Safer does not mean "safe". Vaping facts and how to quit.
The companies that manufacture vaping products urge consumers to “make the switch” from cigarettes to the safer means of nicotine delivery: vaping. Although vaping is in fact less dangerous than cigarettes it is foolish to consider them “safe.”
Let’s review the facts.
By now you have heard of the serious lung illness associated with e-cigarette products, including 12 deaths and over 800 people afflected. While many of the patients, according to the CDC, reported using THC (marijuana) containing products, that was not true in every case. Some reported using nicotine products only.
Even before this recent alarming news there is plenty of reason to be concerned about vaping.
Nicotine is a very addictive substance and the developing brain (before age 25) is highly susceptible. That’s why 90% of smokers started their habit before age 18. Nicotine is a stimulant that causes the release of dopamine but with significant withdrawal symptoms when discontinued, and thus extremely difficult to stop. Nicotine by itself poses several health hazards including a decreased immune response and increased risk of cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal disorders. Furthermore nicotine has an adverse impact on reproductive health and affects DNA mutation that can lead to cancer, including breast cancer.
People who vape are 3 times more likely to smoke marijuana.
But isn’t the vapor from e-cigarettes just water? Sorry, no. The flavoring additives are the same used in food but it’s an entirely different chemical process when they are vaporized and inhaled. The vapor contains heavy metals, volatile organic compounds and other carcinogenic agents. Stuff you would never want in your body.
So how do you quit?
There are no significant studies in regards to vaping cessation. However since vaping involves nicotine it makes sense that similar interventions that help people quit smoking cigarettes would be effective in helping people stop vaping. Unfortunately many tobacco cessation programs are overhyped and not very effective in the long run.
Sit to Quit, a mindfulness based smoking cessation program has been shown to be significantly more effective than standard smoking cessation interventions. This program involves teaching individuals mindfulness skills through online videos, workbook and meditations along with 5 personal video/phone coaching sessions to solidify the teachings. Because it’s 100% online it can be accessed anywhere.
When it comes to smoking cessation, nicotine replacement products are usually recommended (patch, gum, lozenges) to help with severe withdrawal symptoms. These products are significantly easier to stop than vaping.
The most important aspect of Sit to Quit is teaching mindfulness skills. Learning to focus on the present moment, recognizing triggers and regulating emotions are skills that not only help stop an addictive habit (mindfulness can be used in the treatment of all addictive habits) it can lead to a life long use of meditation and mindfulness helping individuals navigate stress, anxiety, depression and even chronic pain — in other words, life. It’s a win-win.
I’m currently the only provider in the TriState certified to teach Sit to Quit. It can be offered individually or as an online group. For more information on how to quit smoking or vaping click here. For information about helping individuals and families challenged by other addictions click here. Coaching information to reduce stress can be found here.