Living and Wellness How Does an e-Cigarette Work? By UPMC, April 2, 2015 Have you ever seen someone smoking an electronic cigarette (or e-cigarette) in public and wondered how it works? Keep in mind that while it may not be a traditional cigarette, an e-cigarette is still a form of tobacco. An e-cigarette is battery-powered and is either disposable or rechargeable. There is an airflow sensor that detects when you suck in air from the mouthpiece. Once the air is sucked into the device, the sensor alerts the microprocessor to start the heating element that turns the nicotine solution into vapor. E-cigarettes often have an LED light at the end that glows when you inhale. 3 Main Parts of an E-cigarette The mouthpiece has a cartridge where nicotine solution is stored. When you inhale, there is a heating element that turns the nicotine solution into a vapor. The battery in the e-cigarette powers the heating element. To learn more about e-cigarettes, visit UPMC Health Library and search for “e-cigarettes”. Now that you understand how an e-cigarette works, you can also read more about the dangers of e-cigarettes and how e-cigarettes affect the heart. If you are interested in learning more about how to quit smoking, check out our Journey to a Smoke Free Life booklet online. You can also enroll in a Smoking Cessation program at many of our UPMC facilities.