This site uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. Further information is on our Privacy Policy page. Please click Accept Cookies to continue to use the site.

Why Does Vaping Make Me Cough?

17th Nov 2021

Woman Coughing While Vaping

So you're giving up smoking and picking up a vape device - congratulations your lungs will thank you later! Some kits may look the same as a cigarette but they are remarkably different in practice. Inhaling thicker clouds and trying pineapple e-liquids is just the beginning. Although an e-cigarette is highly recommended by many, it can still cause some prickly issues with the throat. Why does vaping make me cough is a question asked by many in the first stages. A frequent reason for coughing is the vaping technique you use and not adjusting to the e-cigarette switch from smoking. That’s what this blog is for - to help you through the process, understanding what causes vapers cough and the tips that will help you prevent it from happening again.

Potential Triggers for Vapers Cough

There could be any number of reasons why you're coughing after putting up your e-cigarette. While coughing is a short term side effect when vaping, it's still a frustration for many. Therefore, we have compiled a list below of where you could be going wrong and how to prevent a vapers cough.

Vaping Mouth to Lung or Direct Lung Incorrectly

The two key vaping techniques - mouth to lung vaping (MTL) and direct to lung (DTL) - can sometimes confuse those picking up an e-cigarette for the first time (and even a few regulars with limited knowledge). If you don’t understand the difference between the two, our guide can explain in more depth. Essentially, should you vape using the wrong inhalation method for your vape device, this could cause coughing.

While MTL is preferred initially by former smokers, often new vapers attempt to inhale the vapour directly into the lungs without knowing or understanding their setup. This even occurs among people who’ve been vaping for some time in DTL and have not even realised. Storing too much nicotine or vapour in the mouth before inhaling or vaping DTL could be giving you that chesty coughing fit.

Try to switch it up using trial and error till you find the correct balance. Some DTL devices are just too powerful with a larger amount of vapour produced than expected for beginners. Approach with caution.

Clean Cilia on Lungs Not Affected by Smoke

Damaged Lungs From Smoking

Each year in the UK we witness 47,000 cases of lung cancer, with three-quarters of those directly caused by smoking. The lung cells mutate due to the 60 carcinogens that enter the body from cigarettes. The small hairs called Cilia operate around the lungs, removing mucus build up when you get sick for example. These are damaged when you smoke and until you stop they do not function or are at a very limited level.

Initially, you may cough when you stop smoking because of the cilia, which begin to repair and eventually start functioning again. This overlaps with vaping when people pick up an e-cigarette to replace smoking. The coughing may persist but once you give up smoking, a month later your lungs will improve and continue to do so year after year.

Propylene Glycol

Your e-liquid might be causing your cough, particularly if you vape a 100% PG liquid. Propylene Glycol is used in a variety of products but is known for irritating the throat, which can later create a coughing bout if you have a sensitivity to PG. While PG is good for replicating the throat hit familiar with smoking, it’s better to smooth that out with a little bit of VG too. A less harsh sensation will reduce the chances of coughing. Once the body familiarises itself with vaping and begins to self-clean following the removal of cigarettes, the coughing should reduce at the very least but hopefully stop completely.

Too Much Battery Power

When you first start vaping, too much power can alter the performance of the device, producing more vapour than you require. Keep it low by choosing a simple vape pen that’s either fixed at a specific low wattage or easily adjustable.

High Nicotine Strength

A common issue that causes vapers’ cough is using an e-liquid with too high a nicotine level. When you start vaping it’s important to try to replicate the nicotine level you had as a smoker. It’s about finding the right balance - you don’t want to start with too low a nicotine strength if you’re used to higher levels with cigarettes (on average between 1.1 and 1.8mg a cigarette after the tobacco burns). That could cause a relapse back to smoking if it doesn’t satisfy your cravings. Equally, too much nicotine in one inhale could irritate the throat.

Woman Drinking Water Due to Dehydration

Dehydration Because of a Dry Throat

A dry throat is common in vaping because of the thick consistency from the e-liquids you heat and the contents of those vape juices. PG latches on to the water from your saliva and initiates the coughing. With PG in e-liquids, it can create not just throat irritation but a dry mouth, which leads to dehydration if not treated.

Coils Burn if Not Primed Sufficiently

Managing your vape equipment and accessories goes a long way towards helping you prevent coughing when picking up your e-cigarette. One of the best ways to ensure this is by priming your coils correctly before each use. This will help to increase the longevity of each pack and help to reduce the chances of burning your coil and getting a horrible burnt taste with your e-liquid. Read all about priming your coils here.

Browse Coils

The Science Behind a Cough - With or Without Vaping

Coughing can occur at any time due to the build-up of mucus in the lungs. A continuous cough after vaping is likely due to your setup but could also be because of the change you have made in giving up smoking. Typically for those who do not vape or smoke a continuous cough can persist anywhere from 2-4 weeks. However, with vapers and smokers it depends on what you have inhaled, the frequency that you do so and we know that to date research suggests vaping is the better alternative for short and long term health benefits. Although there are side effects with vaping, they’re considered less dangerous than cigarette combustion.

Why Does Smoking Cause a Cough?

People who smoke often develop a cough. This cough is caused by the body clearing out the chemicals that enter the airways and lungs through tobacco use.

If the cough is persistent, lasting for more than 3 weeks, it is known as a smoker’s cough. While the cough may begin as a dry cough, it can eventually produce phlegm. Other symptoms include a sore throat and chest pain.

Although most non-nicotine related coughs are associated with a cold or the flu, smoking is one of the main causes for a cough according to the NHS. Your lung capacity improves by 10% after just nine months when you quit cigarettes so it’s worth it. Even worse than a cough, this symptom can be a sign of lung cancer, so it’s important to stop smoking right away and see a doctor. Vaping has so far improved its worth as a cessation tool, helping millions to quit in the UK as an alternative. With no tar involved in e-cigarettes, this is a big help to reduce the chances of damaging your lungs and how they function. Nevertheless, we don’t suggest that vaping is beneficial for your breathing, coughing or how your lungs work if you do not vape or even smoke. Its sole purpose is to help people get off the cigarettes and then eventually to quit vaping altogether too.

How to Stop Coughing When Vaping

  1. Choose the right technique and setup for your vape - start with a low powered MTL kit and see how you get on.
  2. Balance your PG and VG ratio - you may have an intolerance to PG, this does occur with some vapers. If you think this could be the case, there are organic vape juice options that provide the smoothest texture with each inhale, such as the V2 Vsavi 100% VG range, which are GMO-free and available in a range of flavours. Try switching to a blend of PG/VG and you may well notice an improvement.
  3. Change your nicotine levels so the strength is not as intense, finding the right balance gradually to ease the chances of getting a dry throat. It all depends on the goals you have as a vaper. If you’ve been smoking more than 20 cigarettes a day for many years, it’s going to be difficult to vape low amounts of nicotine and get the required equivalent.
  4. Keeping hydrated is something we all need to do to avoid dry mouth, whether you’re smoking, vaping or a dual user. The type of e-liquid you use will determine how dry your mouth gets so it’s always important to sip water between vapes and after you finish to avoid that issue and prevent a cough.
  5. Patience is important because most vapers experience a little bit of coughing while they get used to the adjustment from smoking as it’s completely different. Follow the tips above and tweak the vape kit, e-liquids and prep your vape the right way i.e priming your coils to maximise performance.
  6. Failing all else, you can always try Nic Salts, which offer higher levels of nicotine strength at an even smoother consistency than freebase nicotine because of its consistency and different preparation method. Read more about nic salts and freebase nicotine here.

Shop Nic Salts


A vapers cough can happen to anyone at any time. It’s a common issue with e-cigarette users but often mild and passes quickly. While it has the potential to put beginners off, with a bit of know-how about the device you use and following a few of the tips above, the coughing should subside once your body gets used to no longer inhaling cigarettes. Just remember to vape correctly and select the right kit that matches your needs. If you require any assistance to help you pick the right pod or mod, read our informative guide or speak to one of the V2 Cigs team via phone, email or our social channels on Facebook and Twitter. If the coughing continues after following all of these steps, speak to a doctor who can best advise your next steps