Are E-Cigarettes and Vape Pens The Same?

By Eina Panayotova

man using a vape


For those who have recently switched from smoking to vaping , the different terms used for devices that look similar can be confusing. This leads to the obvious question: are e-cigarettes and vape pens the same?

The simple answer is no, but the terms are often used interchangeably. Simply put, e-cigarette is the umbrella term given to all vape devices. Beneath this umbrella, vape pens are simply a type of e-cigarette.

Remember, the best decision any smoker can make is to quit tobacco and nicotine use entirely, but for those choosing to vape, we’ll explore the key terminology of the devices in our simple guide.

What are E-Cigarettes?

E-cigarettes are devices that vaporise e-liquids, meaning that most vapes can be considered e-cigarettes, regardless of model or style. E-cigarettes are electronic hand-held devices that heat e-juice to produce a vapour which is inhaled by the user through a mouthpiece.

Because of the use of ‘cigarette’ in its name, recent switchers to vaping may think ‘e-cigarette’ only refers to cigalikes or vapes that have been designed to look like cigarettes. Just as with vape pens, a cigalike is simply one type of vape that exists under the wider e-cigarette category.

What are Vape Pens?

Vape pens are a type of e-cigarette that are normally cylindrical in shape, resembling a pen. They are usually long, slim models that often have a tank system. In some cases, pod vapes may be referred to as vape pens if they have a similarly slim design, though more often than not, these types of devices are referred to as pod mods.

Are There Any Differences Between Vape Pens and E-Cigs?

When it comes to different types of vaping devices, lots of different terms are used to describe the different models. See the table below for an illustration of how this all breaks down:

Description of vape Device name
All vape devices Vapes, vaporizers, e-cigarettes
Compact vapes that resemble pens, usually with a tank system Vape pens
Compact vapes that use snap-in pods Pod mods, pod vapes ( colloquially referred to as vape pens)
Very compact vapes that resemble cigarettes Cigalikes
Large vapes with box-like body units Box mods


So, while using the term ‘e-cigarette’ to refer to a ‘vape pen’ is not incorrect, there’s a lack of convention when it comes to vape terminology.

Regardless of what term is used by which brand, check the composition of your device alongside the descriptions provided above to verify what type of vape you use. Even two devices that are classified as the same type of device can perform differently, depending on the brand.

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