If you are looking for a way to quit smoking without putting too much pressure on yourself, here is a three-step strategy for you to try.
Quitting smoking may be one of the most obvious ways to improve health, but it’s certainly not one of the easiest. Two of the major obstacles is the psychological hold the smoking habit can have on the mind and the body’s response to withdrawal from nicotine.
Instead of trying to quit smoking ‘cold turkey’ or using methods with low success rates, smokers may have better results using a three-step strategy:
- The first step is transitioning from smoking to vaping.
- The second is using vaping to gradually eliminate dependence on nicotine.
- The third and final step is to replace the vaping habit with a different habit that lets you quit both smoking and vaping altogether.
Step 1: Transition from Smoking to Vaping
Vaping involves the use of a device designed to heat e-liquid into a vapor, which is then inhaled into the lungs. The simplest vaping devices consist of three elements: a rechargeable battery, a refillable chamber for holding e-liquid, and a heating element that uses battery power to heat the liquid.
Unlike smoking, vaping relies on heat instead of fire, which is the main reason it’s a safer alternative. Cigarettes smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, with the most toxic resulting from combustion.
The typical e-liquid contains at least two chemicals, propylene glycol (PG) and vegetable glycerin (VG), and doesn’t involve any type of combustion.
The lack of combustion makes vaping a much less harmful alternative, with the Public Health England determining that vaping is about 95 percent safer than smoking combustible cigarettes. Other studies likewise support vaping as a safer choice.
An Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs panel ranked the hazards of several nicotine products on a scale of 1 to 100. Combustible cigarettes received the highest hazard ranking of 100 while vaping products scored less than 16.
A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found vaping was just as effective as nicotine lozenges, patches and gum for reducing carcinogens and toxins associated with smoking. Better yet, the success rate using vaping to quit smoking appears to be rather high.
More than 1 million people in the U.K. have turned to vaping over smoking, according to the Guardian, giving Great Britain the lowest smoking rates it has seen since 1974. Reuters reported an estimated 10 percent of adults in the U.S. have also turned to vaping.
A few tips can help the switch from smoking to vaping go more smoothly:
- Start simple, with a simple yet quality device that’s easy to use.
- Choose a quality e-liquid, such as natural tobacco e-juice. Natural tobacco helps to keep chemical ingredients at a minimum while most closely resembling the taste of cigarettes.
- Drink plenty of water, as the PG and VG used in e-liquid are known for removing moisture from their environment.
- Choose the right nicotine level. Nicotine levels in e-juice typically range from about 18 mg all the way down to zero. Smokers with a pack-a-day habit may want to start with the highest level of nicotine available.
- Have your vape charged, filled and ready for action when you would normally smoke a cigarette. This can include in the morning with a cup of coffee, after meals, while driving, or any other time you typically smoke.
Vaping can be an extremely helpful way to quit smoking for several reasons. One is the ability to satiate the nicotine craving on the spot. Vaping also lets you replace an old habit with a new that is similar in action and experience.
Step 2: Gradually Decrease E-Liquid Nicotine Levels
While vaping is safer than smoking, the healthiest option of all is to quit smoking and vaping altogether. Once you’ve successfully transitioned from smoking cigarettes to vaping e-liquid, the next step in your quitting process can begin. This involves gradually weaning the body off nicotine.
Your eventual goal is to end up with an e-liquid that contains zero nicotine, a feat you achieve by lowering the nicotine levels in your e-juice on a step-by-step basis. The process may be a bit different for everyone, so you may need to experiment with exact time frames to find the pace that’s most comfortable for you.
Nicotine levels in e-liquid are typically listed by milligrams and percentages.
- 18 mg – nicotine accounts for 1.8 percent of e-liquid content
- 12 mg – nicotine accounts for 1.2 percent of e-liquid content
- 6 mg – nicotine accounts for 0.6 percent of e-liquid content
- 3 mg – nicotine accounts for 0.3 percent of e-liquid content
- 0 mg – nicotine accounts for 0.0 percent of e-liquid content
Although the most comfortable pace for weaning off nicotine varies, a good place to start is going down a nicotine level every two weeks. You can purchase e-liquid with decreasing levels of nicotine as you move down the line.
Another option is to purchase an e-liquid with zero nicotine to mix with those containing higher levels to dilute the nicotine content.
However you go about it, the aim is to reduce nicotine gradually enough that you avoid severe nicotine withdrawal symptoms. This is an extremely important step for those who are trying to quit smoking.
Once you’re vaping an e-juice that contains zero nicotine, you have one more step: the transition from vaping to a different habit.
Step 3: Change the Vaping Habit to Something Else
The most effective way to quit smoking or get out of any existing habit isn’t to simply try to stop. Psychology Today notes you’ll have much more success if you instead replace one habit with another.
You already successfully replaced smoking with vaping, and now it’s time to replace vaping with something else.
The replacement habit you choose doesn’t have to be the same in every circumstance. For instance, instead of vaping after a meal, you can start the habit of brushing your teeth. Instead of vaping with your morning coffee, you can start the habit of journaling.
Instead of vaping while driving, you can take up chewing sugarless gum.
The key is to be consistent with whatever habit you choose, enforcing the new habit day after day, week after week. When kept up consistently, new habits are typically ingrained in about six weeks.
Quitting smoking may still not be the easiest feat in the world, but it doesn’t have to be the most difficult. These three steps to quitting smoking can also help ensure it’s one that’s met with eventual success.
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