Which eCig?

Unlike virtually every other ecig website in the UK, this website isn’t aligned to big tobacco, small tobacco, or the burgeoning ecig industrial complex. We want you to find a good, local, helpful ecig store when looking to buy electronic cigarette. Any decent ecig store will help you out, and allow you to try a range of their products.

Assuming you’re an existing cigarette (‘analogue’ in the vaper parlance) user, go armed with the key information about your current usage and they will help guide you.

Still here?

The below is a very personal guide from someone who used to be a light-to-medium user of Marlboro Lights. For what it’s worth, I bought a variety of devices online in an attempt to get something as close to the ‘Marlboro Lights’ experience as possible. It was a total waste of time and money. I only found ‘my brand’ by going to a store and trying some out.

As you may have already discovered, there is bewildering array of information out there about ecigs, but this is our simple view and recommendation:

The short answer is… the one that works for you. And the fastest way to find one that works for you is to get down to your nearest ecig store and try some out. Most websites will immediately try and flog you things and you may end up spending a lot of money on stuff that doesn’t work for you. DON’T DO IT. Enter your town or postcode in the section above to search for vape and eCig locations.
Much of the cig industry makes outlandish claims about the amount of money you will save moving from tobacco to ecigs. Now it is true that a cigarette habit in the UK is a seriously expensive habit. A 20-a-day Marlboro Lights habit will cost the thick end of £300 per month, more than many spend on their mortgages!

Now the good news is that moving to ecigs will cost way less than that. But not way way less. All these ‘200 cigarettes’ for £10 stuff is highly misleading and will lead to disappointment. A decent starter vape ‘rig’ will cost around £50, and depending on usage, you will need to replace that every 2-3 months in our experience. In addition, you will need to buy liquid. Usage varies a lot, and obviously the more you use them, the more liquid you will use and the greater the cost.

A very unscientific poll here suggests the average vaper uses 4ml of liquid every day. 30ml of liquid costs around £10. So you will use up £10 of liquid every week or so, or £45-per-month. Serious vapers, especially those that have the ability to consume them during the working day (e.g. if they work from home), can bank on using perhaps twice that amount.

Yes, this is a lot less than £300, but is not insignificant either. Outlandish claims about how much money you will save is unhelpful. The main driver for you to drop deathsticks and move to ecigs should be for the goodness of your health – saving money is a happy spin-off.

Also, in 2016 eliquid will become regulated as a medicine, in a fashion that is unclear. The costs of this regulation will drive some out of the market and inevitably costs will rise.

These come from brands like V2, BluCig and E-lites. They closely resemble conventional cigarettes but often have a blue or green light on the tip. They may be disposable or reloadable/rechargeable.

The disposable ones are handy to use, and don’t need any looking after. However they can be relatively costly, and often lose charge towards the end of their lives.

They are also bad for the environment as they generally can’t be recycled. They also often offer insufficient vapour, and in low nicotine versions at least, don’t give that magic ‘throat hit’.

They are unobtrusive, and are favoured by folk who want to stealth vape in places where ecig use is unclear, such as workplaces.

In our experience, these are best used by very light ‘social’ type smokers who don’t generally have the need to smoke during the day and generally only do so in the evening when at social events. They are not especially effective as a ‘cigarette replacement’. For that, you need a vaping device.

These are slightly more involved, have higher up-front costs, and require more fuss: you need to recharge them every night, and refill them.
However, they offer great advantages in our opinion, in that they generally emit tons of vapour (if you wish them to), deliver that throat hit reliably, are generally more satisfying, and come much closer to the ‘cigarette experience’.

The industry standard is a product called ‘ego’. This is useful, as a range of products adhering to this standard will work with each other.
The key is a battery. These come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and offer different voltages. We strongly recommend getting a battery with an adjustable voltage. This enables you to control quite closely the throat hit, the amount of nicotine delivered, and the amount of vapour produced. Variable voltages are now becoming the norm.

The best battery on the market right now is called the Vision Spinner 2. This is powerful battery rated at 1600ma. This is important because it is important to get a battery that lasts a long time. Running out is a pain, and you can’t just go and buy another. A Vision Spinner 2 will last all day and most of the evening in our experience. This battery costs around £17, and is worth every penny.

You can vary the voltage from 3.3 volts to 4.8 volts, and when activated by a switch on the side, a light will go indicating the level of charge, using a broad 3-level ‘traffic-light’ system. (There have been reports that the liquid used, while normally deemed harmless at no- or low temperature, can become harmful at higher levels. Accordingly, it seems prudent to not ever use a setting above 4 volts.)

Some outlets will sell this and put their own rebrand on it. Make sure you buy it from a reputable outlet as there are fakes out there which won’t last as long. A genuine Vision Spinner 2 should have a life of around 3-6 months in our experience, depending on usage.

The other part you need is called a ‘tank’ or ‘clearomizer’ – these twist into the top of the battery, and contain the eliquid. We use a product called a Stardust CE4. You can buy five of these for around £10. They should last around 2-3 weeks in our experience. You know they’re knackered when the taste is burnt or metallic, and then you should throw them away. In theory you can clean them out and get some more life out of them, but in our experience this is a waste of time and usually doesn’t work.

Finally, you need some liquid, and there are some important considerations in the liquids FAQ tab.

This is the liquid used in ecigs and vapes. There are four key items in all eliquid:
PG (Propylene glycol)
VG (Vegetable Glycerin)

PG vs VG
PG is a clear, colourless liquid which is often used as a flavouring and preservative in food products, and as an additive in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. In food, it is known as E1520.

VG is a natural organic liquid made from vegetable oil, it’s sweeter and thicker than PG. It is also commonly used in cosmetics products and food production (as E422), often as a sweetener.

Both are rated as safe substances in their original usage, but it should be noted that, by the nature of ecigs as a recent development, the effect of long term inhalation is not known. What we do know is that conventional cigarettes are very dangerous, and will kill between one-third and half of their users.

PG liquid is thinner and VG is thicker.

Eliquid can be made up of 100% PG, 100% VG or (often) a combination of both.

Throat Hit: It is generally agreed that PG-based eliquid provides a better throat hit and more pure flavour than the VG-based eliquids.

Vapour: It is generally agreed that VG based eliquid creates more vapour than the PG based ones, but can have a sweet aftertaste. However, the nature of VG is that it requires higher power to produce the vapour, so your battery may not last as long.

As you can see, there are pros and cons of both. Some strongly prefer VG, not least because it is perceived as healthier and more ‘natural’. Additionally, an allergic reaction has been noted in a small amount of PG users. Some complain that VG causes a build-up of phlegm in the throat.

Opinion is fairly evenly divided between the two. Most ex-smokers prefer PG, while Vape ‘evangelists’ go for VG. In our view the best route is a compromise, and indeed 50/50 liquids are among the most popular. As ever, try before you buy.

Eliquids are currently unregulated, and we must thus put a lot of trust in the manufacturers to not put bad stuff in it. This is made more complicated by the fact that big famous companies with a reputation to lose are not (yet) involved in making and selling eliquids.

So we have to use common sense. Firstly, eliquid packaging (for eliquids above 5mg/ml – i.e. most of them) must comply with strict standards determined by the Chemical (Hazard Informationand Packaging for Supply) Regulations 2009 (‘CHIP 4’): they must display toxic and hazard warnings, and be contained in child-proof packaging. Their ingredients should be clearly listed on the side.

Nearly all the ecig devices and much of the eliquid for sale in the UK is made in China. While we have no issues with ecig devices made in China, we recommend not using eliquid produced in China. This is because there have been numerous food-related scandals – some causing death and injury – in the country in recent years, so much so that many Chinese consumers actively prefer foods produced by reputable multinational companies like Unilever and Procter & Gamble.

Food standards appear to be lower in China. On this basis we personally only use eliquids made in the UK, other countries in the European Union, or USA. Companies making eliquids in these countries can be certain that they will be held to serious account if they are found to be making contaminated products, including business termination and jail for their staff. This is a very big incentive for firms manufacturing to produce goods of the highest standards.

China-made eliquid is often cheaper, but not that much cheaper. There is a vast array of eliquids made in the UK/EU/US available. If your retailer doesn’t stock them, then find another retailer.

Yes you can, and many people report that this can be a lot cheaper. However, this is a mainstream ecig website for mainstream consumers, so this is best explained elsewhere.
This is the place many people go wrong at first. Many assume that as, for example, Marlboro Lights have 6mg nicotine on their side, then a 6mg ecig would be the one to choose. Wrong. Very wrong.

For complex reasons the way ecigs and tobacco cigarettes deliver nicotine is different. In our experience as former smokers, a 6mg ecig is more or less useless, and will have you back on the deathsticks in no time.

Remember, despite its bad reputation in connection with conventional cigarettes, nicotine is rated by many experts about as harmful as caffeine. People die as a result of using cigarettes because of the smoke in them, not the nicotine. There is no evidence to suggest that nicotine itself is a carcinogen (cancer-causing) substance. It is however highly addictive, and being addicted to anything probably isn’t a good thing.

As a former Marlboro Lights user, I found that using an eliquid with 18mg of nicotine was ‘my brand.’

As a former Marlboro Lights user, I found that using an eliquid with a ‘classic tobacco’ flavouring was ‘my brand’. But as stated above, you need to try some out in a real-world store to find which is best for you.

There are a bewildering array of flavours out there, but I advise you to not just blithely buy some online and hope for the best. I have done so and bought some truly horrible liquid. Go to a store, try them, choose what’s best, and buy them.

This is really important. The quickest way for you to revert to deathsticks is for your ecig/vape system to fail you when you need it most. You know, when on a night out and after a few drinks, probably in the company of smokers. Your ‘rig’ fails, your guard is down and – bang – before you know it you’re bumming a ciggy off a mate.

You need to make some adjustments to your life to avoid this. Not major, and soon you will get in the habit of it.

So here are some golden rules if you’re going the vape route:

– Always own at least two batteries at any one time.
– Ideally, have a charged-up back-up battery with you at all times (e.g. in your handbag etc.)
– Ideally, own several tanks/clearomizers at any one time; as noted above, most don’t last very long
– Keep a spare tank/clearomizer with you at all times (e.g. in your handbag etc.)
– Keep a bottle of spare eliquid with you. Careful: after first breaking the seal on a bottle, they can easily leak – wrap them in a small plastic bag to contain this problem.
– If you can, avoid hanging out with tobacco-ists outside. Not always possible given the growing amount of restrictions on ecigs, but you may run the risk of being lured back to the dark side, especially after a few drinks.

Obviously if you’re going the ecig route, keep some spare with you at all times; most give little warning of when they’re going to give out.

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