomisers are simply too ‘geeky’ to appeal to most smokers – at least to begin with. Initially, smokers are usually looking for a replacement product which is as much like a tobacco cigarette as possible. Fortunately, with the introduction of cartomisers in 2010, most of the ‘cig-a-like’ products switched from atomisers to cartomisers, dramatically improving their performance in most cases. With a cartomiser, the cartridge of eliquid is combined with the atomiser. The vast majority of these can be refilled with eliquid, minimising the environmental impact, as well as keeping costs down for consumers.


There are still considerable drawbacks with cartomisers, however, once the smoker has completely switched to vaping full time. Simply put, the amount of eliquid held in each cartomiser is not enough to last all day (if you are a heavy user), and the constant ‘topping up’, even with a drip tip (see above), becomes quite annoying. After a while, most vapers will want to move onwards and upwards. Some smokers who make the switch, however, are entirely happy with continuing to use cartomisers, and sticking with a ‘cig-a-like’ device, replacing the cartridges as they run dry. It’s all about personal choice: what works for some will not necessarily work for others.


Clearomisers were introduced in late 2010, but really became popular in 2011 onwards. The performance is considerably better than with a cartomiser, plus the tank capacity allows for more eliquid to be carried in the device for use over more hours before requiring a top-up.

Tank atomisers

In early 2012, we saw the introduction of tank atomisers – again, tackling that problem of having to top-up irritatingly frequently. Early models were not particularly sophisticated, but it was a further improvement in performance, compared with the earlier cartomiser models. Of course, as time has gone on, more and more different designs have been produced, so that today, we have a dazzling array of ‘off-the-shelf’ and ‘bespoke’ tank atomisers to choose from. The vast majority of these are of standard fittings, so will either fit directly onto the chosen battery, or can be made to do so by use of an adaptor sleeve.

Battery adaptor sleeves

Of course, as the atomiser/cartomiser technology has advanced, so too, we have seen considerable advances in the battery technology. This is another area where there is a huge amount of design innovation, alongside ever better performance.


Nearly all the electronic cigarette batteries are rechargeable, and thanks to good batteries regulations, there need be no undue concerns about battery safety, providing the regulations are complied with. Rechargeable batteries are obviously preferable to disposable ones, to minimise the impact on the environment. Naturally, since there are so many different types of batteries, there is also quite a range of battery chargers, including 12v ‘in car’ chargers. It is hugely important that consumers use the charger supplied with the battery, to avoid malfunction and the possibility of injury.

Battery chargers

There are also personal charging cases (PCCs). These were introduced in 2010 for the basic cig-a-like models, and allowed the vaper to charge an ecig battery while out and about. By 2011, we had bigger PCCs, which allowed vapers to charge the larger batteries ‘on the move’.

Personal charging cases (PCCs)

Of course, over the years, many innovative craftsmen and artists have taken the basic principles, and allowed their imagination to run riot. Today, it seems that pretty much anything is possible, with new, intriguing designs coming onto the market regularly. Most of the ‘mods’ (modified electronic cigarette) can be used with a wide range of the available atomisers, cartomisers, clearomisers and/or tank systems, customised to suit the consumer’s taste by choice of drip tip, and many are engraved or designed specifically to order. Many of the ‘artisan’ products are hand-crafted, rather than being mass produced.


But, of course, the most important component for smokers and vapers alike is the eliquid – the flavoured solution used to top up the electronic cigarette. Eliquids are available with and without nicotine, in a huge range of flavours, strengths, and with a variety of different base excipients. The ‘cig-a-like’ products tend to be supplied pre-filled with liquid (although these can be refilled), but the tank systems and more advanced systems are filled by the consumer from eliquid bottles. There are robust regulations in place concerning the packaging and labelling of eliquid, as well as requirements for testing to ensure that stated nicotine contents are correct, and that there is no contamination.


There is also a growing market in DIY eliquid mixing, with kits being supplied to consumers, together with instructions on how to develop the perfect blend of flavours for their taste. It is important to note that the nicotine solution for DIY mixing is only supplied at the concentration allowed by the regulations. Currently this varies from country to country. In the UK, retail sales are allowed up to 7.5% concentration. Providing the packaging and labelling are as they should be, this need not be a cause for concern, and affords consumers wishing to dabble in DIY the opportunity to experiment with various levels of diluents (PG and VG) and flavourings. The online calculators and mixing guides can help people to create their own blends, at a fraction of the cost of ready-made eliquid. There is also a great deal of advice and help available from the various online forums, including mixology threads on each one. Most reputable vendors will supply DIY mixing products with advice on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) required, such as gloves.

DIY Mixing Supplies: