New to Vaping?
I want to be a vaper not a smoker
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 ‘smoke-free’. 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 millions 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 well over 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, where the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training (NCSCT) programme is in place. This means that our team members not only offer the best vaping advice, but can also guide you on all aspects of smoking cessation. 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 from 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. There are routes to take with e-liquid choice which can combat the cough, such as nicotine salt. Talk to our team, they will be able to help. Just remember any coughing 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. This is why choosing the right device to suit your needs is important, pre-filled pod e-cigs as an example are extremely easy to use and require almost no upkeep. Even knowing this, it is easy to slip back into the mindset “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.
If you need help or advice, speak to a “vape friendly” smoking cessation counsellor or pop into a Totally Wicked store. Every team member is given comprehensive training to help people to quit. Known as NCSCT training, this comprehensive set of modules means that our staff are amongst the most qualified to help you make the switch to vaping. So, no matter which Totally Wicked store you visit, you can expect the best advice and guidance on starting your vaping journey. Alternatively, you can contact us via phone, email, or live chat on the Totally Wicked website. 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, try a different atomizer head or alter the way you are inhaling.
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.
We also have an e-cigarette chooser to help smokers find the best kit for them to start with. By answering just 2 or 3 simple questions about your access to power, simplicty of gadgets and preferred vapour output we will narrow down our starter kits to ones that will fit your needs the best. As you answer one question other options will disappear, so answer the question that is most important to you first.
What are the different types of e-cigs?
One thing you will notice quickly is the number of products to choose from, so it can feel like a minefield at first. How much you want or need to understand about e-cigarettes should influence your choice, and if the short answer is that this section seems to be getting complicated, you probably need a prefilled pod e-cigarette.
Each type of e-cig comes with its own pros and cons. Remember, there is no one style fits all when it comes to vaping. Usually they are broken down into two categories, pod e-cigs and refillable e-cigs.
Pod e-cigs, exactly as the name suggests, are an e-cig that has a pod or cartridge, not a tank. They are usually ‘pen-shaped’ and made up of just two parts: a rechargeable battery, and a pod or cartridge that clicks into the battery. Aimed at new vapers or smokers who are looking to make the switch to vaping, they are designed to be simple to use and exceptionally easy to maintain. Some vape pods have buttons, but most are automatic, which means you just draw on them like a cigarette to vape. Most of them are compact, discreet and designed to mimic the sensation of smoking.
Prefilled pods are supplied full of e-liquid, making them the simplest possible devices to use. Anything that is consumable or might need replacing is included in the pod, and when it is empty you simply discard the pod and pop a new one in.
Refillable pods are supplied empty, so you can fill them with your choice of e-liquid. They can be refilled around 10 times before they stop producing great vapour, at which point you just fill up a new pod and click it in. This means they are not quite as simple to use as prefilled pods, but running costs are quite a bit lower.
The traditional, refillable type of e-cig is probably what you are used to seeing people use. They are made up of a battery, a tank that is refilled with e-liquid and an atomizer head. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes from a smaller cylindrical style to a large box shape. Most of these e-cigs will have a button to press to vape and many have settings that can be adjusted. They are then filled with whatever strength and flavour of e-liquid you choose. These e-cigs are not solely aimed at new vapers, although some will be designed with them in mind and are usually called starter kits.
Advantages of pod e-cigs
- Most closely mimics the sensation of smoking.
- Extremely easy to use and maintain.
- Compact and discreet.
Advantages of refillable e-cigs
- Most cost effective to vape long term.
- More choice of style and settings.
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, below are our suggested strengths.
|1 - 5 a day||0.6% (6mg/ml)|
|5 - 15 a day||1.0% (10mg/ml)|
|15 - 20 a day||1.4% (14mg/ml)|
|20+ a day||1.8% (18mg/ml)|
Generally, the fewer cigarettes you smoke, the lower the nicotine strength you will need. The guide above 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 smoke 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 and still feel 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, or just vape less often. 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 can be as involved as you want to make it, and 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 slowly. 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.
It is always best if you adopt the mantra ‘Not one puff’. As long as you have your e-cig with you, any cravings are covered by vaping.
How can you avoid these ‘triggers’?
E-cigs cover a larger proportion of these. They 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 can give 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.|
Before we leave you, we felt it was important to clear up some of the recurring 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-cigarettes are not an effective quit smoking tool
This mythical claim had always seemed strange to those of us that have successfully moved away from smoking through vaping. At the beginning of 2019 a research team, led by Professor Peter Hajek of Queen Mary University of London, published the results of a randomized trial in the New England Journal of Medicine. The results showed not just that e-cigarettes were helpful in quit attempts, but that they were almost twice as effective as the 'gold standard' combination of nicotine replacement products they were compared with.
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 a high level of exposure has been associated with ‘popcorn lung’. However, diacetyl is banned from e-cigarettes and e-liquid in the UK”.
Our e-liquids don’t contain diacetyl.
We achieve great flavours without this additive.
Vaping is more addictive than smoking
There is evidence to suggest that e-cigarettes are far less addictive than regular cigarettes. One study by Jean-François Etter in 2015 suggests e-cigarettes are similarly or less addictive than nicotine gum, both being far less addictive than traditional cigarettes.
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.
As millions of vapers have already proved, being 100% smoke-free is an achievable and beneficial goal
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.