Vaping refers to the use of products more technically known as electronic nicotine delivery systems or e-cigarettes. A person considering quitting vaping may try nicotine replacement therapy or physical activity.

This article looks at vaping and its prevalence in the United States. It also explores the risks and why people should avoid them.

Finally, we provide tips for quitting vaping and the methods to follow.

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Vaping devices come in all shapes and sizes, including vape pens, e-pipes, and other devices.

They work by heating a liquid in the device that usually contains nicotine and other chemicals, which help produce an aerosol that a person inhales. Bystanders can also breathe in the aerosol when a person exhales it into the air.

Vaping is increasingly common in the U.S. In 2018, roughly 8.1 million adults in the country engaged in the practice. Vaping is much more common among young people, with 7.6% of those aged 18–24 years identifying as e-cigarette users.

Why should people avoid it?

Even though manufacturers market vaping as a healthier alternative to smoking cigarettes, it is not free from risks. Studies show that 99% of e-cigarettes contain nicotine, a substance that causes physical dependence. Some vaping products even provide higher doses of the substance than traditional cigarettes.

If a pregnant person uses nicotine, it can affect the brain development of the fetus. Additionally, our brains continue to develop in our mid-twenties, so nicotine can cause damage to our brains during our adolescent and young adult years.

Nicotine addiction can cause:

Additionally, vaping the aerosol in these products can contain harmful ingredients, such as:

  • heavy metals
  • volatile organic compounds
  • carcinogens

The health effects of vaping can be particularly damaging for young people. However, even as the number of young people vaping grows, so does the number of those interested in quitting.

One study showed that 62.4% of current e-cigarette users aged 18–34 planned to quit.

The following 10 steps for quitting vaping can be helpful for people going through this process.

1. Finding the motivation to quit

Many different issues can prompt a person to quit vaping. Generally, health was the most common reason vapers gave for quitting in a 2019 study, with costs being the second most popular.

Additional reasons included:

  • having concerns about current health and future risks, including individuals saying their lungs hurt
  • wanting to be free from addiction
  • being influenced by friends and family
  • interfering with their ability to be at their best for activities such as sports or singing
  • not enjoying it anymore

When a person names their reason for quitting, it helps them set their course for their recovery journey and can help boost their motivation if it flags.

2. Timing

Setting a specific date to quit vaping is important because it enhances accountability. It gives a person a chance to prepare and gather supplies to help them through the cravings and stress of the early stages of quitting.

Whether someone plans to gradually wean themselves off of vaping or quit “cold turkey,” quitting all at once is a personal decision according to how a person best makes a change in their lives.

A person can try to avoid quitting during stressful times, such as final exams, holidays, or busy seasons at work.

3. Nicotine replacement

Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is a tool that some people can use to help them stop using tobacco products. NRT addresses the physical symptoms of nicotine withdrawal and involves using over-the-counter (OTC) products such as:

  • patches
  • gum
  • lozenges

According to a 60-day study, 2021 research concluded that light smokers were significantly more likely to have achieved at least 7 days of abstinence during the last week of the study in comparison with heavy smokers when using NRT.

A 2019 meta-analysis also shows that people who use NRT therapy and quit abruptly are more successful at quitting.

4. Identify triggers

A trigger is a feeling, activity, place, time, or anything that will make a person want to vape. Spending time with friends or going through stressful events are common triggers, but everyone will have their own.

Knowing what can prompt a strong desire to vape gives a person a chance to develop strategies to help them manage these feelings. They can also take steps to avoid these triggers until they feel more secure in their recovery.

5. Strategy for withdrawals and cravings

Strategies for handling withdrawal symptoms and strong cravings will vary, but the basic recommendations involve:

  • refocusing
  • seeking support
  • using distractions
  • removing oneself from the situation

A person may find the following examples of possible ways to avoid cravings:

  • concentrating on their reasons for quitting
  • texting a friend
  • chewing gum
  • going for a walk or a coffee break

6. Personal and professional support

Support networks can help a person quit vaping. Connecting with friends and family can provide an intimate level of support, particularly if they have quit vaping or smoking.

Additionally, smokefree.gov has links and phone numbers a person can use to:

  • sign up for daily text messages
  • connect to smartphone apps
  • join social media pages or groups
  • talk on the phone with live experts and counselors

Read more about the best apps for quitting smoking.

7. Medical support

Medical support can help a person who wishes to quit vaping. These methods may particularly help individuals who have been heavy users of other nicotine products or have other underlying health conditions that benefit from professional guidance.

Some NRT products, such as inhalers and nasal sprays, require a doctor’s prescription.

Additionally, people with significant underlying conditions, such as diabetes, may also wish to consult a healthcare professional before using an OTC product.

8. Recognize strategy and challenges

Breaking the nicotine habit and changing daily personal and professional activities and social settings is difficult.

The physical withdrawal, emotional cravings, and triggers add another level of complexity, as do changes in moods and metabolism. Identifying a strategy to face these challenges can help.

Many resources are available online to help people identify these challenges and plan to handle them before they become too much.

9. Physical activity

Physical activity is a suitable way to address the many challenges that make it difficult to quit vaping. Exercise, especially aerobic exercise, can help former smokers fight cravings and should also work for former vapers.

Exercise also helps a person productively relieve stress. It can help boost metabolism and work against any weight gain when trying to quit a nicotine habit.

Learn more about ways to boost metabolism.

10. Destress or relaxation techniques

Some people may think vaping helps them handle stress. However, this makes it even more difficult to quit vaping because trying to break a nicotine addiction is stressful, and they are now missing one of their tools to cope with stress.

However, there are many healthy ways to manage stress, such as:

Researchers consider vaping or electric cigarettes a less harmful alternative to smoking cigarettes. However, it still contains nicotine, which is prone to causing physical dependence.

Whether a person gets their nicotine from vaping or more traditional forms of tobacco, breaking the habit is difficult. There are varying methods that a person can try when trying to quit, ranging from NRT, OTC and prescription medications, and other self-help techniques.