Which personal vaporizer for whom?

The answer is not simple. Personal vaporizerz, also known as e-cigarettes, are in constant evolution in terms of technology. Box formats (Box Mods) have supplanted former tubes and the smoker who wants to switch to vaping to quit smoking is often lost in front of the wide diversity of brands available on the market. Here below are a few tips provided by the tobaccologist Jacques Le Houezec, a smoking cessation specialist, to help smokers do a smooth transition to vaping.

Technical aspect

Box mods or personal vaporisers in box format
Mods or personal vaporisers in box format
Cigalike or tube format, eGo battery
eGo’s battery

It still happens that some smokers look for a tiny object, a CigaLike similar to a cigarette, but the introduction of the electronic Mods, and their popularity makes it easier to convince somebody to use that type of device.


The main interest of electronic Mods is the autonomy of the battery, more than twice that of an eGo, which allows one to use only one battery over the day instead of two (one charging, while the other is in use) with the former generations.

Charge the battery is also much faster (2 hours agains 4-5 hours with the former batteries) and USB compliance makes it is very simple to recharge at home, at the office and even in the car, using the same wire as for a mobile phone.

Atomizers with tanks in different designs

The atomizer which is made of the clearomizer, a tank containing the e-liquid, the drip tip and the coil, must be of a reasonable volume and easy to re-fill for the beginner. Experienced vapers can further opt for larger atomizers adapted to subohm vaping (coils with a resistance lower than 1 Ω) producing thicker volutes, or for a better rendering of flavors with a tankless “dripper”.

Exit the CigaLikes
with or without a variable voltage. Now electronic Mods with variable wattage tend to be the norm. They provide a more comfortable vaping experience and a broad range of settings over temperature or power. A beginner does not necessarily need more than 20W to start vaping in good conditions.

Box (left) and Tube (right) Mods

It also appears that Box Mods are men’s choice while Tube Mods like the eGo One or the Endura are rather women’s choice. Almost as performant as a Box Mod but with a lighter design, Tube Mods or the Mini Box Mods, most recently introduced and already very popular, are more adapted to the smaller hands by conception and easily fit into a handbag or a pocket, for discretion.

Unfortunately, the implementation of the European Directive on Tobacco Products (EU TPD), which includes drastic restrictions on vaping products, leaves us somewhat in doubt of what to find after 20 May 2016. It may be clearer in a close future but we will still find the current hardware for a year or so if stocks are not depleted too quickly.

In any case, for a smoker wishing to switch to vaping, one should take advantage of the current market to find the right equipment.

The flavors and nicotine concentration

A key to successfully quit smoking stands in that two components. It is very important to test e-liquids before buying since the flavor must be pleasant to avoid the risk of getting bored very quickly and sometimes to give up. Jacques Le Houezec also advises users or future users to choose at least two flavors, because it allows switching during the day or from day to day, to keep the pleasure intact.

To take pleasure is a crucial element in vaping and the driver to quit smoking. This pleasure must become superior to that of smoking tobacco cigarettes (yes, it can be!).

The second component, in a way perhaps even more crucial to quit smoking cessation comfortably, is nicotine. Do not be afraid of nicotine, the danger in smoking is due to the inhalation of the smoke, not to nicotine (its effects are similar to caffeine). The combustion of tobacco produces tar that causes cancer (about 70 carcinogens), carbon monoxide (due to incomplete combustion) that is toxic to the cardiovascular system, and fine solid particles that cause respiratory problems.

Nicotine is certainly not the only driver of tobacco dependence but indeed a great contributor, and attempting to quit smoking with e-liquids containing no nicotine almost inevitably leads to relapse into smoking.

A final important point on e-liquids is its content in vegetable (vegetal) glycerin (VG) and propylene glycol (PG). Some people are intolerant to PG that produces the throat hit, and an increased proportion of VG softens the irritation caused by the PG and makes it more pleasant. In contrast, VG produces more vapor and is a poor vector of the flavors. By decreasing the PG, one may expect less pleasure with flavors. A PG:VG ratio of 70:30 is a good starting point for people intolerant to PG, lowering PG may help solve the problem (60:40 or 50:50).

But coughing is often mistaken with intolerance to PG by beginners. It happens to every smoker to cough when starting vaping, it is not due to the vapor but to the tobacco smoke that is very irritating to the lung airways. Tobacco smoke contains anaesthetic substances, such as menthol (present in all cigarettes, even those that are not officially flavored with menthol), which inhibit the urge to cough (allowing young people to start smoking more easily, for example).

Since no such substances are present in the vapor, the irritating effects of nicotine are responsible for cough and it is often for this reason that a smoker will choose a mint-flavored e-liquid flavored to start vaping. But cough disappears very quickly, 5 to 10 minutes are generally enough.

Cough will nevertheless start again after each new cigarette. Therefore one absolutely needs to consider stopping all smoking as early as possible when starting vaping. There might be a risk of making vaping unpleasant in case of dual use and to give up.

In addition, each cigarette reminds your brain of a much more efficient way to deliver nicotine than does any personal vaporizer. In fact, the amount of nicotine you can get with a cigarette in 5 minutes will take you 30 to 45 minutes to obtain it by vaping.

Finally, do not feel guilty if you always have your personal vaporizer in hand or mouth. This is the consequence of the different efficiency to deliver nicotine that will require you to take puffs more regularly than you generally do with a tobacco cigarette. On the top of that, given the price of tobacco cigarettes, one generally smokes them till the end, beyond one’s point of nicotine satisfaction. Vaping, in contrast, allows you to take nicotine more regularly, puff after puff, and to sustain a more self-adapted nicotine level.

Nicotine dose

It is important, recalls the expert, to choose an e-liquid with the highest dose of nicotine that one can bear. Available concentrations (usually from 3mg/ml to 18 mg/ml) are only an indication, the same with the number of cigarettes smoked per day.

It may happen that a light smoker smoking 5-6 cigarettes a day, needs a high strength e-liquid. When smoking, light smokers can puff as hard as a heavy smoker. A cigarette can deliver between 1 and 3 mg, regardless of the nicotine yield written on the packaging. These yields are just useless because they are measured with a smoking machine, while a smoker may adapt his/her behavior to get exactly the right dose of nicotine, on a puff-by-puff basis.

Even high strength e-liquids at 18 mg/ml may not be sufficient to cover the nicotine needs of someone smoking a pack a day. It is always possible to combine vaping with a nicotine patch (at the highest dose). There is no risk of overdosing, vaping will complement the nicotine needs. The smoker knows how to self-titrate nicotine.

Take pleasure!

Do not be afraid to invest the price of 10 packs of cigarette in your hardware and your first e-liquids. Be assured that the return on investment will be very quick, especially if you do stop smoking immediately or as soon as possible. To continue smoking while vaping is a lure that will take you the sooner or the later back to tobacco.

Be also careful not to reduce too quickly the nicotine strength of your e-liquids, this should occur naturally as pure nicotine is less addictive than that obtained with tobacco blends through smoke (due to interactions with other substances). Wait until your body decides (dizziness, nausea…), do not impose yourself anything.

When you improve and invest in more expert hardware, you may get the false impression that the dosage of nicotine becomes too strong. This is often the case when using a dripper (an tankless atomizer where e-liquid is added a few drops at a time) whose performance often leads to lower the dosage of nicotine. But over time, withdrawal occurs that increases the risk of relapse, so beware.

In conclusion, advises the expert, take pleasure first of all and at all times, this is the key to success. Trying new liquids, buying a more attractive setup, more efficient, sharing this pleasure with others, organizing or attending vapemeets to share your feelings, experiences, and invite smokers to join too, going back to the pleasure of exercising, walking, swimming without being breathless is part of the journey. Enjoy all the things that did not exist when you smoked, including the flavors in your dish, the richness of a glass of wine, the fragrances…

Further readings

Recently, the cardiologist and researcher Konstantinos Farsalinos has published a scientific paper discussing the efficiency of the former and newer hardware for nicotine delivery. The researcher also debunked unsubstantiated myths around vaping to point out the relative risk compared to smoking tobacco.

Flavors are currently subject to a burning debate since some of the molecules they contain may have adverse effects to health. Under concern are Diacetyl and Benzaldehyde from butter- and cherry-flavored e-liquids. Our team met Dr M. Goniewicz, a specialist in the analysis of e-liquids, and asked him a few questions.

The Swiss researcher Jean-François Etter gives an expert view on e-liquid nicotine self-regulation with an upgraded hardware.



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In-house journalist at the Vaping Post. Covering international news.
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6 years ago

Very detailed! Nicely done.

4 years ago

Good reading. Have been vaping already few years and yes it was a long journey to give up smoking cigarettes. But i finally won. I do not spent so much money anymore, feel good about vaping and I started to reduce the nicotine and if works. I have got Vapour2 and i like it. It has large capacity cartridge what makes me to smoke for longer, different flavors to choose from and cannot forget to mention loose leaf cartridge what is cool.