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Are e-cigarettes effective in helping people to quit smoking?

22. Mar. 2023

QUICK LINKS

  1. The Dangers of Smoking
  2. Nicotine Substitutes to Help Quit Smoking
  3. E-cigarettes as a Means of Quitting Smoking
  4. Conclusion

The Dangers of Smoking

quit smoking

It was nearly 60 years ago when the American Surgeon General produced a report  in 1964 confirming that smoking was bad for your health and that there was a direct link between smoking and the increased chances of developing lung cancer or bronchitis.

By 1969 in America the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act (Public Law 91-222)  had been passed which banned the advertising of cigarettes on TV or radio and all cigarette packets had to display the following message: “Warning: The Surgeon General Has Determined That Cigarette Smoking is Dangerous to Your Health.” By 1971 the UK also began to place warning messages on the side of cigarette packets.

Since then, society has slowly adjusted to the dangers associated with smoking cigarettes and giving up smoking became a challenge for many. The greatest challenge for smokers was the fact that until they tried to stop, few realized that nicotine was, and still is, a highly addictive drug and as addictive as some Class A drugs such as heroin and cocaine. Research  has shown that up to 85% of all smokers become addicted to nicotine, despite the fact that it does not induce a euphoria-like state that many Class A drugs do.

Nicotine Substitutes to Help Quit Smoking

To begin with, there was little to assist smokers to give up other than simple willpower. Then came the arrival of Nicorette  nicotine-enhanced chewing gum in 1984 and nicotine patches that could be placed on the arm, allowing the nicotine to enter the bloodstream through absorption. The intention behind these two aids was to help smokers deal with withdrawal symptoms and nicotine cravings which were two of the prime culprits that saw many smokers fail to stop smoking in the long term.

Image courtesy of the UK Office of National Statistics

Data Soure: https://images.app.goo.gl/XXFtjHR7iLY7p2LfA

Between 1994 and 2021 there has been a steady decrease in the number of smokers as well as an increase in the number of smokers who have successfully quit the habit. As examples, in 1974 45.6% of the population in the UK aged 16 or over smoked, while 26.7% of those who had smoked had successfully quit. By 2021 only 12.7% of the population now smoke, while 66.9% of those who had previously smoked had successfully quit.

Despite the apparent ‘success’ of nicotine chewing gum and patches, both aids to help smokers quit failed to deal with two of the other major problems. Aside from the nicotine cravings faced by those who try to quit smoking, there has been the ‘habit element’ as smoking is an interactive habit. ‘Quitters’ would comment that they missed the actual habit of smoking, the drawing on a cigarette, the inhaling and exhaling.

In addition, many also struggled with what to do with their hands. Smokers would form additional habits, such as lighting up a cigarette every time they used the telephone, every time they had a cup of coffee or tea, and especially when they wanted to relax with a drink at the end of a long day at work. Patches and chewing gum failed to deal with any of these aspects of quitting smoking.

E-cigarettes as a Means of Quitting Smoking

So, now that you have a better understanding of the challenges facing smokers who wish to quit, you will be able to get a much clearer idea of how e-cigarettes have been able to help smokers give up the habit. This will also help to explain why e-cigarettes became so popular after they became commercially available in the United States and elsewhere in the world from 2007 onwards .

Withdrawal symptoms and nicotine cravings tend to go hand in hand as they are both the side effects of stopping smoking, and these effects can vary in severity depending on how heavy a smoker the person is or was. For someone who smokes socially and perhaps smokes between five and ten cigarettes a day, withdrawal symptoms and nicotine cravings will be far lower in severity when compared to someone who smokes regularly and between 40 and 60 cigarettes a day.

And that is where e-cigarettes can be of tremendous help as the levels of nicotine contained within e-liquids can be adjusted according to personal need. Consequently, a light smoker may only need an e-liquid with 6mg/100ml of nicotine in it, while a heavy smoker may need 18 mg/100 ml.

While the nicotine in an e-liquid may help with withdrawal symptoms, there is then the problem of a craving for nicotine, something that through its very nature generally requires an ‘instant fix’. This is where both nicotine patches and chewing nicotine-enhanced gum fail to deliver as it takes time for the nicotine delivered by these two methods to become absorbed by the bloodstream and reach the brain.

Nicotine in an e-liquid is delivered as quickly as it would be with traditional cigarettes as the vapor from an e-cigarette is inhaled directly into the lungs, and this is the fastest way for nicotine to then be absorbed into the bloodstream and consequently reach the brain, instantly eliminating any nicotine craving.

In addition, many e-cigarettes, such as the Aspire Rhea X  allow you to both regulate the heat of the coil (meaning you can create more vapor) as well as the air intake (meaning you can draw vapor more easily into your lungs). This means that you can more effectively regulate the level of nicotine you can instantly absorb when you start to use your e-cigarette.

Next, we come to the habit and what to do with your hands when you no longer smoke cigarettes. Once again this is exactly where e-cigarettes can help, and far more than nicotine chewing gum or nicotine patches.

For those looking to use e-cigarettes as an immediate substitute for traditional cigarettes, the ‘cigalike’, ‘e-cig’ or pen-like e-cigarette has always been the most popular choice. Here at Aspire, we find that our Vilter Pro  has continually proved to be one of our most popular e-cigarettes for those of you who are looking for a direct substitute for traditional cigarettes.

Aspire Vilter Pro

The beauty of the Vilter Pro is that it meets all the requirements of the perfect e-cigarette for smokers. To begin with, it is a slim, pen-like e-cigarette that is light in the hand and very tactile thanks to its sleek design and smooth surfaces.

Next, the Vilter Pro is an auto-draw e-cigarette, which means that you only need to draw on it as you would a traditional cigarette and you will end up with a mouthful of vapour. There is no button to push to turn the Vilter pro on, it is always ‘at the ready’ therefore using this e-cigarette is very similar to smoking a traditional cigarette.

Put simply, the Vilter Pro ‘smokes’ like a cigarette and helps facilitate the transition from smoking cigarettes to vaping with an e-cigarette.

The size and weight of the Vilter Pro is also a huge attraction for smokers looking to quit as it is unobtrusive and just as easy to hold in your hand as a traditional cigarette. Better still, when not in use you can always make sure it is fully charged by propping it up in its unique charger. So, whenever the phone rings or you take a break for a cup of tea or coffee, your e-cigarette is always to hand and fully charged.

In reality, you will find that it is also far more convenient than an actual cigarette to vape, all you need do is lift the e-cigarette out of its charger and draw on it. With a traditional cigarette, you have to find the packet, open it, take out a cigarette, find your lighter, and then light the cigarette before you can take your first puff!

Finally, one of the incentives to quit smoking beyond looking after your health is cost saving. If you make your own e-liquids or vape juice, you can cut the cost of vaping right down, helping you to maximize the savings you can make when you quit smoking. The American Lung Association estimates that smokers who smoke a pack a day can save up to US$2,540 a year  when they quit.

Conclusion

To conclude with some reassuring research regarding the use of e-cigarettes, it has been shown that 27% of smokers have turned to e-cigarettes to help them quit smoking, while only 18.2% used nicotine gum or patches.

Additionally, it has been reported by the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) that smokers are twice as likely to give up smoking, particularly if combined with face-to-face support. The UK’s Office for National Statistics has reported that over 50% of e-cigarette users  turned to the NHS in order to help them quit smoking.

So, in answer to the main question, it is probably safe to conclude that e-cigarettes can and do help many people to quit smoking by tackling the biggest challenges that quitting smoking presents.

Certainly, the delivery of nicotine would seem to be far more effective and spontaneous than when patches or nicotine gum are used. In addition, vaping with an e-cigarette is a ‘hands-on’ activity, which subconsciously feels familiar to smoking a cigarette, even though there are obvious differences.

In reality, switching from smoking traditional cigarettes to an e-cigarette principally involves simply swapping one habit for another.

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