I Want To Be A Vaper Not A Smoker: A Simple 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.
You are embarking on a journey to go ‘smokefree’. It might take you a day, it might take longer, but you can make the switch completely. We are not here to judge, we are here to help you on your way to becoming a vaper.
It may be difficult, make no bones about it, nothing worth having is easy. There will be challenges and obstacles to overcome, but the experience of hundreds of thousands of people tells us that it can be done. This guide will help you make the switch from traditional cigarettes to vaping.
Totally Wicked has 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 to switch to e-cigs. All Totally Wicked outlets have a selection 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 choosing your e-cig there are a few things that every new vaper needs to know;
1. 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 with a different e-cigarette starter kit, and if you are stuck, many Stop Smoking services now have “vape friendly” counsellors that are well versed in helping people to quit smoking using an e-cigarette. Call them and make an appointment. Totally Wicked is also here to help. Pop into a Totally Wicked store, call us, or visit our website where “live chat” is available if you need it. We have trained staff who will be happy to help you make your choice.
2. 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.
3. 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 e-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.
4. 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. If you are craving a cigarette it might be that something needs adjusting; your e-liquid strength for example.
5. 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.
6. 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 you adapt to this difference.
7. 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. This is covered in more detail later.
Let’s 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, 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.
If you need help or advice, speak to a “vape friendly” smoking cessation counsellor or pop into a Totally Wicked store. Alternatively you can contact us via phone, email, or live chat on the Totally Wicked website.
New vapers can choose from a range of starter kits, each has different features that play to an individual vaper’s needs. They all come with everything that you need to start vaping, and many vapers find they never need to “progress” from their first e-cig.
There are two choices you need to make, what nicotine strength and what flavour.
Nicotine strength can be guided by the number of cigarettes 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 the nicotine strength you will need. The guide opposite 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 the nicotine strength you use. 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 stand.
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.
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 of lighting a cigarette.
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.
This is a step on a journey...
Don’t let the pressure to stop smoking entirely set you up to fail: if you manage it quickly, fantastic; if you continue to vape and reduce your smoking, keep going! You really are best to stop smoking entirely.
Don’t lower your nicotine strength until you are sure you are ready. If 1.8% e-liquid satisfies your cravings, stay with it for as long as you need.
If you have a goal of being smoking and vaping free, then aim towards that. Smoking Cessation counsellors and Totally Wicked stores will help you on that journey.
Other than this, inform yourself, and enjoy vaping.
If you need any further help or advice Totally Wicked has trained, friendly staff in store, on the phone, via email or on the website’s live chat area.
Before we leave you, we felt it was important to debunk some of the seemingly perpetual vaping myths. These are long standing claims that are wheeled out by the media when they are having a ‘slow news’ day.
E-cigarettes are as Harmful as Smoking
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 is less harmful than smoking? 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’
This is a really popular myth, and through sensationalist media coverage seems to have become ingrained in the minds of many. It has absolutely no foundation in truth, as Martin Dockrell, Tobacco Control Lead at Public Health England elucidates:
“One of the most commonly held safety concerns is that e-cigarettes might cause ‘popcorn lung’. UK vapers have nothing to fear on that count. The concern came about because some flavourings used in e-liquids contain a chemical called diacetyl, and that high level exposure has been associated with ‘popcorn lung’. However, diacetyl is banned from e-cigarettes and e-liquid in the UK. It has been detected in some flavourings in the past, but at hundreds of times lower levels than observed in cigarettes smoke. Given that even at these levels, smoking is not a major risk factor for this rare disease, the diacetyl content in flavourings would have been unlikely to pose much risk”
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 Francois Etter in 2015 showed e-cigarettes to be similarly or less addictive than nicotine gum, both being far less addictive than traditional cigarettes.