The authors of the study (1) base the paper around the belief that vapers are simply replacing one form of addiction for another, laying bare the puritanical predisposition of the academics and ignoring the reduced harm factor or free, informed choice.
They write: “Approximately 2.8% to 3.2% of US adults are current e-cigarette users, with a majority being current cigarette smokers or former cigarette smokers.”
While they correctly note, “the most common use for e-cigarettes is to quit smoking”, the academics express their concern that ex-smokers may then continue to vape “even after discontinuation of combustible cigarettes.”
They go on to add that “a majority of e-cigarette users expressed interest in eventually quitting vaping”, citing a figure of 66% of vapers.
Lead author Amanda Palmer, Ph.D., commented: “One of the best things you can do for your health is to stop smoking. While e-cigarettes may work for some people, they’re hindering quit attempts for other people. What’s interesting about the people who keep using e-cigarettes after they’ve quit smoking is that we don’t really see that effect with other types of nicotine replacement drugs. It’s rare to see someone still using a nicotine patch or nicotine gum months or years after they’ve quit smoking, so there’s something special about e-cigarettes, even though they’re delivering the same drug.
“If you use cigarettes, you’re probably smoking for a short duration 10 to 20 times per day, whereas a lot of our e-cigarette users are vaping continuously all day and in situations where they might not otherwise be smoking. That’s evidence that there needs to be different behavioural treatments, because the coping strategies I would recommend to someone who smokes are not the same for someone using e-cigarettes.
“A lot of the press and attention around e-cigarette use has to do with youth and adolescents, but it feels like a lot of people older than 25 who use e-cigarettes tend to be left out of that conversation.”
Many vapers would be very happy being left out of Palmer’s conversation.
We conducted a straw poll on the Planet of the Vapes forum (2) to see if this figure stacked up in the real world. At the time of writing, the responses to the simple question “Do you want to quit vaping?” are:
- Nah, I’m good - 75%
- Yes, I absolutely want to quit now but can't - 3.8%
- Yes, but I'm going to quit in the future – 21.2%
It is important to note at this point that the vapers on the forum are exclusively ex-smokers and a subset of vapers who enjoy engaging about electronic cigarette issues on social media.
Typical written responses include:
- “I started with the intention of quitting smoking, and eventually weaning off the nicotine and quitting vaping. But it's not that easy is it. I enjoy it and to be honest I've spent too much money on vape stuff to quit any time soon hahah”
- “Do I want to? No, not really. I enjoy it.”
- “I enjoy it, and it stops me doing worse things... so no.”
- “No i dont want to quit vaping is a hobby for me and a hobby i enjoy.”
- “after 37 years of smoking and now over 6 years of vaping i know if i stop vaping ill go straight back to the cigs so nahhh,”
- “No!! I have been on 9mg nic for years and vaping is what has kept me sane during this covid pandemic. I enjoy washing my kit (yes really!) putting in new coils and wicking my tanks I can lose myself for a couple of hours and if I didn't vape I wouldn't be on this forum with it's brilliant people who are always willing to help each other out when needed.”
Terry at Leisure Liquids/The Vaping Shop (3) (4) (5) commented: “We see quite a lot of our shop customers coming in wanting to quit smoking and we switch them over to 12mg (or 18mg for some) and over the next year or two they slowly reduce their nicotine to 6mg, then 3mg, then 1.5mg and we never see them again. We build up a relationship with our customers over this period and we are always sorry to see them go.”
It seems as though many vapers are making the informed decision to continue enjoying using nicotine and the experience of vendors is that those who want to stop manage to do so quite successfully. Maybe MUSC Hollings Cancer Center should worry more about helping those using tobacco to quit rather than reframing the argument to be about nicotine use?
- Interest in Quitting e-Cigarettes Among Adult e-Cigarette Users With and Without Cigarette Smoking History - https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2778146
- Do you want to quit vaping? - https://www.planetofthevapes.co.uk/forums/ecig-discussion/general-chat/threads/do-you-want-to-quit-vaping.205098/