We’re a month into the new year and, for many people, giving up smoking or at least cutting down on the amount of cigarettes they’re smoking will have been a resolution at the start of January.
Even if you didn’t begin on 1 January, there are still many good reasons to quit smoking traditional cigarettes and move over to e-cigarettes. But that in itself can feel like a big decision.
However, new research has found that quitting smoking is made easier by using e-cigarettes. In fact, vaping has been found to be twice as effective at helping people quit compared to other nicotine replacement therapies.
Cancer Research UK supported a trial by Queen Mary University of London, which found that number of people who remained smoke free after a year was almost double among the group who were given e-cigarettes compared to those using other nicotine replacement therapies.
The university studied 886 smokers for one year. Over half were given their choice of nicotine replacement products, while the rest were given starter vape kits. All the smokers involved in the study also received the same one-to-one behavioural sessions for at least four weeks. These sessions are offered by Stop Smoking Services around the UK.
Of those using the e-cigarettes in conjunction with the other support, 18 out of 100 were smoke free after one year.
By comparison, 10 out of 100 of those using other nicotine replacement products were smoke free one year on. Examples of alternative nicotine replacement treatments include gum, patches, sprays or lozenges.
What’s more, those who used an e-cigarette but continued to smoke tobacco cigarettes cut down on the number of regular cigarettes they were smoking. The research found that even if they hadn’t stopped smoking completely, the people in this group had reduced the number of cigarettes they smoked by at least half.
There are other advantages to vaping as well. The people using e-cigarettes to help them quit also reported that they saw symptoms such as coughing and phlegm production improve after a year of vaping as opposed to regular smoking .
Even though participants in the study admitted that they found vaping less satisfying than regular smoking, it was still found to be a more satisfying substitute than the other nicotine replacement treatments on offer.
Professor Peter Hajek, who led the study, said that he hoped the findings would give those working at Stop Smoking Services and elsewhere in the NHS greater confidence to recommend vaping as a legitimate tool to help people give up cigarettes.
“Although a large number of smokers report that they have quit smoking successfully with the help of e-cigarettes, health professionals have been reluctant to recommend their use because of the lack of clear evidence from randomised controlled trials,” he explained.
However, Professor Hajek hopes that this work will go some way towards alleviating those concerns and mean that more health professionals now recommend smokers try e-cigarettes as a way of supporting their efforts to give up tobacco cigarettes.
The Guardian also reported that, one year on, 80 per cent of those who were given e-cigarettes in the trial were still vaping, compared to nine per cent among the group who were using other nicotine replacement therapies.
Professor Hajek acknowledged that this could be considered problematic, as vaping does carry some health risks, albeit considerably fewer than associated with traditional smoking.
But he told the newspaper that the positive side of it is that “we know from studies of nicotine replacement therapy that some heavy smokers need that crutch for longer to protect them from relapse”.
Professor Robert West, from University College London, told the news provider that this study was “of huge significance”. He added that it supports the anecdotal evidence that e-cigarettes can support those looking to quit smoking and gives “the clearest indication yet” that they’re more effective than other quitting aids.
Martin Dockrell, tobacco control lead at Public Health England, told the Guardian that Stop Smoking Services should “welcome smokers who want to quit with the help of an e-cigarette”, meanwhile.
So, if you’re ready to get on the e-cigarette bandwagon to help you give up traditional cigarettes, what do you need to know when you’re starting out? There is a lot of new terminology to get your head around, and it can be particularly confusing to work out which vape juice you should start with.
A recent article for T3 provided a useful overview of vape juice, as well as offering some advice about how to find the right one to support your efforts to quit smoking.
The news provider explained that there are two main options when it comes to vape juice, which is also known as e-liquid. The first has a higher concentration of vegetable glycerin (VG), which is best suited to those who “tend to use the direct to lung technique” when smoking.
VG produces “maximum vapour at the expense of throat grip and flavour”, the article noted. The other option is a vape juice that’s got a higher ratio of propylene glycol (PG). This “provides a throat hit similar to that of a tobacco cigarette”, and is a better option if you use the mouth to lung technique when smoking cigarettes.
The other thing you need to work out is what level of nicotine you need in your vape juice to get a sufficient hit with your e-cigarette. The level of nicotine you want will vary depending on how much you habitually smoked.
According to T3, those who smoke just a couple of cigarettes a day should opt for a vape juice with 3mg of nicotine. For those smoking fewer than ten a day, a 6mg nicotine concentration should be sufficient.
If you’re smoking around 20 per day, the publication recommends a 12mg mixture, and for those smoking even more heavily, the 18mg option is likely to be what you’re after.
You can also buy vape juice without any nicotine in it, which could be ideal if you simply like the act of smoking but want to get away from the drug. It also means you can gradually reduce the nicotine levels in your e-liquid and eventually wean yourself off the nicotine altogether.
Once you’ve figured out both of those factors, you’ve got to decide what flavour you’d prefer. This is down to personal choice and there is a dizzying array of tastes on offer. Before you bulk-buy any vape juice, you might want to try a few different flavours and find your favourite.
You can buy a host of fruit-flavoured e-liquids for instance, or you could opt for a menthol flavour, which might be especially appealing if you used to smoke menthol cigarettes. But there are also tobacco flavours on the market if you want to have a similar taste to traditional cigarettes.
The best thing to do is take a look online to see what kinds of flavours are out there and pick something that you think will appeal to your palette. Because they come in relatively small bottles (usually 10ml), you can try a few flavours to find one you’re happy with.
Although most vape juice is sold in 10ml bottles, there is the option of buying a 50ml bottle of nicotine-free e-liquid. T3 points out that it’s possible to buy a separate bottle of nicotine and add it to the e-liquid, but also notes that it can be difficult to get the dose right.
The publication advises sticking to the pre-mixed vape juice, adding that another advantage to this is that if you buy a flavour that you’re not overly keen on, you won’t have wasted a lot of money on it and feel obliged to vape your way through it.