An introduction to electronic cigarettes and saying goodbye to tobacco forever
You don’t need to have any kind of medical training to understand that cigarettes are bad for you. From the cocktail of toxic chemicals that take hold of your body to the impact on your wallet (and your social life), smoking just isn’t the ‘cool’ past time it was once touted as decades ago. Still, there are many people that turn to the NHS for help when it comes to leaving tobacco behind because of the addictive nature of cigarettes. There are countless programmes that have been developed over the years to help people kick the habit, and the incredible growth of the electronic cigarette (or vaping) industry means that more people than ever are logging on to search for the benefits of quitting smoking with electronic cigarettes. Let’s examine some of the most important factors.
Please note; while we are considering particular pieces of research that have been published openly and circulated widely in this article, current legislation requires that we do not specifically promote electronic cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid.
Understand the data and make the decision to quit
In 2017, the BMJ released a study conducted over a 15 year period (BMJ 2017;358:j3262). During this time it was determined that the increase in use of some of the best e cigarette to quit smoking devices correlated with an improvement in smoking cessation figures. The study found that people who used e cigarettes were more successful in quitting smoking longer term than those who didn’t. Despite these promising figures, there are still healthcare officials who take a cautious stance and there are now fairly strict regulations as to how retailers refer to vaping products; for example using the term ‘healthier’ in reference to e cigarettes can land vendors in hot water. But facts are facts and statistics continue to offer an option for people looking how to stop smoking using e cigarettes.
Research has also confirmed that e cigarettes pose less of a threat because they don’t burn tobacco; the substance that contains the harmful chemicals that can ultimately cause life-threatening diseases. Back in 2015, research published by The Guardian estimated that e cigarettes were up to 95% less harmful than tobacco products; a staggering difference when you consider just how dangerous the substances in cigarettes actually are on their own. The research on that aspect of smoking is plentiful and it makes for very grim reading. Remember why you wanted to quit?
Understanding e-liquids and juices – don’t get intimidated!
Most people probably don’t think much about what’s in the cigarette as they take it from the packet and light up. One of the first things you’ll do when you approach your own question of can i quit smoking with electronic cigarettes is look at just how vast the options for e-liquid are. Flavours range from fruits and sweets to blended concoctions and alcoholic-inspired notes. We admit it can be a little intimidating, and that’s before you even start to approach the ingredients. Whatever flavour you decide to start with, make sure you do your research and speak to vendors if you’re not sure what your starting point should be with nicotine content. The idea is to cut down to liquids that have zero nicotine, but your chances of success are greatly increased by doing this over a longer period of time.
When it comes to deciphering the labels on e-liquids, you will usually see PG/VG balance. Juices that have a higher PG figure means they have more of a base of propylene glycol, while VG indicates vegetable glycerin. Both are used in combination with flavours and nicotine to create the final liquid that you then vape. Both substances produce a vapour when they are heated, which makes them the ideal base for e-liquids to imitate smoke. Both PG and VG are found in a variety of everyday items and are deemed safe to ingest; and each will have their pros and cons for vaping. This is something else to consider when you’re buying your first bits of kit; VG, for example, is thicker and therefore can shorten the life of your atomisers, meaning you’re replacing them sooner. There’s a whole subculture of people that indulge in cloudchasing – the act of producing thick clouds of vapour – and VG is typically used for this too. PG on the other hand tends to produce less vapour and therefore a good choice for people wanting something more discreet.
Replacing that something in your hand
Even the tiniest, best e cigarette to quit smoking is going to feel different in your hand to a tobacco cigarette. However, that doesn’t mean you should change your ‘breaks’; by trying to change too much in one go you’re setting yourself up for failure. Even if you just pop outside for a couple of minutes with your electronic cigarette, it’s maintaining a learned behaviour that will put less stress on your efforts to quit.
On the topic of stress, a lot of people rely on cigarettes as relief in times of stress and this has a lot to do with the fact it occupies their hands. This is something that an electronic cigarette holds over traditional nicotine replacement therapies such as patches or gum; while they do deliver a measured amount of nicotine, they don’t satisfy the physical behaviour that goes with the cravings.
You will also find that answering the does e cigarette help stop smoking question is ultimately simpler if you find a device that feels right for you. This is where browsing blogs and FAQs is useful, as many people discuss their own journey with smoking cessation so you’re likely to be able to find someone who can advise on your first electronic cigarette.
Do the maths and enjoy the extra money!
There are plenty of calculators out there that you can use to find out roughly how much you spend on cigarettes and how much the equivalent e cigarette alternative would cost over the same time period. We can promise you that the results will shock you, and is often reason enough alone for a lot of people to ask can i quit smoking with electronic cigarettes and they’ll often decide that this path is, indeed, how to stop smoking using e cigarettes. Of course, there is an initial cost as you purchase the components you choose; batteries, cartridges, atomisers, e-liquids, etc., but over a longer period of time, the positive impact on your bank account will become far more apparent. If you’re particularly dedicated to quitting completely you’ll notice the spare change totting up even quicker.
Another thing to be mindful of is spending on e-liquids. When you buy cigarettes you generally have tobacco or menthol filters. The world of e-liquids can then be quite overwhelming with its vast array of flavours. There are of course tobacco flavoured juices for those that don’t want to make too much of a change, but a lot of e cigarette users will tell you that it isn’t the same and why limit yourself? You’ll find almost anything among the flavours. Fruity liquids, particularly citrus ones, are great for a tangy and sweet vape, while dessert liquids including cakes and pies are fuller flavoured for a more laid back vape. It’s all about finding what works for you; but be aware of buying huge bottles straight off the bat. Look for small or sample sizes wherever you can as you’ll save money in the event that you end up disliking a juice.
There’s more on this later, but it’s great if you can find others that also use electronic cigarettes as there’s then the option to swap and try out other e-liquids. It’s almost guaranteed that something you aren’t keen on will be someone else’s everyday choice of vape.
Zero nicotine is actually possible
One of the lesser spoken about facets of the debate is does e cigarette help stop smoking if you’re still taking in nicotine. That’s the beauty of e-liquids and the myriad choices out there. Whatever nicotine level you start at, you are actually able to cut right down to zero nicotine and it isn’t anywhere near as scary as it sounds. Understanding your own vaping habits will be what ultimately helps you to recognise when you’re ready to drop down to a lower level of nicotine and remember, it’s not a race. You don’t have to jump straight to the lowest nicotine you can find, unless of course you’re feeling ready for that, and there are no drawbacks to lowering your juice’s nicotine content incrementally over a period of time when compared with the damage that tobacco causes.
A lot of retailers will also offer the same juices in different levels of nicotine which is great when you find a flavour that you enjoy as you can stick with that one and drop down through the levels of nicotine content as and when you feel ready. Levels will be on the bottles and might appear as mg or as a percentage. The strongest currently on the market is 24mg/2.4%, while, perhaps not surprisingly, the lowest is 0mg/0%.
While some people do get on with e-liquid that is 24mg, it’s more likely to be used by those that were extremely heavy smokers – we’re talking a couple of packets a day. Starting at 18mg seems to be a sweet spot for most habitual smokers, and depending on usage will roughly equate to one packet of cigarettes a day. Depending on how you find vaping at a particular level, you might find that you’re able to drop through the levels fairly quickly, while others may take a lot longer. As with picking flavours, it’s something that can be quite subjective and your mileage may vary.
A lot of negative press has come about from detractors of e cigarettes based around their safety. Some people have reported problems with batteries that have caught fire, and caused damaging burns to the skin. While these stories are indeed startling, they are in the minority and as with literally every other piece of modern technology; following safety guidelines is the best way to protect yourself. Following proper usage guidelines means that you are extremely unlikely to experience the dangers that are touted as reasons to avoid addressing the benefits of quitting smoking with electronic cigarettes.
You should always check the inserts that come with electronic cigarettes and their components, the instructions will always have information on how often you need to replace certain items. Coils have a certain lifespan, as do atomisers. It is also vital that you ensure you know how to keep your e cigarette clean, as it will stop any residue building up and potentially damaging it. It also should be common sense but it’s worth saying anyway: treat your e cigarette carefully and you won’t have any problems. If you’re continually throwing a bit of electronic kit with a glass tank in a bag you sling over your back then of course there’s an increased chance you’ll have a broken tank, or damaged battery.
Ask fellow vapers
The e cigarette community is well known for its friendly forums and helpful advocates that are more than willing to spend time talking to beginners. More often than not these are people that have quit smoking themselves and as a result are keen to share their experiences. Early adopters especially have a wealth of knowledge; they’re usually experts for a reason so their recommendations are usually a good place to start. Don’t be tempted to jump straight in with box mods, while they look fantastic, it’s better to work your way up!
All that’s left to do is get started with choosing your first device and accompanying juices. All you have to lose is something that is toxic for your health, what are you waiting for? Get stuck in!
If you enjoyed this content and would like to learn more about vaping for beginners then please visit the Beginners Guide To Vaping and if you are ready to get started with your first e-cigarette then take a look at the starter kits we have.