Over the past several years, e-cigarettes have become more and more popular as a way to help smokers kick the habit. They’re also known as Vapes or e-cigs, and are far less harmful than cigarettes, being a great way to help you stop smoking for good.
If you’re new to quitting you might have seen or heard about vaping, but having never experienced it there’s potentially a lot to know. So what is an e-cigarette and how do they work?
What is an e-cigarette or vape?
An e-cigarette is a device that allows you to inhale nicotine through vapour rather than the smoke from a traditional cigarette. E-cigarettes don’t burn tobacco and as such they don’t produce the tar or carbon monoxide that traditional cigarettes do. These are two of the most damaging elements in tobacco smoke which makes e-cigarettes a healthier way to ease into quitting smoking.
How they work is by heating up a liquid, typically called Juice, vape juice or ejuice, which contains nicotine, propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine and flavourings. For a comparison to cigarettes, there are around 600 ingredients in cigarettes which release over 7000 chemicals when burned.
Using an e-cigarette is known as vaping, and there’s various mixes for thousands of flavours of juices to choose from including traditional tobacco flavour, among with fan favourites such as menthol, berrys, cola, strawberry and heisenberg as well as hundreds of brands with their own special mixes of premium flavours.
Types of vape kits and e-cigs
As well as there being a vast choice in flavours, there’s many choices when it comes to the tool you use to vape. We can split these into different categories or styles, the first being a “Cigalike”.
Cigalikes are small vapes and are most common among new quitters. They look quite similar to tobacco products such as cigarettes, giving them their name and this is why new quitters are the most likely to opt for this style. They can be disposable or rechargeable.
Vape pens are longer and look like a pen or a small tube. They often have a battery compartment at the bottom, with replaceable coils and a glass tank at the top. These are the style that you’re most likely to find at a petrol station.
Pod systems are the next level up and these are compact devices often shaped like a USB stick or a pebble. They’re discrete vapes that are rechargeable with e-liquid capsules.
Mods are the main products sold through vape shops. They come in different shapes, sizes and styles but generally are the largest type of e-cigarette device. They’ve got bigger batteries so that they last longer, they’ve got refillable tanks and are varied in power. They also have a range of different coils that produce various amounts of vapour.
Which vape is best for you?
So with this amount of choice out there, how do you choose which is the right type of e-cigarette for you?.
An e-cigarette that’s rechargable is more cost effective than disposable ones, and a refillable tank gives you more ease. These attributes also make for a more effective and quick delivery of nicotine than a disposable vape does and is more likely to give you a better chance of quitting smoking.
If you’re a light smoker then you can opt for a cigalike, vape pen or a pod system as you won’t be using it too frequently. However, if you’re a heavier smoker then it’s advisable that you opt for either the vape pen, a pod system or a mod.
Vape juices come in a range of mixes and ratios between VG (Vegetable Glycerin) and PG (Propelyne Glycol) which make the juices react in different ways – some mixes produce bigger amounts of vape while other mixes allow easier wicking, which means you don’t have to wait as long between using your vape. The style of e-cig you choose will largely determine the ratio you need, and any reputable vape shop will be able to determine this for you.
You’ll also need to choose the right strength of nicotine in your e-liquid to satisfy your personal needs. This will be dependent on how much you used to smoke prior to quitting and the strength is measured in milligrams per millilitre of liquid. You’ll see strengths from 0mg, for those about to successfully stop nicotine altogether, right up to 18mg.
Nicotine strengths should be discussed inside the vape shop too, as there’s a lot of variables including how much you used to smoke and the type of vape you are getting. For example you vape differently with a vape pen than you do with a mod. With a vape pen you’d typically vape mouth to lung or MTL, where you draw the vapour into your mouth, then inhale to lungs. Whereas with mods you inhale direct to your lungs (DL) so with a higher strength when using a mod, you’re gettin all of that nicotine all in one go. Because of this you’d typically go with a smaller strength in nicotine with a mod than you would with something like a vape pen.
So, will an e-cigarette help you stop smoking?
Thousands upon thousands of people in the UK have already successfully stopped smoking with the assistance of an e-cigarette, and there’s growing evidence suggesting how effective they are in this process. One recent study concluded that vaping is almost twice as effective as other nicotine replacement products such as gum and patches.
You can effectively manage your nicotine cravings with an e-cigarette but to get the absolute best out of it, therefore getting the best chance of quitting then you need to use it as much as you feel you need to and with the right strength of nicotine in your e-liquid. You’ll also not get the full benefit of vaping unless you stop smoking traditional cigarettes completely.
What about the safety of e-cigarettes?
In the UK we have very tight regulations in terms of safety and quality on both e-cigarettes and the juices they use. These regulations are higher than on the products you’d find imported from both China and America. Still, they aren’t completely risk free, but compared to cigarettes the risk is much smaller.
The two most harmful elements of tobacco smoke are tar and carbon monoxide, and neither of these are produced through vaping. Both the liquid and its vapour do contain some potentially harmful chemicals that are also found in cigarette smoke but these are at much lower levels when compared.
What about the risks from nicotine?
While it’s true that nicotine is an addictive substance, it’s actually relatively harmless – almost all of the harm from smoking actually comes from the thousands of other chemicals that are in the tobacco smoke – many of these are toxic. In fact nicotine replacement therapy changes the way you receive the nicotine, such as through chewing gum or wearing patches, and it’s been used for many years now far and wide in the hopes it helps people stop smoking – these have been classed as a safe treatment.
Is vaping safe for pregnant women?
There’s been little research conducted into how safe e-cigarettes are in pregnancy, but it’s understood that they’re likely to be much less harmful to both the mother and baby than traditional cigarettes. If you are pregnant then licensed NRT products such as gum and patches are the recommended option, because the studies and research backs them.
However if you really don’t want to go with gum or patches, and are much more comfortable using an e-cigarette in your efforts to quit smoking and staying smoke free, then it’s much safer for both you and your baby to vape rather than continuing to smoke traditional cigarettes.
So e-cigarettes or vapes pose any fire risks?
It’s true that there have been instances of e-cigarettes exploding or catching fire. While it’s never really stated where the vapes come from or the condition they’re in before the fire risk occurs, these cases are still very rare. However, it’s good practice to only use the correct charger with your vapes – for example some of the smaller pen styles are only safe operating at usb rates that you’d find coming from a laptop or pc – the “superfast” USB plugs you find for many mobile phones are too fast for the batteries in these vapes. It’s also good practice not to leave your vape charging overnight or under your pillow when you sleep (this is often where the cases of phones and laptops catching fire also come from – not the device itself but from the heat they displace not having anywhere to escape to).
Is e-cig vapour harmful to other people around you?
There’s no evidence of this so far. Studies that have been conducted could not determine that the vapour coming from you after vaping was harmful for third parties. This is of course a large contrast to second hand smoke. If you want to see a quick comparison between cigarette smoke and vapour you can watch this video here.E-cigarettes aren’t currently available on the NHS, so you can’t get one from your GP. However, you can buy them from some pharmacies, on the internet or from specialist vape shops.
While you’re on our blog, you might find these articles helpful!
Nicotine Numbers and Which Strength You Need
How to clean your vape tank
How coils work and when to change them
How to make juice last longer
How to make Coils last longer
Why vape juice turns dark
MTL and DTL – What’s the difference?
Nic Salts vs Freebase: The difference and benefits
What happens when you quit smoking
Vaping: Twice as effective as patches and gum?
Using E-cigs to stop smoking
How to choose your first vape/e-cig
The Problem with Home Crew Vape Shops
Or you may like our new kit breakdown series “OUTTHEBOX” where we give in depth explanations of vape kits and an unboxing experience.