Vaping devices (sometimes wrongly referred to as e-cigarettes) have seen rapid technological advances over the past three years. Box formats have replaced tube formats virtually everywhere, and smokers wanting to quit by switching to vaping can feel a little overwhelmed by the plethora of choices.

So which vaping device is best for you? There is often no easy answer to this question. Here’s our guide to help you choose and answer the big question: which e-cigarette should I buy?

Technical aspects

Box (or Box Mod) format batteries

Some smokers might still prefer a small device similar in size to a cigarette. But since the introduction of box formats, so many vapers use them that it is becoming easier to convince smokers to go for this type of device.

eGo batteries

The main advantage of this format is its long battery life, which is 2 to 3 times longer than an eGo type battery, meaning that only one battery is needed rather than two (one charging whilst the other one is in use). They also charge much more quickly (2 to 2.5 hours rather than 4 to 5 hours previously), and the fact that they use a USB means you can vape while charging at the same time in case of emergencies!

Example of an atomizer with resistance coils that can be replaced.

Atomizers need to be the right size for beginner vapers, as well as being user-friendly. Whilst more experienced vapers can then move onto a bigger atomiser (containing more e-liquid), or producing more vapour (sub-ohm = with a resistance level below 1 ohm) or delivering better flavour (drippers), many beginners are still unfortunately being wrongly guided towards these types of atomizers aimed at more experienced vapers. So no more cigarette-shaped vaping devices or vape pens with or without variable voltage.

Instead, the trend is for variable wattage box or pen formats which deliver a more comfortable vape with an adjustable range of levels (beginners mostly don’t need more than 20W). Fortunately, the EU Tobacco Products Directive which came into force on 20th May 2016 is mostly favourable towards devices here in France. But restrictions could be imposed at some point. In any event, smokers wanting to switch to vaping are spoilt for choice when it comes to the extensive range of products on the market, so they’re sure to find the right device for them.

Flavours and nicotine levels

There are thousands of different flavours. It’s up to you to find the bottle of e-liquid that suits you the most. The key to successfully giving up smoking through vaping lies in the following two components. It is very important to be able to test e-liquids before buying, because you need to enjoy the flavour you choose, otherwise you may get bored of it and give up your efforts to quit. We also recommend finding at least two flavours you like, so you can alternate them throughout the day or on alternate days for maximum enjoyment. Pleasure is a crucial factor when trying to give up smoking through vaping. The experience must be more pleasurable than smoking (and it can be, believe it or not!).

The second component, which is perhaps even more important to stop smoking comfortably, is – of course – nicotine. There’s no need to fear nicotine – smoking is dangerous because of smoke inhalation, not because of the nicotine (its effects are similar to those of caffeine). Burning any plant-based material produces tar, which causes cancer (around 70 carcinogenic substances), carbon monoxide (due to incomplete combustion) which is toxic to the cardiovascular system, and solid fine particles which can cause respiratory issues.

Whilst there are other factors than nicotine that cause smokers to become dependent on tobacco, it is still a major contributor. So trying to stop smoking by using a liquid without nicotine will almost inevitably lead to a return to regular cigarettes. One final important point on liquids: the ratios of vegetable glycerin (VG) and propylene glycol (PG). Some people are sensitive to PG and will need a liquid with a higher VG content to reduce any irritation caused by PG. A 70:30 ratio of PG to VG is a good starting point, whilst a 60:40 or 50:50 ratio may solve the problem for people with sensitivity to PG. However, it is important to note that VG creates more vapour, but carries less flavour. Reducing your PG level may therefore mean you lose some enjoyment of the flavour.

But do not confuse PG sensitivity with the fact that you cough when you first start vaping. This happens to all smokers, but it’s caused by tobacco smoke rather than vapour. Tobacco smoke is highly irritating to the respiratory tract, but it also contains anaesthetising substances such as menthol (found in all cigarettes, even those not labelled as menthol), which inhibit the urge to cough (and makes it easier for young people to start smoking!). As there is none of these substances are contained in the vapour, the irritant effects of the nicotine will make you cough (which is the reason why smokers will often choose a minty liquid).

But this effect disappears very quickly, often within five to ten minutes. Unfortunately though, it will happen again each time you smoke another cigarette. That’s why it’s best to stop using tobacco as quickly as possible, otherwise you may find the vaping experience unpleasant and give up. What’s more, each cigarette will remind your brain that it’s much more effective at delivering nicotine than your vaping device. You’d need to vape for 30 to 45 minutes to obtain the same amount of nicotine from smoking a cigarette for 5 minutes.

Finally, don’t beat yourself up if you feel like you’ve always got your vaping device in your hand or in your mouth. This is a result of the lower effectiveness in nicotine delivery, meaning that you will be need to vape more regularly than when you smoked cigarettes. What’s more, cigarettes are expensive so you tend to smoke them right to the end. Vaping enables you to take a dose of nicotine more regularly – a puff here, one or two puffs there.

Nicotine levels

E-liquids can contain nicotine. This is useful for smokers trying to quit. It is important to choose a liquid with the strongest level of nicotine you can handle. The levels available (generally from 3 to 18 mg per ml) are just an indicator, as is the number of cigarettes smoked. It may be that a light smoker of 5 or 6 cigarettes a day needs a strong level of nicotine in their liquid. This is because they take deep drags of their cigarette when they smoke, which can deliver between 1 and 3 mg of nicotine, regardless of the levels stated on their cigarette packet.

These stated levels are pretty much meaningless, as they are obtained using a smoking machine, whereas smokers are able to adapt the way they smoke to get exactly what they need from their cigarette, puff by puff. Also note that if you smoke more than one packet of cigarettes a day, even a liquid with a nicotine level of 18mg per ml may not be enough. If this is the case, you can always top up by using a high-dose nicotine patch.

There is no risk of overdosing as vaping will add the extra hit you need; if you need more you will vape more, and if you need less you will vape less. Smokers know exactly how to measure their nicotine dosage.

Enjoy the experience!

First and foremost, vaping is all about pleasure. Trying different flavours and sharing new ideas is all part of the process. Don’t be afraid to invest in your first device and liquids – probably costing about the same as a carton of cigarettes. They will quickly pay for themselves – especially if you stop smoking straight away or as quickly as possible.

Continuing to smoke whilst vaping is a bad idea as sooner or later it will lure you back to tobacco.

Also, try not to reduce your nicotine levels too quickly. This will happen naturally as pure nicotine is less addictive than the nicotine obtained through tobacco smoke (for various reasons, but mostly because of interactions with other substances in the smoke). Wait until your body decides (feeling dizzy or nauseous); don’t force things. You also need to be careful later on when you step up to more advanced devices which can give you the false impression that nicotine levels are too strong.

This is often the case if you use a dripper (usually an atomiser without a tank, where you add a few drops of liquid at a time). As these devices deliver a stronger hit, it’s often tempting to lower the nicotine level. But this can lead to cravings over time. There is a risk of relapse, so be careful.

So the key takeaway is: enjoy the experience, that’s the key to your success. Try a new liquid, buy a sleeker device, upgrade to something more advanced, share your enjoyment with other vapers (for example, taking part in a vape club event is always rewarding), and rediscover the pleasure of exercising. Make the most of all the things that you were never able to do when you smoked.

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