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Electronic Cigarettes

At least superficially, pulling on an E-Lite is like puffing on an actual cigarette -- you put it in your mouth and pull a warm, smoke-like cloud into your mouth, suck down into your lungs, and exhale. But make no mistake -- this is not a cigarette. It's primarily a number of small things that are just a little bit off which, while I hesitate to say ruin the experience, serve as a constant reminder that you're not taking a drag of dried tobacco wrapped in paper. First off, the electronic cigarette is heavy. Not that it's difficult to lift but, at around 0.62 ounces, a battery and E-Tip together weigh as much as 17 king-size filters. It also doesn't help that the weight is entirely front loaded thanks to the sizable battery, which requires you to hold an E-Lite either farther up or much firmer than you would an actual cigarette.

Then there's the size. At 0.37-inches wide and 4.2-inches long they're significantly larger than their cancer-causing forbearers, which measure 0.3 x 3.25-inches. Even 100s come in under 4-inches in length. Another frustrating design quirk is the location of the air intake. The tiny vent that pulls air into the atomizer chamber is on the seal between the "filter" and the "tobacco" portions of the E-Lite, right where most smokers grip a cigarette. I frequently found myself getting a mouth full of nothing as I plugged up the hole with my digits.

The draw on the E200 is lighter than your average full-flavor cigarette -- after all, vapor doesn't have the same weight as smoldering plant matter. But it's not unpleasant either. In fact, compared to other electronic "tobacco alternatives," it's got a enjoyable heft and satisfying mouth feel. Many cheaper, disposable options feel more like you're taking a deep breath on a foggy day and have a distinctly misty taste, but E-Lites are reasonably faithful to the experience of inhaling cigarette smoke. At the same time, unlike those burning leaves, the vapor produced is pleasantly odorless.

Unfortunately, they fall flat in the flavor department. Non-smokers often don't realize that we actually enjoy the taste of cigarettes (they're kinda delicious). However, E-Lites taste like tobacco in the same way grape soda tastes like grapes -- it's a an obviously artificial facsimile. That's not to say the flavor can't be enjoyed, and at least some of the disparity can be attributed to regional differences since our London-based pal Sharif Sakr found the taste to be reasonably accurate. A few other US testers found the full-flavor to be overly harsh and extremely synthetic tasting and every one was able to agree that the menthol E-Tips were syrupy and tasted more like spearmint than menthol. Ultimately the gold or light tips provided the most pleasurable experience.

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