Vaping to quit smoking

Vaping vs other ways of quitting

There are a number of different ways to quit smoking: cold turkey, nicotine replacement therapies, other stop smoking medications, or vaping. No vaping device has yet been approved as an official stop-smoking medicine, but it is a much less harmful way of delivering nicotine than burning tobacco. Vaping has helped many people quit smoking and is a legitimate way to become smokefree.

Cold turkey

Cold turkey is when you suddenly stop smoking without any support. It can work for some people, but for others it’s really hard physically because of the withdrawal symptoms from nicotine, and socially because of trying to avoid tempting situations. It’s also got pretty low success rates.

Almost half who try to quit without support will not manage to stop for even a week, and fewer than five per cent remain abstinent at one year after quitting.

Electronic Cigarettes for Smoking Cessation, Cochrane Review April 2021

Stop smoking medicines

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)

The nicotine you usually get from cigarettes can be replaced via nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, inhaler, or mouth spray. These products are ways of getting nicotine without smoking, and are available from your doctor, pharmacy, Quitline, your local stop smoking service, and supermarkets.

NRT products replace some of the nicotine that you would have otherwise got from smoking, making quitting easier. However it’s not a magic cure.

Getting some additional support from a stop smoking service can really increase your chances of stopping smoking for good.

Behavioural support and medications such as nicotine patches or gum increase the chances of [successfully] quitting, but even with this additional support long-term quit rates remain lower when compared to vapes/e-cigarettes.

Electronic Cigarettes for Smoking Cessation, Cochrane Review April 2021

Other medicines

  • Bupropion (Zyban)
  • Nortriptyline (Norpress)

These medicines are not NRTs. However they all work to help lessen the severity of nicotine withdrawal symptoms, making quitting easier. However they are not a magic cure.

Getting some additional support from a stop smoking service can really increase your chances of stopping smoking for good.

Vaping

The habit of smoking can be one of the hardest things to change. That’s why some people prefer vaping to quit. You get to keep your routine, like ciggie breaks and socialising.

Vaping is about more than nicotine. When you’ve been smoking a while, it’s become part of your life. Vaping lets you keep your routine and the nicotine, without as many harmful toxins that come from burning tobacco.

You should aim to stop smoking completely, rather than smoke and vape, as even one cigarette a day can cause damage.

Learn the facts of vaping

One of the limitations of current treatments is that, apart from providing nicotine more slowly and at lower levels than smoking, none adequately addresses the sensory, behavioural and social aspects of smoking that ex-smokers miss when they stop smoking (holding a cigarette in their hands, taking a puff, enjoyment of smoking, feeling part of a group). E-cigarettes may offer a way to overcome these limitations.

Electronic Cigarettes for Smoking Cessation, Cochrane Review April 2021

The first week was hard and then it got easier because it kind of kept up a similar motion to smoking so it wasn’t that difficult.

Perspectives and Experiences with Smoking and Vaping, Kāhui Tautoko Consulting

Vaping is much less harmful than smoking, but it’s not harmless. Vaping has not been around for long enough for us to know the health risks of long-term vaping.

What are the risks of vaping?

Breathing in anything can have side effects. Learn the side effects of vaping.

Almost twice as effective

There are a lot of stories of people using vaping to quit smoking. There are also a couple of published studies about its effectiveness. But as vaping is relatively new there aren’t a lot of trials over long periods of time.

A recent study shows that vaping is almost twice as effective as NRTs in helping smokers quit. A clinical trial in the UK compared 886 people trying NRTs vs vaping. They were given three months of product and four weeks of support from a quit coach, then left to keep going.

A year later, 10% of the NRT group were still non-smokers, and 18% of the vaping group were still non-smokers. That’s almost twice as effective.

A 2021 review from Public Health England, concludes that there is now stronger evidence that nicotine vaping products are effective for smoking cessation (McNeill 2021)

Electronic Cigarettes for Smoking Cessation, Cochrane Review April 2021

E-cigarettes were more effective for smoking cessation than nicotine-replacement therapy, when both products were accompanied by behavioral support.

A Randomized Trial of E-Cigarettes versus Nicotine-Replacement Therapy, The New England Journal of Medicine, 2019

Evidence suggesting nicotine E-Cigarettes can aid in smoking cessation is consistent across several comparisons. There was moderate‐certainty evidence, that EC with nicotine increased quit rates at six months or longer compared to non‐nicotine EC and compared to NRT.

Electronic Cigarettes for Smoking Cessation, Cochrane Review April 2021

Combining reduced-harm nicotine products, such as nicotine patches with a nicotine e-cigarette, can lead to a modest improvement in smoking cessation over and above that obtained from using patches plus a nicotine-free e-cigarette (or patches alone), with no indication of any serious harm in the short-term.

Nicotine patches used in combination with e-cigarettes (with and without nicotine) for smoking cessation: a pragmatic, randomised trial - PubMed (nih.gov)

Switching successfully

To transition successfully from smoking to vaping, it helps getting advice and support.

Check out our tips for success Choose your support for quitting

Long-term goal

If you are vaping, you should have a long-term goal to quit vaping too. Don’t rush though. Stay on the vape for as long as you need to stay off the smokes.

When you feel sure you won’t go back to smoking, you can taper off vaping in order to achieve your next goal of being smokefree and vape free by:

  • reducing the strength of your nicotine
  • changing your habits.