Vaping and Smoking Cessation – Can You Use an E-Cig to Quit Smoking?
By Ivan Srsen Posted April 24, 2018
The short answer – yes!
Thanks to several studies that were done in the past few years (the most recent one being mid-2017), we can now confidently say that smokers who use e-cigs have a greater quit rate than those trying to quit cold turkey or those who use various NRTs.
However, this is still a hot-button issue over which scientists (and those pretending to be scientists) can’t seem to reach a consensus. Back in 2016, the World Health Organization suggested that all countries should start heavily regulating e-cigarettes, going as far as to suggest that flavorings and cessation aid claims should be banned altogether.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has also been a very loud opponent of vaping. In 2013, Dr. Tom Frieden, then the Director of CDC, came down heavily on vaping, saying that there are major concerns about hooking newer generations to nicotine, smoking relapses, and cigarette re-glamorization. Not long after his interview, his assertion about the potential of e-cigarettes to seduce young adults was thoroughly disproved by the University of Michigan study, which found that non-smoking students were highly unlikely to use e-cigs.
However, it’s starting to look like all those staunch vaping opponents will have to put a sock in it pretty soon. Newer studies have found that vaping is not only an extremely popular smoking cessation aid, but that it also yields great results. Remarkably, the validation of e-cigs as a quit smoking superstar method came straight from the donkey’s mouth (I just had to!,) in the form of a recent report issued by the CDC themselves.
New CDC Study Shows That Vaping Is a Popular Smoking Cessation Aid
A report published in April of 2017 clearly shows that more and more US smokers are opting for e-cigs as their go-to cessation aid. More than 16,000 smokers were surveyed over a period of 26 months and the goal was to see how many smokers had at least one quit attempt in the last three months (there were 6 survey waves, from April 2014 to June 2016) using one of 10 smoking cessation methods.
Most smokers who attempted to quit used a combination of cessation methods but what’s telling is that more than half of them used e-cigarettes (exclusively or in combination with something else). For smokers who attempted to quit using only one method, the most popular methods were quitting cold turkey and gradually reducing the number of cigarettes they smoked. However, e-cigs were preferred over FDA approved NRTs, such as gums, nicotine patches, and medication.
One of the authors of the report was Dr. Tim McAfee, once the Director of CDCs Office on Smoking and Health. It’s no surprise then that the report itself was full of warnings about how e-cigarettes are not FDA approved and how there’s no conclusive evidence that vaping as a cessation method actually works. You’ve got to hand it to these guys; even when their own study disproves their rhetoric, they insist on pushing their (rather bewildering) agenda and waging war on vaping.
Luckily, other scientists have taken a closer look at vaping and smoking cessation attempts and they have some better news for all you skeptical smokers out there.
The Number of Smokers In The US Declines Thanks, In Part, To Vaping?
A couple of months ago (July 2017) a group of researchers from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine performed an analysis of smoking cessation surveys that were conducted from 2001 to 2015. What they found was rather startling – a 1.1% increase in cessation attempts in 2014 and 2015 when compared to every other year before that.
To give you some context – the annual smoking cessation rate has been stuck at around 4.5% for years. While a 1.1% increase doesn’t seem much, it’s statistically relevant on a population level. It means that an additional 350,000 smokers have attempted to quit in 2014 and 2015. Professor Shu-Zong Zhu, the lead study researcher, notes: ‘This is the first time in almost a quarter of a century that the smoking cessation rate in the US has increased at the population level’.
The researchers quite confidently attribute this increase to the use of e-cigarettes. They correctly state that e-cigs were still relatively unknown in 2010 but that by 2014 their use had become widespread. However, they drilled into the subgroups that participated in the surveys (vapers vs. non-vapers) to verify their assumption. They found that 65% of smokers who used e-cigs in 2014 attempted to quit smoking, while only 40% of non-vapers did the same. Also, the success rates were different between the groups – 8.2% of vapers were successful when quitting, while only 4.8% of non-vapers managed to get rid of their smoking habit.
It’s important to note that this is an observational study and not a controlled experiment so there’s room here for data misrepresentation. Still, Prof. Zhu persuasively argues that: ‘neither the 2009 increase in the federal tobacco tax nor the TIPS From Former Smokers ad campaign that began in 2012 can adequately explain the increase in smoking cessation’. Both had negligible effects that were not statistically relevant on the population level.
Personally, I’m looking forward to controlled experiments which will once and for all prove that vaping can indeed help you quit smoking. In the meantime, this study offers proof enough that further over-regulation of vaping might have disastrous consequences for current smokers.
How to Quit Smoking With Vaping & 5 Reasons Why You Should Consider It
I’m pretty sure that the question on everyone’s mind is ‘Can I use vaping to quit smoking?’. It’s not easy, let me tell you that, but I can vouch from personal experience that it’s a heck of a lot easier than going cold turkey. An e-cigarette allows you to deliver nicotine into your organism without breathing in all the other carcinogenic compounds you get with smoking. It also provides you with a similar action to smoking – moving your hand to your mouth -, which is something that your muscle memory will be thankful for (a lot of smokers fail when quitting because they say they have nothing to do with their hands).
Ultimately, vaping is not complicated. You just put some vape juice into your tank, press a button, and inhale. There will be a period of adjustment but that’s true of everything in life. Simply imagine how better your life will be without cigarettes (and try to disregard all the bad press vaping is getting) and you will be on the path to success.
If you need more encouragement, here are 5 more reasons why you should make vaping your preferred method of smoking cessation.
- Convenience – not only are they non-prescription, which means they are available without a trip to the doctor’s office, e-cigarettes are also practical and easy to use. You can (still) vape in a lot of places where smoking is not permitted and you never again have to worry about losing your lighter!
- Affordability – all in all, vaping is a lot cheaper than smoking. True, this will depend on how much you used to smoke and how much you will spend on vaping gear and vape juice, but all in all, I save around $500 every year and I could probably save more if I didn’t love vape mail so much.
- Throat hit – vaping is the only cessation method that allows you to enjoy throat hit even when you’re not smoking. Some smokers find it hard to say goodbye to that tingly sensation at the back of their throat. If you’re one of them, no problem – just use a high PG vape juice with more nicotine and you’re good to go.
- Flavor variety – no matter what you do, tobacco will always taste like tobacco, even if you put menthol in it. If that’s your thing, there are plenty tobacco-flavored vape juices out there. However, if you want to mix it up, vaping gives you an opportunity to try out different flavors, including desserts, fruits, and even bacon!
- Nicotine intake reduction – when you vape, you can really tweak your nicotine intake. Of course, you will want to start with slightly stronger vape juices (9 or 12 mg) but, after a while, you can scale that back to 6 or 3 mg. Before you know it, you will be vaping on 0 mg vape juices. When that happens, you can either enjoy being part of the vaping community or quit vaping altogether – the choice is yours.
Share your story with us. Did vaping help you quit smoking? Let us know in the comments so other readers can get inspired to give it a shot too!