Nicotine is the ingredient inside both cigarettes and vaping that drives the addiction we’re seeing with both products.
More than six million currently smoke in the UK while vaping is quickly catching up with four million.
But the key differences with vaping that are making it a popular cessation tool to quit smoking is extensive. To start with, you can vape completely nicotine free or change the level to suit your preference. In addition, there are many more flavours of e-liquids available. Plus, you can alter the experience to increase the warmth, power, sweetness or cloud production.
What’s also causing the addiction to rise with vapes is the thousands of sweet sugary options available, including 600 puff disposable bars, that are accessible, cheaper than smoking and easy to use. Essentially smokers have swapped one addiction for another. However, if you completely remove nicotine from a vape, is it still as addictive?
What Is Nicotine?
Nicotine is an organic compound which stems from the nightshade plants family.
Often found in tobacco-based products, it was first introduced into Europe by Christopher Columbus in the 15th century.
Since then, people have been smoking this highly addictive chemical, mimicking another chemical that occurs naturally in the brain and activates its ‘pleasure centre’.
For decades we have been aware of the risks surrounding cigarettes. And yet people continue to smoke because of the addiction, largely due to nicotine. People try all sorts of alternatives to combat the difficult-to-stop habit, such as gum or patches. Nevertheless, nothing comes close to the evolving vaping industry, which experts believe is twice as effective compared to traditional alternatives.
Eventually, the brain becomes dependent upon nicotine to work properly as it is less sensitive to the chemical it produces naturally. If consumed on its own repeatedly, it can be highly dangerous to people of all ages. However, we know when vaping e-liquids that you can buy with or without nicotine, selecting the dosage that suits you, or none at all. And the addiction to vaping doesn’t just stop completely with nicotine, even if it’s a contributing factor.
How Long Does it Take to Get Addicted to Vaping?
The process can be instantaneous, with addiction happening even after your first hit.
With disposables from the likes of Elf Bar, Elux and Geek Bar, the addiction can be even faster when you consider their convenience, packaging, bright colours and a wide array of flavours.
Because the majority contain nicotine and are designed to help stop smoking habits, the impact and level of addiction can rise straight away.
While nicotine is an addictive substance however found in cigarettes too, with vaping you don’t have other dangerous toxins such as combustible tobacco and tar which can seriously damage your organs and reduce your life expectancy. When you add in the tempting fruity flavours such as strawberry, watermelon, golden tobacco and menthol (which has not been available to UK smokers since 2020), it’s clear that there is a new addiction, with or without nicotine.
Symptoms of nicotine withdrawal happen a few hours after changing your levels from as high as 1.8% down to zero. In the first week, you see the highest levels of withdrawal and addiction, especially when dropping to 0%. Eventually, that addiction and temptation will reduce after a month or so. Should it last longer than that, we advise speaking to a medical professional for further assistance.
Vape Without Nicotine Pros And Cons
- You would no longer be inhaling an addictive substance.
- An even smoother experience without the ‘throat hit’ that some vapers and ex-smokers crave when inhaling nicotine. Reducing the chances of irritating the throat, you get an equal amount of flavour with similar cloud production.
- Can often find e-liquids at a more competitive price once nicotine is removed.
- Less toxic ingredients to consider, only pharmaceutical-grade ingredients and sweeteners.
- You can continue the same habit of a hand-to-mouth action and decrease the temptation with the removal of nicotine.
- If you have a sweet tooth you can enjoy the different fruity flavours, which are even more prominent without nicotine.
- It’s the last part of the process before removing vaping completely, and hopefully not feel the need to pick up a vape or cigarette!
- Removal of nicotine could lead to compensating for additional e-liquid ingredients such as propylene glycol.
- This could cause relapse as former smokers who completely remove nicotine could turn back to cigarettes or high-nicotine vaping.
- Cloud production will be much thicker.
- The throat hit will be reduced, which some smokers and vapers need more than anything as a sensation.
- Will be even sweeter and packed with more sugar.
What Is Shortfill E-Liquid?
As we know, with each passing year that the vaping industry grows in popularity, more regulations are put in place to keep consumers as safe as possible. When the Tobacco Products Directive put its foot down in 2016, it created stricter measures for any company wanting to sell vaping products in the EU. One key change was the prevention of any e-liquid bottle sales containing more than 10ml combined with nicotine. Remember this is an industry full of innovators, finding a way for customers to top up their tanks or pods with the required nicotine strength. Thanks to the creation of shortfills, you can now buy e-liquid up to 50ml and add a nicotine shot if you wish or vape nicotine-free.
Nicotine Addiction Vs Habit
It is this physical need for nicotine that makes it an addiction. Habits are something we develop over time.
If we smoke cigarettes, we have to beat our addiction to nicotine as well as break our habit of smoking at the same time.
Imagine you’re meeting some friends for a drink. Usually, you would step outside, cigarette in hand after you’ve finished your drink. You’re used to taking those regular breaks, having something to fiddle with your fingers and going through the motion of smoking.
After you stop smoking, suddenly those little routines that you do while out on a lunch break end. And those rituals of smoking are part of what makes it more difficult to stop.
When we reduce our nicotine intake by lowering the amount in our vape juices, we are breaking our addiction to nicotine. We can still keep our habit of vaping nicotine-free, but lose that edge and buzz you get from nicotine vaping. Three key signs of addiction after removing nicotine include:
- A desirable urge to vape regardless of location, situation or device at your disposal, as well as alter in mood when you can not vape
- Tense feelings and nervous movements/lack of ability to remain still
- Increasing side effects from nicotine withdrawal
Where Can You Get A Nicotine-Free Vape Juice?
As the vaping industry continues to grow, so do the nicotine-strength options and flavours, including nicotine-free.
Some former smokers believe that nicotine is the reason for the damage cigarettes have done to their bodies and want to remove it completely.
And it’s true – nicotine can contribute to anxiety and depression.
You can impact self-control, concentration levels and even memory or attention to a task.
If you are joining the millions of vapers who have quit smoking through vaping, then make sure you reduce your nicotine levels slowly to avoid instant major side effects.
Should it be possible to drop your nicotine level down to zero and you can do so without any side effects, reaction or withdrawal symptoms, a nicotine-free vape is the final stage of the journey.
Yes, it may still be addictive because it’s the same habit, you’re still inhaling a substance into your lungs frequently and the e-liquids are packed with sugar and other chemicals, they're far less toxic in the eyes of the NHS, British Lung Foundation and other leading medical organisations.
Nicotine is the ingredient inside both cigarettes and vaping that drives the addiction we’re seeing with both products. More than six million currently smoke in the UK while vaping is quickly catching up with four million.