It’s all a bit up in the air at the moment but according to recent reports, over 1,400 ‘unexplained’ cases of lung disease could be attributed to vaping. On the other hand, three quarters of those patients affected apparently reported that they had been using unregulated THC-based e-liquids (THC is the psychoactive compound in marijuana). Some medical institutions have also suggested that some fruit flavours may be to blame.
The US Food and Drug Administration is currently drafting a proposed ban on fruit flavours in cartridge-based vaping systems, and leading vape brand Juul has already suspended sales of its fruit-based products in light of that. Until more conclusive evidence is put forward, and so long as you’re happy to take the risk in the meantime, we’d recommend sticking to well established e-liquid brands with high quality control – and perhaps forego the fruit flavours if you’re really not sure. According to the European Union Revised Tobacco Products Directive, the smooth, refreshing flavour of menthol cigarettes could be considered an encouragement to take up smoking, especially among teenagers. As a result, a total ban on the manufacture and selling of menthol cigarettes came into force across Europe and the UK from 20 May, 2020. However, this ban doesn’t include vaporisers, e-cigarettes or heated tobacco products like the IQOS system reviewed below so, if you’re not prepared to treat the new ban as an opportunity to quit tobacco once and for all, there are alternatives out there that will help quell the addiction. You can find more information at the Association of Convenience Stores website. Many smokers dread the thought of giving up or not being able to have a puff when they feel like it. Nicotine patches quell the urge to some degree but it's not an instant solution. Vaporisers and e-Cigarettes (their ciggie-shaped counterparts) are arguably the best options in this respect because they fulfil the two main prerequisites of a smoker: nicotine grip in the throat and the sight of smoke being exhaled.
The great thing about vaporisers is that the smoke being exhaled isn't actually smoke; it's nicotine-infused vapour (or steam) which evaporates in a flash leaving no nasty smells or residues in its wake. Okay, if you're a non-vaper, it does stink if you walk through a cloud of it, but your clothes won't smell of synthetic fruit afterwards, which is a step up from fags. Most vapes use a screw-in atomizer or clearomiser that encompasses a heating coil and a transparent e-liquid chamber. To prepare, fill the chamber with e-liquid (there's a huge range of flavours and nicotine strengths to choose from, but more on that below), press the button a few times to turn it on, then press and hold the button while drawing on the mouthpiece. Vaporisers produce far more vapour than e-cigarettes and ordinary ciggies (we're talking plumes of the stuff – like an oral bonfire). Indeed, most ‘cloud chasers’ tend to opt for customisable sub-ohm models that are capable of producing massive quantities of vapour from a single draw. However, many of the more highfalutin models are so ludicrously complicated you’d need a degree in electrical engineering to operate them. For that reason we've mostly omitted those models from this list. Now we should address a particularly strange anomaly that seems to affect the majority of e-liquid vaporisers, even sealed cartridge versions – leaks! Yes, you’d like to think that the e-liquid vaporiser at the bottom of your bag is sitting there doing no harm. However, there’s a fair chance it’s leaked sweet, sticky e-liquid all over your Smythson’s diary. In fact, it takes only a few drops to make an entire bag smell like a Haribo factory. To date, every vaporiser I’ve tested has leaked at some point yet rarely during the first week or so of ownership. It only happens when the product lies on its side – which is precisely how it will inevitably end up if stored in a large pocket or handbag. I haven’t a clue but clearly the system has a major design fault in there somewhere. The other downside with refillable vaporisers is that, depending on usage, the small screw-in coil section (the part that heats the liquid) will need to be replaced roughly every two weeks, but thankfully they’re cheap to buy. Vaporisers are widely available through online outlets and in most high streets and corner shops. Some vape accessory packaging is not the most sophisticated, admittedly. Most vaporisers use a liquid suspension called e-liquid to deliver nicotine, throat hit and flavour. The vast majority of e-liquids are comprised of vegetable glycerin (VG), propylene glycol (PG) and nicotine. VG is a thick, sticky, sweet liquid that produces maximum vapour at the expense of throat grip and flavour. Hence, E-liquids with higher VG to PG ratios are preferred by ardent cloud chasers who tend to use the direct to lung technique (DTL), a method that involves literally sucking in a full lungful of vapour as if breathing through a pipe. PG liquid, on the other hand, provides a much better throat hit similar to that of a tobacco cigarette.
E-liquids with a higher PG ratio are therefore better suited to those more used to the mouth to lung (MTL) technique of cigarette smoking. In a nutshell, a VG50/PG50 mix is best for those who like an intense flavour as well as a throat hit, while a PG20/VG80 provides a much smoother inhale with bigger clouds and a mild flavour.
Nicotine is the final ingredient that indicates the amount of throat grip and overall satisfaction. As a general rule, consider choosing a 3mg e-liquid if you only smoked one or two cigarettes a day, 6mg if you smoked under 10 per day and want a decent throat hit, 12mg if you were up to and above 20 a day and 18mg and higher if you puffed like a chimney. There are all sorts of vapes in this guide but our overall favourite is the refillable cartridge-based Vaporesso Osmall. This might not be to the taste of cloud-chasing extremists due to its ease of use and lack of resemblance to something from the Star Wars cantina scene, but it is currently the best you can get.