Vaping Without Nicotine -- What's the Difference?
Although nicotine "hits" are highly desired, vaping creates healthier alternatives.
Without a shadow of a doubt, vaping has revolutionized the broader tobacco industry. In just a few years time, e-cigarette sales went from $20 million annually in 2008, to nearly $2.9 billion in 2015. That's a massive spike of -- get this -- nearly 14,400%! Yet vaping enthusiasts, or "vapers" as they're known, account for a very small portion of smokers in the U.S., which number around 45 million. Vapers, on the other hand, are only 3 million strong.
That means all the money, the subculture, and the marketing machinery is centered around less than 7% of smoking consumers. It's an incredible statistic if you think about it. Imagine if only 7% of American drivers drove past the freeway speed limit. If you thought you have serious traffic problems with your commute to work, imagine how devastatingly frustrating every trip would be being forced to drive 55 (or whatever speed your state law dictates)?
Yet that is exactly what's happening with the tobacco industry. Nominally speaking, a vast majority of smokers use the traditional platform. But for vapers, they simply can't understand why. Regular cigarettes don't deploy the technologies that are present in e-devices. They're not self-sustaining platforms, requiring a catalyst (ie. a lighter) to work. Most importantly, they're unhealthy due to one hated ingredient -- nicotine.
The War on Nicotine
Ah yes, nicotine. If there was ever a universally maligned chemical, nicotine would be it. For decades, health and wellness companies ran advertisements and commercials promoting products -- most notably, the nicotine patch and the nicotine gum -- to help smokers quit their habit. Although well-meaning consumers have flocked to the promises of such platforms, the end result is not as convincing.
A few years ago, Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Massachusetts Boston conducted a study on the effectiveness of nicotine replacement therapies, or NRTs. Following 787 adult smokers who had recently quit smoking, they discovered that nearly one-third of study participants had relapsed. Furthermore, according to CBS News, the relapse rate "was the same for those who used nicotine therapies for more than six weeks and those who didn't - with or without professional counseling. Whether the participants were heavy or light smokers made no difference either on the therapies' effectiveness."
According to Greg Connolly, director of the center for global tobacco control at the Harvard School of Public Health, NRTs and other nicotine-related products are not an indefinite solution. Rather, they are designed to ameliorate withdrawal symptoms, which can occur from the initial time of quitting until about six months out. NRTs are then no longer used once the withdrawals go away; however, temptation or other factors are not addressed by physical nicotine therapies.
In order to more completely attack the threat of nicotine, anti-smoking advocates have pushed for broader based solutions. Typically, this involves the legal route, such as no smoking rules that have proliferated rapidly across the country. Tobacco price increases may be the most impactful simply because it hits smokers where no one wants to be hit -- in the wallet.
Arguably, however, the most prominent offensive against nicotine has been the mainstream media. No longer limited to goofy "Butt It Out" campaigns aimed at young kids, today's anti-smoking message is meaner, grittier, relevant. Organizations that are fighting to stop the smoking practice have put everyone on notice -- nicotine is bad, and they're not going to tolerate its existence.
What is Nicotine?
But what is this chemical nicotine? And how can the vaping industry provide an avenue by which smokers can continue to enjoy their liberties while not offending the sensibilities of the general populace?
Our first source is the dictionary. MediLexicon defines nicotine as a "poisonous volatile alkaloid derived from tobacco (Nicotiana spp.) and responsible for many of the effects of tobacco; it first stimulates (small doses), then depresses (large doses) at autonomic ganglia and myoneural junctions. Its principal urinary metabolite is cotinine. Nicotine is an important tool in physiologic and pharmacologic investigation, is used as an insecticide and fumigant, and forms salts with most acids."
Right from the get-go, we see that nicotine is poisonous. It goes without saying that eliminating a poison from one's daily activity or diet would be net beneficial. This also contradicts anti-smoking zealots who assert that vaping is just as dangerous of a practice as nicotine-based smoking -- or even worse due to associated risks such as combustion. Such reasoning points to a gross ignorance of vaping and smoking in general.
Vapers have access to a variety of flavors offered in an increasing array of platforms. Indeed, nicotine e-juice is just one of hundreds, if not thousands, of base-level options. In traditional platforms provided by the Big Tobacco albatross, the choice is made for you -- nicotine is part and parcel of cigarettes. With vaping, the choice rests with the vaper. Should he or she decide not to include nicotine in their e-devices, it's completely their decision and preference. There are many ways to enjoy vaping without nicotine.
As far as combustion, it is a risk factor with vaping. However, this has more to do with end-user abuse or negligence. Many vaping companies reduce the accessible capacity of their portable vaporizers' temperature control system to prevent consumers from overcooking their devices. However, manufacturers can only do so much. At the end of the day, vapers are dealing with electrical power sources -- and electricity can bite if not properly managed.
Arguments against vaping's health benefits -- especially as it relates to the nicotine issue -- overlook the fact that the magnitude of risk in vaping is entirely left to the vaper. That is, nicotine or other harmful chemicals are not native to vaping, unlike cigarette smoking. Thus, to attack vaping for its claims of a more healthful experience than smoking is disingenuous, a straw-man argument of epic scale. Cigarettes -- and by extension, the tobacco executives -- coerce nicotine into their products. Vaping, in sharp contrast, is not only a choice, but an artistic, individual expression.
I think here that a thought experiment is helpful. If a subculture within vaping materialized whereby a group of vapers decided to draw from mustard gas with their portable vaporizers, would the vaporizer be deemed guilty of the resultant deaths? Surely not! As mentioned before, vaping is only as dangerous as you make it to be.
And while nicotine is not nearly as pernicious as mustard gas, there's a reason why so many vapers refuse to deploy nicotine e-juice, even though the option is certainly available to them. Primarily, it has to do with nicotine's native health hazards. As previously defined, nicotine is a poison. Furthermore, nicotine is incredibly addictive.
Health Risks Associated with Nicotine
According to data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most cigarette smokers end up becoming hooked on the chemical. In addition, more "people in the United States are addicted to nicotine than to any other drug. Research suggests that nicotine may be as addictive as heroin, cocaine, or alcohol."
Because of these addictive properties, quitting nicotine is a multibillion dollar industry. However -- and to the direct benefit of the pharmaceutical companies who offer NRTs -- quitting is far from assured. The CDC writes that quitting "smoking is hard and may require several attempts. People who stop smoking often start again because of withdrawal symptoms, stress, and weight gain."
Let's be real -- quitting nicotine is very expensive. Brand name nicotine patches can start from $20 and beyond, while off-brand names are still going to be in the double-digit range. And as mentioned before, the NRTs only deal with withdrawal symptoms. They do nothing to fight the psychological component of nicotine addiction. One can make the argument that pharmaceuticals have a conflict of interest in NRTs, which may be viewed as replacing one addiction for another.
Lower-income smokers are the hardest hit, especially if they want to kick the nicotine habit. During their journey, they're often hit with a double-whammy. On the legal front, several taxation policies have passed dramatically driving up the price of cigarettes. At the other end, the aforementioned NRTs are prohibitively expensive. Therefore, low-income smokers often have to duke it out with the symptoms head-on, which can include: irritability, trouble with thinking clearly, craving nicotine products, and a pronounced appetite. This leads to the stress and weight gain that many smokers trying to quit experience on a consistent basis.
Unfortunately, nicotine isn't just harmful because of its withdrawal symptoms. The chemical produces a wide range of fundamental impacts against the human body, broken down into pharmacologic and psychodynamic effects. Pharmacologic changes include increases in the heart rate, heart muscle oxygen consumption rate, and heart stroke volume. Psychodynamic effects include raised alertness and feelings of euphoria, as well as a relaxing sensation.
When used appropriately and under watchful medical care, the attributes of nicotine could potentially be useful -- for example, in reviving a patient. However, there is no reason why a chemical that can raise the heart stroke volume should ever be distributed in a mass retail market. Considering nicotine's addictive properties, the risk factor is morally unacceptable. (From a purely financial perspective, however, Big Tobacco has sustained itself quite handsomely -- more on this point later.)
Furthermore, caution should be raised regarding the structural dichotomy of nicotine. In other words, the pharmacologic properties -- heart rate increase -- contradict the psychodynamic properties -- relaxation. That clues you in as to how much of a mind-trip nicotine really is. Consider that nobody buys coffee so that they can cool off after a hard day at work. Even with decaffeinated coffee, people understand that the effect of caffeine is limited, not reversed.
Because of the artificial shifts in the body induced by nicotine, the chemical results in a myriad of health problems. Lung cancer is the most often cited risk of cigarette smoking. But there are so many more, including coronary artery disease, respiratory dysfunction, gastro-intestinal cancers, and type 2 diabetes. The list literally keeps going and going. Bottom line, the hazards directly caused by, and associated with nicotine are too rich for anyone's blood.
Benefits of Nicotine-free Vaping
This is where vaping has demonstrable advantages. As previously mentioned, nicotine is not native to vaping. A vaper can choose to incorporate nicotine-based flavors, but many eschew the chemical in favor of natural draws and hits.
One of the great motivators for traditional cigarette smokers switching to nicotine-free vaping is that there are functional benefits associated with the move, not just the health impact. A broad consensus of vapers reveals that without the nicotine, the vaping experience is much smoother. This is particularly handy when a vaper wants to use his or her e-device for some much-needed down time. A harsh hitting cigarette just doesn't fit the bill universally.
In order to quantify the functional benefits of nicotine-free vaping, we have to first define the concept of "throat hit." A throat hit is the sensation a smoker or vaper receives in the back of his/her throat, and in the lungs after inhaling smoke or vapor. Many in the "adult consumption" sector agree that it is a central component of the overall experience.
Additionally, the throat hit in traditional cigarette smoking is a sensation that is directly correlated with nicotine concentration. That is, the greater the amount of nicotine present in the cigarette, the higher the magnitude of throat hit.
However, caution should be exercised in not making too many broad assumptions based on the above relationship. For example, people have different tolerances. What is considered a strong throat hit to one person may be nothing consequential for another. Also, some people prefer the smoother sensation of a lighter hit. While Marlboro Reds may get the media attention, there's a reason why retailers sell so many of the Marlboro Lights.
This may appear as a pedantic argument, but it's really not. There's much misinformation proliferated that nicotine-free vaping is for "wimps" or those that can't handle the heat. On the contrary, nicotine-free vaping is a preference. For many, perhaps the majority of "light" vapers, the soothing experience of an e-juice that contains little to no nicotine is far more desirable than a harsh hit that leads to uncontrolled coughing.
Even for those that are "coerced" into nicotine-free options for health concerns, the platform isn't without its merits. Nicotine-less vaping is still vaping -- it's not as dramatic as drinking alcohol-free beer. So the idea that vapers are "giving something up" or that the experience is somehow "neutered" are missing out on an alternative way to enjoy the art of vaping.
Going back to an earlier point, human tolerance can only be taken so far. That is, while people have different stamina as it relates to throat hit, there is such a thing as a maximum threshold. This is the point where no matter who you are or how experienced you may be, the magnitude of the throat hit is simply too much.
There's also something to be said about not ignoring the signals your body is telling you. Yes, you can develop a callousness towards nicotine-based throat hits, but do you really want to? No matter how tough your body is now, it's not immune, and it's certainly not invincible. Further down the road, serious or permanent damage becomes inevitable.
When you consider this fact, there's an incentive for vapers to deliberately switch to nicotine-free vaping. Not only can vapers enjoy substantially longer sessions, their bodies, their future selves will thank them for it.
Getting the Most out of Nicotine Free
The natural hesitation of vapers when considering the nicotine-free route is the dramatic nature of the change. As previously mentioned, throat hit is what most smokers and vapers are looking for, and that is an experience most often associated with nicotine. In other words, without nicotine, the defining element of smoking or vaping is gone.
That, however, is not entirely accurate -- at least not for vapers. In traditional smoking, many smokers receive a satisfying throat hit by taking strong, but short, quick drags. Tobacco smoke is naturally an obnoxious substance. There's no way to develop a tolerance for it but through deliberate, consistent exposure. Of course, that's the reason why first-time smokers often hack up a storm when engaging cigarettes on their maiden voyage. And even seasoned smokers choose not to hold the smoke longer in their lungs than is necessary.
Right there, that tells you that excessive exposure to nicotine is harmful and alternatives to reduce exposure -- such as nicotine-free vaping -- are preferable for longer-term health reasons. Nevertheless, the main reason for citing obnoxious tobacco smoke is that throat hit is much easier achieved in cigarettes than it is through portable vaporizers. Really, it's just native to the traditional platform.
Vaping, on the other hand, requires a different technique to traditional smoking in order to achieve a solid throat hit. Vapers need to maintain longer, sustained drags that can last anywhere from three to five seconds. Such time ranges results in thicker vapor production, which in turn creates more satisfying throat hits. In fact, there is a direct correlation between vapor production and throat hit -- which is an idea that can be personally and mechanically exploited.
Let's go the personal route since that is the most controllable (not to mention the cheapest). In order to compensate for the reduced or missing nicotine, vapers can simply double down or triple down on their drags, producing more vapors and creating a more pleasurable experience. Typically, increasing "personal magnitude" is often enough to help with the throat hit cravings.
However, if that modulation isn't satisfying enough, there are a plethora of mechanical options to choose from. We're talking about vaping, after all -- seemingly every day, there is a new take on the art.
For starters, nicotine-free vapers can look into portable vaporizers that are known for producing rich, thick vapors. A prime example is the SMOK GX2/4 or SMOK Alien Kit. Both are considered premium-level portable vaporizers, and both pump out an almost inordinate amount of vapor. For those that are serious in the art of vaping, the SMOK GX2/4 comes highly recommended due to its extremely robust battery power, and the ability to continuously churn out satisfying draws.
For the health-conscious vaper, the SMOK GX350 is a godsend. One full charge will often last up to six hours, making it a very reliable friend when you're on the go. Plus, no cigarette could match the potency of the Mighty, and very few, if any, portable vaporizers can, either.
If that's still not enough to detract from the nicotine cravings, vaping retailers offer a range of wild and exotic e-juice flavors. Whether you want a little bit of peppermint, or a slab of vanilla on the side, the vaping platform is an oasis of opportunities. Go pure, go hybrid -- or everything in between. The choice is entirely up to you.
Proponents of traditional smoking will argue that there's no point replacing the throat hit native to nicotine. At a certain point, yes, we do have to concede with reality. Nicotine is addictive for a reason. However, for those that have made a personal decision to withdraw from nicotine, vaping can still provide a meaningful alternative.
Among the flavors offered on tap, vapers can choose those that are spicy, cold, or sour. These additives contribute greatly to the overall throat hit. While obviously not the same as a traditional hit, the body can quickly accustom itself to the new sensations. Over time, a vaper could crave these additive hits rather than the nicotine.
Natural Rewards of Nicotine-free Vaping
These benefits aren't as crazy as it may initially sound. For starters, vaping without nicotine e-juices results in a substantially smoother experience. In the absence of harsh, harmful chemicals, there is a noticeable reduction in gag reflexes. Thus, the overall experience is rich and textured, not abrasive. Ultimately, this creates an objectively more enjoyable experience for the vaper.
We should also note that the act of coughing is usually not good for the body. True, in certain situations, coughing is designed to remove foreign objects or excess substance from the throat. But unless we're sick, coughing for no reason has no benefit. Over time, the lining in the throat could become severely irritated, resulting in pain or discomfort.
Nicotine-free vaping therefore focuses the attention of the vaper strictly to the experience, not the consequences.
Another aspect that often goes ignored by critics of this vaping approach is that the flavors are more pronounced. Without nicotine present, there is nothing to mask the flavors. And as stated before, nicotine is an obnoxious chemical. One has to be trained to like or tolerate nicotine. Therefore, nicotine, when it comes to e-juice flavors, is a negative double-whammy.
First, your flavors are being masked by the chemical. Second, the chemical is an especially abrasive and naturally unpleasant substance. This really impedes on the e-juice setup. If you sit down and think about it, nicotine is one of the worst investments for the vaper. He or she is paying more money to get less of the flavors that they initially acquired. From a strictly financial perspective, that just doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
It's All About the Sensation
Inevitably, no matter how hard you try to convince traditional smokers of the benefits of nicotine-free vaping, confusion is sure to abound. For them, there is no point in smoking without nicotine. How else is one supposed to get a satisfying throat hit?
Yet many vapers have discovered in their journey of the digital approach that smoking is more than just the tobacco smoke emanating from a cigarette. It's all about the sensation. In the traditional cigarette platform, there's really no other sensation but the nicotine-based throat hit. Most cigarette choices are limited to different branding, and the levels of nicotine present. Other than magnitude, cigarette smokers don't have a lot of choice.
But vapers have an extraordinary number of e-juice options from which to choose. New flavors are introduced on a frequent basis. Because of the plethora of flavors, vapers not only have structural freedom (in the retail choices available) but they also have individual freedom. That is, vaping is an art, a personal expression.
One of the biggest trends in the enthusiast industry are vaping competitions, also known as "cloud chasing." Here, vapers from around the country gather together to see who can produce the thickest clouds, or have the most creative, stylistic emissions. To win such competitions, a vaper needs to have full control of his or her body, equipment, and flavors.
Such competitions really wouldn't be feasible with traditional platforms like cigarettes. For one thing, there are too many different tolerance levels to nicotine. Participants will have to be taken from a relatively narrow field. Also, emissions from tobacco smoke are abrasive even to many smokers, and are downright offensive to nonsmokers.
That's just not the case with vaping. With reduced nicotine or non-nicotine e-juices, a vaper with a reduced tolerance can still participate as a full competitor in cloud chasing events without any disadvantage. Furthermore, nonsmokers and vaping outsiders typically have a pleasant reaction to vaporizer clouds. To them, it's like flavored air.
This segues into why vapers are going nicotine free. In the absence of hacking, coughing, and other reactionary impulses, the vaper can concentrate on the complete richness and texture of their flavors. More than just a platitude, it has real scientific validity -- if a true outsider can enjoy vapors, how much more will the ardent enthusiast?
Contrary to the critics, this purity of sensation can replace the desire for a nicotine throat hit so embraced by traditionalists. I'm not suggesting here that one platform can substitute for the other. Vaping and smoking are two different entities, and therefore, they cannot fully replicate each other's experience.
What I am saying is that the craving for throat hit -- which is the integral component of tobacco smoking -- can be replaced by the healthier alternative of nicotine-free vaping. What the latter loses in terms of throat hit, it gains by the wide range of e-juice flavors on tap. It may take a while transitioning to nicotine-free vaping, but many vaping aficionados have made the switch, and are refusing to go back.
The reason is purely logical. In cigarettes, nicotine is the core, essential ingredient. In vaping, nicotine is actually a deleterious element. We discussed earlier that its obnoxious fumes masks the flavor of e-juices. Also, we noted the financial irrationality of paying more for a lesser experience.
But compositionally, nicotine can interact with e-juices in a manner that is typically a net negative. Although nicotine by itself is mostly flavorless, it naturally emanates "pepper-like" textures that mix with e-juice flavoring. Some vapers can't tell the difference. Some prefer the kick nicotine provides. But for an increasing number of vaping connoisseurs, unintended flavor mixing is a big no-no. This again points back to the financial argument. E-juices, especially the premium offerings, aren't cheap. Nicotine, in contrast, is a dime a dozen.
Finally, vaping as a platform offers virtually everything for everyone. Not all enthusiasts will join the ranks of nicotine-free vaping. That's fine -- however, the option is there should a change of mind occur, or if a vaper wants to substitute some nicotine-free vaping into their routine.
Also, for those that want to stay in the middle of the road, there are varying degrees of nicotine e-juices. Just like coffee, you don't always need to go full-bore. Sometimes, a lesser concentration or even decaf is appropriate, depending upon the situation. With the vaping platform, you get an exponentially larger base of options than you could ever get with traditional cigarettes.
Same Platform, Better Results
By now, we've firmly established the health risks associated with nicotine, and beyond that, switching to a nicotine-free platform doesn't have to involve severe sacrifices. Vapers can still enjoy many of the sensations involved in "analog smoking," but without the irritation or hazards caused by tobacco smoke. While fundamentally different from smoking, vaping offers multiple forms of expression that simply do not exist with run-of-the-mill cigarettes.
But at the end of the day, we're human. And what makes us human is the need to balance benefits with costs. Although our daily occupation may not involve economic theory, innately, we are all economists. Whether we do this consciously or subconsciously, we make several decisions with our money -- when to spend, how much to spend, what not to spend.
And to the uninitiated, vaping could be an intimidating proposition. There are products on top of products, with vaping companies jumping all over each other, clamoring for your business. Although that provides plenty of options, trying to decipher the mess could lead to "paralysis by analysis." New vapers recognize the health benefits of the e-device route, but may be unsure how to go about the process.
Fortunately, many, if not most vaporizers are user-friendly and intuitive. This is particularly true for the smaller, pen-style portable vaporizers. Because pen-style vapes are marketed as being both discreet and portable, they naturally tend not to have much real estate. As such, these vaporizers must incorporate simple, one-button operations.
A great example of a small, portable vaporizer with excellent functionality is the Kanger Evod Kit. This spectacular device is a straightforward, slim, no-nonsense vaporizer that lights up on command.
To turn the Evod on, the vaper simply pushes the power button five times in quick succession. This is not only convenient, it acts as a safety mechanism to prevent unwanted or accidental activation. We've all been in a situation where we've "butt-dialed" someone or have been on the receiving end of such a call. With smartphones, it's not such a big deal. With vaporizers leveraging considerable thermodynamic power, the consequences are a little more dramatic.
Once the Evod is activated, the vaper simply pushes and holds down the power button again. According to specifications provided by the manufacturer, the heat up process takes only a split second. Thus, quick and easy vaporization of your favorite flavors are at your disposal. Better yet, you don't have to hunt for a cigarette lighter, or, more awkwardly, beg a complete stranger for an assist.
On a more fundamental level, the benefit of moving to a nicotine-free platform using vaporizers is that the equipment is entirely the same as nicotine-based vaporizers. In fact, there's no physical distinction at all between nicotine and non-nicotine vaping. As stated earlier, no chemical is native to vaping -- it all depends upon the e-juices and other flavors that the vaper chooses.
That's not to say that vapers can't introduce physical differences into their equipment, should they desire. Experienced and dedicated vapers can quickly cite the components that are modifiable on a vaporizer unit -- which is almost everything. The vaping industry is literally like Legos for adults. Within the enthusiast community, you will be hard-pressed to find standard, out-of-the-box vaporizers.
For those that are specifically looking to kick nicotine out of their daily routine, one of the most effective adjustments would be to the atomizer coils. Vapers of all persuasions adjust the atomizer coils all the time, usually to get a different texture or experience. For example, Kanthal atomizers are renowned for their completely inert nature, and translating the pure essence of vaporized flavors. Ceramic atomizers are also popular for both their inert qualities, as well as facilitating a smoother experience.
Ceramic may be the go-to material for those wishing to quit analog cigarettes, as this allows for longer draws, which may help beat the cravings for nicotine throat hits. But another aspect of atomizer coils is resistance. Several companies offer modifications for their key products, and one of those mods is the option to go low or high resistance. Depending upon your needs and desires, the resistance level dramatically alters the end-user experience.
Before we venture into the physical modifications that can help former analog smokers kick their nicotine addiction, let's review the electrical components that are present in a vaporizer unit -- volts, ohms, and watts. Voltage refers to the rate of power flow generated by a vaporizer's battery or mod. Ohms are units of measurement that indicates how much of that power flow is being restricted. Watts is the actual power delivered to the vaporizer unit through a combination of voltage and ohms.
An automotive analogy may be helpful here. The voltage is similar to the power generated by the engine. This is what is officially known as horsepower. Ohms are analogous to the contact patch of the tires -- generally speaking, the wider the tires, the more surface area for the car to gain traction. Finally, watts is what gear heads call "wheel horsepower," or how much actual net horsepower is generated. To measure wheel horsepower, a car has to be put on a dynamometer, or dyno for short.
And just like in the sports car subculture, not all modifications are equal, or even useful. For example, we've all come across vehicles with "fart-can" muffler pipes -- they're really just built for noise, and annoying at that. And who can forget those drivers that bolt on enormous rear wings to their cars? Again, these mods are for show and add virtually nothing to performance.
What will make a difference are items that contribute to the net distribution of power. For a car, that could be the tires -- wider, low-profile rubber will quickly grab onto the road, fully maximizing the forward thrust capability of the engine, and ultimately making for a quicker ride.
The same concept applies to vaporizers. By incorporating low resistance atomizers (lower ohms), there is less power that is being restricted from the battery. In turn, the lower resistance generates more power -- ie. a higher wattage. The end result is considerably more vapor production.
As previously mentioned, nicotine-free vaping can't quite substitute for the quick jab of throat hit. At the same time, analog smokers can only dream of the vapor cloud production generated with relative ease by today's vaporizers. Even some of the smallest, compact e-devices can be tweaked to emit generous clouds. That unprecedented richness is enough for many former smokers to forget all about the sole benefit of throat hit.
To solidify this argument, there is growing evidence to suggest that consumer trends in vaping are now heavily favored towards the nicotine-free approach. A number of vaping retailers report that low to zero nicotine e-liquids outsell their medium to high strength offerings. Furthermore, almost every single e-liquid manufacturer offers a zero-nicotine option.
Now, you have to ask yourself a very basic question -- if there was no demand for nicotine-free vaping, would companies even bother producing such products? Of course, the answer is no. There's simply too much at stake, too much vested in research and development, and too much negative cash flow from overhead costs to market something that no one wants.
Therefore, the verdict is clear. People don't just acknowledge the existence of nicotine-free vaping -- they are actively searching for it. And there may come a time sooner rather than later when e-liquids without nicotine unquestionably dominates the vaping marketplace.
Big Tobacco Fighting a Losing Battle
Nicotine being harmful and addictive have been well-established by the scientific and medical community. That nicotine as a chemical interferes with the flavor and experience of vaping is also scientifically based, and affirmed by a number of vaping critics. The difference today as opposed to several years ago when vaping was finding its stride is that nicotine is losing its "cultural" grip on the vaping community.
Ask any true aficionado of vaping -- they do not want to be called smokers. To those proudly standing in the enthusiast ranks, smoking is akin to a lesser-evolved platform. In the age of the internet and technical wizardry, showing up with an MS-DOS based computer would be a tad bit odd, to say the least. Vaping is a unique art form that is constantly pushing the envelope. Cigarettes, in comparison, are nothing more than rolled paper.
This is also the reason why vaping experts roll their eyes when outsiders conflate the term "e-cigarette" to include all vaping devices. E-cigarettes are almost exactly what is implied in the name -- electronic cigarettes. There's an easy argument to be made that they're merely glorified cigarettes. For example, the cartridges of e-cigarettes come pre-filled, and have to be replaced with new cartridges once the old is completely consumed. They're about as basic of an analog-cigarette alternative as you can get. There's also a reason why e-cigarettes are sold in gas stations and trucker stops, and hardly ever in vaping-centric retailers.
That distinction, and more pointedly, the insistence of that distinction, may be confusing for those on the outside. To them, the process of smoking and vaping look identical. When it comes to the devices themselves, there's ever more abounding confusion. Both e-cigarettes and pen-style vaporizers are portable, and designed to replace the traditional cigarette. Why then does this friction exist?
First, there's a lot to be said in a name. Vapers insist that their devices are not e-cigarettes because they're not. It's as simple as that. To help avoid misconceptions, the enthusiast community specifically agreed on the "vaporizer" label. And it's not just the difference in name. The function itself is completely different.
Vaping gets its name from the vaporization of e-liquids -- it's not just about lighting an uncontrolled flame to a catalyst. Instead, vaping is just as much science as it is art. Dedicated enthusiasts are extremely diligent in their exacting specifications, whether that be temperature, resistance, atomizer materials, or any number of variables. E-cigarettes simply do not have this magnitude of modularity.
Again, an automotive analogy may help illustrate this point. The transmission of a vehicle -- typically manual or automatic -- changes the entire character of the driving experience. Even though a car is a car, the transmission with which it is equipped will alter a driver's approach. The most obvious example is skill. A person that knows how to drive a manual transmission can easily transfer their skill to an automatically-equipped vehicle. But the same is not true in reverse.
Imagine then that you are accused of being a bad driver, even though you are proficient with a manual, and your accusers only know how to drive an automatic. The irritation would be swift. If such accusations continued to mount, a conflict is sure to rise. So it is with the enthusiast vaping community, and outsiders who dump it in the e-cigarette category.
There's also the touchy matter that popular e-cigarette models -- such as Vuze or Blu -- are manufactured by -- surprise, surprise! -- tobacco companies. That's right -- Big Tobacco wants a piece of the action, and in order to do so, they introduced the e-cigarette sector. There's a whole host of problems with this picture, but primarily, it has to do with the profit incentive.
No one is going to proclaim that making money is bad -- that is part and parcel the human experience. However, there is something to be said about making money at any cost. Big Tobacco firms only care about profits, and thus, are incentivized to proliferate nicotine products that are addictive and harmful. For them, it's a numbers game. Hook 'em while they're young, and if they die, they die.
The vaping industry promotes a radically different approach. Rather than seeking an addicted consumer base, they want to earn the trust of their clientele. Hence, the focus on marketing, innovation, and technology. Vaping is an industry that is a perpetual standard bearer. Companies are always striving to do better. It's not uncommon to see popular vaporizers receive multiple technical and ergonomic upgrades. Within the same product line, things could look different one year from the next. In contrast, both cigarettes and e-cigarettes almost haven't changed at all since their inception.
When you take the time to dig deeper into the subject, one aspect becomes intractably obvious -- vaping is an entirely different species than cigarettes or even the supposedly similar e-cigarette platform. Aside from the physical distinction, the overall attitude of vapers, industry experts, and product manufacturers represent a stark dichotomy over traditional communities.
This dynamic is evident in the plethora of secondary-sale support. Unlike e-cigarettes, where experimentation options are severely limited due to a dearth of products and flavors, vaporizers have an abundance of choices. The sampling options of e-juices read like an encyclopedia -- whatever flavor you're feeling, there's a high probability of finding it.
Naturally, most vaping companies and retailers are skewed towards mature, adult flavors. However, if you're jonesing for a kiwi-strawberry draw, there's no judgment from the vaping community. At VaporAuthority.com, for example, there are over 100 fruit-flavored e-juices, all of which are available in nicotine-free variations. Just order and enjoy!
The most obvious reason why the trend is occurring is because nicotine interferes with the vaping experience. Again, it almost makes no economic sense to pay so much for premium flavoring, only to have the end result encumbered by a known chemical interaction. Also, many vapers enjoy the taste of vaping, and excessive amounts of nicotine simply ruins it.
But more importantly, vaping companies can see the benefit in the bottom line. Due to information campaigns such as those promoted by The Truth, nicotine is getting a bad rap. Furthermore, Big Tobacco firms are reeling in light of these organic threats.
For shrewd vaporizer companies, they can promote products and e-juices that cater specifically to those looking to quit nicotine, or seeking a healthier alternative. As all vapers can attest, the draws or hits are cleaner, smoother, and less abusive than the counterpoint experience provided by cigarettes.
The benefit here is that the demand is already in place, and growing rapidly. Thus, companies that are shifting heavily towards nicotine-free are doing so without incurring much risk. Rather than trying to create buzz spontaneously, the undercurrent is established. They just need to execute -- something with which most vaporizer organizations have zero problems.
Best of all, the consumer can be assured that they will have ample choices should they take the personal step towards a nicotine-free vaping platform. Indeed, the trend is at their back.