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Electronic Cigarette Glossary

Atomizer: A heated wire wrapped around a fibrous wick that converts e-liquid into vapour by heating; the vapour quickly condenses to form an aerosol.

Carbon MonoxideCarbon Monoxide (CO): A toxic gas formed during incomplete combustion, and by thermal degradation, of organic substances. It is present in smoke and measured both as a volume concentration (%) and total yield (mg/cig).

Cartomizer: Combination of a heater (atomizer) and a cartridge, which is disposable.

CORESTA: Co-operation pour les Recherché Scientifique Relatives au Tabacs; (Co-operation Centre for Scientific Research Relative to Tobacco). An open scientific body with many industry members involved in a wide range of tobacco and tobacco product issues.
[N.B. A Coresta unit is a measure of cigarette paper permeability. Coresta methods include analytical approaches to measuring cigarette smoke yields].

Exposure: Exposure to a substance means simply coming into contact. For cigarette smoking, Exposure is measured first and foremost as Human Smoker Yield. Not all of an exposure may be taken up by the body and therefore not all of an exposure becomes biologically significant (this is Dose).

E-LiquidE-liquid: E-cigarette liquid containing nicotine, flavor components and propylene glycol and/or glycerol.

Filler: Absorbent wicking material that holds the liquid in the cartridge.

Filter Analysis/Study: A method for estimating Human Smoker Yield (the amount of ‘tar-in-use’), by measuring the amount of nicotine in a used filter and extrapolating to calculate tar that has passed through it. Maximum possible intake, Uptake and Dose can be estimated for smokers.

Glycerin/GlycerolGlycerin/Glycerol: E-liquid constituent used as the excipient (carrier). Usually of vegetable origin.

Hoffmann Analytes: A list of around 44 constituents found in tobacco smoke, most of which are considered toxic. The list is named after the scientist Deitrich Hoffmann.

ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation): A world-wide federation of national bodies covering standardisation in all fields except electrical and electronic engineering standards. ISO is the world’s largest non-governmental system for voluntary industrial and technical collaboration at the international level, and co-ordinates the exchange of information on international and national standards, technical regulations and other standards-type information.

ISO Smoking Regime: The conventional machine-based method adopted internationally for measuring and ranking cigarettes by smoke yield under controlled conditions. Typical (ISO) conditions are puff volume, 35ml; puff duration, 2 seconds; puff frequency, once a minute, to a fixed length from the tipping paper or filter.

LED: Light-emitting diode at the end of e-cigarettes that glows when the device is activated.
NicotineNicotine: The major alkaloid in tobacco. Nicotine in cigarette smoke is often expressed as milligrams of nicotine per cigarette. Nicotine in tobacco leaf is often expressed as a percentage on a dry weight basis.

NFDPM: The scientific term for ‘tar’. It stands for Nicotine-Free, Dry Particulate Matter or TPM (Total Particulate Matter) minus nicotine and minus water (formerly known as PMWNF).

Propylene Glycol (PG)Propylene Glycol (PG): E-liquid constituent used as the excipient (carrier).

Puff Duration: The interval of time during which suction is applied at the butt end of a cigarette during the smoking process.

Puff Frequency: The number of puffs in a given time.

Puff Interval: The time between puffs.

Puff Number: The number of puffs recorded, on a smoking machine, smoking a cigarette to a specified butt length.

Puff ProfilePuff Profile: A graphical representation of flow rate through the cigarette during the puff as a function of time. It describes the shape of the puff taken either by a smoking machine or the human smoker.

Puff Volume: The volume leaving the butt end of a cigarette during the puff duration.

Tar: This term has been variously used to mean NFDPM.
Tar-in-use: An estimate of the amount of smoke taken into the mouth by a smoker.

Toxic MaterialToxicant: A substance (e.g. from tobacco or its smoke) that is harmful to the body – it may be poisonous or may cause cancer or other diseases.

Toxin: A poisonous substance produced by living cells or organisms. (N.B. should not be used in the context of tobacco or tobacco smoke).

TSNA’s: Tobacco Specific Nitrosamines, constituents found in tobacco smoke and included on the Hoffman list.

Wick: Porous or fibrous material for transfer of liquid from the storage reservoir to the heater coil.

Three smoking regimes are currently in use for regulatory reporting purposes for conventional tobacco cigarettes. (The table lists the parameters for ISO, Massachusetts and Health Canadian Intense (HCI) machine smoking regimes).

Glossary Regime Chart

The ISO regime (ISO4387) is widely used in the European Union; the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the State of Texas mandate use of a more intense method; whereas the Canadian Federal government requires smoke yield testing to be conducted using both ISO4387 and a “maximum emission” testing protocol (with 100% ventilation blocking) intended to “provide data that reflects the emissions that are actually available to the consumer” often referred to as Health Canada intense (HCI).