Common Terms in the E-Cigarette Industry

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The e-cigarette industry is growing rapidly and a lot of jargon has emerged. Understanding these terms is critical for e-cigarette users, manufacturers and importers.

Common E-Cigarette Industry Terms

E-cigarette: A handheld electronic device that simulates the experience of smoking.

VAPE: Derived from the acronym “Vapor” or “Vaporise”. It is a catch-all term for e-cigarettes, emphasising the key differences from combustible cigarettes. Oxford Dictionaries chose it as the “Word of the Year” in 2014.

Vaping: the act of using e-cigarettes

Vaper: a term used to describe individuals who use e-cigarettes.

HNB: HNB heats tobacco to a specific temperature to produce an aerosol.

F-hookah: an electronic version of a traditional hookah that vaporises e-liquid without tobacco.

ENDS: Nicotine Delivery System, a device that delivers nicotine via vapour for inhalation by the user.

Cigalike: These are first-generation e-cigarettes designed to mimic the look and feel of traditional cigarettes. Cigarette imitations, the first generation of electronic cigarettes, are designed to mimic the look and feel of traditional cigarettes.

Vape Pen: A cylindrical e-cigarette that resembles a pen. It usually consists of a battery and a tank that holds the e-liquid.

Pod System/Pod Mod: Usually resembles a USB stick and uses a replaceable or refillable pod instead of a traditional tank.

Mod/Box Mod: an advanced e-cigarette module shaped like a box. It needs to be used with a matching tank and usually has more features and longer battery life.

E-liquid/e-juice: the liquid used in vapour products, usually consisting of nicotine, flavourings, propylene glycol (PG) and vegetable glycerine (VG).

Atomiser: part of an e-cigarette fitted with a coil that heats the e-liquid and converts it into vapour. It is usually screwed to the battery.

Cartridge Atomiser: A combination of atomiser and cartridge, which can be discarded immediately after the oil is used up.

Clearomizer: A transparent version of an atomiser that allows the user to see how much e-liquid is in the device.

Sub-Ohm E-Cigarette: an electronic cigarette that uses a device with a coil resistance of less than 1 ohm. Sub-ohm e-cigarettes produce more vapour and usually have a stronger flavour.

Nicotine Salt: a type of nicotine similar to that found in tobacco. Provides a smoother hit at higher concentrations of nicotine.

Nicotine concentration: The amount of nicotine in an e-liquid, measured in milligrams per millilitre (mg/ml).

Vegetable Glycerin (VG): a viscous sweetened liquid that produces large amounts of vapour. Usually used in a higher percentage of e-liquids in sub-smoke e-cigarettes.

Propylene Glycol (PG): a thinner liquid than VG, it has a better flavour and provides a throat hit like smoking.

Coil: A metal wire that is coiled and heated to vaporise e-liquid. It is usually made of Contair, nickel, stainless steel or titanium.

Core-absorbing material: the part that absorbs the e-liquid and transports it to the coil for vapourisation.

Common types of core-wicking materials are cotton wicks, mesh wicks, ceramic atomiser wicks, and so on

Drip Tip: the part of the e-cigarette that the user places their mouth on to inhale the vapour. They come in all shapes and sizes and can be made of different materials.

RBA: An atomiser that allows users to make their own coils and wicks offer more customisation and better performance.

RBA: RBA is a tank for e-liquid storage. Combines the convenience of a tank with the ability to custom-build your own coils.

RDA: an RBA designed to drip e-liquid onto the coil instead of using a tank.

Squonk Mod: A cartridge module that includes a built-in squeeze bottle. A compatible RDA can receive e-liquid for tank-like capacity with the flavour benefits of a drip tip.

Cloud chasing: the act of exhaling a large cloud of vapour. This is usually competitive and requires a specific type of device and e-liquid.

Mouth to Lung (MTL): an e-cigarette that mimics traditional cigarette smoking. The vapour is first inhaled into the mouth and then into the lungs.

Direct-to-Lung (DTL): a type of e-cigarette that inhales vapour into the lungs. Usually associated with larger devices and lower nicotine concentrations.

MTN (Mouth to Nose): An electronic cigarette technology. Inhale the vapour into your mouth and throat, then exhale through your nose

Ohm: A measure of electrical resistance. A lower ohm reading on a coil means more current will flow, producing more heat and more vapour.

Wattage: this refers to the power output of the e-cigarette battery. Higher wattage means more power to the coil, which usually produces more vapour and flavour.

Dry burning: When the wick in the coil does not have sufficient e-liquid, it produces a burning odour when inhaled.

Maceration: The process of blending and maturing flavours, usually resulting in stronger or smoother flavours.

The throat hit: the sensation at the back of the throat when inhaling the vapour. Especially noticeable in e-liquids with high nicotine or PG content.

Variable power/voltage: a feature of the Advanced Atomiser. Allows the user to customise the atomising experience by controlling the amount of power going into the coil.

Straight-through e-cigarette: the ability to use an e-cigarette device while charging.

Resistance Wire: the type of wire used in e-cigarette coils. Different materials affect resistance levels and suit different types of e-cigarettes.

TC (Temperature Control): a feature of advanced e-cigarette devices allows. Users to set and maintain a specific coil temperature. Improves the e-cigarette experience by enhancing flavour and preventing wick burning.

18650/18350/18490/18500/20700/21700/26650: These numbers indicate the size of the cylindrical lithium-ion batteries used in e-cigarette devices. The first two numbers indicate the diameter, the middle two numbers indicate the length, and 0 indicates the shape.

PCBA (Printed Circuit Board Assembly): The component in an e-cigarette device that houses the electronic circuitry required for its operation.

Freebase nicotine: nicotine is present in e-cigarette liquids in a free form.

TFN (Tobacco Free Nicotine): Synthetic nicotine not derived from the tobacco plant, used in some e-liquids.

Novice: a term used to describe someone new to e-cigarettes.

Reviewer: an individual who reviews and provides opinions on e-cigarette products through various media platforms.

NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy): a method of quitting smoking. Includes replacing cigarettes with nicotine substitutes such as patches, gum, and sprays (including e-cigarettes).


As the e-cigarette industry continues to evolve, so does its terminology. Some terms may disappear and new terms will emerge, but the importance of clear communication remains the same. Understanding these terms is critical to clarity and progress, both within the industry and in public health discussions. The language of e-cigarettes doesn’t apply to insiders; it also applies to the e-cigarette industry. It is the bridge to a deeper understanding for everyone exposed to the e-cigarette phenomenon.

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