The 6 Unexpected Tricks That Helped Me Quit Vaping After A Decade-Long Nicotine Habit


Quitting vaping is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

My cigarette habit consumed the entirety of my twenties but, when someone handed me a 600-puff vape (so I could hide my addiction from my family at my 30th), I had no idea just how bad my nicotine addiction was about to get.

All the things I hated about smoking cigarettes were now removed: I didn’t smell, I didn’t have to commit to a full cig at once and you know what? During a WFH movement, I didn’t even need to excuse myself from my desk.

I was vaping all day every day and my nicotine addiction was suddenly the worst it had ever been, even if I wasn’t a walking, talking ashtray anymore. So on January 1st, 2023, after a previous attempt a few months earlier, I decided to stop for good. And I haven’t touched nicotine of any kind since.

Everyone has different ways of quitting vaping, but here’s how I did it.

Write down all the times you vape

About a week before I quit vaping, I kept tabs on just how much I was doing it. It’s very easy to be like, “Yeah, I do it all the time”, but seeing it on paper is a whole other thing.

I wrote down how many puffs I was having and the time I was doing it — showcasing to myself, as clear as it could be, just how bad this vaping addiction was. It also helped me understand when I would have more or less (scrolling in bed versus making dinner).

Let’s just say it didn’t take long for an A4 page to be filled, and some times there wouldn’t even be a five minute break between hits. As if an addiction didn’t incite shame already, seeing it laid out in front of me really hit home.

Before writing this list I hadn’t decided to quit vaping. I’d been thinking about it and was in the incessant shame spiral of a substance dominating my life, but, as people who are addicted to something know, I had found reasons to put it off just a little while longer. This helped me take the plunge.

Read Atomic Habits with quitting vaping in mind

By now the chances you’ve read Atomic Habits by James Clear ($22) are high. That’s great — read it again. I know someone who re-reads this book every time they want to quit something or simply get something done, but with that new goal in mind while flicking the pages.

This book will help you understand how your vaping habit started and what you’re doing to facilitate it now (so that you can stop it in its tracks).

It’s also going to keep your hands busy which is undeniably helpful when they’re so used to reaching for something else. (Seriously, holding onto a book with two hands is a godsend when they’re fidgeting from withdrawals.) I read more books in 2023 than I have in my entire life.

Transfer your vaping addiction

You’ll hear this one a lot: people who give something up tend to take up something else. That’s fine as long as it’s a good habit (which you’ll read about more in Clear’s book). It’s called transference and it’s a one-way ticket to making you that smug ex-smoker you’ve always dreamed of being.

I chose the gym because it was somewhere I wasn’t allowed to vape. Did I bring my vape to the gym before I quit so that I could take a drag as soon as I left the place? Absolutely! But now I would stay in the gym longer, and go more frequently, to keep myself busy. I was also aware I’d likely put on a bit of weight when I quit vaping, so this felt like the obvious choice to keep myself from giving up on giving up.

You might want to do this by going into the office more frequently, organising activities with non-smoking friends and so on. Keeping busy in places you’re not allowed to vape can really help in those initial stages.

Stock up on Eclipse mints

When you quit vaping it won’t just be the nicotine you’re missing. There’s also a sugary taste missing throughout the day that you might need to try and replace.

Grape was my vape flavour of choice, so I stocked up on grape Eclipse mints to keep my mouth busy (while also providing the taste I would otherwise be getting from a vape).

Now, I probably had way too many of these in the grand scheme of things but I did what I needed to do when it came to the lesser of two evils. I would also alternate with things like blueberries that I could suck on. Tic Tacs might also work.

quit vaping quitting vaping
Eclipse Grape Flavoured Sugarfree Mints, $4

Tackle the drinking thing head-on while you quit vaping

We all know that drinking and smoking are the perfect toxic relationship. It can be what unravels your entire journey of quitting nicotine (It only took one spicy margarita to end my first attempt of quitting a couple of months prior). I’m not going to tell you to give up drinking because I am reasonable, however, if you do, you’ll probably find it a lot easier. But that’s your call.

For the first four days, at least, you’re going to need to say no to plans with anyone you know can twist your rubber arm into drinking more than usual. Especially if they smoke.

About a week in, I had a smoking friend ask me out for a drink. It ended up being a bottle but before he bought the bottle, I suggested that I go to the tobacconist and buy a nicotine-free vape. This was so that I didn’t end up asking for “just a drag” of his when I wasn’t thinking so clearly.

Following that, every time I knew I was going to exceed the two-drink mark (my personal danger zone), I would bring my nicotine-free vape. I wouldn’t always use it but it was a comfort knowing it was there.

That being said, I was conscious I would just end up being addicted to the motion of that, so I hid it at home to make sure I never turned to it while sober.

Change your screensaver

Quitting vaping is painful and, especially in the initial stages, it’s hard to believe there will be a time you no longer think of the thing 24 hours a day. But there is. After the third or fourth day, it becomes easier and easier, until one day you get through a whole day without it crossing your mind once.

To help imagine that day, you could put something as your screensaver that’s from a future you. For me, I wrote down in my notes section, “No thanks, I don’t smoke anymore”.

This helped me imagine a time I’d say that to someone who used to know me as a smoker. And how good it would feel. Not, “No thanks, I’m trying to quit”, but “No thanks, I gave that up.”

One day you’ll say it with your chest and you’ll say it proud. Because it’s not a fucking easy thing to do.

Chantelle Schmidt is a freelance writer. You can follow her on Instagram.

The information in this article is general in nature. Please consult your GP or other healthcare practitioner for advice on your specific health needs.