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Genes For Quitting

If it isn’t the lies and distortions, then maybe your genes will get in the way of a successful quit smoking attempt.

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Some people are being pushed from smoking to vaping while others are being bombarded by misinformation. Latest research indicates that it might all be in vain; could your genes dictate how best to quit smoking? Canadian researchers believe so.

Raising the cost of smoking worked well at encouraging smokers to quit, but the impact plateaued. A sure-fire method of forcing tobacco users to kick the habit is to remove what they use from sale. Menthol cigarettes were banned from sale in Alberta, Canada, in 2015. The result of their removal from the marketplace led to some smokers travelling hundreds of miles to buy them while others took it as an opportunity to stop altogether.

One smoker recounted her anecdote: “Since menthols were banned, I've come to realize that there are other alternatives. I picked up an e-cig and I haven't had a cigarette since. I like to think this is because of the ban.”

Now the ban on menthol cigarettes could roll out nationally, potentially leading others to take up vaping. Well, unless people like Patrick Graves get their way. The Tobacco Cessation Facilitator at Naval Hospital Bremerton lives and loves to spread anti-vape propaganda: “Most people, even little kids in pre-school, recognize that tobacco is bad. Ironically, little ones are most prone to poisoning from e-cigarette exposure by ingesting e-cig liquid or ‘juice’ because most e-cig containers are not childproof.”

“Much of the e-cig liquid is marketed and sold as ‘harmless water vapour,’ which is 100 percent false,” he added correctly – that statement is 100% false. As ridiculous as when he says: “Popcorn lung is a very serious disease that most e-cig users don’t develop. If they do, it could be fatal.” There isn’t one recorded incident of a vape-related Bronchiolitis Obliterans, Graves is just making stuff up to suit his desired ends.

Maybe it is his genes that compel him to act in such a way? Scientists at the University of Toronto certainly believe they determine how successful we are at quitting smoking – and why different quit methods work better depending on who you are.

Gene CYP2A6 determines how fast the body processes nicotine. Up to 40% of us inhale less frequently and less deeply, which means it is easier to quit. This means that most of us are fast processors of nicotine; we find it harder to quit and react more quickly to triggers.

Rachel Tyndale writes: “When we scanned the brains of smokers, my colleagues and I found that the fast processers showed more activity between parts of the brain involved with addiction; there were no differences in non-smokers — indicating you had to be both predisposed (a fast metabolizer by genetics) and a smoker. These brain changes help to underscore the importance of our genetic makeup in determining how the brain adapts to addictive drugs.”

She explains that genetics probably accounts for around 70% of our ability to quit smoking cigarettes: “If you’ve been unable to quit, it’s important to realize you are not ‘weak’ — the playing field is not level.” It means there is no such thing as a one-size fits all approach, no matter what anti-vape campaigners might wish to believe. 

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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