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New to Vaping And Wondering Where to Start?

Person quitting cigarettes

What Happens When You Switch From Smoking?

Some may believe that after many years of smoking, the health benefits of quitting can’t be that great and the damage has already been done. However, that is simply not the case. The health benefits from quitting smoking start almost as soon as you quit! In fact, according to the NHS, after just 8 hours, the carbon monoxide levels in your blood can be reduced to half. After 3 days, your sense of taste/smell will be much keener, you’ll be able to breathe easier. Amazingly, after one year, your chances of a heart attack will no longer be twice as high.

When cravings ramp-up

After 3 days of quitting, many people will experience high nicotine craving levels. This can be especially difficult if you quit without help, which is known as cold-turkey. Staying determined and persevering can be hard, however there are fortunately now a wide variety of effective support methods to help you quit smoking for good. First and foremost, always trust in your support network; friends and family are a great source of emotional comfort, no matter how you choose to quit.

Beat those cravings

A great way to beat those pesky cravings is to replace your nicotine intake. Nicotine itself isn’t as harmful as other chemicals found in cigarettes, making it much safer to continue consuming by itself. There are many nicotine replacement therapies available, including vaping, skin patches and gums to name a few. Using one or a combination of these can go a long way to help reduce or even alleviate your cravings altogether. 

Vaping can help you quit smoking

Alongside replacing nicotine intake, vaping can be a very helpful method for those quitting smoking for a number of reasons. Vaping offers a similar action to smoking, and according to PHE, those who use e-cigarettes are twice as likely to quit smoking. This is because many vape kits are designed to behave similarly to cigarettes. Better still, some e-liquids are available in tobacco flavourings, helping smokers to easily replace the familiar taste of cigarettes. 

The benefits of quitting smoking 

However you choose to quit smoking and regardless of how long you have been smoking for, the benefits of stopping are hugely rewarding for both your physical and mental health. If you're able to make it to 3-9 months smoke free, you will begin to take deeper, clearer breaths, and any coughing that arises from this point will actually help to clear your lungs.

9 months free is key

After 9 months free from smoking, you'll have every chance of never smoking again. After 1 year, your chance of heart disease will have halved since smoking, and after 5 years, your chances of cervical cancer and stroke are now the same as a non-smoker. After 15 years, your body will have undergone a tremendous amount of healing, and the chances of heart disease will be the same as if you’d never smoked.

Medical effects of vaping

Is Vaping safe?

Vaping is not completely risk free, though it may be easier to quantify the risks by comparing it to the dangers of smoking traditional cigarettes. According to PHE, vaping devices are 95% less harmful than cigarettes2. One of the main reasons for this is the lack of harmful chemicals that are prevalent in e-cigarettes.

Cigarettes contain harmful chemicals

Cigarettes contain thousands of harmful substances, including cadmium, arsenic and formaldehyde to name just a few. These chemicals can cause a huge range of life-threatening health problems, such as cancers and heart disease. From just a glance, it is clear that vaping presents lower health risks compared to smoking. Martin Dockrell, the Tobacco Control Programme Lead at PHE has stated: “It's really important that smokers understand how much safer e-cigarettes are, compared to smoking."

Vaping is tightly regulated

Having only been introduced in the early 2000s, vaping is a relatively new concept, so there is still research to be done in discovering if there are any long term health effects. For now, it is important to remember that the production of eliquids in the UK is tightly regulated, so you can expect a safe and reliable experience while vaping. 


Vaping Myths Busted 


Will vaping give you popcorn lung?

Simply put, there’s no good evidence that e-cigarettes can cause popcorn lung. This is one of the most commonly asked health concerns around vaping, so it will help to know a little about the condition first. ‘Popcorn lung’, or bronchiolitis obliterans, is a condition that was first noted in workers at a popcorn factory. The condition arose from very high exposure to a chemical called diacetyl. In the UK, diacetyl was banned in e-liquids in 2016, so any eliquids that are bought in the UK should not contain it.

Are E-liquids harmful as they contain nicotine?

Many believe that nicotine is the most harmful ingredient in cigarettes, which isn’t true. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance, which is one of the reasons it is so hard to quit smoking. However, the health risks of nicotine are actually relatively low, especially compared to other chemicals found in cigarettes. Some of the most damaging elements of cigarettes are tar and carbon monoxide, which are not present in e-cigarettes. The distinction between vaping and smoking is that e-cigarettes contain some of the chemicals found in cigarettes at much lower levels.

Is secondhand vaping dangerous?

We all know that secondhand smoking is one of the most dangerous parts of cigarettes. Cigarettes can release up to 4,000 chemicals into the air when they burn, many of which being extremely harmful to our health and those around us. According to a report by PHE, passive or ‘second hand’ vaping is of negligible risk to bystanders4. This is because E-liquids, which consist of flavourings, nicotine, propylene glycerol and vegetable glycerine, only emit a quickly dissipating aerosol when they are exhaled.

Will vaping make people more likely to take up smoking?

There is concern that young people taking up vaping will then go on to smoke cigarettes. However, studies by PHE have shown that there is no evidence to support this claim. In fact, while levels of young people vaping in the UK are increasing, the amount of young people that think negatively about smoking has increased.

So, What is Vaping?

Vaping is simply the act of inhaling and exhaling vaporised e-liquids. The term "vaping" comes from the vapour (rather than smoke) that is produced when using an e-cigarette.

How does vaping work?

Vaping works rather simply: a flavoured e-liquid is vaporised by a heated coil inside an e-cigarette which is then inhaled and exhaled by the user, releasing a burst of flavour.

E-liquids are the liquid used to fill up an e-cigarette. They are mostly flavoured, and contain various levels of nicotine, although many don’t contain nicotine at all. The variety of e-liquids available is one of the best things about vaping: the huge range of flavours alone will mean you’ll never have to have the same tasting vape juice twice!

What Is Cheaper, Vaping or Smoking?

By making the switch from vaping to smoking, not only are you saving your health, but also your money. To break this saving down: if you smoke a packet of day, in a year you will save £3285 if you decide to vape instead. That's a massive 86% saving!

How Do I Choose My First e-cigarette?

Choosing your first e-cigarette may seem like a daunting task at first, as there is a lot of new jargon to wrap your head around. However, it really is not as confusing as it seems, and hopefully we can make the world of e-cigarettes a bit simpler for you. To get starter, it helps to know what the main types of vaping devices are:

Pod Kits

Diagram of vape pod kit

Pod kits are simple, lightweight devices which offer an experience closer to a cigarette. They are easily filled by simply pouring e-liquid into a small detachable pod. These pods are sometimes even disposable, making upkeep even easier but more expensive. Newer kits are starting to include replaceable coils (the part of the pod that eventually wears out) so by opting for this you can keep maintenance costs down in the long-run. 

Pod kits are ideal for first time vapers, as they are easy to use, clean and maintain. They are also great for those who are switching from smoking to vaping, as the action of using a pod kit is much like smoking a cigarette.

Vape Pen Kit

Diagram of vape pen

Vape pens offer a steady step up from pod kits in terms of customisation and potential vape performance. Once very popular, these kits make use of a vape tank rather than a pod, and offer the user the ability to swap out different components. Vape pens tend to be larger than pod kits due to their use of higher-powered removable batteries, but they are still very portable devices.

These kits are great for intermediate vapers looking to dabble in customising their vape and increasing flavour/vapour production. Indeed, vape pen kits are a great education tool for vapers who are eager to try larger kits. As these devices need a little more maintenance and require more vaping knowledge, we recommend moving onto vape pens after pod kits.

Box mod Kits

Diagram of vape mod

Box mod kits are larger, more potent devices which usually come accompanied by huge clouds of sweetly scented vapour. These devices are more advanced and offer superb features for more experienced sub-ohm vapers; allowing for more customisation and for vaping larger amounts of e-liquid.

There are a few safety concerns surrounding these larger kits, which are mostly undeserved. Box Mod kits make use of large batteries, made from the same compounds in a mobile phone battery. These are completely safe, but must be stored correctly away from metals such as keys. To make sure that these batteries do not overheat, always turn off sub-ohm devices when they are in your pocket. 

Box mod kits are ideal for people wanting to take vaping to the next level and really make a hobby out of it. By using high VG e-liquids, vapers can exhale massive clouds, which is not only a lot of fun, but also tastes divine!

Different types of e-liquid

How Do I Choose My First E-liquid?

We briefly touched on it earlier, but what are e-liquids exactly? These flavoured juices are what you fill your vape device with in order to produce the tasty vapour you inhale. E-liquids are made up of very simple ingredients, some of which you may recognise from common food products. Although each e-liquid differs slightly, they will most often contain these simple ingredients:

  • Water
  • Vegetable glycerin (known as VG, commonly used in food products)
  • Propylene glycol (known as PG, a FDA approved additive used in food and medicine)
  • Flavouring
  • Nicotine (optional)
  • Depending on the flavour, sometimes other ingredients like sweeteners or cooling agents (for that icy menthol sensation) are added

There are a few different types of e-liqiuds, some of which are better suited to different devices. The first and most recognisable type of e-liquid is a 10ml 50/50. These ‘50/50’s’ contain nicotine and are available in a huge array of flavours and nicotine strengths. The name 50/50 comes from the fact they have a versatile 50/50 PG:VG ratio. These are perfect for pod kits as they are small, convenient and come pre-loaded with nicotine.

However, there is a new type of vape juice on the block which is looking set to compete with 50/50s. The liquid we are referring to is the nicotine salt. Also avaliable in 10ml sizes with a huge range of flavours and strengths, this liquid differs by using a different form of nicotine. Salts use nicotine salicylate, a salt form of nicotine that is similar to the natural form of nicotine found in tobacco. This results in a smoother ‘throat hit’ and therefore improved flavour! Nicotine salts are also ideal for use in pod kits.

The final main type of e-liquid is the shortfill. These liquids aren’t named shortfills because they are small, in fact they are quite the opposite! Shortfills come in larger volumes, usually ranging from 50ml to 100ml in size. These e-liquids contain 0mg of nicotine, which means that they can be sold in larger quantities.  The bottles that shortfills come in have spare room, allowing you to add a nic shot, a flavourless e-liquid which contains nicotine. This means you can customise the amount of nicotine in your eliquid, all the while benefiting from the cost saving of buying eliquids in the larger quantity that shortfills allow. Shortfills are usually higher in VG than PG, making them slightly thicker and better at producing vapour ideal for sub-ohm vaping sessions.

How To Avoid Smoking Triggers

One of the most difficult aspects about quitting smoking is avoiding triggers that make you crave a cigarette. Although craving nicotine is the primary cause for smoking, there are many other physical and mental triggers that make us want to continue smoking. 

Withdrawal triggers:

This is a common trigger for those who have been smoking for longer periods of time. These triggers can be brought on by just being around a cigarette, with the mere appearance of smoke often being especially stimulating. Withdrawal triggers can also be triggered in more subtle ways, such as feeling as though you need to do something with your hands, or feelings of restlessness.

We know vaping can help with these triggers, but there are many other forms of NRT (nicotine replacement therapy) methods which can be hugely helpful in alleviating withdrawal symptoms, such as:

  • Nicotine patches
  • Nicotine gum
  • Nicotine lozenges
  • Nicotine inhalers or nasal spray

As all of these tools are available at a number of outlets, it’s definitely worth going to your local pharmacy or stop smoking clinic to discuss these options with a professional. 

Social triggers:

 The urge to smoke can be brought on by the most unsuspecting events, and before you know it, you'll be holding a cigarette in your hand. Examples of this can be going to the pub or a party with friends, or maybe celebrating a big life event. You should try not to sacrifice your social life, but try modifying it instead to avoid triggers, such as sitting inside the pub where people aren't allowed to smoke. 

Emotional triggers:

Another reason people reach for cigarettes is for emotional reasons. As every smoker is different, these types of triggers can be brought on by either positive or negative emotions, such as excitement or stress. You can help to reduce these triggers by talking about how you feel to others, especially when you are feeling stressed and upset. Practicing slow breathing exercises, taking the time to get outside for a walk, as well as general exercise can all also help in taking your mind off of your cravings. 

Pattern triggers:

These triggers arise from habits or patterns that have formed while smoking. For example, if you smoke in your car and on your lunch break, every time you get in your car or stop for lunch, you may feel the urge to reach for a cigarette. Finding a replacement for smoking is highly effective in tackling pattern triggers. Replacing smoking with chewing gum, going for a walk, or even just busying your hands with something like knitting (not recommended while driving!) can all help to distance your mind from smoking.


Woman vaping

FAQs

What can vaping do to your lungs?

The potential damage to lungs by vaping is still being extensively studied. As vaping is so new, the extent of lung damage caused by vaping cannot be said for certain. According to a study examined by NHS, vaping may make lungs vulnerable to infection, but still does vastly less damage to your lungs when compared to smoking cigarettes. 

What can vaping do to your teeth?

Research is still ongoing surrounding vaping’s effects on our oral health, but it is clear that the damage is far lesser than with smoking. Although vapers were found to be more at risk of dryer mouths and higher concentrations of bacteria, these conditions are only associated with certain teeth problems, meaning they are not directly caused from vaping. 

What is inhale activated vaping?

Inhale activated vaping is when an e-cigarette is activated through drawing an inhale from the mouthpiece, rather than the press of a button. These types of devices replicate the sensation of smoking a lit cigarette.

What is vaping nicotine?

Vaping nicotine is when you vape an e-liquid that contains nicotine. Once inhaled, the nicotine is absorbed into your body through the lungs and into the bloodstream. There are a range of nicotine strengths available across a selection of e-liquid types.

What is salt nic vaping?

Salt nic vaping is when you vape an e-liquid known as a ‘nicotine salt’. These e-liquids contain a form of nicotine known as nicotine salicylate, a form of nicotine similar to the natural type of nicotine that is found in the tobacco leaf. These e-liquids produce a smoother throat hit in comparison to normal nicotine based e-liquids.

Why do e-liquid colours change?

E-liquids can change colour when the nicotine they contain reacts with oxygen. This process is called oxidation and is harmless; some e-liquid brands sometimes even encourage it for better flavour! However, if your e-liquid has changed colour and you are concerned, it is always best to check the best-before date on your packaging.

Are e-cigarettes bad for you?

It is still not clear what the long term health effects of using e-cigarettes are, mostly because they have not been around for a long time. However, it is vitally important to remember that recent studies have claimed that e-cigarettes are up to 95% less harmful than smoking.

Can e-cigarettes be carried on planes?

Whether you can take you e-cigarette as hand luggage is down to the discretion of the flight operator. However, most flight operators in the UK will not allow vaping on a plane, and will incur heavy fines if you decide to do so. Before you go abroad, it's also important to be aware that all airports in the UK have banned vaping in enclosed public areas.

Can e-cigarettes cause cancer?

The long term health effects, including risks of cancer, from using an e-cigarette are still not known. However, according to studies, the risks of diseases such as cancer and heart disease are much less with vaping when compared to smoking cigarettes.

Can I vape without nicotine?

Yes, you can use e-cigarettes with and without nicotine! We recommend vaping with shortfills, one of the most widely available forms of e-liquid that contain 0mg of nicotine. 

Sources

  1. WebMD. (n.d.). What Happens to Your Body When You Quit Smoking? [online] Available at: https://www.webmd.com/smoking-cessation/what-happens-body-quit-smoking#1
  2. Public Health England (2015). E-cigarettes around 95% less harmful than tobacco estimates landmark review. [online] GOV.UK. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/e-cigarettes-around-95-less-harmful-than-tobacco-estimates-landmark-review.
  3. British Heart Foundation (2016). E-cigarettes. [online] Bhf.org.uk. Available at: https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/heart-matters-magazine/news/e-cigarettes
  4. Public Health England (2018). PHE publishes independent expert e-cigarettes evidence review. [online] GOV.UK. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/phe-publishes-independent-expert-e-cigarettes-evidence-review