E-Cigs Reduce Harm; Beating Addiction is the User’s Choice

By Lee Johnson Posted September 25, 2013

This article is part 11 of the Top 20 Rebuttals to Win an E-Cigarette Debate


Crowd of Vapers at Vapefest NY

Image credit: David Ross


One of the most commonly heard criticisms of e-cigs is that they just allow nicotine addiction to continue in some other form. The thing that makes this anti-vaping argument fairly unique is that it’s actually sort of true. Yes, some vapers do continue to consume nicotine, and nicotine is a highly addictive drug. There is no denying that; it’s why people smoke cigarettes in the first place!


The problem with this argument is that it’s missing the point of e-cigs entirely: e-cigs aren’t designed to help people overcome addiction; they can just be used for that purpose if the user so desires. The real point of e-cigs is to drastically reduce the harm smokers do to themselves in their quest to consume nicotine.


Harm reduction is basically a movement which rejects the abstinence-only approach favored by groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (or indeed, Nicotine Anonymous). Stopping taking a substance altogether doesn’t work for everybody – as countless smokers who have no interest in quitting can attest to – so forcing abstinence is a recipe for failure in some cases. Since only around 3 to 5 percent of people successfully quit smoking “cold turkey,” that leaves at least 95 percent who can’t just stop consuming nicotine.


As things stand, they have the option of trying things like gums and patches – which only add around 2 to 3 percent to the cold turkey success rates and also contain nicotine (so they too “allow addiction to continue”) – or just going back to the tobacco cigarettes.


SEE ALSO: Nicotine Patches and Gums Vs. Electronic Cigarettes


E-cigs are a much needed harm reduction measure. For the smokers who can’t quit, they provide a middle-ground, with addiction being allowed to continue, but in a form with drastically reduced risk that still offers the sensory feedback they’re looking for. This is the key purpose of e-cigs, but many vapers still choose to beat their nicotine addiction anyway.


Most brands offer several different nicotine levels, so users can choose to taper down their consumption until they’re using nicotine-free liquids and cartridges or not vaping at all. When we first make the switch, we’re all still consuming nicotine (that’s the point of vaping!), but most of us choose to reduce our consumption gradually.


The really important point is that it’s down to the individual. If you want to stop consuming nicotine, then e-cigs can be a really effective stepping stone to abstinence, but if you don’t then it’s not really a problem. Nicotine by itself is not a dangerous substance – it’s analogous to being addicted to caffeine – so yes, it’s better to be abstinent, but if it isn’t right (or doesn’t work) for the individual then it’s not really a relevant moral or medical issue.


SEE ALSO: Top 10 Studies on Nicotine You Need to Know About!


Ask any doctor (who didn’t get his or her qualification from the back of a cereal box) whether you should be addicted to nicotine in the form of cigarettes or e-cigarettes, you can rest assured the answer will be e-cigs every time.


Unless you’re living in a fantastical world of your own creation where everybody can successfully quit nicotine cold turkey, or you have a reason that being addicted to a relatively innocuous substance offered in the safest possible form is immoral or otherwise “wrong,” then there is no reason to have a problem with e-cigs. It isn’t addiction we’re trying to beat; its cancer and the whole host of smoking-related illnesses.



Vaping is More of a Hobby Than an Addiction


By John Madden


Asian Vapers at Vapefest NY

Image credit: David Ross


The majority of smokers don’t make the switch to vaping in order to end their nicotine addiction. We realized the dangers of smoking resulting from the over 4000 chemicals cigarettes contain. Many of us physically felt the effects attributed to many years of smoking. What we found in electronic cigarettes was an alternative. In vaping, we have a healthier alternative to smoking tobacco cigarettes. And for some of us, vaping has become a newfound hobby.


We won’t deny the fact that nicotine is a highly addictive drug. When a smoker switches to electronic cigarettes, they are still most likely consuming it to an extent. However, most of us gradually reduce our intake by using cartridges or e-liquids with lower concentrations of the drug and eventually become nicotine free.


A recently published PLOS One study found that 73 percent of participants who stopped smoking using e-cigs also quit vaping by the end of the 52 week trial period. Some of us have quit vaping and smoking altogether while those who continue to vape have turned into a hobby. And hey, some smokers simply don’t want to quit nicotine; they just want to “smoke” in a way that drastically reduces the harm done to their bodies.


Furthermore, many of us hobbyists have drastically reduced our nicotine intake or even completely cut it out in some instances. And for those who haven’t, I’ve already shown you how nicotine is not poisonous, nor does it cause cancer when inhaled in its pure form.

  • Richard Thomas

    So that’s the worst thing you can say. Addiction isn’t the problem. It is simply the subject of the addiction. Since there is nothing harmful about e cigs. Then there is no danger in being addicted.

    • And the way nicotine is absorbed through the vapor is different than with cigarette smoke. With smoke, it is absorbed in deep lung tissue and is then transported almost immediately to the brain, creating your typical nicotine “buzz”.

      With electronic cigarettes, nicotine in vapor is absorbed through the upper respiratory system and is gradually exposed by the brain. You won’t get the same rush you get from a cigarette, hence there could be less chance of addiction in non-smokers. However, I wouldn’t condone vaping nicotine by non-smokers.

    • Another Vaper

      Addiction is a very strong word. One in which I don’t feel describes what most vapers experience, considering what the definition of addiction actually is.

      Anything in excess can be damaging, and certainly seen as unhealthy; however, the dangers of doing things in excess exist outside of the electronic cigarette industry as well. The vape community isn’t trying to find something, or create something dangerous – we’re simply utilizing the tools that offer a less dangerous delivery of nicotine.

      Similar to caffeine, nicotine does provide one with a “buzz”; but craving a “buzz” shouldn’t be considered dangerous. People drink coffee all day long, not everyone, but people do. Similar to how some people will go out to a bar on a Friday night, but others choose not to. Craving a “buzz”, or a burger, or an evening on the couch is something we can all relate to. Vapers may crave nicotine, and puff on an e-cig all the time, but we’ve consciously made the decision to better our selves, and the experience for those around us.

      Dangers exist in such a variety of different shapes and sizes. It’s silly to say that something poses “no danger”, but e-cigarettes have gained their popularity by being less dangerous than conventional cigarettes.

  • sparetime1

    I love drugs. Nicotine,caffeine and codeine. After 42 years, I quit smoking the day my E-cigs came in the mail almost 6 months ago. They have drummed the cigarettes are bad for you and we listened. Sure keep the kids off E-cigs but leave me alone. I sit here vaping my Snickerdoodle cookie, Banana bread and Sweet tarts along with many other flavors. My Doctor is thrilled with me for giving up cigarettes. Sorry I didn’t have to support the pharmaceutical industry, which is probably the goal of the politicians that are trying to shut this industry down. Vaping will save a lt of people from smoking, and that is a good thing…

  • Nicki Lawrence

    Found in Wikipedia: “Technically, nicotine is not significantly addictive, as nicotine administered alone does not produce significant reinforcing properties.[55] However, after coadministration with an MAOI, such as those found in tobacco, nicotine produces significant behavioral sensitization, a measure of addiction potential. This is similar in effect to amphetamine.[35]

    The links to the articles are below. Seems pretty conclusive that, as some of us already
    knew, ecigs are unlikely to make children or non smokers addicted to nicotine.

    Monoamine oxidase inhibition dramatically increases the motivation to self-administer nicotine in rats.
    Journal of Neuroscience: http://tinyurl.com/3ggtp9y
    PubMed: http://tinyurl.com/ps8szdw

    Transient behavioral sensitization to nicotine becomes long-lasting with monoamine oxidases inhibitors
    Science Direct: http://tinyurl.com/nn7nopr
    PubMed http://tinyurl.com/d66smsq

    • Good information Nicki! It’s also believed that since far less nicotine is absorbed through vaping than through cigarette smoke, the chance of a non-smoker becoming addicted to it isn’t as great as if they inhaled it through a cigarette.