If you've taken up vaping and been able to cut down your cigarette consumption, but still find yourself craving traditional cigarettes at times, the tips included here can help you become smoke-free. It doesn't matter if this is the first time you've tried to quit or whether you've tried more times than you can count. You've discovered vaping and you're almost there. Some minor adjustments combined with an expectation to succeed can have you completely tobacco-free in no time. After all, you've already changed your behaviour; you already vape instead of automatically lighting up, right? That's success and it's time to build on that and get the job done….FOR GOOD!

Expect that there is going to be a learning curve. Recall (maybe WAY back) when you started smoking and it made you cough....gave you a stomach or headache? I personally was 13 years old and ended up in the nurse's’ office after I smoked my first two cigarettes back to back on my lunch break. We all persevered and before we knew it we were addicted. Think of it like that, except this time you're doing something that's good for you. Remember it's a process for many people, not an on/off switch.

8 tips that will help you be successful at making the switch


One of the first things you can do is begin to keep a log of your cravings. What are your triggers? Notice when in the day you crave a cigarette and what's going on at the time. Is it that first cup of coffee of the day? Maybe you're one of a group at work who goes outside for a smoke-break, and you've tried taking your vape pen with you to use instead, but there's too much temptation. Once you know what sets you off, try to avoid those behaviours as much as possible. Not forever, but just until you no longer feel the urge to smoke.  


This is a more technical tip and your vape shop expert should be able to demonstrate the difference to you easily.  However, having a basic understanding of the difference will help you choose the right type of vape pen for yourself because the two types of vape draws can affect someone’s ability to quit. The first type is very different then smoking cigarette and is referred to as Direct Lung Inhale (DL). DL inhale is drawing in the vapour directly to your lungs similar to smoking a shisha or hookah as opposed to a traditional cigarette. The vapour is dense, produces big clouds and is commonly referred to as “sub-ohm vaping”. The other draw you can experience with vaping is referred to as Mouth to Lung Inhale (MTL). MTL vaping is most commonly associated with how a tobacco cigarette is smoked.  It is when a user draws the vapour into their mouth first and then inhales it into their lungs. This draw produces the same amount of vapour that you would expect from traditional cigarette compared to the big clouds you get from vaping DL.

Typically when switching from smoking to a vape pen most long time smokers are successful with vaping MTL in the beginning because it provides the same sensation as traditional cigarettes making it easier to switch. If you are used to smoking a shisha/hookah then vaping DL may be a better option.  The different types of vape draws are determined mainly by the type of vape and tank you buy.  


Another important factor that increases your success rate of making the switch from smoking to a vape pen is finding the right nicotine strength. Regular cigarettes have anywhere from 8-12mg of nicotine per cigarette while light cigarettes will have less. E-liquids are available in various nicotine strengths (usually 0, 3,6,12,mg and even go up as high as 18 and 24mg)  That being said the nicotine strength of your e-juice and the type of draw (MTL vs. DL) you need are directly linked to each other and is related to  the type of cigarettes you are used to smoking (Regular vs. Light). The DL draw produces higher density vapour and will give a more intense throat hit, so it’s important to reduce the level of nicotine or it may be too strong. When vaping MTL you may need more nicotine as the vapour is decreased giving less of a throat hit, so a higher nicotine level may be required. You should visit your local vape shop and speak to a knowledgeable employee for suggestions and to sample different strengths in your preferred draw (MTL vs. DTL).  Below is a chart to better explain the relationship.

Light cigarette     +     MTL     =     medium to high nicotine level

Light cigarette     +       DL    =     low nicotine level

Regular cigarette     +     MTL    =     higher nicotine level

Regular cigarette     +       DL     =     low to medium nicotine level

To simplify, if you find yourself still craving cigarettes after you’ve been vaping for a while, you may have chosen a nicotine strength that isn’t strong enough. Don’t worry too much about the nicotine strength you’re using if it’s on the high side. You can taper down over time and the most important thing is you’re not smoking a cigarette, which includes nicotine PLUS thousands of other chemicals and toxins, such as formaldehyde and carbon monoxide.


If you’re already vaping but still smoking, the size of your vape pen may not be large enough to provide you a satisfying vape and consequently deliver you enough nicotine.  

The size of the battery in your vape pen or vape mode affects two aspects of vaping:  

  • Life - the bigger the battery, the longer the battery will last between charges.  Sometimes you just want to replicate the feeling of smoking - the oral gratification, the sense of holding a cigarette between your fingers and bringing it up to your mouth. Small vape pens are great for this. However, if you were a half a pack, to a full pack a day smoker and if you bought a smaller vape pen you may have already experienced the need to recharge your vape during the day.  Most of us want our vape pens to last the day so we only need to charge it at night alongside our cell phones.  Some people are dead set on not using a big battery often referred to as a “vape mod”.  However it’s best to keep in mind that if you were a smoker you were usually carrying around a pack of cigarettes and a lighter.  You may find you have more success using a couple of different styles: a bigger vape mod to start the day, as well as one that physically resembles and behaves more like a cigarette such as a vape pen.  

  • Power –the bigger the battery the more power it delivers to your vape pen or vape mod.  

    • More power in your vape pen/mod     =     Bigger vapour production.  

    • Bigger vapour production             =     Bigger nicotine hit

If you are vaping and still craving cigarettes, you are likely not receiving enough nicotine or at least not the equivalent amount of nicotine you were receiving in the brand/type of cigarette you smoked.  There is a direct relationship between power and nicotine delivery.  This is why a higher nicotine strength is recommended when using a small battery vape pen and a lower nicotine strength when using a bigger vape mod.  


There are so many e-liquid flavour combinations it’s hard to keep track, but typically two types of thoughts on which is best for you.  

Long Time Smokers (consider 20+ years) - Most long time smokers who are making the switch to a vape pen may find in the beginning it's best to use a tobacco flavour profile (many are available that are similar to the type of cigarette you smoke including menthol tobacco). The reason for this is that you may not feel completely satisfied if you’re craving a cigarette and tasting something sweet or fruity because smokers associate food flavours with a cigarette after.  This is usually common in the early stages of making the switch as you are training your brain to resist the traditional cigarettes.  This is not to say that vapers stick to the tobacco flavour forever it’s just to help wean them off the cigarettes in the beginning, once you have noticed that you are vaping more than smoking you can start to explore the hundreds of different flavour profiles. Although starting with tobacco flavours are recommended for long time smokers, it is not necessary.  

All Others – If you are not a long time smoker, you might prefer a flavour other than tobacco.  Most smokers will admit that they never really “liked” the taste of a cigarette and feel that if their vape tastes good to them they are more likely to vape and not smoke, thereby satisfying their nicotine craving.  

Keep experimenting with flavours.  It is the best way to help guide you to something that will best suit your needs and can help you make the complete switch.  Most vape shops offer a tasting station or in some provinces where it is prohibited, the opportunity to get a description of the flavour you may want to try.


Think back to when your vape pen was new.  Is it still performing the way it did? If you aren’t sure what’s going on with your vape pen you may get frustrated and quit using it all together. The most common issue is the coil needs to be changed. This is usually the only upkeep required for your vape pen. Coils or Atomizers which are the heating element should typically be replaced every 3 weeks. If you are starting to experience a burnt flavour, leaking or experiencing no vapour this can be an indication that the coil needs to be changed. Make sure wherever you purchased your vape pen that the sales representative goes over when and how to replace the coil and ways to extend the life of your coil. (tips for extending coil life…..(1) Be sure your vape pen is turned off when you store it in your pocket, purse or backpack.  This way the button won’t accidentally get pushed and start your vape pen while not in use. (2) Only push the button when you are actually taking a vape.  Pushing the button before you vape only shortens the life of your coil.)


I hate being told this one, but it really did help.  You can’t lose sight of your main goal to quit smoking and break the chokehold it has over you.  Take note of how much better you feel.  Your breathing improved, you don’t smell like an ashtray, your guilt level is down and you feel like you are getting some control back. Take advantage of this! Now might be the right time to join that gym you've been considering, but avoiding because you knew how much your chest would hurt. It may drive home one of the reasons you wanted to quit in the first place and keep you on target. And speaking of targets - it may help to set a date for when you want to be finished with cigarettes for good.


Vaping is simply much less expensive than smoking. Consider setting aside the money you used to spend on cigarettes and set a goal to treat yourself like a vacation or an activity that you’ve always wanted to do. There are many reasons to quit and this is a good way to remind you of one of them.  If you are one of many that are in limbo between being a smoker and a vaper I urged you to discuss this with a vape expert.  That could be a friend, relative or coworker that has crossed over.  We all have similar struggles when it relates to the hold cigarettes had over us.

Visit your vape shop and explain what's going on. Don't be afraid to ask questions - it's that old adage; the only stupid question is the one you don't ask. It took time to build up that cigarette addiction. Don't short-change yourself on the time it takes to pick the right combination of vape pen, juice, and nicotine strength. You'll be amazed at how small adjustments can make big differences. And if you feel you're not being given the time and attention you need, you're in the wrong shop! Find one where customer service is a priority.


Published by Steffen Ploeger