Monday, August 25, 2014

Vaping as Cessation

I don't think vaping should be advertised as a stop smoking aid. Yet.

That may sound odd coming from a vaping enthusiast, promoter, and advocate. Why?

Mainly because there are only a few preliminary studies (very encouraging studies!) suggesting that it actually works as such. We use the term "quit smoking," but what cessation products are actually doing is weaning you off nicotine. Whether vaping is good for that, or not, is still under scrutiny. It's looking good, but we're not there yet.

In my book, Virgin Vaping, I intentionally point out that the reader's goal is to replace smoking with something that's better, not quit nicotine. Quitting smoking and quitting nicotine are no longer the same thing.

This may be a rather fine hair to split, but it is an important one.

The problem, and my objection, with the majority of "stop smoking using e-cigarettes" books and advertisements is straightforward enough.

Vaping, by itself, will not magically make you quit smoking or stop using nicotine. You have to have a plan. You have to have support. You have to have a program to follow. When you buy a nicotine patch they don't just give you a box full of nicotine soaked wads of cotton. Open the box and it's got DVDs, websites, lists of support groups, an 800 number, and a booklet with a step-by-step step down plan.

When you buy an e-cig, that's not what you're getting. You're getting an alternative to smoking, but it's not a quit smoking plan. You still need all that other stuff, or really strong will power and awesome tasting juice that tickles your fancy in just the right way. The latter is what I advocate.

That's exactly why I go to pains to explain the difference between smoking-to-vaping VS smoking-to-no-nicotine in the book. It's really two different things. Virgin Vaping is about switching not necessarily quitting.

Vaping should work as a cessation method, of course. It's possible. In theory. It's also possible it will be recognized as such and approved by the FDA some day. In the meantime, here's a brief rundown of how step down methods work and how they would, theoretically, apply to using an e-cigarette.

A step down method is exactly what it sounds like. You lower your nicotine intake bit by bit until you're done with it. Vaping actually has a couple of advantages over approved cessation methods because of the amount of control it gives you over the process, how easy it is to use, and how absolutely yummy it is compared to the old way.

First, you get to pick your flavors. So right there vaping is awesome because those patches taste terrible! And the gum is even worse. Stop smoking pills have nasty side effects that sound like a bad night at the bar. Nausea? Gas? Vomiting? Mental instability? Yeah, no thank you. I can get all that the old fashion way with a cheap bottle of tequila and a basket of taquitos.

Second, you can choose the level of nicotine with a much finer degree of control, which allows you to use both of the most common step down methods. Hell, you can mix your own juice if you're inclined to do it!

Method 1 is to reduce the amount of nicotine over time. You start off with 36mg juice, and then a couple of weeks later you drop it to 24mg, and then to 18mg, and so on until you hit zero. Drop the hand to mouth habit with some chewing gum or a plastic straw and you're there.

Method 2 is to lower the nicotine level by timing your intake and smoking (or vaping) less and less. You set a timer and have a vape session every hour. Then a couple of weeks later you go to every two hours. And so on. Eventually, theoretically, you'll quit. (I actually went from two packs of cigs a day to half a pack using this method. Couldn't get it any further, though.)

You can combine those two methods easily with vaping and step down at your own pace and use what works best for your lifestyle. In the third book (forthcoming) of the Vape Right series, Vaping and You, I'll look at some plans that work for other cessation products that easily adapt themselves to vaping. But you get the idea.

Regardless, vaping is just better. Whether you quit nicotine or not, it's a better deal all around.

Drop a quick reply to this post if you'd like to share your vaping experience and how you switched to vaping! It's wonderful motivation for those taking the plunge.

-CDE

As always, your thoughts and feedback are welcome! Post below and share with your friends via Facebook, G+, and Twitter!

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