We all live with some form of addiction in our life, whether that’s reaching for one more square of chocolate, too much alcohol at the weekends or something else entirely. It’s in our human nature when addicted to struggle at several stages before finally quitting for good. The same rule applies to smoking and more recently vaping. Millions have used the latter to replace smoking as a nicotine alternative (another common addictive substance). So the question now remains for four million vapers in the UK - how do I reduce my nicotine levels to eventually drop vaping for good and lead a healthier life? What you need is a step-by-step plan.
Why Would You Vape With Nicotine to Replace Cigarettes?
First, you need to understand why vaping is a solution for smokers. The answer is relatively simple - vaping contains nicotine which you can choose at your desired strength and then cut down when you’re ready before vaping nicotine-free and finally stopping vaping. Cigarettes on the other hand have unknown quantities of nicotine and very little choice over flavour and strength. It sounds easy to swap one for the other, but it’s a difficult challenge like smoking, because as we said nicotine is an addictive substance.
But like with any addiction, it’s pretty tough to completely remove cigarettes ‘cold turkey’ without a process. Vaping with nicotine exists to help smokers quit a much more dangerous habit. One containing thousands of unknown lethal chemical toxins, which when in the body can do serious damage to your short and long-term health. While vaping isn’t completely harmless, medical professionals recommend it because it’s a safer alternative than smoking.
Setting Your Initial Goals With Vaping
Knowing which nicotine strength of e-liquid matches your previous smoking habits will play an essential role in determining a successful start on your way to becoming vape free. Too little nicotine for your body too early may have an undesired outcome that you had initially foreseen.
As part of a goal-setting exercise, you could try and set a figure for how many puffs and how often you vape and work your way down e-liquid strengths at an achievable rate suitable to you.
If you notice that once you've reduced your nicotine levels, you end up vaping more often than you like, or more often than you used to, it may be time to adopt a different approach. A popular alternative to traditional e-juice is nicotine salts. With a throat hit and experience closely resembling smoking cigarettes, nic salts typically have a nicotine concentration of 20mg per 10ml of vape juice in a disposable or nic salt e-liquid, but there are now 10mg options too.
Pick a Suitable Nicotine Strength
Traditional freebase nicotine e-liquid is available in strengths of 1.8%, 1.2%, 0.6% and 0% and where the higher strength nicotine may resemble a strong cigarette or rolling tobacco, 1.2% will be similar to a mild cigarette and 0.6% will commonly resemble a light cigarette.
If you've been vaping for some time, you'll be aware of how often and for how long you vape at a time - typically by checking your puff counter which many vapes have these days. Even if you are aware of your vaping frequency, try making a note of your patterns to refer to as you go through the process of becoming vape free.
With 20mg, it provides vapers with a stronger hit of nicotine per vape and yet as smooth as a cigarette, which means less time spent vaping to get the nicotine your body craves and less habit-forming taking place in your brain. It’s less harsh than freebase nicotine.
How Long Does Any Nicotine Withdrawal Last?
Generally, any symptoms or side effects of nicotine withdrawal should subside within one month. For the first 4-24 hours it will be tough and feel intense for the initial period, stretching into the first week. Because it’s a challenge to give up nicotine, it’s recommended that you take up exercise if you don’t already to take your mind off the difficulties of reducing your nicotine levels.
Any sort of distractions from intense nicotine inhalation will help. This is why it’s advised not to go completely cold turkey, as many fail at the first huddle when the task is so monumental. Therefore, having a plan in place, with a few welcome distractions, as well as reducing your nicotine gradually will help fight the battle.
Set Goals and be Committed
Quitting nicotine isn't necessarily as easy as saying "1,2,3". In addition to the vaping technology and vape juice that might serve as the machine and fuel to help you become nicotine-free, your heart and willpower within you serve as the central cog that is fundamentally paramount to the process.
Set some goals and a timeline for when you hope to be nicotine-free and if it helps, set alarms on your calendar found on your phone to remind you of where you should be and of the ultimate goal of becoming vape free.
If for instance you vape the strongest vape juice of 1.8% and want to reduce your nicotine levels in half within six weeks, you'll need to plan accordingly and invest in a range of nicotine strengths. Start by reducing the strength of your e-juice to 1.2% and work your way down as the weeks go by, depending on the length of your timeline.
Keep goals realistic and avoid putting yourself under unnecessary pressure. Quitting nicotine was never going to be easy, but avoiding being harsh on yourself and approaching the project in hand with the right mental attitude will work wonders.
By stopping vaping, you'll be gaining a healthier bank balance. Why not set a date to reward yourself for your efforts and book a holiday? Save the money you'd rather spend on vaping to pay your holiday off, and have an exciting vape-free week away to look forward to in the future.
What Type of Device Do Vapers Use at Different Stages of the Journey?
Typically vapers pick a low-maintenance vape kit that’s easy to setup and use initially, and if they’re feeling adventurous opt for an advanced mod later on, should they seek more power, battery life and cloud volume from their e-liquids. Choosing the latter will mean having a lower nicotine level, as too much power will be seriously harsh on your throat when matched with high nicotine. Therefore, vapers needing high nicotine should choose a pod device or a disposable, depending on their budget and how often they vape. For nic salts, it’s always best to pick a device like this. If you want more cloud and sweeter flavours, try a high VG e-liquid or shortfill, which should be paired with a Sub-Ohm vape mod. Here is a rundown in list format:
- 20 cigarettes or more a day - pick a low-powered pod kit or disposable with a 20mg nic salt or high PG e-liquid and then gradually reduce
- 10-20 cigarettes a day - choose a 10mg freebase or nic salt depending on whether you want more cloud or a smoother throat hit. Match this with a pod or mod but keep the wattage and coil resistance in line with the nicotine strength, adjusting accordingly so it’s not too harsh on the throat
- Less than 10 cigarettes a day - Opt for a low-powered pod and a lower nicotine strength at 6mg for example, or 3mg if you only smoke occasionally. You could also choose a mod with a 3mg freebase nicotine should you seek more cloud alongside a higher VG ratio
Bear in mind that vaping is a means to an end. Intended for smokers looking to quit, quite quickly it’s become a social trend and part of popular culture, in particular among teens when you consider the different colours and designs. This is another form of addiction if you consider them like collectables. And for some, it’s made vaping harder to quit than smoking. So if this is the case, instead opt for a simple device that you need at the time - nothing flashy that stands out.
Staying Satisfied to Help You Stop Vaping
Sometimes when you opt to reduce the strength of nicotine in your e-juice, you may inadvertently end up vaping more frequently to feel satisfied. Logically, the more you vape, the more of a habit will form whereby you end up vaping more than you did before. The trick is to be so satisfied by your vaping experience that you end up deciding one or two puffs are enough to see you through. As mentioned, less time spent vaping will naturally reduce your habit. Add a healthy dose of willpower to remind you what the name of the game is and in no time you'll be leading a vape-free life.
Staying satisfied to stop vaping is all-important. Ensure that the e-juice or nic salts that you're vaping are sourced from a reputable brand. Cheap, imitation e-juice may contain unsuspecting chemicals and additives that will only hinder your progress. After all, this is a healthy mission that warrants only the very best. Whether you opt for traditional e-liquid or choose to do down the nic salts route, buying the best products you can contribute to making your vape satisfying enough for you not to return. Avoid e-juice that leaves a nasty aftertaste and make sure your e-juice or nicotine salts are using the best ingredients.
Avoid Going Cold Turkey
While it may be tempting to think that you can remove vaping and nicotine from your life in an instant, the reality of going cold turkey is a harsh one. Without letting your body make the slight and incremental adjustments necessary to become nicotine-free comfortably, you'll instead face a series of unpleasant symptoms. Headaches, irritability, restlessness, difficulty sleeping, difficulty concentrating and, of course, particularly intense cravings for nicotine.
As they say, "slow and steady wins the race". Do yourself and your body a favour by avoiding the cold turkey route and choosing from the options mentioned above. And when you’ve got down to zero nicotine vaping, keep the nicotine temptation at bay with nicotine gum patches, sprays or lozenges. Whatever works till you no longer require nicotine in your life. Good luck and here's to you reducing nicotine levels to become vape free!