If you’re an experienced e-cigarette user that question probably made you laugh, but it’s a genuine one and quite a lot of recent switchers wonder about it. If you’re asking this question and can’t find a good answer anywhere, read on!

Inhaling is familiar to cigarette smokers, but not to all smokers. If you’re used to cigars or a pipe then you’ve probably been smoking for years without inhaling, so wondering whether you should inhale from an e-cig is a sensible thing to ask. The good news is that there’s no right or wrong answer. Vapour products are very flexible, and you can use them in whatever way suits you best.

What did you smoke?

One key thing to remember about vaping is that, although it’s not the same as smoking, it is a replacement for smoking. That means the aim is to mimic the sensations and experience of smoking as closely as possible. It doesn’t matter what you used to smoke; for vaping to work for you, it has to be as close to what you’re used to as possible.

Most vapers are people who want to cut down the number of cigarettes they smoke, or even quit smoking completely. Cigarettes are the most addictive way to use nicotine by a long way, for a couple of reasons. First, the way the tobacco is processed creates an array of other chemicals that interact with the nicotine to make it more habit-forming. Secondly, cigarette smokers inhale. This sucks the smoke deep into the lungs, so the nicotine and other chemicals are delivered to the bloodstream very rapidly. Of course, all the rest of the stuff in the smoke gets left in your lungs, which is obviously bad news!

To replace cigarettes with an e-cig, it’s best to carry on doing exactly the same thing – inhaling the vapour once it’s in your mouth. That gives the same sensation, so you’re less likely to find yourself missing the feel of smoking. At the same it’s much safer, because you’re not inhaling hot, often toxic gases and particles of burned tobacco. E-cig vapour is tiny droplets of chemicals, most of which are approved for use in inhaled medications, and your lungs can cope with it easily.

Getting the nicotine hit

But what about the nicotine? Will that still be absorbed through the lungs? No, not really. E-cigarettes deliver nicotine in a different way to tobacco smoke, and most of it gets absorbed through the mouth. This means it’s slower to act, which is something a lot of switchers struggle with at first. The solution is to vape at a steadier pace – instead of taking a dozen puffs once an hour, take one or two more often.

If you’re a cigar or pipe smoker, however, the fact the nicotine gets absorbed in the mouth is good news. This means you can get the same effect as you did from smoking and not inhaling.

Another benefit of not inhaling is that you’ll get the full benefit of your liquid’s flavour. The variety of flavours is one of the best things about vaping, and it’s a shame to miss out on them. Holding the vapour in your mouth, like pipe or cigar smoke, before exhaling means you’ll catch every last nuance of whatever juice your tank is loaded with.

It’s not all bad news for former cigarette smokers, though. Because most cig smokers use the “mouth to lung” inhalation style, they still get most of the taste if they use the same style to vape. The only people who struggle to get the full flavour are direct to lung vapers, who’re more interested in the amount of vapour they produce; they have to use much higher flavour concentrations.

The real concern many have about inhaling is any possible consequences for their health. This is fuelled by bad science and irresponsible reporting; we’re constantly being bombarded with scaremongering news articles about the latest imaginary hazard of vaping. We’ve lost count of how many times we’ve seen some lunatic yelling, “It’s not safe to inhale anything except fresh air!” Frankly, this is ridiculous. We inhale things that aren’t fresh air all the time. Every time you have a shower you inhale water vapour. Every time you sniff the delicious aroma of cooking bacon you’re inhaling hundreds of complex organic compounds. And so what? It’s safe!

At the end of the day, when you switch to vaping you can inhale or not; it’s up to you. Either way you’ll be able to enjoy the taste, and you can reproduce the sensations you got from smoking. That’s the most important thing, after all. Almost everyone who buys an e-cig does so because they want to vape, not smoke. If the way you’re vaping is satisfying enough to achieve that, it’s working for you – so just carry on!

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