How to Quit Vaping: An In-Depth Guide

By Frank DiVincenzo, MD
Medically reviewed checkmarkMedically reviewed
April 8, 2022

What may start as an innocent inhale can rapidly spiral out of control.

You may have gone out with friends and someone offered you a hit, then you went to buy your own e-cigarette.

Before you know it, you’re unconsciously puffing as you watch your favorite television show, and leaving your vape resting on your nightstand for your morning hit.

Perhaps what is most dangerous about vaping is how consuming this behavior becomes.

Often advertised as a healthy alternative to smoking, vaping can be a great segue into quitting for smokers. Traditional cigarettes contain over 7000 chemicals that when inhaled, enter your lungs.

Vapes tend to have fewer toxins and they work by heating up the e-liquid in the pen before you inhale it into your lungs. 

While the damage to your lungs can be less, this does not make vaping a safe alternative.

Ultimately, both smoking and vaping administer nicotine into your bloodstream and can lead to a myriad of health complications, some of which can become dangerous or fatal. 

If you have started vaping and are trying to quit, don’t beat yourself up for struggling.

Nicotine is a highly addictive substance, making the habit hard to break. 

Establish Reasons for Quitting

Breaking the habit of vaping requires conscious effort.

You need willpower along with an established set of reasons for quitting. Along with your personal reasons, here are a few important reasons to quit vaping:

  • Vaping is highly addictive
  • It is expensive
  • It can disrupt your daily life and negatively impact your relationships
  • Vaping will more than likely not help you quit smoking cigarettes and you may consume more nicotine if you do both
  • E-cigarettes contain harmful chemicals
  • The long-term risks are still unknown

Have questions about quitting vaping? Chat with a medical provider through K Health.

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Challenges in the Process

According to one of the top-selling e-cigarette manufacturers, the nicotine in one pod is equivalent to a pack of 20 regular cigarettes.

If you are vaping consistently, you run the risk of nicotine poisoning from overconsumption. 

The wide range of flavors e-cigarettes are sold in — including fruit, candy, mint, and more — may also be enticing, and make it more difficult to quit.

This is particularly problematic for young adults.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 8 out of 10 young people turned to flavored vapes with a majority of those users admitting that the appealing flavors are the main reason for use.

This creates a huge challenge in the process of quitting as the flavors can mask the potential serious side effects as a result of continuous vaping.

Setting Goals and Planning Ahead

Designate a quit date and set goals for yourself.

This can be effective whether you plan to wean yourself off vaping over time or quit cold turkey.

Create a plan and set goals along the way.

You may want to start by vaping every second day, moving to only vaping once a week, then finally quitting altogether.

It’s also important to reward yourself. If there is an outfit you have your eye on or a new game for your console, treat yourself when you reach a certain period of time abstaining from vaping.

You could also put aside the money you would usually spend on e-cigarettes and save it for a nice meal or trip away.

Identify Triggers and Cravings

Identifying what triggers you to use your vape can help you learn what to avoid when quitting.

Some common triggers include:

  • Being around other people who vape
  • Stress
  • Relationship problems
  • Alcohol and other mind-altering substances
  • Certain activities such as driving, watching television, or going for a walk
  • Certain foods that you associate with the activity

Withdrawal Strategy

When you quit vaping, your body will typically go into nicotine withdrawal.

Nicotine has a short half-life of about two hours, with the withdrawal period kicking in as early as four hours.

Your symptoms typically peak after three days and will gradually subside over the three to four-week mark as your nicotine levels drop until it completely leaves your system. 

Learning what to expect can help you overcome this period.

There are several symptoms associated with vaping withdrawal from nicotine.

These include:

  • Nicotine cravings and urges to smoke
  • Anger, frustration, and irritability
  • Feeling anxious, sad, or depressed
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Weight gain or increased appetite 

Lifestyle Changes 

In addition to tackling the withdrawal period and knowing what to expect, certain lifestyle changes can help you avoid vaping.

Consider the following:

  • Be more physically active: Incorporate a daily workout into your routine to boost your mood and distract you from your nicotine cravings. You may want to even try to replace vaping with physical activity; when you crave a pull from your vape, go out for a run instead.
  • Stay busy: Create a plan for your day that will keep you distracted so you don’t vape.
  • Find a replacement behavior: This could be chewing on a straw or paddle pop stick, or sucking on a lollipop when you feel the urge to vape.
  • Reward yourself: Engage in activities that you enjoy or treat yourself when you have passed personal goals related to quitting. 
  • Talk with a healthcare provider: They will be able to help you with your withdrawal symptoms and in some circumstances, they may prescribe you medications to help you manage this period.

Support Groups

If you are struggling to quit vaping, you are not alone. Fortunately, there is an abundance of free resources available to you to help you.

Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or 1-877-44U-QUIT to talk with a tobacco cessation counselor who can offer you support and advice.

You can also chat online using the National Cancer Institute’s LiveHelp service.

In addition to this, there are support groups available in most towns for people trying to quit nicotine.

You may want to attend one of these meetings to help you meet people who are going through similar experiences as you and can support you.

When to See a Medical Provider

An outbreak of e-cigarette or vaping use-associated lung injury (EVALI) along with many deaths has been researched by the CDC.

They have found that many e-cigarettes may contain several chemicals which can be harmful to your health. 

If you vape, you put yourself at risk of EVALI.

The symptoms are quite similar to the flu and other illnesses, making it harder to diagnose.

Visit your healthcare provider if you have any of the following symptoms and are a regular vape consumer:

Your doctor will do a physical examination of you.

They may also run some tests depending on your symptoms.

More than likely, they will advise you to quit vaping and in some circumstances, they may prescribe medications to help you quit.

How K Health Can Help

Did you know you can get affordable primary care with the K Health app? Download K Health to check your symptoms, explore conditions and treatments, and if needed text with a provider in minutes. K Health’s AI-powered app is based on 20 years of clinical data.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best way to quit vaping?
The best way to quit vaping is to have a plan along with a strategy of how you will overcome your cravings and avoid triggers. Consider lifestyle changes you can make to ease you into the process and surround yourself with supportive friends and family.
How long does vaping withdrawal last?
Vaping withdrawal can begin as early as four hours after your last hit and peak after three days of cessation. You may experience nicotine withdrawal for three to four weeks since your last hit.

K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Frank DiVincenzo, MD

Dr. Frank DiVincenzo has been a physician with K Health since 2020. He grew up near Chicago, Illinois, but left the big city to go to college and then attend graduate school in Missouri. He received a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and a Master of Science in Microbiology before graduating from the University of Missouri–Columbia School of Medicine.