Although vaping is established as a way to stop smoking, there are potential health risks. According to the NHS, e-cigarettes are substantially less harmful than traditional cigarettes but are not risk-free and their long-term health impact is unknown.
“The healthiest option is not to smoke or vape. If you do not smoke, do not start vaping,” the NHS website says.
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health goes further. It wants the government to ban the sale of disposable vapes, popular with young people, due to concerns over their impact on children’s hearts, lungs and brains.
So, what is the best way to quit vaping?
Unlike cigarettes, where official advice is to completely stop smoking, going cold turkey is not recommended when giving up vaping.
Louise Ross, a clinical consultant at the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training, says the most important thing is to be ready to give up. “If you stop too quickly, the risk is that you go back to smoking.” She advises reducing the strength of the vapes gradually, vaping less often and in fewer places, and making sure your vape isn’t always in your hand. “It’s about setting controls,” she says.
The NHS urges people to take this slowly. “Do not rush this step,” it says. “Only reduce your vaping frequency or nicotine strength when you feel you will not go back to smoking and do not have to puff more to compensate.”
Jamie Brown, a professor of behavioural science and health, and a director of the tobacco and alcohol research group at University College London, agrees. “If it helps people not to smoke, there is no need to rush to stop vaping. If people are confident they will not relapse to smoking, then after quitting vaping they may find Nicorette QuickMist mouthspray helpful to relieve cravings and nicotine withdrawal,” he says. “The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has recently granted approval for this purpose.”
Other ways to reduce cravings are taking deep breaths, practising mindfulness and going for a brisk walk.
And for teenagers who have never smoked, Ross advises them to consider the environmental benefits of stopping vaping, as well as the health benefits. Vape batteries contain lithium, aluminium, steel, copper and plastics.
According to the Independent Vape Trade Association, over 1m single-use vapes a week are binned and sent to landfill or incineration.