Vape to Quit

Vaping may have the potential to help smokers quit

Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling vapour, produced by heating an e-liquid in a personal electronic device.

After the UK, NZ is one of the first countries where a public health body has publicly backed vaping as a less harmful alternative to smoking. One of the stated aims in the 2020 amendment to the NZ Smokefree Environments Act which regulated vaping products, is “To support smokers to switch to these less harmful products.”

Vaping is proving to be an effective transitional tool to help smokers quit. If you're choosing this quit method stop smoking completely. Vaping is much less harmful than smoking, but not completely harmless, so eventually it's good to consider quitting vaping too, but only when you know you won’t go back to smoking.

Vaping may keep your cravings in check.

ASH say, "The upside of vaping is that you can control the quantity of nicotine in your e-cigarette and reduce it over time." 

This empowers you with the ability to taper off addictive nicotine, using a delivery system that the PHE say is 95% less harmful than cigarettes.

Vaping can be a way to quit tobacco, as it provides nicotine with fewer of the toxins that come from burning tobacco. 

Health Navigator NZ have some great information. They say, "Vaping is not harmless, so only do it to help you to quit smoking. If you don’t smoke, don’t start vaping."

Smokers say they mostly miss the hit from nicotine when they quit smoking and tend to tolerate their addiction because they lack access to a more satisfying alternative.

If it's your choice to vape as a pathway to quitting you may find it offers you some satisfaction by

  • delivering nicotine without combustible chemicals
  • replacing the hand to mouth habit
  • allowing control over the amount of vapour exhaled
  • enabling social inclusiveness
  • providing a pleasurable sensory experience and flavours that aid in switching.

A study from Nicotine & Tobacco Research, undertaken around satisfaction, enjoyment and trying to stay quit, shows the use of fruit and other sweet flavoured e-liquids is positively related to a smokers’ transition away from cigarettes because some people depend on the flavour to quit.

“Well, I think the first point to note is that people who smoke are already addicted to nicotine.

And we've been using nicotine replacement therapy for years. And some people use nicotine gum long term. What we know about that is that people who use nicotine long term are your most dependent smokers. So yes, whilst it would be great if everyone was nicotine free and tobacco free, it's not the nicotine that's killing people, it's the products of combustion, it's the smoke that causes the harm. So ongoing nicotine use is seen as a harm reduction approach.” 

Professor Hayden McRobbie. Health Behaviour Change Expert. 


The ideal is not to inhale any substance into your lungs. If you don’t smoke then don’t start vaping. If you choose to vape instead of smoking, it may have the potential to help you quit.

A recent study shows that vaping is almost twice as effective as NRT in helping smokers quit.

Read more about that study here. 

We recognise that people have a lot going on in their lives, and physical health is just one priority that contributes to their wellbeing. Behavioural support can help quitters develop problem solving and coping mechanisms for barriers, triggers and cues. Helpful, respectful advice on ways to change routines, environments and emotional challenges, makes staying smokefree and dealing with relapses, much easier. 

“There's two parts to smoking addiction, one is the biological addiction to nicotine, and nicotine replacement therapies and Champix help with that.”

"But the other important part of the addiction is the habit, the behavioural aspect of smoking, the hand-to-mouth action, the sensations, the taste. That's all part of a conditioned response, so people are addicted to that. "When combined with nicotine, vaping's behavioural similarities to smoking can help people quit."

Dr Colin Mendelsohn. Founding Chairman of the Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association.

Key Messages from the Ministry of Health

  • The best thing smokers can do for their health is to quit smoking for good.
  • Vaping products are intended for smokers only.
  • The Ministry considers vaping products could disrupt inequities and contribute to Smokefree 2025.
  • The evidence on vaping products indicates they carry much less risk than smoking cigarettes but are not risk free.
  • Evidence is growing that vaping can help people to quit smoking.
  • Stop smoking services must support smokers who choose to use vaping products to quit.
  • There is no international evidence that vaping products are undermining the long-term decline in cigarette smoking among adults and youth, and may in fact be contributing to it.
  • Despite some experimentation with vaping products among never smokers, vaping products are attracting very few people who have never smoked into regular vaping, including young people.
  • When used as intended, vaping products pose no risk of nicotine poisoning to users, but vaping liquids should be in child resistant packaging.
  • The Ministry of Health is identifying safety standards for vaping products in New Zealand. In the meantime, vapers should buy their products from a reputable source, such as a specialist retailer.

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