THE DO'S AND DON'TS OF TRANSITIONING FROM SMOKING TO VAPING
Switching from smoking to vaping can be easy for some and more difficult for others. Some vapers may never touch another cigarette when they start vaping, some may use an E-Cigarette to reduce the consumption of cigarettes before quitting smoking, and some vapers continue to smoke (dual use). This means switching from smoking to vaping could be instantaneous or it could take weeks or possibly months to eliminate cigarettes altogether.
Smoking is still the number one preventable cause of death in the world, with an estimated 8 million deaths worldwide from smoking in 2019. The addictive substance found in tobacco is what keeps smokers on the hook, and that substance is nicotine.
Those in the medical profession have developed other ways of delivering nicotine into the body, without all the harmful chemicals found in tobacco smoke. These are known as forms of nicotine replacement therapy, or NRT, and are the products we all know: lozenges, sprays, transdermal patches and gum, to name a few.
The most recent contribution to smoking cessation methods is electronic cigarettes. The term ‘electronic cigarette’ is an umbrella for all vaping devices - cig-a-likes, pod systems, vape pens and box mods all fall under this classification. The value of e-cigarettes has been a matter of heated debate for the past few years, but studies indicate that e-cigarettes could be up to twice as effective as other forms of NRT when accompanied with behavioural support.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SWITCHING FROM SMOKING TO VAPING?
FINANCIAL BENEFITS SWITCHING TO E-CIGARETTES
There are many benefits to vaping over smoking traditional cigarettes, but a good place to start is money! Here in the UK, a packet of cigarettes will set you back between £8.80 and £13.50 for a pack of twenty. Heavy smokers are likely to consume at least twenty cigarettes per day, whereas a heavy smoker who has switched to vaping is likely to consume 1 to 2 e-cigarette refills at 2% nicotine a day! That works out to £1.50 to £2.00 a day with e-cigarettes compared to £13.50 for a pack of cigarettes! At a potential saving of £11.50 a day - the maths on that are pretty simple - Point for Vaping!
SOCIAL IMPACT OF VAPING
Giving up smoking cigarettes to start vaping has social benefits too - say goodbye to smelling like an ashtray all day, everyday! The flavours available to vape produce pleasant aromas that are much less offensive than cigarette smoke, and flavourless vape juice would allow you to reduce the impact of vaping on those around you.
As a smoker, there’s a good chance some people in your social group are smokers, but switching to vaping means you can still engage socially with your smoker friends - You might even persuade them to make the switch too!
HEALTH BENEFITS OF VAPING
The biggest benefits of making the switch to vaping from smoking are the reduced damage to health. Public Health England’s evidence report states that e-cigarettes are around 95% less harmful than traditional cigarettes. This massive reduction in the toxins and other harmful substances like tar and carbon monoxide can only be a good thing in the long term.
The benefits aren’t just for you - anyone around you will also be pleased; e-cigarettes do not produce 2nd-hand smoke so no more passive smoking! It may be easy to assume that the same problems that exist for cigarettes also exist for e-cigarettes - but that is not the case. Passive smoking is one of these issues, and approximately 85% of tobacco smoke aerosol is generated by the burning of the cigarette; something that is not present in electronic cigarettes.
Quitting tobacco is a real challenge - new data suggests that the average smoker will make thirty quit attempts before being successful, so starting your quit attempt with no illusions should help you take it seriously, avoid disappointment with unrealistic expectations, and allow you to be better prepared!
You should be aware of as many tips and tricks as possible, with an idea of which ones you think might work for you.
USE A GOOD QUALITY E-CIGARETTE STARTER KIT/VAPE DEVICE
A sure way to set up for failure is to grab a vaping device without any thought. There are a few different options on the market, so understanding a little about each of these devices should guide you to a starter kit that is right for you. A call or visit to your local vape shops should get you introduced to the different devices on the market!
A beginner making the switch should probably avoid the bigger, more expensive, more complex units like the box mods; there are a lot of replaceable parts that require maintenance, and a need for spare parts when things like the coil is at the end of its life. These also require their e-liquid tanks to be manually filled - a hassle that many beginners don’t need (or want) to deal with.
A smaller system is more appropriate for beginners, something like a cig-a-like works due to its aesthetic kinship with actual cigarettes. Vape Pod systems are small and convenient, much like the cig-a-likes, but have departed from the size, shape and feel of an actual cigarette. Both of these styles of device tend to use pre-filled cartridges purchased from the manufacturer, attached to a rechargeable battery - really easy for anyone new to vaping.
Vape pens are a possibility for newbies; they have fillable tanks and require replacing things like the coil and/or tank when necessary, but aren’t as customisable as a box mod - so, in terms of complexity, they sit somewhere between a pod system and a box mod. Only the most adventurous, investigative new vapers should consider this style as a first device.
TRY NEW FLAVOURS
One of the monumental advantages of e-liquids over tobacco is the flavouring. Tobacco flavours may be a good place to start in order to trick the brain, but why not choose something more enjoyable? Having a variety of flavours keeps you from getting bored of one in particular, and if you’re anything like me, having contrasting flavours to suit your mood works really well.
USE A SUITABLE NICOTINE STRENGTH
As a smoker, your body is used to receiving a high level of nicotine from cigarettes. Cigarettes contain chemicals that increase the bioavailability of nicotine, increasing it’s absorption within the body. E-liquids do not contain these kinds of chemicals, and so the nicotine is absorbed slower - this means smokers will need a high nicotine concentration for their vape juice when they first make the switch.
If you are a heavy smoker, make sure to go with the strongest liquids available on the shelf, or you may find mixing your liquids yourself allows you to control the nicotine levels to your own specification, and the option of adding nic salts instead of freebase nicotine means high levels of nicotine can be achieved without an unbearable throat hit when you puff!
Lighter and social smokers should avoid the higher nicotine liquids - if you haven’t developed a nicotine addiction, then don’t start now by using a liquid with more nicotine than you need! E-liquids are available from that maximum 2% strength all the way down to 0.3%, and of course there are 0% nicotine liquids, too.
MAINTAIN YOUR DEVICE PROPERLY AND STORE E-LIQUIDS CORRECTLY
The cig-a-like devices are in two parts - the refill and the battery. Screw the refill into the battery and away you go. Pod systems are very similar; the smaller pod systems use a battery and pod refill, some of the larger pod devices do require a separate coil so make sure you have spares to get the most from your vaping experience.
Remember to store your e-liquids (and by extension, pre-filled cartridges or pods) in a cool, dry place - particularly out of sunlight as exposure to sun and heat will negatively affect the flavour of your liquid.
AVOID SMOKING TRIGGERS
This is the most abstract part of the process, one that requires a bit of thought and effort: knowing what triggers you to want to have a cigarette. This is important to establish as failing to do so means you may accidentally put yourself in situations that actively work against you.
Do you normally smoke after a morning coffee? Try a different caffeinated drink to get yourself going in the morning, or have your coffee in an environment that stops you from being able to smoke while you have it.
Are you down the pub most nights with your friends who are smokers? Get yourself an e-cigarette device you can puff on while they smoke their cigarettes!
Do you smoke when stressed? Establish and use some new stress busting methods, whether it’s going for a walk, more intense exercise or a mindfulness activity, it will take some effort to get around this one, and it is so very easy to cave in when faced with high levels of stress.
Each of us may have a few unique triggers, so make sure you have a good think and write down yours, then you can have a think about some ways to avoid, work around, or manage each trigger.
DON'T VAPE LIKE A SMOKER
The nicotine in e-cigarette aerosol (or ‘vapour’) takes a while to be absorbed, so to get the most nicotine when vaping, you will need to hold the aerosol in your lungs longer than you would typically hold in tobacco smoke.
DON'T BREAK THE RULES
It can be easy to think that as vaping isn’t smoking, you will get away with bending some of the rules that are generally applied to both cigarettes and electronic cigarettes. I would highly recommend sticking to the rules, and respecting other people’s space too - the e-cigarette aerosol can cause a dry throat and headache, which is fine if you’re the one vaping - not so much if you are impacting those around you!
DON'T OVERDO IT
The biggest problem with e-cigarettes compared to smoking is that there is no natural stopping point - with a cigarette, the tobacco is burned up and eventually reaches the filter, and you know that you’re done. If you aren’t careful, e-cigarette refills and vape pods can be used until the battery runs out or the liquid is used up, and this could mean taking in too much nicotine.
As nicotine overdose is possible and likely to ruin your afternoon, you need to have a plan for the daily use of your vape - this means working out how to store the vape while you get on with your day, in such a way that you aren’t puffing all day long. Try storing it out of sight and letting the appearance of cravings dictate when grab your e-cig for a few puffs.
THE DO’S AND DON’TS OF TRANSITIONING FROM SMOKING TO VAPING CONCLUSION
Quitting cigarettes cold turkey is incredibly challenging, but it can be done - if your will is made of iron. For those of us more human, vaping is proving to be one of the least stressful ways of giving up smoking. It is an action like smoking, feels similar to smoking, and delivers nicotine - albeit less aggressively - like smoking. Research even indicates that smokers who quit with E-Cigarettes experience less coughing and phlegm production than those who don't!
Choosing your first e-cigarette and vaping devices can be a lot of fun, there is also an ever-growing online vaping community which may help you with more tips, tricks, and support!
So if you are an adult smoker who has struggled to quit smoking, why not take the plunge and check out these popular vape and e-cigarette starter kits that have helped thousands like you to successfully go smoke-free!