Vaping can be a wonderful alternative to nicotine-rich cigarettes. Many ex-smokers have used vaping to stop smoking entirely, gradually decreasing their nicotine intake over time, moving from regular e-juice with nicotine, to alternatives without this harmful substance.
While the health risks of vaping are still largely unknown, there are many who would agree a vape is significantly less dangerous than a traditional cigarette, in part due to the nicotine-free e-liquid options. But just because there is nicotine-free liquid for your vape, does that mean there is no chance of addiction? While the answer is technically “no”, let’s examine vaping without nicotine and hopefully answer some common questions.
People who have used vaping to stop cigarette smoking will often tell you that it has helped them curb and eventually kick their own nicotine addictions. E-liquids are not technically addictive, but there are still some circumstances where you might question if you can still become addicted to vaping even when there is no nicotine involved. In this article, we will explore many common questions about vaping without nicotine and hopefully leave you with enough information that you feel comfortable making an informed decision about vaping without nicotine.
Is Vape Juice Without Nicotine Addictive?
If you are opting to vape with no nicotine, you are not going to develop a physical addiction to vaping nicotine-free vape juices. No nicotine e-liquids (the actual “vape” part of vaping) do not contain addictive components. But there’s more to the story than just physical addiction.
Nicotine is addictive because it creates a physical sense of relief and our bodies become dependent on receiving said relief over prolonged use. People suffering from nicotine withdrawals will experience physical symptoms that can be crippling if their addiction is bad enough. Some of these symptoms include:
- Drastic mood changes;
- Physical aches and pains;
- Sleep disruption;
- And much more.
People addicted to nicotine will also crave their next fix and will look for other unhealthy coping mechanisms if they cannot receive it. Perhaps this is why vaping is so attractive. There are low-nicotine and nicotine-free options widely available to help wean regular nicotine users off the substance and keep those who have never had an addiction from developing one. If you are using a nicotine-free e-liquid in your vape, there is no chance you will develop a nicotine addiction.
Risk Of Addiction
That being said, any kind of repetitive behavior has the risk of addiction if you have an addictive personality. This is why we cannot say with complete accuracy that vaping without nicotine has no risk of addiction. Surely we have all met someone whose bad habit has blown up to monstrous proportions and now rules most of their life.
Vaping without nicotine can lead to the same kind of addiction playing video games or watching television can: even though there is no physical dependency, you can develop an emotional addiction. This emotional addiction can mimic a physical addiction even down to the withdrawal symptoms. If you are someone who gets very dependent on routines or becomes fixated on certain aspects of your life, you may develop this sort of addiction to vaping even if you are using nicotine-free e-liquid.
The good news is that because this type of addiction is in your head rather than your physical body, it just takes self-discipline to break. If you find yourself longing to step outside and vape (even without nicotine) and it distracts you from the rest of your life, it might be time to put the vape down and turn your interest to other pursuits. A healthy dose of moderation is key to enjoying your vape without feeling as though it has priority above all else.
Side-Effects Of Vaping Without Nicotine
Just because vaping without nicotine may not be addictive does not mean that it is risk-free. While vaping is not as bad as other types of smoking, there are still some risks we know about and many more that are still being studied. We do know that vaping can expose your lungs to toxic agents and carcinogens in low doses, which can lead to the ever-threatening popcorn lung (a condition which damages the lungs’ small airways and can make breathing difficult.) If you vape around others, you can also expose them to secondhand smoke. Vaping around pets (particularly dogs) is strongly advised against as animals are extremely sensitive to any type of smoke.
Vaping without nicotine also comes with a list of side effects, both good and bad. Here are just a few of the harmful effects on health:
- Hoarseness and sore throat: The smoke from you vape can irritate your throat and lungs. Even if vaping does not cause you to cough or otherwise physically react, you may still find yourself a bit hoarse after using your vape. Drinking water afterward may help limit this side effect.
- Coughing, congestion, phlegm: Smoke is an irritant, even without nicotine. When you vape, you are breathing in smoke that aggravates your lungs’ cilia which are used to clear out tar, mucus, and other foreign substances. As a result, your lungs will alert your body it needs to cough to try and rid itself of the offending substance (which is your vape smoke.) You may also become congested and notice an increased production of phlegm as your body tries to fight off this foreign substance. Again, drinking plenty of water will help reduce symptoms.
- Mouth ulcers: We have already established that smoke is an irritant. Similar to the way it irritates your lungs, it can irritate your mouth and cause damage to your gum and mouth tissues. When this damage builds, it can lead to painful ulcers. Good oral hygiene and rinsing your mouth after vaping can help combat this side effect.
- Headaches and nausea: If you are sensitive to strong odors, you may be especially prone to vape-related headaches. Even if you aren’t sensitive, the thick and aromatic smoke from your vape can cause aggravation. This same aroma can cause nausea as well. Vaping in a well-ventilated area can help reduce this, but if you are sensitive, it may be best to just not risk it.
- Changing sense of taste: On top of damaging the tissue inside your mouth, vape smoke can also dull your sense of taste with repetitive use. This is especially likely if you use e-liquids with very strong or vibrant flavors. Rinsing your mouth after vaping can help and some vape users have also said using cough drops can help prevent this side effect.
With just a few negative side effects, you may wonder why anyone chooses to vape (with or without nicotine) at all. While it is true vaping does have many bad side effects, it also has these positive side effects:
- Anxiety relief: Many people have said that vaping helps keep them calm or helps with their nerves in certain situations. Perhaps this is because vaping is a sort of ‘ritual’ or perhaps it can be attributed to the often pleasant flavors e-liquids come in. Either way, vaping can help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
- Reduce high blood pressure: If you have high blood pressure associated with smoking cigarettes and nicotine use, vaping without nicotine could actually help with that. A study published in the February 2016 issue of Internal and Emergency Medicine found that ex-smokers displayed lower blood pressures after switching to low-nicotine or nicotine-free vaping.
- Social acceptance: There is a culture surrounding smoking that permeates our everyday lives. Most workplaces offer smoking breaks to their employees and smoking areas are everywhere in urban cities. Vaping can help you find a sense of camaraderie with others who smoke and/or vape and lead to new friendships, bonding over a shared interest, and social acceptance. This side effect may particularly intrigue those who have trouble fitting in with the crowd.
Regardless of the side effects, one thing is certain: vaping without nicotine still has its own risks, even when you take nicotine addiction off the table. If you are looking to avoid any potential hazards and you are not looking to start vaping to help ease a nicotine addiction, you may want to opt out.
Is Vaping Without Nicotine Bad For You?
As we touched on previously, vaping without nicotine still poses health risks. Smoke is an irritant and can be particularly damaging to the tissue of your gums, mouth, airway, and lungs. Vape smoke still contains harmful toxins and carcinogens even when you remove nicotine from the equation.
Prolonged vaping does pose the risk of damaging your body. Research is still being conducted to fully understand just how risky vaping can be, but early research has already concluded not smoking or vaping at all is significantly better for you than the alternative.
In addition to potential lung damage, there are other ways your health can be negatively affected. This includes mouth ulcers, acne, headaches, nausea, and a plethora of other symptoms.
The true extent of how bad vaping is for you is still up for debate. Researchers are studying the effects of vaping in both short-term and long-term vape users. What we do know is that vape smoke is harmful even if it contains no nicotine. The potential risk of vaping is yours to weigh and we ask that you carefully consider all sides of the debate when making the decision to begin vaping.
How Do Lungs Respond To Vape Smoke Without Nicotine?
Vape smoke is irritating to your lungs whether it’s the first time you’ve vaped or the hundredth time. The extent of its lung effect truly depends on how long you have been vaping. We’re going to look at the short- and long-term effects as if you were vaping without nicotine
Shortly after you begin vaping, you are sure to notice some physical symptoms. You will likely be coughing much more as the vape smoke is aggravating your lungs and they are trying to rid themselves of buildup. This can lead to throat irritation and can range from merely annoying to quite painful. While your lungs are adjusting, your immune system will take a hit because the protective tissue barrier within your lungs will be compromised. You will be more susceptible to colds or other respiratory illnesses.
If you continue vaping, you may notice some of these symptoms dying down. This isn’t to say that you’re in the clear or that your lungs have adjusted to the vape smoke. On the contrary, prolonged exposure to vape smoke can cause permanent damage. Vape smoke disrupts the lung tissues’ ability to serve as a barrier against foreign substances. If you are exposed to illness or develop an infection, your lungs have less of a chance of fighting it properly.
Additionally, your lungs will continue becoming more and more inflamed with time. You are at risk to develop “popcorn lung” or bronchiolitis obliterans as the vape smoke can damage the small airways in your lungs. You may notice that you are chronically out of breath or that you can’t breathe as deeply as you used to. This is because your lungs are damaged and inflamed. Even if you stop vaping, your lungs may never truly recover.
Facts About Vaping Without Nicotine
We’ve covered a lot of ground in this article. Hopefully, by now, you’re more educated about what vaping without nicotine can really do to you. To further reiterate, we’ve prepared a list of pros and cons for you to really consider when it comes to vaping without nicotine.
- You can stop smoking traditional cigarettes easier. Even if you cannot initially vape without nicotine, you can work your way down from full-nicotine to low- and eventually nicotine-free e-liquids.
- You may experience stress relief. The simple act of vaping can be a sort of release for many individuals and help take their minds off of their worries. The scent of vape smoke can also be soothing.
- You won’t experience as many drawbacks as traditional smoking. Vaping without nicotine is cheaper, doesn’t produce ash, and won’t leave a lingering smell on your clothing. You also won’t run the risk of developing a physical addiction like you do when smoking (or vaping) with nicotine.
- You are still putting your (and other people’s) health at risk. Vaping is not 100% healthy and even vaping without nicotine can hurt the body. You may want to really evaluate whether potential lung damage or risking your loved ones with secondhand smoke is worth it.
- You are still spending money on an unnecessary habit. Even if vaping without nicotine isn’t as expensive as other smoking habits, it’s still a drain on your finances that could be cut.
- You can still develop emotional addiction. If you are an extremely dependent or addictive person, it may be best to just avoid vaping altogether. While vaping without nicotine won’t create a physical addiction, you can become emotionally attached and experience addiction-like symptoms.
These are just a few of the pros and cons to vaping without nicotine, but there are many more that we’ve covered throughout the article and even more that aren’t listed. Ultimately, the decision to vape without nicotine is up to you. We just hope that you will appropriately weigh the good and the bad when you consider this habit.
Fighting Nicotine Addiction
One final note before I leave you today. While most of this article has been dedicated to vaping without nicotine, there are sure to be many of you reading who are currently struggling with nicotine. Let me say this: you can beat a nicotine addiction with dedication and focus. Nicotine addiction can be a very nasty business, but there are thousands of people just like you who have conquered their problem. If you are considering vaping as an alternative to traditional smoking, just know that vaping without nicotine can increase your chances of quitting for good and putting your nicotine addiction behind you.
When fighting a nicotine addiction, it’s important to keep your head high and celebrate even the small victories. There are tons of apps available for your phone that will break down how much money you have saved by avoiding purchasing cigarettes. Sometimes seeing the numbers broken down for you can be inspiration enough. If not, consider finding a support system. There are addiction groups who would be happy to have you join. Your friends and family are also a good place to look for support in this trying time.
Vaping is also a good option to consider. While it is not without risk, there is significantly less known risk with vaping than there is with traditional cigarettes or other forms of tobacco. You can begin vaping at the same nicotine concentration you are currently at and work your way down to nicotine-free e-liquid over time. Because you are still smoking, you won’t feel the same strain as if you just quit cold turkey.
Regardless of what advice there is, remember that your fight with addiction will be unique to you. No one else can fight this battle for you. There is tons of great advice and help available should you need it, but the choice is ultimately your own. Is a nicotine addiction really worth it financially, medically, personally? If the answer is “no”, consider reaching out for help and consider what vaping could do to help you kick your addiction.