Vaping is a potnetially powerful tool for quitting smoking but it is not without risk
There are many positives to using vaping on your quitting journey with many people finding success as a result
There are a few barriers however that can make vaping challenging for some, although these can be navigated by asking the right questions
Always speak to a GP before starting vaping for the first time and ensure you allow yourself time to learn about it properly to ensure a sucessful journey
It’s no secret that vaping is now considered one of the most effective methods of tobacco harm reduction. Vaping is not risk free, and this should always be considered when making a decision on your cessation journey, however even as far back as 2015, it has been established by the UK Government that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking.
Below however, we will explore some of the pros and cons of choosing vaping as your alternative to traditional tobacco products.
Vaping to Quit Smoking: The Pros
There is a reason vaping has become so popular as a quitting tool, it has been found to be particularly effective, replicates many behaviours that will be habitual for recent ex-smokers, and gives you the ability to transition down through different nicotine strengths to reduce your dependency on nicotine, let’s examine these pros:
As mentioned above vaping has been found to be at least 95% less harmful than cigarettes. This means that the emissions we inhale contain very few compounds vs cigarette smoke which contains thousands of harmful carcinogenic substances such as tar and carbon monoxide. Making the switch allows you to consume nicotine to manage cravings without exposing yourself to as much harm.
Vaping products are available in a range of nicotine strengths and varieties which means for recent ex-smokers it is easier to find a level that suits your needs without making your dependency on nicotine any worse. This also means in most cases a new vaper will also be able to steadily reduce that nicotine strength while still enjoying the flavour they love, offering a path to a nicotine free lifestyle.
Despite having an initially higher cost when purchasing your first device (although many affordable kits are available) vaping is cheaper than smoking by quite a high margin, with e-liquid and coil spend per month falling far below what most would have spent on cigarettes. Not only are you reducing tobacco harm, but you are also reducing your financial expense when making the switch.
Where most recent converts opt for tobacco or menthol flavours for their first try at vaping, owing to their familiarity, there are a staggering number of flavours out there to choose from. Many smokers resent the smell and lingering taste of cigarettes, particularly when trying to quit, being able to opt for something different can help the transitional process by allowing you to consume nicotine without the associated flavours and smells.
There are now a number of government-backed cessation schemes that are putting vapes into the hands of potential quitters. This means if you choose vaping you can get complete end-to-end support from an established Stop Smoking Service. You can also find a great deal of information about vaping to quit on the NHS site.
Vaping is statistically proven to increase your chance of a successful quit attempt. research has found on multiple occasions that vaping is a more effective alternative than traditional NRT’s like nic patches or gum. A 2019 study by the National Institute for Health Research states: “Smokers who use NHS stop smoking services appear almost twice as likely to be successful for a year if they use e-cigarettes than if they use nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products”.
Adding to the above, the February 2021 UK Gov report on vaping found that: Nicotine vaping products were the most popular aid (27.2%) used by smokers trying to quit in England in 2020. It is estimated that in 2017, more than 50,000 smokers stopped smoking with the aid of a vaping product who would otherwise have carried on smoking. Using a vaping product as part of a quit attempt in local stop smoking services had some of the highest quit success rates according to the NHS, between 59.7% and 74% in 2019 and 2020.
Vaping to Quit Smoking: The Cons
While there are lots of potential positives to choosing vaping as your alternative, you must be certain it is the route you feel best suits your needs, measured against the relatively unknown risks, before starting.
Vaping can be a complicated alternative initially. This can be a barrier for many people when first starting out, with overly complex devices, lots of different e-liquid types and what can appear to be too much technical information to get your head around. This complexity can often lead to relapse if not addressed as convenience can win-out in a pinch. Doing your homework before jumping straight in can help with this and we have plenty to explore in our blogs!
We still do not understand the risks of vaping long-term. We can draw some hypotheses about the impact on our bodies, however as most long-term vaping trials currently underway use vapers who were ex-smokers, there is no clear way to tell if damage observed was caused by their new vaping habit, or previous years as a smoker. This means we cannot yet honestly say whether vaping has any hidden risks. Therefore, it is very important to speak to a GP before taking up vaping as an alternative.
Adjusting to vaping from smoking can be tricky, even if you manage to find the right flavour and strength, many people do not find the hit as satisfying at first. In these cases, it is often patience and persistence that gets you through, however it is easy to relapse in these moments. Some people also find that they vape more than they smoked in an effort to match the satisfaction, this can lead to over-dependence so you must keep an eye on compensatory behaviour. Finding the right combination of products will remedy this however, so take the time needed to find the kit that suits your needs.
While true of tobacco also, there is a thriving black market for vaping products, particularly disposable vapes. There are many unregulated models on shelves or available for purchase upon asking the right question of a retailer. These devices pose many risks to consumers from unknown ingredients to nicotine levels double the legal limit for the UK. It can be very hard to spot these devices from their legitimate counterparts, especially as a new vaper.
Be smart, do your research and speak to your GP before choosing vaping as an alternative. There are many benefits, but it is not without risk. Take the time to understand the products at your disposal, and take note of the behavioural changes which may be required to make your vaping journey a successful one. If you are committed to trying vaping as an alternative, we’d love to help guide you where you need it – head over to New To Vaping to get started!
Our resident vaping expert with nearly a decade of industry experience. From working on the shop floor, bottling, picking and packing vaping products for customers, to designing and formulating e-liquids in the lab, there isn't much about vaping that Ollie doesn't know. His expertise, knowledge and insight into the industry make Ollie the go-to for reliable and trustworthy industry info.
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