Quitting smoking is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions, and for good reason: it’s responsible for over 480,000 deaths each year in the US alone.
The problem is that quitting isn’t easy. About 7 out of 10 smokers want to quit and about half try in any given year. But the most widely-used approach is “cold turkey” – literally just stopping smoking – and this is also the least effective approach based on the data. Patches and gums improve your chances a little bit, and medications can be really helpful, but most smokers don’t use them.
This is why vaping is a game-changer. It’s something that both helps you quit smoking and is actually fun. You can enjoy vaping in pretty much the same way you used to enjoy smoking, and in some ways it’s actually more enjoyable. That’s why if your resolution for 2020 is to finally quit smoking, switching to vaping is one of the best ways to do it.
But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. In fact, if you want to give yourself the best chance of quitting, you’ll have to combine some useful advice for getting the right vaping device with some more general advice for kicking smoking, and this post will give you just that.
First, the Facts: Why You Should Switch to Vaping
Before getting into the tips, there are a few very important points to stress.
First, and most important, vaping is much safer than smoking, in fact, at least 95% less harmful according to the Royal College of Physicians. The science isn’t completely settled when it comes to the precise amount of risk reduction, but there is no evidence whatsoever that suggests vaping is even close to being as dangerous as smoking. If you switch to vaping, you reduce your risk of dying substantially.
Vaping also helps you quit smoking. We have a whole post looking over the evidence, but the fact is backed up by basically every study on the topic: vaping is effective for much the same reason as nicotine replacement therapy is. With an alternative source of nicotine, it’s much easier to stop smoking.
Finally, vaping will save you a lot of money compared to smoking. There are many attempts to calculate exactly how much (we tried here) but regardless of the specific figure, you will save money by making the switch.
10 Tips for Making the Switch and Quitting Smoking
1 – Find the Right E-Cigarette Device
The number of different e-cigarette or vaping devices on the market has expanded massively since the technology first hit the market. While beginners used to start on little e-cigs that looked pretty much like a standard cigarette, the technology quickly advanced to vape pens and later, mods. The last time we gave advice like this, the best options on the market were mods – if you didn’t mind something big and a little complicated – and vape pens if you wanted something simpler.
But pod devices have really changed the landscape for new vapers. There are many advantages of pod-style options like the Orion DNA Go, Smok RPM or the Juul, but the main benefits are that they’re portable, easy-to-use and do a good job of controlling your cravings in combination with nicotine salt e-liquid. These have higher nicotine levels than most standard e-juices but are much less harsh on your throat.
So while the best advice is to consider several options, and head down a vape store (or ask a friend) to try some out if possible, but at present we think pod-style devices are the best place to start.
2 – Get Plenty of Supplies
There is more to buy when you start vaping than when you start smoking, and you’re dependent on battery life, which is quite unreliable compared to just having enough gas in your lighter. That’s why when you start vaping it makes sense to stock up on supplies. If you run out of battery in the middle of the day, for example, you’ll need to recharge, and this isn’t necessarily easy depending on where you are. Similarly, if you get into vaping but run out of e-liquid, what are you going to do? You either need to find more ASAP or you’ll be stuck with nothing to vape.
The best solution is to prepare, probably more than you think you need to. If you get one device that lets you vape while charging (most e-cigs do these days), then that’s great, but if you get two or a spare battery, then you’re always going to be ready. In the same way, you might not need more than a few bottles of juice, but if you buy 5, say, you’ll have plenty to keep you going and more leeway when you start running low.
You might not want to spend too much if you’re not sure you’ll like vaping, but the best advice is to get a bit more stuff than you think you’ll actually need.
3 – Make a Plan for Quitting
Choosing a quit date is an important part of any attempt at quitting smoking. If you don’t set a date in stone, you’ll end up just having “one last smoke” or finishing up your current pack, and you might never even make the attempt. That’s why most sources recommend choosing a quit date. You should make this date in the next couple of weeks, but around the New Year, the most logical choice is the 1st of January. Whatever date you choose, though, make sure that you don’t smoke from this day. This is it.
Making a plan also means throwing away any leftover cigarettes, ashtrays and lighters – basically anything that’s going to encourage cravings. There is more to this (see the next tip), but you need a clear idea of what you’re going to be doing in the first few days in particular and the challenges you’ll encounter on the way.
4 – Think About When You Most Want to Smoke
Identifying your “triggers” for smoking is a key part of quitting smoking, regardless of how you quit. Vaping makes this a bit easier, because when you run into a trigger, you can just vape in the same way you would smoke. But it’s a mistake to assume that switching over will be seamless, so you still need to be prepared for when the urges will be most difficult to deal with. For example, do you always smoke after a meal? Do you have a friend you always smoke with when you hang out? These are the types of situations you need to prepare for.
Make sure your vape is fully charged and be ready to vape more than you usually would to make up for missing smoking. The key is to move the existing smoking behavior to vaping, but vaping feels different and the nicotine doesn’t hit you as quickly, so you’ll need to pay special attention to these times. If you can avoid difficult situations (e.g. going for a drink with the friend you always smoke with) over the first few days, that will help, but in any case, having a plan of action is essential. Even something as simple as taking a stronger e-liquid can help you get through the cravings.
5 – Get the Right Amount of Nicotine
Finding your nicotine strength is the most difficult part of buying e-juice for the first time. For standard e-liquids, the usual advice is to start on 18 mg/ml if you smoke a pack a day, 12 mg/ml if you have less than a pack or 6 mg/ml if you have less than a pack and you’re using a powerful mod with a sub ohm tank. However, if you’re using nicotine salt e-liquids with a pod device, this advice is really on the low side. Many nicotine salt e-juices come in 50 mg/ml, with options at lower levels like 35 mg/ml, 25 mg/ml and a range of others.
If you’re using a pod device, starting somewhere around 50 mg/ml is good advice. NKD 100 Salt is one of the best nicotine salt e-juice lines we’ve reviewed on this site, and their juices come in 50 and 25 mg/ml, for example, but others have varying levels. But using this as a guide, getting some in 50 mg/ml and some in 25 mg/ml is a good approach. It’s possible that 50 mg/ml will be a little too strong for you, so having lower options is a good idea even if you smoke a pack a day. However, in general you want to use as high a nicotine level as you can enjoy at first. If you smoke less than a pack a day, still get one or two juices in 50 mg/ml, but mainly getting bottles in 25 mg/ml is a good idea.
6 – Find a Flavor You Love
One of the biggest benefits of vaping is that it’s actually fun, and finding flavors you enjoy is a big part of this. Although laws coming into force across the US will make this harder for American vapers, you should explore a lot of different flavors when you first start vaping. Most smokers want to start with tobacco e-juice (and companies like Black Note do this really well), but it’s definitely worth exploring other flavors even when you’re starting out. If you find a non-tobacco flavor you really enjoy, this can help differentiate the habit of vaping from smoking, and actually help you start to like vaping more than you liked smoking.
This is admittedly a long process. Most vapers spend a while exploring the options before they find a flavor that’s perfect for them, but you’ll encounter plenty of good options on the way too. The best advice is to choose a selection of different flavors you think you’ll enjoy, and then improve from there with your next purchase.
7 – Get Support from Your Family and Friends
Quitting smoking is challenging even if you’re going to use vaping to help you get through it, so depending on the people you love is essential. Make sure the people closest to you know what you’re doing, and if you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to talk to them and get some support when you need it. Everybody knows quitting smoking is difficult, and they’ll be more than happy to help out in any way they can.
8 – Keep Learning About Your Device
Although your vaping experience will probably start out pretty smoothly, you’ll probably run into technical issues occasionally. These can be frustrating if you don’t know what you’re doing, so it’s a good idea to get ahead of the curve. Read guides relating to your device specifically, keep the instruction manual handy, and read more general guides about common issues such as getting a burnt taste or having a flooded atomizer (which leads to gurgling or juice coming up into your mouth). You can tackle these problems as they occur, but if you’re ahead of the game, you’ll know what to do for the most common issues before you even encounter them.
9 – Don’t be Afraid to Vape a Lot at First
Many smokers have a fear that they’re “replacing one habit with another” when they start vaping, and to be honest that’s true. But the point is that vaping is a much less harmful, less expensive and generally more pleasant habit. It doesn’t matter that you aren’t being “perfect,” what matters is that you’re taking a step in the right direction.
This is made worse by the fact that vaping is generally less efficient at getting nicotine into your blood than smoking is. This means that you’ll usually need to vape a lot more than you would have smoked to feel satisfied, and this is especially true when you first start. Even if you need to chain vape at first, it’s worth it if it means you can make the transition away from smoking. You can worry about reducing the amount you vape later if you want to, but stopping smoking should be your number one goal at first.
10 – A Slip Up Doesn’t Mean You’ve Failed
Despite your best efforts, you might slip up every so often. Whether it’s a false start that means pushing your quit date back a day or two, or just a cigarette or two one night after a few too many drinks, it happens. Almost everyone who’s tried to quit smoking will have a similar story. The crucial thing is that if you slip up, remember that you haven’t “failed” in your goal of quitting. Slip ups are normal. The important thing is what you do afterwards: so what you had a cigarette? Make that your last one. Start the next day just as confidently as you started the first one.
Quitting Smoking Isn't Easy, But You Can Do It
If you take anything from this guide, it should be that quitting smoking by vaping isn’t really easy as such. If you ask me, it’s a lot easier than quitting cold turkey and a lot more fun than other approaches, but you shouldn’t expect it to be a walk in the park. But, that said, you can do it. As long as you’re determined and you prepare for likely problems, you’ll be able to kick the habit and start 2020 in the right way. Leave smoking in the last decade.