Posted on September 30 2016
For vaping enthusiasts, it can sometimes seem as though the entire world is against them. Almost everywhere they turn, they see media personalities and government “experts” rail against electronic vaping devices – even to the point where some assert that vaping is even more dangerous than combustible cigarettes. The average vaper looks at these assertions and wonders whether the world has lost its collective mind. After all, millions of former smokers have set aside their cigarettes for vaping, and many of those have gone the final step and used vaping to completely end their use of nicotine. And yet they still see their beloved vaping activity treated as though it were no better than tobacco use.
Of course, many of those vaping opponents argue that there is no evidence to support the use of vaping to quit smoking, and they are at least somewhat justified in that argument. For while there has been a tremendous volume of anecdotal evidence to support the use of vaping as a smoking cessation method, there have not actually been any serious scientific studies on the subject. One of the most recent study to address the question was published in Lancet Respiratory Medicine claimed that its own study of the issue made the seemingly nonsensical claim that adults who smoke and use electronic cigarettes actually experience a 28% reduction in the likelihood that they will end their smoking habit.
That study has been widely criticized, however, and for a number of reasons. While the researchers claimed that they examined twenty other studies that focused on links between vaping and smoking cessation, and performed meta-analysis on them, one of the reviewed studies’ co-authors has accused the Lancet research of misrepresenting her findings. The UK Centre for Tobacco & Alcohol Studies Deputy Director Ann McNeill referred to the Lancet review as “not scientific” and noted that the meta-analysis review relied on misleading or inaccurate representations of the information contained in her study of the topic.
More ominously, she went on to suggest that the Lancet study could have the effect of causing many smokers to die unnecessarily simply because they are being told that vaping cannot help them end their smoking habit.
Queen Mary University of London’s Peter Hajek was just as clear in his criticism. In a post online, he called the Lancet study “grossly misleading” and noted that,
“The studies that are presented as showing that vaping does not help people quit only recruited people who were currently smoking and asked them if they used e-cigarettes in the past. This means that people who used e-cigarettes and stopped smoking were excluded. The same approach would show that proven stop-smoking medications do not help or even undermine quitting.”
In other words, the study failed to include anyone who had ever used electronic cigarettes to stop smoking, while focusing on current smokers who might have tried e-cigs at some point in the past. Obviously, that sampling was designed to produce precisely the results it achieved. The reality is undeniable: millions of former smokers have switched to vaping and no longer use combustible cigarettes for their nicotine needs.
Other studies have shown that Lancet’s review simple isn’t credible. In an ongoing survey done in cooperation with vape show owners, another study revealed that high-quality vaping products and competent advice of the type provided by vaping professionals can impact cessation efforts. Published on the National Institute of Health’s website, this research noted that cessation rates were consistently high – more than a 40% success rate – over time. As the study acknowledged, that cessation success rate is significantly better than the results achieved from the use of government-approved pharmaceutical cessation methods. The study also found that, even among those smokers who failed to completely quit, there was still a more than 25% decrease in tobacco usage.
Just as interesting is the study’s acknowledgment of the positive benefits vaping seems to provide in many countries: “As a matter of fact, substantial public health benefits (i.e., increase in smoking cessation rates and a continued decline in smoking prevalence) are now reported in countries with high prevalence of vaping.”
Of course, the UK has actually been a leader in the effort to use vaping to promote smoking cessation and improved public health. In late April 2016, that nation’s Royal College of Physicians issued a report in which it recommended that the country’s smoker switch over to vaping products to protect their health. That report declared that electronic cigarettes do in fact seem to be effective smoking cessation devices, while affirming that vaping is likely to be 95% safer than using conventional cigarettes.
Again, Lancet seems to be an outlier where these studies and reports are concerned.
Smokers who have used vaping to quit actually report that it was much easier than most people might think as long as you pick the best e cig to start with. While some people do continue to utilize combustible cigarettes for a time after they begin to vape, many simply never pick up a tobacco product again. Many of those ex-smokers eventually leave vaping and nicotine behind as well. The question is, though, what is the best way to accomplish those objectives?
Judging from the experiences of many ex-smokers, the best option is to make sure that you being your vaping experience the right way. If you’re a smoker interested in trying the vaping lifestyle, chances are that you have cessation in mind already – and the desire to quit means that you already have half the battle won! The following steps can help you progress toward ending your cigarette habit altogether, and then – if you so desire – even stop vaping at some point.
- Choose that first vaping product carefully. Like many, you will probably be drawn to disposable e-cigarettes at first. There is nothing wrong with that, but you may find that you enjoy a fuller, more flavorful experience to really help you set aside the cigarettes. For that, you’ll need a quality tank or similar device that can provide thicker plumes of vapor and increased flavor.
- Select the highest level of nicotine that you can find. That may sound counter intuitive, but it is an important part of the process. You want to ensure that you are meeting your nicotine needs right away, to lessen the temptation you might otherwise feel to return to those burner cigarettes.
- Remain at those nicotine levels until you are sure that you are committed to forsaking cigarettes forever. Once you know that tobacco’s hold on you has been eroded, you can consider using e-liquid with a smaller level of nicotine. If it helps, think of the drop in nicotine as being similar to changing to a light cigarette brand or going from non-filtered to filtered cigarettes.
- Once that lower level of nicotine feels comfortable, consider leaving your e-cig at home or in your desk at work. Try going without it for an hour or two at a time, just to see how it feels to be both a non-smoker and non-vaper. You might find yourself surprised at how easy it is.
- If you reach the point where you really want to just end your nicotine habit altogether, try opting for zero nicotine e-liquid. Those zero strength juices can still provide you with all of the delicious flavor you love, without the nicotine.
- After a time with the zero nicotine liquids, you should find that you can just ignore your vaping device altogether, without any serious cravings. Depending on your preferred juice flavors, you may find that you need to substitute a similarly flavored candy or other food item from time to time.
There is one thing that you must remember above all others as you use your vaping device to quit smoking: don’t rush the process. Most people who fail in their efforts to end their smoking habits do so due to a lack of patience. They try to rush their nicotine reduction levels, or make other critical mistakes that cause them to get frustrated and pick up a pack of cigarettes again – leaving them right back where they started.
Addiction takes time to overcome, so you simply have to be patient with yourself. If you find that you backslide in your efforts and end up smoking several days or weeks after you thought you were done with them, don’t use that as an excuse to admit failure. Instead, use that return to old habits as a motivational tool to inspire you to redouble your efforts at quitting.
Throughout it all, remember that you are not alone. Millions of others just like you have successfully used vaping devices to end the smoking habit. Many of them have enjoyed improved health and a return to a more active lifestyle as a result of that success. By sticking to your plan and ignoring the critics and others who want you to believe that vaping can never help you with smoking cessation, you too can eventually be smoke-free forever.