Note: I am not making any medical claims in this article. The following information is based solely on my personal experience. I was a dedicated smoker for close to 15 years. Thanks to vaping, I was able to make a clean break from cigarettes in 2014. I am simply sharing the things I have learned in hopes that someone out there will benefit from it.
Vaping in 2020 – A Guide for New Vapers
I distinctly remember the process of transitioning from cigarettes to vapor products. It was an overwhelming task at the time, and even more so today. There are countless products to choose from, different e-liquids, nicotine options, vaping styles, and many other crucial factors to consider. I get it: cigarettes are simple and vaping can seem like a chore (at first).
The great thing about vaping is that you can move at your own pace. Just start simple and work your way up. You don’t need to know everything, you just need to give it a fair chance. There are plenty of cheap, user-friendly options on the market that can provide a solid experience right out of the box. And here’s the best part: the more you learn and the more you distance yourself from combustible cigarettes, the better the experience will be.
With that in mind, perhaps this article will make that transition easier for some of the newbies out there. I’m going to address some basic stuff here. If it doesn’t apply to you, just move on to the next section. There is a lot to cover and I don’t want to overwhelm anyone, so this is going to be a 2-parter. Shane will be tackling the second installment in a few weeks, in which he’ll provide some additional tips and info.
1. One Size Does Not Fit All
I’m starting here because this is a helpful thing to keep in mind when you’re getting started: vaping is a personalized experience. If you invest your hard-earned money in the most popular device on the market and it doesn’t do it for you… don’t write vaping off yet. Certain things will click for certain people, but not everyone. We’re all different. I firmly believe that a perfect vape exists for every smoker, a setup that could quickly turn combustible cigarettes into a distant memory. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t try hard enough to find it.
It’s normal for transitioning smokers to be dual-users at first, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But let me suggest a practice that I used when I was making the switch. Every time you reach for a cigarette instead of a vape, ask yourself WHY?? What is the cigarette giving you that the vape isn’t? Once you’ve identified the culprit, get online and figure out the solution. I assure you, there is a solution for everything! It could be the nicotine (too little/too much), the flavor, the draw/airflow, the heat, amongst many other things. Just note what you like, what you don’t, and tailor your experience as you move forward.
2. Double Down on Your Investment
As soon as you find a device that is working for you (even if it isn’t perfect), buy another one. These products are mass-produced and will likely fail/malfunction at some point. On top of that, you could lose or accidentally break your device. Shit happens—plan for it! The last thing you want is to be empty-handed when you get a serious nicotine craving, which might compel you to run to the gas station and grab a fresh pack of smokes.
It’s also helpful to have a secondary device so you can switch between flavors throughout the day. Not only will this help you find your ADV (all-day-vape) faster, but it also reduces the likelihood of “flavor fatigue.” Believe me, boredom can be a slippery slope when you’re getting started; avoid it at all costs.
3. Get Your Nicotine Level Right
If you’re a transitioning smoker, this is possibly the most important thing I could tell you: get your nicotine level right! Remember: nicotine is the primary source of your addiction. The most painless way to transition off cigarettes is to ensure that your body is still getting the amount of nicotine that it’s accustomed to.
The best example I can think of comes from the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark. In that memorable opening scene, Indiana Jones is attempting to steal a golden idol by replacing it with a bag of sand of equal weight. Of course, the plan goes to hell because the weight was just slightly off. Essentially, you must level the playing field…or else it’s going to be a bumpy road. This is different for everyone, so it’s probably a good idea to experiment with different nic levels at first.
This is a soft subject for me because I’ve encountered at least 6-7 people who disregarded my advice about nicotine. They were all heavy smokers who had finally decided to give vaping a chance. At first, they loved it. It smelled better, and they could vape in the house/car, they were saving money, their spouses were happy, etc. But, when I asked about nicotine, they told me they were vaping 0mg – 3mg. Why? Because they had identified nicotine as the bad guy; the true source of a habit they were intent on shaking. Ultimately, every single one of these people ditched vaping and started smoking again. Not a big surprise; cigarettes were giving them an adequate dose of nicotine; vaping wasn’t. Not exactly a fair fight.
If you want to get off nicotine entirely, that’s great. Many people do. Just avoid doing so during the first few months when everything is still at stake. It’s very easy to reduce or eliminate it further down the road; in fact, most people do it naturally.
4. Standard (Freebase) Nicotine VS. Nic Salts
This topic alone could warrant an entire article, so I’ll do my best to summarize. There’s a lot of confusion when it comes to nic salts. Things were certainly simpler before they hit the market. I still regularly hear people asking questions like, “Can I use nic salts in this device?” The fact of the matter is that nic salts are almost exactly the same as regular e-liquids. The biggest difference is that nic salts are much smoother (less throat hit). This allows manufacturers to cram in a ton of nicotine without making the experience excessively harsh for the user. It can come in handy when you need a quick nic fix, but I never recommend them to beginners until they’ve exhausted all other options.
In my opinion, smokers should start with standard (freebase) nicotine first and take it from there. The throat hit is comparable to that of a cigarette, which makes the experience more familiar. As a former pack and a half smoker, that throat hit is something that I still look forward to with an MTL setup…and that’s why I strongly dislike salts. 12mg – 18mg standard nicotine should do the trick for those who smoke a pack or more per day (maybe even 24mg for heavy smokers). If you find that those are too harsh, try 6mg. If none of those work for you, then it might be time to look into nic salts.
Warning About Nic Salts
The majority of nic salts contain considerably more nicotine (25 – 50mg) than a cigarette (around 12mg). This means that you’ll get all the nicotine you need within a much shorter period of time. But, because salts are so smooth, it’s easy to get carried away if you’re not being mindful of what you’re doing. Let me assure you, too much nicotine is not pleasant. It tends to make people feel woozy, nauseous, and light-headed. It’s much easier to monitor your nicotine intake with standard e-liquids; your body will usually tell you when enough is enough.
5. MTL vs. DL
There are a lot of great starter kits on the market, both for direct-lung (DL) and mouth-to-lung (MTL). The problem is that many new vapers don’t understand the difference between the 2, which often leads to undesirable results. Let me break it down for you.
Mouth to Lung (MTL)
- Airflow: Restricted/Tight
- Power: Low (8 – 20W)
- E-liquid Viscosity: Thin (Med/Low VG, around 50%)
- Nicotine: High (12mg – 24mg Freebase | 25mg – 50mg Salts)
The tight draw and high nicotine combo are what make MTL vaping so similar to smoking a cigarette. For that reason, most (but not all) transitioning smokers will likely have more success with MTL. As previously mentioned, you’re trying to level the playing field; replicating a cigarette with an MTL setup is the best way to do that.
Direct Lung (DL or DTL)
- Airflow: Open/Airy
- Power: High (30 – 150W)
- E-liquid Viscosity: Thick (High VG, 70%+)
- Nicotine: Low (0mg – 6mg)
When I try to explain it to new people, I generally use the following example. Direct Lung is what you do when the doctor puts a stethoscope on your back and says, “Take a few deep breaths.” It’s taking all the air directly into your lungs without any hesitation. The increased amount of airflow not only helps produce bigger clouds, but it also cools the coils, which are generating a much higher amount of heat.
I’m not going to lie, DL is great…and some people don’t go back to MTL once they’ve made that transition. But, because it’s such a unique experience, it’s not the ideal way to start. In most cases, DL is something to try further down the road when you’re looking for a change of pace. Of course, everyone is different. If you find that MTL isn’t satisfying for you, then I’d recommend trying a Direct Lung setup.
I hope that’s enough info to help get you started. Again, Shane will be addressing some additional topics in a few weeks, so keep an eye out for that in our ARTICLES section. If you have any questions or need product recommendations, feel free to leave a comment or email me directly (info below). I understand that this stuff can be confusing and overwhelming at first, but I’ll do whatever I can to make things easier for you. Just please remember that there is an ideal setup for EVERYONE. It’s a unique combination of ingredients (the right e-liquid, device, airflow, nicotine, etc.) that will provide the same level of satisfaction that cigarettes once did. You just need to go through the process of finding it.
**One last thing: I highly recommend checking out The Smoker’s Show on YouTube, hosted by Phil Busardo (pbusardo) and Dimitris Agrafiotis (VapinGreek). Their primary purpose is to educate transitioning smokers and help make the journey easier. If you happen to catch the show live, you can call in with specific questions (or type them in chat).
My name is Jeremy and I’ve been writing for VAPE.DEALS since early 2016. Digging for deals is what I do! I’m a former 15-year smoker and will always be grateful that I found vaping when I did. This site played a key role in my journey. It kept me interested and excited about vaping during those first crucial months away from cigarettes. Now, my ambition is to pass along that excitement to others; to help people make the switch and never return to combustible cigarettes. This industry is important and I feel truly blessed to be a part of it. Please feel free to reach out to me if you ever have any questions: [email protected]