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The disposable electronic cigarette: an in-depth analysis

Disposable electronic cigarettes, also known as “disposable vapes”, are gaining a place of honor in the vaping scene due to their practicality and immediacy. They require no charging or maintenance, offering a quick and easy vaping experience.  

Instead of smoke, the user inhales steam. Therefore, the use of an electronic cigarette is often called “vaping”. 

But what really lies behind these pocket “puffs”? We explore in detail the components, functioning and different types of disposable electronic cigarettes, examining their technical peculiarities and nuances. 

Anatomy of a disposable electronic cigarette:

  • Battery: Provides the energy needed to vaporize the liquid. The capacity, expressed in milliampere hours (mAh), varies according to the model, influencing the autonomy in terms of number of shots. Larger batteries allow for longer vaping sessions. 
  • Tank: Keeper of the precious e-liquid, ready to be transformed into vapor. The capacity, measured in milliliters (ml), determines the quantity of liquid available and therefore the life of the cigarette. A large tank allows you to vape for a longer period without having to resort to frequent refills. 
  • Atomizer: The actual “engine” of the electronic cigarette, where the magic of vaporization takes place. Inside there is the resistance, a heating element made of different materials (Kanthal, nichrome, stainless steel) and with different resistance values (ohms), which impact the aromatic yield and the quantity of steam produced. The atomizer can be integrated or replaceable, depending on the cigarette model. 
  • Wick: An often overlooked but essential element, the wick is the conduit that conducts the liquid to the resistance. Made of cotton or mesh, it absorbs liquid and releases it gradually, ensuring uniform delivery and optimal flavor. The choice of material and its structure influence the aromatic yield and life of the wick. 
  • Drip tip: The point of contact between the lips and the cigarette, the drip tip can be made of different materials (plastic, metal, resin) and have different shapes and sizes. Its ergonomics influence the vaping sensation and comfort during use. 

How it works: A journey from liquid to vapor:

Activation: The vaping process begins with drawing from the drip tip. Depending on the model, activation can be automatic (via shooting sensor) or manual (via button). 

Heating: The battery supplies energy to the resistance, which heats up and vaporizes the liquid present in the wick. 

Vapor: The vapor produced is inhaled and the vaping experience is completed. The amount of vapor, temperature and density depend on several factors, including the battery power, the resistance value and the type of liquid used. 

Types of disposable electronic cigarettes:

Pre-loaded: The most immediate and intuitive choice. They offer a variety of flavors and nicotine levels, with built-in e-liquid and battery. They are ready to use and do not require any configuration. 

Rechargeable: A more versatile and long-lasting solution. They allow you to recharge the battery via USB, prolonging the life of the device. Some also offer the possibility of refilling the tank with your favorite e-liquid, expanding the customization possibilities. 

EU regulation on disposable e-cigarettes:


    • Tobacco Products Directive (TPD): The TPD regulates the production, sale and use of e-cigarettes and e-cigarette liquids in all EU member states. 
    • Nicotine Limits: The TPD limits the concentration of nicotine in e-cigarette liquids to 20 mg/ml.
    • Tank Capacity: The TPD limits the tank capacity of e-cigarettes to 2ml. 
    • Ban on flavors: The TPD prohibits the use of characterizing flavors (e.g., caramel, menthol) in e-cigarette liquids, with the exception of tobacco.
    • Labeling and Warnings: Disposable e-cigarettes must be labeled with product information, health risk warnings, and instructions fo.
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