Understanding Vaping From a Former Smokers Perspective
While we have seen trends that suggest populations, particularly a growing number of youth in the 18-24 year old range, and even younger, are trying vaping devices for the first time prior to smoking itself and never having smoked- it is important to bear in mind these devices and supplements have helped many adult former smokers quit.
The first models to hit the market were designed for exactly that purpose, even though these days vaping devices and the entire category has rapidly expanded and developed a cult-like following, with pieces ranging from the most simple e-cig replacements, to pens, pocket vapes, and mods.
While the jury may still be out on longterm health consequences of vaping or juices due to limited research at this juncture and clinical trial phases, many consider it a much safer option than other cessation resources, such as the patch or gum.
For example, the nicotine patch, while offering limited assistance from a behavioral and psychological perspective, is delivered into the bloodstream directly and may impact the heart and other organs to a further extent (in comparison with vaping devices, where typically a behavioral craving is fulfilled in conjunction with less nicotine absorption into the lungs).
From a smoking cessation perspective and harm-avoidance outlook, it’s a fairly safe bet to say that different vaping options are definitely one of the strongest psychological, behavioral, and physiological replacements to opt for when trying to find a way to quit smoking. Former and current smokers will likely all agree that such is always an incredibly difficult endeavor, and having any type of alternative that can be of assistance can ease an often difficult process.
This article will explore the benefits and any potential risks involved with using vaping as a suitable smoking cessation tool, but also explore longterm relapse rates amongst former smokers who have turned to varying forms of nicotine replacement vaporizers.
The Benefits Of Vaping For Smoking Cessation and Quitting
Vaping, although it is potentially being used across many demographics including those who have not smoked previously, was initially designed as a smoking cessation tool. While originally thought of as a step down process to taper nicotine levels, many vapors have come to use and enjoy the products on a longer term basis.
There may be many factors in the desire to (or inability to stop) using vaping products once you’ve gotten started.
Other than the nicotine fix, there is certainly an element of psychological satisfaction that can provide sensations of relief or transient feelings of stress and anxiety reduction in those who experience heavy work loads or stressful periods of life. Additionally, with all of the varying options for devices and corresponding flavors, there is a strong element of, for lack of a better term, fun and pleasure associated with using these products (particularly if you have friends who also partake).
However, the benefits of opting to switch from smoking to vaping (without providing any medical advice), generally far outweigh the cons of continuing to use traditional tobacco products.
Health factors generally top the list, with a strong decrease in the risk for varying disease and disorder that can occur with the use of cigarette and tobacco products. Vapors who have made the switch will typically notice a strong difference in energy levels and a lack of lethargy at the end of the day, and perhaps may even notice improvements in physical appearance and skin tone (along with nails, hair, etc.).
Beyond considering health risks which top the list of the most important reasons for quitting, there are also ways to maintain the psychological addiction starting with nicotine vaping, even if you’d prefer to opt for a taper down method, as many flavored juices even come free of any nicotine (and lets face it, the gum and candy tricks simply do not work for the vast majority of smokers).
On top of all of this, even if you have gone nose blind to the odor of smoke, you will likely enjoy experiencing clean and fresh smelling clothing, linens, your home, and even breath at the end of the day. Often this is something you can only even realize in retrospect in comparison to other smokers and the shift in odor that will take place, along with a generally stronger sense of smell and sense in general.
As discussed in other excerpts, staving off an initial weight gain, loss of energy, or mood swings may also be of benefit- as these are often psychologically motivating factors in continuing to smoke. For the past few years, we have seen a marked decrease in smoking levels and those starting to smoke for the first time.
While we cannot attribute this in full to the use of vaping devices, suffice to assume the introduction of these products has had a large impact on decreasing smoking rates and rates of those not starting to smoke for the first time (even if this exists in younger populations, presuming they are 21 or over).
Below we will review some of the main positives and negatives involved with making the transition.
Potential Pros and Cons
For those considering using vaping devises as a suitable smoking cessation method, be it on a taper down process or as more of a longterm alternative to satisfying a behavioral addition in conjunction with satisfying physical cravings, here are some main pros and cons we may wish to take into consideration prior to exchanging one behavior for another.
With this in mind, the process will be different for everyone, and is very much correlated to the amount you generally smoke, your longterm desires and motivations in quitting, and what you are seeking to gain from the exchange.
Here are some main pros and cons to bear in mind if you may be considering making the shift from traditional cigarette smoking to vaping:
- While there is still a lot of information going into researching the longterm effects of vaping on the body and juices used, it is generally accepted by the medical community at large (and felt immediately in those who make the switch), that vaping proves to be a much healthier alternative
- Less nicotine is actually absorbed into the lungs via vaping than with traditional cigarette products (while this is seemingly obvious to some, it remains arcane for many vaping novices, and is definitely one of the strongest benefits in making the switch, and while there is no advocation for the use of nicotine, it is not a known carcinogen)
- Thousands of harmful chemicals contained in cigarettes are obviously not contained in vaping devices, and the former (as may be obvious to us all) can create longterm health consequences- including COPD, cancers, and other forms of heart and lung damage, along with a general decline in blood flow
- While some may find these are superficial reasons for quitting in comparison to internal health risks, it is valid to consider that smoking does cause accelerated aging (including the appearance of skin, nails, hair, and even the development of gray hair at younger ages), so those hoping to stave off these risks as well may also find motivation to replace the habit with vaping products
- For those seeking a suitable quitting alternative, the patch or gum may not provide the same degree of behavioral and psychological satisfaction as vaping, and studies suggest the patch itself may not be healthy for the heart or bloodstream
- For those looking for a taper down method: you can generally opt to pick devices where you can gradually reduce nicotine content while still performing the same behavior
- Many flavors are available (including menthol) for those with a specific preference, who may prefer more traditional flavors or opt for something sweet
- In comparison with smoking, vaping will generally save quite a bit of money (dependent on device and use) in the longterm
- There are so many devices on the market that are safe, suitable, and offer a high degree of use for those new to vaping and seeking a device and juices or pods as an introductory item (along with corresponding reviews and directives that are simple to follow)
- For those new to vaping, it is quite simple and easy to get started with, and typically only involves a minimal degree of research (in understanding which product, nicotine level, and juices are an ideal fit for your personal preferences)
- For those with any initial trepidation based on what you may have heard regarding vaping and device explosion, these concepts are rich with misconceptions, and devices purchased on the market are absolutely safe and suitable for home use (generally, this is attributed from either purchasing unregulated product or attempting unsafe practices by modifying batteries or other DIY constructions)
- Some users may find they can circumvent smoke free policies in their local communities while using vaping as a recreational tool
- We know that just like with traditional smoking, vaping can certainly be addictive and nicotine in conjunction with the behavioral factors involved may lead many to longterm use without the desire or ability to stop, but with this in mind, health benefits considered, this is still generally considered a safer and more suitable alternative for longterm nicotine use
- Costs: while many studies, dependent on amount smoked prior to quitting and the type of device or amount you vape will likely make it a much less expensive amount (in comparison with smoking), it will still be a longterm cost and for those who do not plan on tapering or use this as a longterm product/behavior, costs will be involved, though dependent on what you select, it should be nominal in comparison with former habits
Longterm Cessation and Smoking Relapse Considerations
Perhaps one of the greatest considerations to factor in is, when one makes the switch from traditional cigarette smoking and tobacco products to vaping: is this in an important factor in prevent future relapse?
While studies are still ongoing on the matter, many who decide to make the switch and do so successfully may in fact have lower rates of relapse and be less likely to return to traditional forms of smoking. It is fairly uncommon to see anyone use the products concomitant, and it may be those who decide to make the shift are less likely to want to return to cigarette smoking.
While this is still in research mode and based on current studies and survey information, some factors we do know are that the following improvements may occur in those who use vaping products that act as discouraging factors in returning to cigarette use:
- Users (of vapes) may find that at the end of the day they feel more energy or less physically drained, in comparison to regular smokers, and enjoy the new lifestyle
- We generally appreciate our own health and those of others around us, so there may be a very strong aversion towards returning to an unhealthy behavior if feelings of satisfaction are already present
- Vapors may enjoy the lack of smoke odor on clothes, linens, various products, and on the breathe and not want to return to odors that they did not previously realize were going unrecognized
- Vapors may notice they experience less social (and even medical judgment) for the use of these products in comparison with cigarettes- again, not wanting to return to remarks or scoldings
- As the nicotine cravings are satisfied in conjunction with behavioral patterns, the transition may be much easier in general (and in comparison with other nicotine replacement products), eliminating the need to return to smoking
- It is generally excepted that the behavior in comparison to smoking can have innumerous health benefits and will certainly lead to less exposure to thousands of carcinogens, and vapors may weigh these risks more seriously prior to picking up smoking again
- Physical and psychological cravings already being fulfilled, thus there becomes no likely reason one would return to a behavior that may have caused very negative consequences, or at the very least posed risk for such in the future
In terms of those who make the switch, the question becomes, how likely are you to return to smoking again or relapse?
While this cannot be said for everyone and can merely be supported by trends in metrics and newer studies, we can certainly postulate that those who make the switch from smoking to vaping may find they are much less likely to return to smoking, based on both positive and negative reinforcement.
Positively, they may find themselves participating in a more recreational activity with further variety, flavors, and options for use. They may find they feel healthier or more alert, and are able to function at the same capacity without feeling senses of exhaustion following hours of mild-heavy daily smoking. They may even find physical appearance improvements, with respect to the hair, skin, and nails, which can often be detrimental to smokers over time.
Those who have not yet experienced health or physical impacts may find they can avoid these consequences while also avoiding some of the related energy, appetite, and mood shifts experienced during a “cold turkey” quit method.
In terms of the negative reinforcement smokers often receive, they may find themselves experiencing less social judgment or even judgment from the medical community for these behaviors. Those who once experienced lectures or daily commentary about stopping the habit may find they don’t experience any feedback at all, be this due to improvements in health or general perceptions related to smokers (who often experience connotations related to the behavior in relation to everything from socioeconomic status to perceptions of poor judgment in general).
A lot of this judgment is subconscious and something those exercising these beliefs may not even know they are doing.
Between the combination of physical satisfaction from nicotine, which can be purchased at a level equivalent to your current or former smoking status, and behavioral satisfactions, this alone is enough to make the vast majority of relapse and returning to smoking rates a less likely possibility.
But when we factor in all of the psychological and sociological factors, mostly in relation to positive and negative feedback (from others and feedback loops created within our own minds), we can assert that those who make the shift from smoking to vaping are perhaps less likely to relapse.
Wishing to never return to smoking or have any aversion to going back to this habit thus generally serves as a very positive step in the road to an individual improvement, and more general trends with regard to lowered rates of smoking and the beginning of smoking in general.