The desire to quit smoking is a common one, but anyone who has tried to quit will know that it is exceedingly hard to do.
Smoking is not only addictive, but also habit-forming, meaning that you need to effectively deal with two simultaneous problems if you want to succeed. This is why vaping can be such a powerful tool for quitting cigarettes.
Vaping doesn’t deprive your brain of the nicotine that it has become used to, but does eliminate many of the dangerous chemicals and compounds associated with tobacco and tobacco smoke. Unlike nicotine patches or gum, it doesn’t force you to break the habit, it simply replaces it with a habit that is far less harmful and much more scalable and adaptable.
In this article, we examine what happens to your body when you quit smoking and start vaping. The effects are overwhelmingly positive, but there are some minor side effects to be aware of.
What Happens When You Quit Smoking?
It is estimated that an average of just 5% of people who quit smoking cold turkey will succeed in stopping for longer than 6 months.
By comparison, studies have shown that people who quit smoking by first switching to vaping have a success rate of over 50%. That alone is a great argument for switching from smoking to vaping, but if you need more reasons, here are some known side effects of quitting tobacco cold turkey.
- Insatiable cravings and increased appetite
- Mood swings and irritability
- Insomnia, fatigue, and poor concentration
- Headaches and dizziness
- Anxiety and depression
None of those are fun, and it’s easy to see why so few people succeed in quitting without a helping hand. But, you might be asking, won’t I experience the same thing if I switch to vaping instead?
Thankfully, the answer is no. While you certainly should expect significant changes, few (if any) of those side effects will be a problem when switching to a vape. In fact, in our experience, the vast majority of changes are positive ones.
Here’s what happens when you quit smoking and start vaping.
You’ll Start to Feel the Health Benefits Quickly
The benefits to your health offered by switching from smoking to vaping are often one of the main reasons to make the change. However, it’s a common misconception that you’ll notice these improvements almost immediately. In reality, depending on how long and on how heavily you smoked, it can take some time to feel all of the effects of quitting.
However, just because you don’t feel 10 years younger after a week, that doesn’t mean your body isn’t healing or that your health isn’t improving.
Here’s what happens in the body after you quit smoking and start vaping.
After 20 Minutes: Just 20 minutes after your last cigarette, your blood pressure and heart rate return to normal.
After 8-12 Hours: Carbon monoxide begins to leave your body, reducing by half. This allows your blood oxygen levels to begin returning to normal.
After 48 Hours: Almost all carbon monoxide associated with smoking will have left your system. Your lungs will begin clearing out mucus, and you may notice an improvement in taste and smell.
After 72 Hours: The small tubes in your lungs, the bronchioles, will start to relax and heal. You should notice that breathing is easier and you have more energy than when you were smoking.
After 2-12 Weeks: Circulation improves over several weeks. Blood will be pumped through your heart more strongly, and can oxygenate your muscles and organs more efficiently.
After 3-9 Months: In as little as three months, your lung function might be improved by as much as 10%. That might not sound like much, but it should be a noticeable improvement. You will cough and wheeze far less than when you were smoking.
After 12 Months: Your risk of heart attack will be approximately half that of a smoker. All of the above benefits will also continue to become more pronounced. Breathing will be easier, circulation will be similar to a non-smoker, and lung function will continue improving.
After 10 Years: If you avoid smoking for a decade, your risk of death from lung cancer may be reduced by half compared to a smoker. It has also been suggested that your risk of heart attack will be no higher than it would be for someone who has never smoked tobacco.
The timeline above is based on averages. How heavily and for how long you smoked, along with your lifestyle and general level of fitness, can impact the timings.
The timeline is also based on quitting smoking entirely, rather than switching to vaping. However, because vaping is thought to be as much as 95% less damaging than smoking, the improvements to your health will be almost the same as giving up smoking altogether.
Your Sense of Taste and Smell Will Improve
Your sense of taste and smell are both heavily dulled by smoking. The harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke, such as carbon monoxide, can directly affect your taste buds and reduce blood flow to other sense organs, including the olfactory nerves in your nose. Smoking has even been shown to affect hearing by reducing blood flow to the cochlea.
Although vape liquids include nicotine, which can also have some impact on your taste buds, the dulling effect is far, far less. After switching from smoking to vaping, your senses will start to rebound almost instantly. You may notice the improvement in just a few days, although it is more common for your sense of taste and smell to recover over a few weeks or months.
Aside from letting you better enjoy the food you eat, this improvement of the senses can lead to an overall healthier lifestyle. You might be able to reduce the salt or fat levels in your cooking, or rediscover a liking for healthy foods that you didn’t enjoy when you were a smoker.
You Will Spend Less Money
You might not notice this immediately, but no matter the type of vape you decide to use, you can undoubtedly expect to save money in the medium and long term. Disposable vapes offer the most instantly noticeable saving because you don’t have to invest in a vape kit.
Using a refillable vape and bottled e-liquids will save you the most money in the medium and long term. A 20-a-day smoker could save as much as 90% by choosing to use a pod or pen-style vape compared to smoking. That’s likely to be a saving of around $2000 each year.
You can learn more about how much cheaper vaping is than smoking in our in-depth breakdown of potential savings.
You and Your Environment Will Smell Nicer
It may not be the most crucial reason for quitting smoking in favor of vaping, but the fact that you and your home will smell more pleasant is a nice bonus. As we have already explored, smoking dulls your sense of smell, so it isn’t always obvious how intense the odor of smoke can be to others.
As your sense of smell returns in full force, you will begin to notice how strong the smell of tobacco can be on clothing and in your home. Even if you choose to use tobacco flavored vape liquid, vapor doesn’t build up on skin, clothing, and other surfaces in the same way that that residue from tobacco smoke does.
Potential (but Avoidable) Side Effects of Vaping
While the benefits of quitting smoking in favor of vaping are widely acknowledged, there is the possibility that you will feel some side effects when making the switch.
Thankfully most are temporary or easily avoided. We have looked at the possible side effects of vaping in more detail elsewhere, but some of the most common include:
Dry Mouth: The main ingredients of vape liquids, propylene glycol (PG) and vegetable glycerine (VG) are known to draw moisture from the environment. When vaporized and inhaled, the environment they draw from is your mouth, nose, and throat.
You can combat this side effect quite easily by rehydrating whenever you vape. Increasing hydration levels in general will also lessen the effect. E-liquids high in PG are more likely to lead to dry mouth, so choosing an eliquid with more VG can help.
Coughing: Vaping feels different than smoking. Vapor doesn’t feel like it hits the throat or fills the lungs as much as smoke. This means that it isn’t unusual for new vapers to draw too heavily or vape too much when they start. This can lead to coughing and general irritation of the throat.
Coughing is commonly a short-term problem of switching to vaping. It doesn’t take long to learn how heavily to draw, nor for our body to get used to vapor entering our throats. If coughing persists, try lowering the power level on your vape kit, or switching to an ejuice with a higher VG ratio (high VG eliquid is usually smoother on the throat).
Headaches: Vaping headaches are thought to be caused by the combined effects of nicotine and the dehydrating effects of the PG and VG ingredients in vape juice. New vapers most commonly report headaches at the end of the day, when both nicotine levels and dehydration are likely to be at their peak.
As for the dry mouth effect, drinking more when you vape or throughout the day often helps. You can also try using a vape liquid with less nicotine until your body gets used to this new delivery method.
Dizziness: Vapor is very efficient at delivering nicotine to the bloodstream. Even long-time smokers who switch to vaping can experience slight dizziness or head-rush when they first switch.
Once again, this side effect is usually short-lived as your brain rapidly gets used to the faster nicotine delivery. If it continues for longer than a few days, simply changing to a lower-nicotine vape juice will usually help.
4 Tips To Make Switching From Smoking to Vaping Easier
- Choose Your Vape Kit Carefully
Don’t dive in with the first vape that you see at a bargain price. You might get on better with a vape that provides a tight draw, or one that is suited to 50/50 nicotine salt eliquids. Our vape reviews and vaping buyer’s guides are a great place to start when choosing the best vape for your needs.
- Vape Whenever You Feel the Craving
As a beginner, it can be tempting to use a vape like a cigarette, drawing on it multiple times and then putting it away until your next craving. There’s nothing wrong with vaping like this, but why limit yourself? There’s nothing to stop you from taking a few draws to alleviate your craving whenever you need to. This can also help to break the almost-ritual habit of smoking.
- Manage the side effects
As we’ve mentioned, there are potential side effects to vaping. Learning about those effects, and how you can easily manage them, will help ensure that you don’t get put off vaping before you even get properly started. Drinking a bit more water every day has got to be better than going back to cigarettes!
- Experiment With E-liquid Flavors
As with your vape kit, shop around for e-liquids to find one that is suited to your tastes. It might seem that a tobacco or menthol flavored ejuice is an obvious choice when you first switch, but don’t be afraid to experiment. You might be surprised by how nice something like strawberry, kiwi, and lime juice is to vape!