I Want To Be A Vaper Not A Smoker: A Bit-By-Bit Guide
The difference between quitting smoking and making the switch to vaping is that you don’t need to make a decision: the finality that smokers usually feel is avoided; there doesn’t need to be the final cigarette; there doesn’t have to be the ceremonial cigarette packet stomping; there is absolutely no pressure, and more than that, no fear.
Just by being here you are well on the way to saying ‘I’m a vaper not a smoker’, congratulations.
Phew…now that you have taken the first step on your journey to make the switch we can start to look at some handy tips to help.
Making the switch from cigarettes to vaping
We have 10 years’ experience in the vaping industry and we have dedicated that time to building up a base of the very best products to help smokers switch to e-cigs. We have a section of recommended starter kits that are easy to use, designed for new vapers and come with everything you need to start vaping straight away.
Before we talk about choosing your e-cig there are a few things that every new vaper needs to know:
- There is an ideal e-cigarette for pretty much everyone – But it might not be the first one you try, or the one that you thought you wanted before you tried it. Not all smokers use the same brand of cigarettes, and this analogy carries over to e-cigs. Not all e-cigs are suited to all vapers, so if you have tried vaping before and it didn’t work, don’t give up. Try again, look at our recommended starter kits and if you are stuck that’s why we are here. Jump on our live chat, pop into a store, call us. We have trained staff who are more than willing to help you make the ideal choice.
- You will probably cough at first – This is normal. The sensation of vaping is different to smoking. Most smokers will cough the first time they try vaping, this is usually down to inhaling like a smoker not a vaper (which we will cover in more detail later). Vapour also feels ‘thicker’ than smoke as you inhale, and this can cause a cough from the change in sensation. This is temporary, and will pass within a few days of starting vaping.
- You might get a dry mouth – Not only a dry mouth, but a dry nose and throat. This is also normal. There are four main ingredients in e-liquid (three if your vape liquid is nicotine free). Some of these ingredients are hygroscopic; this essentially means that they draw water to them, away from you! The more familiar you become with vaping the less noticeable this is. Simply drink the occasional extra glass of water when you start vaping.
- There might be false starts – You are attempting to change a habit that you may have had for years. Some people will pick up an e-cig and never touch a cigarette again, others will slowly cut down over time. The idea is, if you have one cig in the morning or ten through the day, don’t beat yourself up over it. Again, we are not here to judge. If you are craving smoking it might be that something needs adjusting; your e-liquid strength for example. Talk to us.
- Vape like a vaper not a smoker – The first mistake people usually make is attempting to vape like a smoker. When you puff harder on a cigarette you get more smoke; this does not work when vaping. There is nothing already lit and burning, so your e-cig needs time to produce vapour. You have to vape like a vaper. Longer, slow and steady puffs make a world of difference.
- You may get frustrated – Smokers get their nicotine hit almost instantly; cigarettes have been tweaked over many years to ensure this happens. The nicotine hit from vaping takes slightly longer, but on the flip side the satisfied feeling lasts longer. If you have had a vape and still feel that familiar craving, just wait a few minutes. It is difficult to not be frustrated, but you will be surprised how quickly your body adapts to this difference.
- You can vape too much – Unlike a cigarette you can keep your e-cig with you all the time, happily taking a draw whenever you feel you need it. You can vape too much, just like you can smoke a cigarette too many, especially if you are on a higher nicotine strength. If this happens you might get some mild side effects similar to smoking too much, and that pass just as quickly: typically a headache, mild nausea, or dizziness. Stop vaping and wait for these to pass. If this happens every time you vape, the chances are your nicotine strength is too high. We will cover that in more detail later.
How do I choose my first e-cig?
Let’s once more be very clear, vaping and smoking are not the same.
It is easy to light up a cigarette; vaping takes longer. Electronic cigarettes require some light upkeep, such as charging the battery, changing parts when they need replacing and topping up with e-liquid when you are running low. It is easy to slip back into the mind set “It would be easier to nip the shop and get a packet of fags”.
The way to combat this is to balance satisfaction against ease of use. You need to choose an e-cig that you can easily maintain, an e-liquid that you love the taste of, and to make sure that you actually enjoy vaping.
As previously mentioned there is no single perfect e-cig for everyone. Every vaper searches for something different from their vaping experience. Some people feel more satisfied when they are exhaling a cloud of vapour, some care more about tasting a nice flavour, others want vaping to feel as close to smoking as possible.
You won’t know what type of vaper you are when you first start out, and this is where the experimentation and patience come in. If you buy an e-cig and it doesn’t feel right, or doesn’t work as well as you expected talk to us, the chances are you don’t need a new e-cig, you might just need to change e-liquid or alter the way you are inhaling.
Start with the recommended starter kits. These are all tailored to new vapers, each one has a strength that plays to what different types of vapers need and come supplied with everything you need to start vaping. Many vapers find they never need to “progress” from their first e-cig.
How do I know what e-liquid to choose?
There are two choices you need to make, what nicotine strength and what flavour.
Let’s talk about nicotine strength. How many cigarettes do you smoke a day?
1 – 5 a day – Suggested nicotine strength: 0.6% (6mg/ml)
5 – 15 a day – Suggested nicotine strength: 1.0% (10mg/ml)
15 - 20 a day – Suggested nicotine strength: 1.4% (14mg/ml)
20+ a day – Suggested nicotine strength: 1.8% (18mg/ml)
Generally the fewer cigarettes you smoke, the lower your nicotine strength needs to be. The above guide is a really good starting point and you should refer to this when choosing your first e-liquid.
This is most definitely not set in stone: you might vape 5 a day but need a 1.8% e-liquid to satisfy your cravings, you might smoke 20 a day and need a 0.6%, you have to try and see what suits you best.
If you are vaping a certain strength and are still feeling the need to smoke, you may need to increase your nicotine strength. If you feel you are getting too much nicotine reduce the strength slightly. Importantly, remember that it is the tar and carbon monoxide in cigarettes that are deadly, not the nicotine. There is no huge health benefit or virtue in trying to use the lowest nicotine strength that you can get away with.
Choosing an e-liquid flavour is slightly more complicated, but is also one of the more enjoyable parts of vaping as there is so much choice.
The taste of e-liquid is so subjective that it can be tough to recommend the ideal flavour, what one person loves another cannot stomach.
Most new vapers will start off with a tobacco or menthol flavour as they are familiar and can make the switch from cigarettes to vaping slightly easier. Once you are accustomed to vaping you can start to experiment with the hundreds of flavours available.
A good rule to follow when you are first starting out is to take it slow. Give your body time to adjust to the e-liquid you have chosen. Don’t buy 30 bottles of one strength and flavour until you are completely comfortable that you can vape it all day and that you have pinned down the best strength for you.
Avoiding smoking triggers
Ask yourself this question: Why do you want to be a vaper and not a smoker?
Is it for health reasons, finances, fed up of standing in the rain to light up, don’t want to smell like an ashtray? Write down all the reasons you want to make the switch, and if you ever crave a cigarette reach for your e-cig and then look back at that list.
It can help if you identify your craving triggers. Is it when you wake up and have your first coffee? After eating? When you are driving? Once you have identified when you are most likely to want to smoke you can start to head the cravings off before they start.
Make sure you won’t run out of e-liquid, your battery is charged and you have your e-cig with you. If you are craving simply reach for your e-cig instead.
As ex-smokers we have to battle against ‘euphoric recall’ and for some this never goes away. It’s the warm fuzzy feeling when you think back to that first cig of the day, but it is a false memory, because we know smoking is bad for us. We are addicted to the habit.
How can you avoid these ‘triggers’? E-cigs cover a bigger proportion of them than anything else known of.
Electronic cigarettes seem to help people avoid cravings as they address so many of a smoker’s habits, behaviours and sensations:
- Hand to mouth action – The movement of vaping is the same as smoking. You lift something to your lips and back again. This hand to mouth action is a habit that can be hard to break and ex-smokers can struggle to keep their hands busy.
- The sensation of inhaling – Smokers inhale smoke from a cigarette, vapers inhale vapour from an e-cig. This action is not missed as it doesn’t go away, you are inhaling something that feels similar to smoking.
- The release of exhaling – Exhaling that plume of smoke and feeling the release that comes with it is something smokers who go cold turkey struggle with. Vaping gives you a cloud of vapour and the feeling of exhaling.
- Nicotine delivery – Vaping is a cleaner alternative to get the nicotine your body is craving. As discussed earlier the nicotine delivery is slightly slower than a regular cigarette but the satiated feeling lasts longer.
- Throat hit – This is difficult to describe to a non-smoker, but as a smoker you will probably understand. Vaping gives you a sensory response in the throat like the one you are used to from a cigarette. That warmth / tingling / tightness that you feel in your throat and chest as you inhale.
I’m a vaper, what now?
Don’t put any pressure on yourself to stop smoking: if you do fantastic; if you continue to vape and reduce your smoking, even just a little, that is also good.
Don’t rush to lower your nicotine strength. If you are happy with 1.8% e-liquid, if this satisfies your cravings, then you do not need to reduce your nicotine strength.
Realise that there is nothing wrong with quitting vaping. If you have a goal of being smoking and vaping free, then aim towards that, and we are here to help you on that journey.
Other than this, inform yourself, stock up, and enjoy it.
If you need any further help or advice contact us. We have trained, friendly staff on our Live chat, over the phone, via email or on our social media.
Let’s debunk some vaping myths
Before we leave you, we felt it was important to debunk some of the seemingly perpetual vaping myths. These are long standing ‘facts’ that are compounded by the media when they are having a “slow news” day.
E-cigarettes are harmful -
There are many studies disproving this negative claim. In the first long term health study of a group of vapers that had never smoked, conducted over a period of three and a half years, Professor Riccardo Polosa of the University of Catania and his research group concluded in 2017 that rather than just being far safer than smoking, long-term vapers who had never smoked were identical in respiratory health to those who neither smoked nor vaped.
Need a little more evidence that vaping isn’t harmful? Public Health England and the Royal College of Physicians state that e-cigarettes are at least 95% less harmful than tobacco and in 2017 electronic cigarettes were recommended during the UK government’s ‘Stoptober’ campaign as a legitimate quitting aid.
Second hand vapour is harmful - While we all know that second hand smoking is harmful, this is often incorrectly applied to vaping as well. Surprisingly Lorillard Tobacco Company published a study to reveal that passive vaping isn’t harmful. The 2014 study compared the levels of carcinogens in second hand vape to second hand smoke. It concluded that second hand vapour contains the same level of carcinogens as the ambient air that everyone breathes.
E-liquid gives you ‘popcorn lung disease’ – Diacetyl is a food additive that is responsible for a buttery / creamy flavour in food, wines and beer. As a food additive the diacetyl goes into your stomach rather than your lungs, and it is not harmful. When a large amount of diacetyl is inhaled over a long time period it is believed to cause a serious lung condition called bronchiolitis obliterans.
The name ‘popcorn lung disease’ came to the forefront because back in 2002, occupational health scientists in the USA conducted studies at six microwave popcorn plants to determine if diacetyl exposure had contributed to unusually high cases of severe obstructive lung disease amongst the factory workers. It appeared that it had.
As sweet, dessert flavours became more popular with vapers, some companies started to use diacetyl as an ingredient in their e-liquids to make them taste creamy. Diacetyl has been deemed unsuitable for inhalation, and is listed among substances that should not be present in e-liquids in MHRA guidance.
Our e-liquids don’t contain Diacetyl, as we know we can achieve great flavour without this as an additive.
Vaping is more addictive than smoking - There is evidence to suggest that e-cigarettes are far less addictive than regular cigarettes. A study by Jean-François Etter in 2015 showed e-cigarettes to be similarly or less addictive than nicotine gum, both being far less addictive than traditional cigarettes.