Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Vaping looks a bit like smoking when you see people doing it, but what does using an e cigarette actually feel like? Can vaping really give you that smoking sensation and pleasure, just like cigarettes can? And do e cigarettes feel any more comfortable as a way to stop smoking than other methods, like NRT?
You can expect vaping to give you some of the familiar feel of smoking in terms of taste, touch and satisfaction. But there are added bonuses, too.
What vaping feels like for smokers
Smokers who have never vaped before are often surprised at how similar it feels to smoking when they start. In my case, I was impressed by the way e cig vapour felt so similar to warm tobacco smoke in my mouth and throat. On the other hand, some first-time sensations of vaping don’t really resemble smoking at all.
The aroma of e cigarette vapour for example, smells nothing like tobacco smoke, and this can surprise first-time users. Vapour from e cigs also tastes sweeter than tobacco smoke, feels softer on your mouth and throat and leaves almost no aftertaste.
Ways in which vaping does feel like smoking
Despite these differences though, with the correct set-up, e cigarettes can provide a feel that is very similar to smoking in several ways.
Vaping throat hit
Firstly, vaping gives new users that crucial “throat hit”, which is the familiar “lump in the throat” sensation you get when you inhale cigarette smoke. In terms of physical response then, this aspect of vaping does feel a lot like smoking.
When you vape for the first time, you might also sense a mild nicotine buzz after inhaling. This feels less obvious than the buzz you get from smoking on the whole, but it can still feel strong enough make you feel dizzy. Many newer liquids and vape kits which are designed for smokers can provide more nicotine satisfaction than others.
Vapour from e cigarettes does not always feel as smooth as you’d like it to be. However, it’s easy enough to get vape smoothness just right with high VG nicotine salt e liquids.
Many new users achieve vapour smoothness by choosing refills and liquids carefully by scrutinising product ingredients. However, probably the best way to get a smoother vaping experience is to order vape liquid ingredients separately, and then mix them yourself.
Tobacco flavours vary in quality, but good ones can give you a lot of that “smoking” sensation when you vape. Indeed, using a realistic tobacco flavour in your vape can make your switch to vaping feel much more like smoking. The only thing you won’t get is get the musty taste (and aftertaste) of smoke that you get with cigarettes.
How do you feel when you first start using an e cigarette?
After 1 or 2 weeks of vaping and no smoking, you can expect to feel healthier and more energetic than you did before. It’s true that some people can experience side effects like headaches and hiccupping when they first begin vaping. But this is not always the case for new users.
Many smokers who start vaping to quit find they have more energy and vitality than when they smoked, and this isn’t surprising.
Just like smoking, vaping gives you a hit of nicotine. But unlike with cigarettes, you don’t get the energy-sapping carbon monoxide that usually comes with it. And that means more oxygen in your bloodstream and more energy in your step, too.
Vaping is a more comfortable way to quit smoking
The relative comfort of vaping is perhaps why e cigarettes are twice as effective as patches, gum and sprays for quitting smoking. In other words, the reason why e cigarettes are so popular is that they make the quitting process more comfortable.
Maybe this is because when you’re used to smoking, the action of vaping feels so familiar. Or maybe it’s just because (unlike with NRT) you don’t have to wear, chew or swallow anything to make it work.
You’ll probably find that when you start vaping, it doesn’t really feel like you’re giving up smoking at all. Or in other words, there’s not so much of the usual pain and discomfort you usually feel when you give up.
For me, the move to vaping from smoking was a smooth, natural and comfortable transition. It was as if I was getting the “gain” of quitting, but without so much of the pain.
Vaping feels cleaner
Compared to actual smoking, you’ll find that vaping feels like a much cleaner way to use nicotine. And this applies to personal hygiene as well as to cleanliness in the home.
With vaping, (unlike with smoking) there’s of course no smell of smoke. You’ve also got no dirty aftertaste, no stained fingers to worry about, and a nicer-smelling home.
It’s true that e-cigs can generate a fine residue after heavy and prolonged use in confined areas. But vape residue won’t stain ceilings or make your clothes and furniture smell as you’d expect cigarette smoke to do.
Feeling less interested in food and eating
Suddenly finding you have little or no appetite is a very common experience of starting vaping. Appetite loss is caused mainly by nicotine, but other aspects of vaping, such as the role of flavour on taste receptors can also play a role.
However, not feeling hungry isn’t always a bad thing, and may even be helpful if you’re someone who’s likely to gorge on snacks after quitting cigarettes.
While nicotine in your vape will certainly have an initial effect on your desire for food, things often settle down after a while, as your appetite begins to normalise again.
Safety and reassurance of e cigs vs smoking
Smokers certainly shouldn’t go into vaping expecting it to be a completely safe alternative to smoking. After all, e cigarettes haven’t been around long enough for us to feel totally reassured by their possible long-term health impacts.
However, we can at least feel some reassurance about e cigarettes from the facts we now know about them so far. The general message from official UK health authorities is that e cigarettes are “almost certainly significantly less harmful than smoking”.
This official advice follows on from recent research by Public Health England showing that e cigarettes are around 95% less harmful than tobacco. This news should give at least some comfort to those thinking of starting vaping to quit smoking.
No one’s saying that vaping’s free of risk – or even that it’s less harmful than other quit methods. However, we can at least feel more secure in the fact that vaping is a whole lot safer than smoking tobacco.
Feeling sick or dizzy with vaping
Some new vapers and ex-smokers can experience mild side effects like sickness or dizziness when they first start vaping. A feeling of sickness can happen if you vape too much or too often at first. Sickness and dizziness can be also be due to reactions to nicotine in vape liquid.
Other side effects can include sneezing, headaches, hiccups, coughing and sore throats.
If you’re getting any adverse reactions like dizziness from vaping that are worrying you or that continue, it’s best to get medical advice to put your worries at ease.
Disappointed with vaping?
Though not everyone has negative experiences when first starting vaping, some people can end up feeling disappointed with it.
Expecting vaping to feel just like smoking
You’re more likely to feel disappointed with vaping if your expectations are too high to start with. For example, expecting your e cigarette to taste and feel exactly like a real cigarette is a common misconception that’s bound to end in disillusion. Though there are many things you can do to improve the the taste and texture of your vape. However, new users usually lack the knowledge to fix these things themselves.
Disappointment with new vape equipment
New vapers can also find themselves getting frustrated when they can’t get their device to do what they want it to do. Typical problems include getting dry hits (inhaling vapour from a dry coil), issues with power settings, and leaking or noisy tanks. All of these issues are pretty common and can damp your newfound enthusiasm in vaping if you’ve just started.
Frequently asked questions about how vaping feels
As a smoking substitute, vaping can only give you some of the pleasure that cigarettes can provide. However, vaping can still provide equivalent satisfaction in other ways. E cigarette tobacco flavours for example can be enjoyed to the full, and without the distraction of smoke that cigarettes produce. Likewise, nicotine, vapour texture and manual actions of vaping offer the same satisfaction as smoking.