Vaping has been designed as a less harmful alternative to smoking. Vaping will satisfy your nicotine cravings, but without the harmful side effects associated with cigarettes. If you’re not a smoker or under the age of eighteen, then we do not recommend you start vaping.
This guide was created to help smokers looking to make the switch to vaping. Perhaps you don’t vape but you know someone, like a family member or friend, who still smokes and could benefit from a guide like this. If so, please point them this way.
Each section of this guide will break down the major topics regarding vaping into easily digestible chunks. We’ll be covering the benefits of vaping, what types of kit are available, and which starter vape kit will best suit you. You can read through the entire guide or use our navigation drop down to find topics which interest you.
This is probably the most commonly asked question made by a smoker considering the switch to vaping - and a very important one at that. Vaping was specifically designed to be less harmful than smoking - but is it?
Let’s take a look at smoking first. We know that smoking kills 50% of the people that do it, and as the NHS state, leaves ‘many more living with debilitating smoking-related illness’.
Tobacco use remains the UK’s single greatest cause of preventable illness and avoidable death, with 100,000 people dying each year from smoking-related diseases, including cancer.
The primary cause of all smoking-related illnesses is the inhalation of the tar produced when you burn tobacco. Cigarettes contain more than 4000 chemicals, of which 70 are known carcinogens, and when the tobacco is combusted these chemicals are carried into your body via the tar.
People smoke for nicotine, but they die from the tar.
Information is now coming to light regarding the ‘vape-related’ deaths in America. Whereas previously it was thought that vaping as a whole was to blame, it is now becoming clear that the health issues being experienced are in fact due to black market products that contain illicit and dangerous substances. You can listen to the Freakonomics podcast below:
When it comes to vaping there is no tobacco, no combustion and no tar. This simple difference is the key reason why vaping is less harmful than smoking.
In 2015 Public Health England (PHE) released their landmark study ‘E-Cigarettes: An Evidence Update’. The report looks at all of the available scientific evidence regarding vaping, and is updated annually. The latest update was February 2019, and they have maintained their stance that from all of the information we have:
❝Vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking❞
❝There is a misconception among the public that e-cigarettes are equally or more harmful than smoking; however, research to date indicates that they are less harmful as they don’t contain tobacco or involve combustion.❞
❝Our results also suggest that while e-cigarettes are not only safer, the amount of nicotine they provide is not noticeably different to conventional cigarettes. This can help people to stop smoking altogether by dealing with their cravings in a safer way.❞
❝Although it is not possible to precisely quantify the long-term health risks associated with e-cigarettes, the available data suggest that they are unlikely to exceed 5% of those associated with smoked tobacco products, and may well be substantially lower than this figure.❞
❝The NHS, who have long advocated for vaping as a smoking cessation method, have aimed to dispel the myths surrounding vaping, stating, ‘Many people think nicotine is very harmful to health. In fact, although nicotine is addictive, it's the thousands of other chemicals in tobacco smoke that cause almost all the harm from smoking.❞
Nicotine doesn’t cause smoking-related diseases, such as cancers and heart disease, but it is addictive. However, there’s a common misconception that you can overdose on nicotine using e-cigarettes. But you are in no danger of poisoning yourself, nor have there been any cases of overdose from inhaling the nicotine-containing fluid that an e-cigarette vaporises, known as e-liquid. So you can use your e-cigarette as often as you need to help manage nicotine withdrawal and urges to smoke.
A vape and an e-cigarette are entirely the same thing. In the world of vaping there are a number of different terms for kits, e-liquid and styles of vaping, that lead new users to become utterly confused. Throughout this guide, we’ll be providing definitions for all the major terms that you will need to know. For more information at the end of this guide, we’ve also included a dedicated glossary of terms.
There are a number of benefits to vaping, but only if you’re a smoker. We never recommend vaping to anyone under the age of eighteen, or anyone who isn’t already a smoker.
Continuing studies have pointed to the harm reducing qualities of vaping over smoking. Continually more and more health bodies have come forward in support of making the switch, including Public Health England, NHS, The Royal College of Physicians and The British Heart Foundation to name but a few.
Smoking has been reported as the number one cause of preventable death in the world. The most obvious benefit of making the switch is that vaping is the most effective method of quitting. More and more people are seeing the effectiveness of vaping as an alternative to smoking and ‘There are approximately 2.8 million people currently using e-cigarettes in Great Britain.’ (Office for National Statistics).
Cost is a driving force behind people looking to give up smoking and Ernst & Young have commented ‘There is a correlation between the price of cigarettes and the uptake of e-cigarettes – in countries with higher cigarette prices, there is a greater use of e-cigarettes’. We estimate you can save over £3,000 per year by making the switch, check out our 2-minute analysis video below to learn more.
What a lot of people forget to consider are the cosmetic effects that smoking can have, from bad breath to the discolouration of your fingers, hair and reduced elasticity of your skin. Vaping will have none of these effects on your body.
One of the biggest benefits of vaping is that it is considerably cheaper than smoking in the long run. Check out our useful price comparison video which breaks down the amount of money you’ll save by making the switch.
First off, well done on taking the first step towards vaping, to start vaping you’ll need to pick a kit and some e-liquid and get started, it’s as simple as that. When you’re starting out you’ll want something simple and reliable. All vape kits work in the same way, they all feature a power source and a tank that serves to hold and heat e-liquid until vapourises. Check out the below diagram for a visual breakdown of a standard vape kit.
In the next section, we have listed the main types of kits recommended for first time switchers, these are pod kits, open tank kits and cigalikes. These kits fall under the umbrella term ‘Vape Starter Kit’. Each kit will contain all of the hardware you need to start vaping. With some, e-liquid may need to be purchased separately. These kits may look slightly different but they all work in the same way as explained before, with a battery providing the power that is converted into heat by the coil, to vapourise e-liquid.
While all vape kits are designed to include a battery and tank of some kind, there are three distinct types of vape kits. To help you better understand what they are and which might work best for you, we’ve briefly outlined them below.
Designed to look and act like a cigarette, the cigalike was the traditional vape kit. There are fully disposable versions and prefilled models, both of which come in different flavours and nicotine strengths.
If you choose the disposable version, there is no upkeep required at all. Once the cartridge is empty, you can throw it away and start using a new one. The prefilled models feature replaceable cartridges that are filled with e-liquid, that can be fitted onto the battery.
Pod kits have become popular because they are arguably the simplest vape kit available, they are made up of a refillable / prefilled liquid pod and a battery. There are some key differences between the two, which are explained below.
Prefilled pod kits require the smallest amount of maintenance, they use pods that are prefilled with e-liquid available in different nicotine strengths and flavours. Once empty these are discarded and replaced with a new one.
Refillable pod kits offer more choice in relation to nicotine strength and flavour, as users will be expected to pick their own e-liquid to use with this kit. The pods themselves can be filled and refilled multiple times, only needing to be changed when the performance deteriorates or it starts to taste bad.
The most familiar-looking vape, featuring a combination of a tank and a battery. Before the introduction of pod kits, the open tank kit was the recommended choice for new users and is still extremely popular today.
Users are required to perform regular but simple maintenance, this includes refilling the tank and changing your coil when flavour or performance deteriorates. You can pick your own e-liquid with kits like this, again giving you more choice over flavour and nicotine strength.
Two of the most common terms in vaping, MTL (Mouth to Lung) and DTL (Direct to Lung), refer to the two styles of vaping, with kits being created to support both types.
MTL vaping is similar to the way you already smoke a cigarette, inhaling vapour into your mouth then into your lungs. Most vape starter kits will produce the right amount of vapour to support this style of vaping.
With DTL vaping, you inhale vapour directly into your lungs without holding it in your mouth first. Direct to lung, is a style of vaping most associated with more advanced devices called sub ohm kits. These kits require more knowledge to use properly, and while they’re not recommended for first time switchers, it may be something you move towards as you become more experienced.
Now that you have a better understanding of what vaping is and how it works, it’s time to get you started. To start vaping you will need to select a kit and e-liquid. To help guide you along, you’ll find a run-down of the pros and cons of different vape kits, as well a full explanation as to what e-liquid is, and which one is right for you.
Earlier we touched on the main types of vaping devices recommended for new users - cigalikes, pod kits and open tank kits. Picking the right kit for you is an important step in making the switch from vaping to smoking. Below we’ve listed the pros and cons of the recommended types of kit.
The disposable cigalike is a great introduction into vaping, it will help you get used to the idea of using a vape instead of a cigarette.
Small in size, you can put one in your pocket or bag and use it when you need to. When the battery and e-liquid run out there’s no refilling or recharging required. You can just start using another one.
Not the most cost-effective model, their low one-off cost makes them a tempting choice for first time switchers looking to decide if vaping is for them. It is often the case that you’ll use one or two cigalikes and then switch onto a different type of kit.
As compact and simple to use as a disposable cigalike, the obvious difference is that these cigalikes can be recharged when the battery runs out. They also use replaceable prefilled e-liquid cartridges (known as cartomizers) in a range of strengths and flavours.
More cost-effective than a disposable cigalike, there is still little maintenance to contend with. If you find you’re running out of e-liquid, the replacement cartomizers are small enough for you to carry spares with you.
The battery on these devices is intentionally smaller, so as not to make the device too bulky. If you’re looking for a device with a larger battery, then you’ll need to look for something larger.
Pocket-friendly and easy to use, prefilled pod kits are understandably popular when making the switch to vaping.
Their small size does mean they will have a smaller battery compared to open tank kits, but by using prefilled pods, the amount of maintenance required is limited to inserting a new pod when your old one runs out of liquid.
This convenience does come at a price, prefilled pods are more expensive in the long run compared to a refillable tank or pod.
Refillable pod kits combine a compact size with an increased choice factor when it comes to the flavour and nicotine strength of e-liquid, compared to prefilled pod kits or cigalikes.
Small in size, they do generally have a smaller battery than an open tank system, but require less upkeep overall.
In terms of upkeep you will have to regularly refill your pod with an e-liquid of your choice. Once you get used to this task, it’s very easy. By using your own e-liquid you have greater choice over both flavour and nicotine strength.
The open tank kit while not the smallest in the range of recommended kits, will generally have larger batteries - so you’ll experience more vaping between charges.
In order to maintain these kits you will have to regularly refill them and learn how to change your coils. Long-term cost will be limited to purchasing new coils and more e-liquid. The coils will be cheaper per pack than prefilled pods or refillable pods.
Choosing your first vape kit can be a daunting process, and one that can no doubt have consequences as to how your vaping journey will go. Why not check out our video describing what you need to consider and other handy tips when picking your first vape kit:
E-liquid is heated up in vape devices to create visible vapour. It is made up of a base of PG (Propylene Glycol) and VG (Vegetable Glycerin), two substances widely found in food, medicine and cosmetics. Alongside the PG and VG there’s also flavouring, usually nicotine and some distilled water.
VG is a natural derivative of plants, in e-liquid it serves as a thickener and will also create a larger amount of vapour. PG is runnier and it is used as a base suspending nicotine and flavourings.
When it comes to choosing an e-liquid, the following need to be considered:
An e-liquid’s VG/PG percentage will always add up to 100%, for example, 50% VG / 50% PG or 70% VG / 30% PG.
For a vape starter kit, we would recommend an e-liquid that has a higher PG percentage, it will be runnier and will require less power to heat up, so it’s perfect for pod devices, cigalikes and mouth to lung open tank kits. A good starting place will be a 50% PG e-liquid.
E-liquids with a higher VG percentage will be thicker, they will create larger amounts of vapour when used, but require more power to do so. E-liquids with a higher PG percentage will be thinner and creates less vapour, making them ideal for mouth to lung vaping.
Picking your ideal nicotine strength is easier than you think, it is based on how many cigarettes you smoke a day and what strength they are. Too low a strength may not satisfy your cravings and lead you back to cigarettes. Whereas, too high a nicotine strength can result in headaches and dizziness, as well as being too harsh on your throat.
The chart below will act as a good starting point, based on how much you currently smoke. Remember, it’s always best to start high and work your way down to ensure your cravings are satisfied. As a general rule, you should start with a higher strength and go lower if you need to.
Finding your ideal flavour is the last step in picking your first e-liquid. When it comes to flavour it’s important to remember that this is something that you’re going to want to vape all day. When you first make the switch, you may find yourself gravitating towards tobacco flavours, for a sense of familiarity, but remember they won’t taste exactly like a cigarette. You might find you enjoy a simple fruit or menthol flavour when you first make the switch. Try a few flavours to find out what you like.
As you continue vaping and stop smoking, your sense of taste will begin to improve. This is a great opportunity to try new e-liquids. Switching between flavours is a tested method to make sure you don’t stray towards smoking. That being said there are those who find one flavour they love and stick with it.
Vape coils are found in tanks and pods of all kinds. They are made up of a wrapped piece of wire normally covered with a cotton wick. The cotton wick soaks up the e-liquid held in your tank or pod, while the wire itself heats up the e-liquid until it is turned into vapour.
Each type of vape kit will use a specific coil, these are separated into two broad categories - mouth to lung and sub ohm.
Mouth to lung coils register above 1.0 Ohm in resistance. They will produce a small amount of vapour and require less power to use. These are the coils most often used in mouth to lung vape kits, like pod kits, cigalikes and open tank kits.
Sub ohm coils are those that register below 1.0 Ohm in resistance, they require more power to heat and create large amounts of vapour. These coils are used with advanced tanks and kits. While we would not recommend a sub ohm coil or kit to a first time vaper, they may be something you move onto in the future.
All coils will eventually need to be changed, over time they will create an unpleasant taste and will become unusable. Changing your coils is a simple process when you know how, the instruction manual that comes with your kit will provide clear instructions. Remember, if you are using a pod kit, you may not be able to change the coil, in this case the pod itself will need to be replaced.
Coils sit inside your vape tank / pod / cartridge, because of this you won’t be able to see how they exactly work in real life. Below you can see step-by-step how coils heat up and create vapour. While there may be different styles of coils, in different resistances, they will all work roughly the same way.
Vape Kits use a metal heating element called a coil, that's made up of a wrapped wire with a cotton wick. The cotton wick soaks up the e-liquid that is held in your tank, pod or cartridge.
The metal coil converts power from the battery device and turns it into heat. This heat is used to turn the e-liquid held in the cotton wick into vapour
The vapour travels up through the chimney of the coil and is then inhaled by the user.
By now you should have an understanding of what type of vaping device you need from the ‘What Vape Kit Do I Need?’ Section, along with an understanding of the finer points of e-liquid from ‘What Is E-liquid And What Should I Be Vaping?’. You can use the chart below to check your choices:
This is one of the most commonly asked questions.
Generally it's best to keep your vape kit and e-liquid stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, preferably in a dark, dry cupboard and always away from children (and pets!).
The PET plastic used to create the bottles is both hardwearing and also recyclable, yet due to them being transparent it’s essential to keep out of direct sunlight as if exposed for long periods the nicotine can degrade whilst flavour may deteriorate. The childproof caps provide an added security in case it topples over or if you’re around little ones.
With open tank devices, we suggest you store your vape in an upright position (where possible). This is because the likelihood of leakage increases when the device is lying down flat. It’s worth noting to never keep your device near water or any other liquids and away from children at all times, due to it being an electronic piece of equipment.
Whenever possible, your device should be turned off when not in use, to avoid accidental activation (eg in your bag or pocket). However some devices (particularly pod devices) do not have an on/off function. With these types of kit we recommend removing the tank/pod which will have the same effect as turning it off.
Removable batteries in basic starter kits and pod devices are rare, but should you purchase a device that uses them it’s always recommended to store your batteries in a protective case when not in use due to the heightened chance of explosion if coming into contact with spare change or keys creating a short circuit. This is outlined in further depth in the battery safety infographic below. You can find our range of protective battery cases in our Battery Accessory Category.
Battery safety is an important part of vaping, regardless of experience level. For more information check out our dedicated battery safety guide.
Up until recently, all nicotine in standard e-liquids was freebase nicotine which delivers a noticeable throat hit and comes in concentrations of up to 20mg, which is the threshold set by UK law. Salt nics are the latest development in vaping and have proven to be successful with users switching straight from smoking.
Salt nicotine e-liquids produce a faster absorption rate of nicotine into the body. This results in a nicotine hit which satisfies cravings for longer as well as providing a smoother throat hit, when compared to regular nicotine e-liquids. Nicotine salts occur naturally in tobacco plants, and the use of them in e-liquid is designed to give the vaper a closer experience to smoking a cigarette. It’s also worth noting that despite the name, there is no sodium in these e-liquids therefore they won’t taste of salt whatsoever.
You’ll generally find salt nicotine e-liquids in strengths of 10mg and 20mg, or in between, and they are most often available in 50%-60% VG ratios. Because of this, it’s recommended you use salt nics with low powered MTL kits or pod devices for the best experience.
You can take a look at the pros and cons of salt nicotine in the table below for a more concise outlook, if you’d like to read up some more on salt nicotine, check out our handy blog post or watch our video ‘What Is Salt Nicotine’!
|PROS OF SALT NICOTINE|
|High nicotine content means you’ll feel the need to vape less often.|
|Satisfies cravings for longer|
|Helps conserve e-liquid and battery life|
|Less effect on flavour|
|Ideal for low wattage MTL devices and pod kits.|
|Longer shelf life than freebase|
|CONS OF SALT NICOTINE|
|High nicotine strength may not be right for you|
|Not available in high VG concentrations therefore not ideal for those who prefer large clouds.|
|Not as widely available as freebase nicotine|
When it comes to starting vaping it is unlikely you will use a sub ohm kit, the simple reasoning behind this is that these style kits require substantially more power and have been designed for direct to lung vaping.
Sub ohm vaping refers to vaping with a kit that uses sub ohm coils, which is any coil that registers below 1.0 Ohm in resistance. Conversely plus ohm kits (kits that use coil above 1.0 Ohm) have a lower wattage output and will produce less vapour, traditionally being used for mouth to lung vaping.
The TPD or Tobacco Products Directive is a piece of EU legislation that was created to better regulate the manufacture, sale and consumption of vaping related products. It is through regulation like this that vaping can become safer, it means not just anyone can manufacture a product and market it as compliant.
Perhaps the biggest positive impact of the TPD, is that it requires products to be thoroughly tested before they can be sold, which includes full toxicology reports. There is also a list of banned ingredients that can no longer be used in e-liquids.
TPD laws that most affect consumers are as follows:
There are many variables as to why some people stop vaping and turn back to cigarettes - this is mainly due to miseducation, or choosing the incorrect products. Making the switch is an admirable process and one that needs to be pursued with willpower, effort and persistence along with being supplied with the appropriate information to suit your lifestyle. Here’s where people can go wrong:
This is perhaps the most common factor in people turning their back on vaping. You need to remember that in theory, vaping is still in its formative years, therefore the education surrounding vaping isn’t as wide-scale as it should be. Once you get your head around some basic vaping knowledge, you’ll take to it like a duck to water.
As well as this, many first time vapers are wrongly informed as to what the best product for them might be and often are recommended advanced devices, the wrong nicotine strengths as well as the incorrect e-liquid for their chosen kit. This can lead users to experience an unpleasant first impression or simply doesn’t satisfy their nicotine cravings, meaning the chances are they will give up and go back to the less-hassle option of cigarettes.
When you start vaping, it can be tempting to pick the same kit your friend or a member of your family is using. However, the chances are they are more experienced than you and this kit could be too advanced for a first-time user. It’s always beneficial to try different kits to find out what you like, but remember they’re called advanced kits for a reason.
Again, this relates to the education of vaping and the maintenance of your vape kit. For example, if you haven’t been taught how to refill your tank/pod it could lead to your device leaking, or if you haven’t learnt how to change your coils then this could result in a burnt, bitter taste, as well as dry hits, which are not nice at all!
User manuals of products should outline these basics but if not then we’re always on hand to offer advice or help solve your problem. Why not check out our list of handy guides breaking down the basics of vaping for beginners making the switch.
When it comes to actually giving up smoking, the real challenge is actually sustaining the willpower to want to stop smoking. There is no overnight fix and it may take you a few tries to get into the swing of vaping, yet it’s clinically proven to significantly aid you in the quest of giving up tobacco. The main reason as to why vaping is considered three times more successful than NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy) is the fact that some people find the psychological and aspect of smoking pleasurable which vaping closely mimics.
Let’s not pretend that smoking isn’t a nice thing, which is why people get hooked. There’s nothing wrong with admitting that and with the act of vaping, you’re getting the nicotine craving with the inhaling/exhaling effect to match but in a 95% less harmful format. As well as this, according to the MRHA (The Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency), a smoker turned vaper saves the UK £74,000.
Little things like setting yourself targets have proven to be beneficial in switching over. For example if you were smoking 10 cigarettes a day, then trying to go down to 8 cigarettes with a few vapes in the first week, then the next week decrease the cigarettes to 6 a day and then 4 a day and so on and so on until you’re no longer smoking at all. There is no right or wrong answer and if you do relapse back to smoking occasionally, don’t beat yourself up about it, just simply get back on the horse and start afresh.
Here’s some useful tips for new vapers in helping you stay on track:
Most public establishments have their own regulations on vaping, some are all for it and will allow it willingly whilst others hold it in the same distinction as smoking. It’s always best to check beforehand whether or not vaping is permitted, but it is also down to you to gauge whether or not it is an acceptable social situation to fire up your device. Discreet vaping should always be taken into consideration also as producing large clouds from your device could be an off putting experience for passers by as well as a hazard if you’re driving for example.
For more information on vaping etiquette check out our dedicated guide.
Whilst you may become attached to a particular flavour from your first vape, the chances are you could become bored of it in the forthcoming weeks or months. We always recommend to mix it up and keep trying new blends, as it will provide a reason to keep vaping whilst opening up the door for an endless amount of flavours which you didn’t know exist. It’s also worth mentioning the condition known as ‘vapers tongue’, where a vaper loses the ability to taste an e-liquid and develops what feels like a thick coating on the tongue. This is usually cured by simply switching to a different flavour as well as consistent hydration.
Check out our bespoke e-liquid page, which allows you to filter your preferences, making it easy to determine exactly what you want.
Basically, you’ve taken a huge step in making the switch to vaping from smoking. You should be proud of yourself! By ditching the cigs, you’re on your way to a healthier and more prosperous life. With the basic knowledge gained throughout this vaping guide, we hope you can pass on the baton and educate more smokers to make the switch themselves.
You can relate back to this guide and the dropdowns anytime you’re confused or if you need a helping hand when the going gets tough. Good luck and remember to keep at it, it’s a marathon, not a sprint!