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a Vapers' Guide to What is Vapers Cough and how to fix it


There are a few reasons why you might cough when you vape that include a damaged or faulty vape atomizer, incorrect set up of your vape device, poor quality e-liquid, high levels of nicotine or propylene glycol (PG) and using the incorrect inhale technique on your device. Vaping can dry out the mouth which can lead to throat irritation, increasing the likelihood of coughing.

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If you are new to vaping, you may find that you start to cough but not everyone experiences these symptoms - this is very different from the coughing you get from cigarette smoking!
In this article we examine and explain all of those unanswered questions you may have with regards to coughing whilst using your vaping devices and reveal how to stop wheezing from vaping.
Vaping technique is usually the number one cause of coughing when you vape.

A cigarette smoker will inhale differently, so you may have to get used to a new style of inhaling when you use an electronic cigarette or various vape products.  


Coughing is one common side effect of vaping and it’s one that can knock you back, completely ruin the experience and make you stop vaping. If every time you inhale, it feels like the back of your throat is becoming irritated and tickly, there are a few things that you can try.  There may be a very slim chance that using a vape pen (of any sort), just may not work for you, but this is generally not the case.  

So if you find yourself asking why can't I inhale my vape, you may want to read some of the article below.
It is a good idea to try the ideas below as these have a very high success rate.


An e-cigarette is a device that allows you to inhale nicotine in a vapourised form rather than smoking a cigarette which has more than 4000 chemicals and 50 carcinogens. Unlike cigarettes, E-Cigarettes and vape pens do not burn tobacco and they do not produce tar or carbon monoxide - two of the most damaging elements in tobacco smoke.

E-Cigarettes work by heating an e-liquid (also known as vape juice) that contains various amounts of nicotine (2.0%, 1.8%, 1.5%, 1.1%, 0.6% and 0.3%), propylene glycol (PG) vegetable glycerine (VG), and flavourings.  Once this e-liquid is vapourized by the heating element called a coil, a realistic smoke-like vapour is produced that you inhale in a similar way you would smoke a cigarette.  

The big difference with vaping an e-cigarette is you do not get the tar, carbon monoxide or the other 4,000 chemicals or toxins that you would normally get when you smoke cigarettes.  So even if you get a bit of itchy throat cough vaping or phlegm from vaping, it's way better than smoking cigarettes.


The chemicals you inhale when you smoke or vape is the main difference people choose to start vaping.

When you smoke a traditional cigarette, you are taking in more than 4000 different chemicals and 50 carcinogens.   Smoking has been attributed to various health conditions like heart attacks, strokes, lung disease and cancers. 

Here are some of chemicals which are found in traditional cigarettes and tobacco smoke:

Acetone — This chemical is also found in nail polish remover
Acetic acid — in hair dye
Ammonia — a common household cleaner
Arsenic — in rat poison
Benzene — found in rubber cement and petrol
Butane — used in lighter fluid
Cadmium — active component in battery acid
Carbon monoxide — released in car exhaust fumes
Formaldehyde — embalming fluid
Hexamine — found in barbecue lighter fluid
Lead — used in batteries
Naphthalene — an ingredient in mothballs
Methanol — a main component in rocket fuel
Tar — material used for paving roads
Toluene — used to manufacture paint
cigarettes contain over 4,000 chemicals and 50 known carcinogens
When you vape on the other hand, you are only inhaling Propylene Glycol, Vegetable Glycerine, Nicotine and food flavourings.  So that is 99.9% less ingredients, toxins and chemicals compared to cigarettes.

So it’s no wonder why the leading medical groups like Public Health England state that “e-cigarettes are at least 95% less harmful than traditional cigarettes”. 

Public Health England states that "e-cigarettes are at least 95% less harmful than traditional cigarettes"


 If you are an experienced smoker and have just turned to vaping, Vapers Cough is one of the only side effects that you may experience.  This is an irritating, prickly cough which you will get after inhaling on your vaping device.   You may also experience a sore throat or irritated respiratory tract.

This is only a temporary problem (in most cases) and is very common in new vapers.   Sometimes it takes a little bit of getting used to.  And some people wonder does vaping give you phlegm.  Here are some of the reasons that you may be experiencing Vapers’ cough.  


One of the known side effects of smoking cigarettes is inhalation damage caused to the Cilia.  The Cilia are tiny hairs that are on the back of your throat and they remove dirt and mucus from your airway and allow you to breath struggle free.  Tobacco smoke damages these hairs and when you quit smoking, these start growing back which results in many new vapers to experience a bit of irritation and may lead you to cough.


Another reason for coughing episodes may be down to a damaged or faulty Vape Mod or Atomizer or you may have not set it up correctly.  If your device does not seem to be working properly, you may want to speak with the vape shop or website that you purchased your vape from and make sure you have set up the vape correctly.

With many larger vape mods and open systems that have a lot of replaceable parts, there is a possibility that something has not been set up correctly or there may be a fault in the atomizer or coil (the heating element which vapourizes the e-liquid).  Double check with the instructions or maybe look at their e-cigarette Help Centre or FAQ section.  

If your vape device is damaged or not set up right, this can lead to you having short coughing fits when you inhale your vape device.


Poor e-liquid quality can also make you cough.  This is more than likely because most e-cigarette brands have their e-liquids made in China (which has different regulations).  So if you bought cheap e-liquids or purchased your new e-cigarette from a petrol station, it is important to check where the e-liquids are made.  If they don’t say on the front of the package, then it is safe to assume that the e-liquids are not made in the UK.

If you have been using Chinese made disposables, you may be wondering can Geek bars make you ill... there have been reported instances of shortness of breath and headaches with Geek bars, though reports are rare. Flum Float vape UK are another Chinese disposable brand that, like all disposables, are wasteful and environmentally unfriendly and contain Chinese made e-liquid. 
Here at SMOKO, we believe that the quality of the e-liquids is one of the most important factors in having a great vaping experience.  We only use the highest quality, pharmaceutical-grade flavours and ingredients in our e-liquids that are all Made in the UK where we know the safety and quality standards are tightly controlled.


Are you supposed to inhale nicotine? Humans have been inhaling nicotine for thousands of years as tobacco was used in rituals, among several other uses. It is the fastest way to get nicotine into your blood, which is why quitting smoking with a patch or gum is still a challenge as you can't quickly tackle a craving if it arises. 
To get the smoking sensation and “throat hit”, Propylene Glycol (PG) is added to an e-liquid to make it realistic.  If you are using a larger vape device or sub-ohm vape kit, this could be a reason why you may be experiencing your coughing.

PG is one of the four ingredients which included e-liquids and it is a colourless liquid, has a slightly sweet taste and is 100% safe for human consumption.
PG plays an important role in creating a realistic smoking sensation when using an e-cigarette.  It is the higher PG ratio that creates a true “throat hit” like a cigarette.  Most smaller styles like a cigalike or vape pod which use low power batteries and a higher PG ratio will give a smoker a realistic vaping experience.
an easy to use yet effective cigalike e-cigarette

If you are using a larger device or vape mod that has a higher battery output, then using a high PG ratio e-liquid may be too much.  In this case, it might be worthwhile trying a lower PG ratio e-liquid.

Similarly, if you are using an e-liquid with a higher nicotine level in a larger device, this may cause a slight irritation and lead you to cough.  Switching to a slightly lower nicotine strength may help to ease your coughing.  


If you are new to vaping or wanting to try an e-cigarette to help you quit smoking, thinking that bigger is better is not going to work for you.  Direct To Lung (DTL) inhale or 'direct lung vaping' refers to the inhale technique on typically a vape pen or a larger vape mod or sub-ohm device. They “push” the vapour deep into your lungs.  These larger devices produce more power and create more vapour which may be overwhelming to someone switching to vapes for the first time and cause you to cough.

The other style of vaping is Mouth to Lung (MTL).  This is the same way you smoke a traditional cigarette, and is how to inhale a dap pen (or dab pen for those who prefer good spelling!) By inhaling with this technique, you draw tobacco smoke into your mouth and then it is taken you’re your lungs.  This is how you should smoke an e-cigarette.

There is some evidence that these aren't the best nicotine vaporizers to start on or quit with - so if you are experiencing coughing when using a DTL vape mod, it might be worth trying a smaller MTL cigalike or vape like one of SMOKO’s e-cigarette or vape starter kits.


When you have been smoking cigarettes for a while, you will have a lining of tar on the inside of your lungs.  During the transition to e-cigarettes, your lungs will be clearing out some of that tar by coughing.  It might not be pleasant, but coughing up that tar and phlegm is your body’s way of getting rid of the lingering tar and toxins from years of smoking. 

Does smokers cough go away? Yes! The benefits of using an e-cigarette instead of smoking will be worth this temporary cleansing of your lungs - you don't get black mucus from vaping - so stick with it!


When you begin to vape, you could encounter a dry throat and experience a slight dehydration.  This could be due to the Propylene Glycol and Nicotine which (if you are not used to using it) can make you thirsty and cause you to have a dry throat.  If you experience a dry throat or mild dehydration and a cough when you first start vaping, we suggest drinking plenty of water.
Can CBD Oil cause throat irritation? You may be aware that you can now buy vape preparations of cannabidiol, or CBD oil, and these can still use vegetable glycerine and propylene glycol as the carrier oil, so you may still experience dry throat. One side effect of CBD itself can be dry mouth, so make sure to stay hydrated. Check out the CBD vape reddit UK for more info!

it is important to drink lots of water when you are using an e-cigarette or a vape pen


Among the thousands of chemicals in cigarettes, some of them can have an anaesthetic effect on your throat and reduce your urge to cough.  If you have taken a break from smoking for a few days, like when you are sick, and then light up again for the first time, you most likely coughed!  This is because the cough suppressants chemicals in cigarettes are built up over time, making it easier to smoke.  Sneaky trick by the big tobacco companies.

As there are no chemicals in e-cigarettes and vapes that are designed to suppress coughing, you may experience a short period where vaping will make you cough.  We would recommend that you persist in trying to stick with a smaller e-cigarette and drink lots of water to keep you off cigarettes in the long term.


Another reason why you may cough when you first start vaping is the nicotine strength in your vape juice.  If you are using a smaller, closed system vape or cigalike with pre-filled refills, the majority of brands will include the strongest nicotine level they produce.  When you are switching to e-cigarettes for the first time, the vast majority of ex-smokers will be more successful in quitting cigarettes using a high strength nicotine to start with.  This will help in the transition from cigarettes to vaping as it provides a realistic throat hit and delivers a satisfying amount of nicotine your body craves.

If you experience coughing using a cigalike that has an 1.8% or 2.0% nicotine strength, simply try a lower nicotine level.  At SMOKO, we offer a range of pre-filled cartridges including 2.0%, 1.8%, 1.5%, 1.1% and in some flavours a 0% nicotine strength.

If you are using a larger vape mod or sub-ohm vaping kit and a higher strength nicotine e-liquid and you are coughing, we would recommend lowering the battery power and possibly trying a lower strength nicotine level.  You will get a lot of vapour with a larger device, but you may not be getting enough nicotine to satisfy your cravings.  Sometimes less power and slightly higher nicotine strength will satisfy your cravings once you get over the initial period of coughing.  


Very dry throats can be the main cause of coughing.  We always recommend to drink lots of water to keep hydrated.  Here are some other great tips to help prevent a vaping cough.


Disposable vapes coming out of China (both the elf bar and geek bar are examples) may have you coughing and experiencing irritation while you vape. We've even had reports of oral and tooth pain from users of both the geek bar and elf bars! If you are having a bad experience with a product that uses Chinese made liquids, consider switching to a UK made product that is well regulated by the MHRA regulatory body in the UK. 


As discussed in this article, if you want to quit smoking and would like to give vaping a go, you will need a bit of persistence and will power.  Unfortunately some people who cough when they first try a vape kit may stop and never try again.  How to inhale dab pen is very different technique vs how to inhale a Juul, a geek bar or elf bar. They then make the mistake of going back to cigarettes.  You may need to modify how you are vaping as it can be slightly different than smoking.

If you find that you are coughing when you draw on your e-cigarette, try taking a slower and lighter inhale until you get used to the vapour that is produced.  Once you get used to it and your coughing stops, you can start to take slower and longer draws until you find the right vaping technique.


If you are using a larger vape mod or sub-ohm vape kit, a higher PG ratio in your e-liquid may be the cause of your throat irritation and coughing.  Switching to a lower PG and higher VG ratio may be a bit smoother on your throat.  Be aware however, the may higher VG vape juices tend to have a lower nicotine level, so you may be left feeling unsatisfied and still craving cigarettes.  So find that right balance between PG, VG and nicotine strength to suit your requirements.


As stated before, if you are new to vaping, then it may be useful (especially if 2.0% is way too much), to try one of the other nicotine levels that we sell at SMOKO.  If you received a 2.0% in your e-cigarette or vape starter kit, why not try one of our lower strength refills.  This may help you to eliminate that vaper’s cough.


If you are using a refillable vape pod or vape mod kit, you may wish to try a Nicotine Salts (nic salts) e-liquid.  Many brands like geek bars will suggest that nic salts are smoother on the back of your throat, meaning less of a throat hit.  For some people, trying a nic salt vape juice might help to reduce the amount you cough.


Drinking up to 8 glasses of water a day is pretty standard medical advice.  For some of us smokers or new vapers, we may not be drinking enough water. 

Propylene Glycol can cause you to experience a dry mouth and lead to coughing as it bonds with the water in your saliva.  A very quick fix would be to drink extra water.  This will help all of your bodily functions and could eliminate your cough.


If you are using a larger vape mod that allows you to adjust the power output and wattage, you may find that you are getting too much vapour.  This could definitely be a major factor in causing you to cough.  So drop the wattage down to the lowest setting and try again.  You may find that lowering the battery output is enough to reduce your irritation in your throat and stop your vapers cough.


Larger vape mods and sub-ohm kits are designed for more experienced vapers.  However, if you were sold a larger device as a first time vaper, you may find that the amount of vapour your device is “pushing” into your lungs might be too much to handle.

Most of the larger devices will have an airflow setting that you can adjust.  By restricting the airflow, you will get a lower amount of vapour.  This might be the solution to helping you to stop coughing when you vape.


If you are vaping a lot or chain vaping, you may be experiencing a lot of coughing.  Like chain smoking cigarettes, your body will let you know if you are doing too much.  So pace yourself, have a few puffs and then put your vape down.


Using a larger vape kit or sub-ohm vape mod will usually have a replaceable coil.  The coil is the small heating element that vaporizes the e-liquid to create a smoke-like vapour that you inhale.  If you are coughing when using a larger vape mod, you may want to change the coil.  Over time, the coils can wear down or gather a build of residue that can cause an unpleasant vaping experience.  So either replace your coil, find a coil with a higher resistance or look to try a vape kit that comes with a built-in coil in their pods or refills.

try changing a coil in a vape mod or vape pen to improve the vaping experience


Some people may experience some excess phlegm (sometimes referred to as vaping phlegm or vape mucus), when switching from smoking cigarettes to vaping.  Depending on the power of your vape, phlegm vape may occur due to the volume of vape that your device is producing.  This is common with larger vape mods and people may find their vape making their throat dry.  If that is the case, you may want to try a lower power setting.

Another complaint with larger vape mods is can vaping cause gagging?  Again, with more powerful devices, you may be asking how to get rid of vape in my lungs or how to clear your throat from vaping.  Try switching to a smaller device and try vaping less.

Some other questions that people may ask is can vaping cause phlegm in throat, can vaping cause a sore throat  or how to stop throat hit vape when using high-powered devices.  Again, if you are trying to inhale too much vapour, you may find yourself asking these type of questions.


If, after one, try you are feeling that vaping just is not working for you, just remember that vaping is dramatically less harmful for you than smoking.  Most of the leading health and medical groups in the UK and Europe all suggest that smoking cigarettes is the leading cause of preventable death and switching to an e-cigarette or vape will be more beneficial to your short and long term health.

Here are just some of the positive side effects of vaping:
Your breathing should improve when you use e-cigarettes
You will dramatically reduce the amount of tar, toxins and carcinogens you are putting in your body
You should have more energy
You will no longer smell of cigarettes and dirty ashtrays
Your sense of taste and smell should improve
Your endurance levels start to increase


In this Vaper’s Guide to Why You Cough When You Vape and how to fix it, we covered many of the possible reasons why you may be experiencing minor throat irritation or coughing. With people searching terms like 'are u supposed to inhale vape aerosol' there is no question too small when it comes to new technology like vaping!
'Does stopping vaping make you cough' is a question for another day, but there is some indication that coughing and throat irritation is indicative of nicotine withdrawal, so the answer might be yes.

Making the transition from smoking cigarettes to vaping will take a bit of persistence, trial and error to find the right combination of nicotine strength and the right device and of course some will power.  Breaking the habit of a lifetime may not happen overnight but the long term benefits far outweigh the damage you will continue to do to your body if you continue to smoke cigarettes, such as lung cancer.

So if you are currently smoking and ready to make the change to vaping, we would recommend exploring some of our great e-cigarette and vape starter kit deals to help you on your journey of living smoke-free!
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the NHS Stop Smoking service found that people who use e-cigarette to help them quit smoking are 74% more successful than going cold turkey


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