By the end of this beginner’s guide on e-cigarettes, you’ll know:
When you’re ready, we’ll get started…
E-cigarettes are an alternative to traditional tobacco cigarettes.
Instead of tobacco, they use vapourized nicotine that’s typically delivered via a battery-powered atomizer or cartomizer (more on these in just a bit).
(For a deeper understanding of how e-cigarettes work, check out this article.)
The most polarizing characteristic of e-cigs is their ability to mimic the process of smoking an actual cigarette.
With each drag, you get a similar sensation to smoking – the “kick” in the back of your throat and visible “smoke” when you exhale.
It’s this similarity that’s played a significant role in the e-cigarette’s surge in popularity over the past decade … in addition to an impressive list of additional benefits.
Note: For simplicity’s sake, throughout the rest of this guide I’ll be referring to e-cigarettes as e-cigs and tobacco cigarettes as cigarettes.
Or, why should you consider switching from cigarettes to e-cigs?
That’s a good question (with a few good answers).
The inherent benefits e-cigs have over cigarettes are all “game changers.” In other words, they’ll impact your life in a BIG way.
Here are four of the most significant benefits e-cigs have over cigarettes:
Cigarettes continue to climb in price each year.
In the 90’s you could purchase a premium pack of cigarettes for under £2. By the 2000’s, that number had doubled to around £4.
Today, you’re doing well if you can purchase a generic brand for around £8 per pack (could be more as the budget will be announced soon).
Did you know: The average smoker in the UK spends around £183 per month on cigarettes. Which adds up to around £2,190 per year!
That’s a pretty significant chunk of cash.
But here’s a more promising statistic …
The typical e-cig smoker (a.k.a. “vaper”) spends HALF that amount each year.
When you make the switch, your biggest upfront cost will be your initial e-cig purchase. (Which should be a starter kit – more on these later on.)
After that, your only regular expense will be new e-liquid or cartomizers (which are both the fraction of the cost of cigarettes and generally last longer).
The rest of your expenses (i.e. cartomizer, atomizer, replacement battery, etc.) will only be required on an as-needed basis.
One of the first things smokers notice after they’ve made the switch to e-cigs is the odour, or lack thereof.
They notice how strong the smell of cigarette smoke is on other people. And they notice how much better they smell as a result of quitting.
And that’s what’s great about e-cigs…
They either 1) have no odour or 2) a very faint and sweet smell (similar to candy floss or bubble gum).
Why don’t they give off a strong and unpleasant odour?
It’s because you’re not inhaling or exhaling smoke when you use them. You’re inhaling and exhaling water vapour. And water vapour evaporates into the atmosphere almost instantly.
There’s no chemically filled smoke present to cling onto your clothes, furniture, or breath… and no second hand smoke that can affect bystanders.
The great “smoking debate” now revolves around whether e-cigs are truly a healthier alternative to cigarettes.
Some naysayers argue they’re just as bad (if not, worse). My response to that – they need to do their research.
From what several research studies have revealed so far, as a whole, e-cigs are much healthier (and safer) than smoking cigarettes.
If you’d like to read up on some of the studies yourself (which I encourage you to do), here’s a link to a page that stay’s up-to-date on the latest findings:
So while the verdict is still ultimately out on just how safe e-cigs are, thus far the majority of research has led to a popular belief that e-cigs are a far healthier alternative to cigarettes.
Also check out my article: Smoking: What are you doing to your body?
Did you know that cigarettes were the number one cause of fire related deaths in dwellings (PDF) in the UK between 2012 and 2013?
That’s not all. They’re also the leading cause of fire related deaths in the U.S. and four other countries.
And to top it all off … cigarettes account for 10% of all fire related deaths in the entire world!
On the other end of the spectrum…
E-cigs have no open flames. They require no fuel-based ignition source (i.e. lighters, matches, etc.). And you aren’t at risk of falling asleep with one “lit.”
The most pressing danger associated with e-cigs is nicotine exposure to children, who can contract nicotine poisoning from ingesting too much e-liquid. As such, you should always be extra careful when storing your e-cig.
Don’t let others fool you … you will go through an adjustment period when you make the switch from cigarettes to e-cigs.
And some parts will be more difficult than others. As similar as vaping is to actual smoking, it’s also very different in some ways – mainly in the fact that you’re not ingesting near the amount of chemicals as you do with cigarette smoke.
Here are three things you should expect when transitioning from cigarettes to e-cigs. While they don’t occur in everyone, they are among the most common:
Make no mistake about it. You will most likely experience withdraw symptoms for the first couple of weeks after you’ve switched to e-cigs.
As I mentioned earlier, you’re taking in far fewer chemicals with e-cigs than with tobacco cigarettes. And that absence of chemicals (approximately 4,000 different kinds) will affect your body in various ways.
Not to mention, you’ll also be taking in a significantly smaller amount of nicotine.
As such, your body will naturally struggle to adjust, and you’re more likely to experience cravings and withdrawal symptoms during this period of time.
Some of the common withdrawal symptoms may include:
Here’s the bright side of the coin…
They symptoms will not be nearly as bad as they would be if you were to quit cold turkey.
However, if they get to be too annoying, then feel free to smoke the occasional cigarette as your body adjusts to the change (making it a point to smoke less and less as the two weeks progress).
As you’ll soon find out, not all e-cig devices are created equal. Just like everything else that’s mass manufactured and distributed to consumers.
Some types you’ll naturally be drawn to. And others will be more suited to your personal needs and preferences.
There’s no way for you to know for sure which one is best for you (or which one you like the most) without first “testing the waters.”
The same applies for e-liquids, too. (Even more so.) They come in a vast variety of different types, flavours, and strengths.
Some flavours will appeal to you more than others.
For instance, if you currently smoke menthol cigarettes, then you’ll most likely want to try menthol-flavoured e-liquids. And different menthol-flavoured brands will taste different than others.
Keeping all of the above in mind, you should expect to try at least a couple of different devices within the first few months… and several different flavours and strengths of e-liquids.
Vaping is the term associated with “smoking” an e-cig. And in the beginning, you will most likely vape on your e-cig more often than you smoked a cigarette.
This is mainly due to two reasons:
So now that you know what to expect, it’s time to go over the different types of e-cigs and e-liquids that are available to you. And then show you the best places to buy each.
When e-cigs first hit the market, your options were limited. You basically had one type and style – love it or leave it.
But in the past ten years, the types, styles, and options have become almost overwhelming for a new e-cig user.
Below, you’ll learn about the four most popular types of e-cigarettes along with the pros and cons of each.
Rechargeable e-cigs (a.k.a. minis or cig-a-likes) are what started it all. And they still remain one of the most popular options today.
Rechargeables look and feel like an actual tobacco cigarette – with the most noticeable differences being their weight (rechargeables are heavier) and colour/design (rechargeables come in a variety of different colours and styles).
Rechargeables use disposable cartomizers – which are combination atomizers/cartridges that look like cigarette filters, hold the e-liquid, and convert it into vapour.
Most cartomizers can’t be refilled (unlike traditional atomizers). For that reason, cartomizers are sold in packs and cartons (like traditional cigarettes).
Disposable e-cigs are almost identical to rechargeable e-cigs. The main difference is that they have a built-in battery that can’t be replaced. So when the battery (or e-liquid) runs out, the e-cig is no longer good.
Disposable e-cigs are best for those who are ready to kick the nicotine habit for good, or who want to experiment with different flavours and brands without making a substantial investment.
eGo e-cigs are a form of personal vaporizer (see below). They’re arguably the most popular type of e-cig currently on the market.
eGos come in a large variety of different shapes, sizes, and styles. They do not resemble traditional cigarettes in any way, and are normally closer to the size of a cigar.
In comparison to rechargeable e-cigs, eGos will typically provide you with a longer battery life, more power, and more vapour.
Most eGo models use atomizers. Atomizers are similar to cartomizers except for three fairly significant differences:
For best all-around performance at an affordable price, eGos are the winner.
Personal vaporizers are for serious e-cig hobbyists.
Also known as advanced personal vaporizers (APV), these devices offer the ultimate selection of customization options – including different tank styles, replaceable ion battery cells, variable voltage levels, digital readouts, and more.
While some APV models may require their own set of instructions to assemble and operate, there’s no denying the uncontested quality of these types of e-cigs.
(Which is why they’re priced at a premium and often touted as the “Cadillacs” of the vaping community.)
If you’re just getting into vaping, you’re better off starting with a cheaper and less complex option.
Then, once you’ve gotten your feet wet and have decided to stick with vaping (wise choice, BTW) you should definitely consider upgrading to a personal vaporizer.
By now, I’m sure you already have a solid understanding of what e-liquids are.
They’re the flavoured liquid that contains nicotine (or not) and is converted into the vapour you inhale when you take a drag of your e-cig.
But what you probably don’t know is that there are actually different types of liquid available to vapers:
The different types of e-liquid flavours available amongst all brands of e-liquid providers are far too numerous to count.
They can range from tobacco flavoured to vanilla to pina colada to German chocolate beefcake (yes… that’s a real flavour!).
Most e-liquid flavours are derivatives of popular food flavourings and cigarette flavourings – with the most popular being tobacco and menthol.
If you choose to use an eGo or APV e-cig, then you have the option to combine different flavours to create your own. With a little experimentation, you can come up with some very unique and interesting flavours.
Minis and disposables do not have this option – because they use cartomizers, and most cartomizers can’t be refilled.
If there were only one piece of advice I could give you in regards to e-liquid flavours, it would be this…
Keep trying new flavours until you find the one you absolutely love. It may take some time to do so, but it’s crucial for your continued enjoyment (and use) of e-cigs and your prevention of reverting back to traditional cigarettes.
In addition to different flavours, e-liquids also come in different nicotine strengths:
If you’re new to e-cigs, it’s recommended that you start with an e-liquid strength between 18 and 24mg. From there, you can adjust accordingly.
If your goal is to kick your nicotine habit completely, then you’ll want to incorporate the step-down system. The step-down system involves starting with a higher nicotine strength (say, 18mg) and slowly decreasing it over time – from 18mg to 16mg to 14mg and so on.
Remember: Like with flavouring, make sure you experiment with different strengths until you find the one that works best for you.
Once you’ve decided to switch to e-cigs, your next (and final) step (after reading this guide, of course) is to find a place to purchase them.
The good news is e-cig vendors are not hard to find. The bad news is that a lot of them don’t offer a quality product.
Below, I’ll show you where you can go to locate vendors that offer high quality devices and kits at affordable prices.
More of these e-cig stores are popping up all around the country (in reaction to e-cigs’ rise in popularity).
But it’s hard to find quality e-cig products at brick-and-mortar stores without paying a hefty premium for them.
For that reason, I recommend you go a different route (if possible).
But if you insist on buying from a physical store, or just need a disposable e-cig, then you can check at these places:
Online distributors are a step above brick-and-mortar stores.
They tend to offer better quality e-cigs at lower prices. And they also offer e-cigarette starter kits – complete e-cig kits that typically include a couple of batteries, a charger, atomizer (or pack of cartomisers), and a case; everything you need to start vaping. I tend to buy from online vendors due to the huge range they stock as well as the cheaper prices.
As a matter of fact, I’m going to leave you with some links to reviews of my highest recommended electronic cigarette starter kits:
Little note: This beginners guide to e-cigarettes will have further information added as time goes on because there are always new gizmo’s coming out in the word of vaping, so bookmark this guide!