We have all heard, since we were young, about the dangers of smoking cigarettes – the damage to our lungs, how it ages our skin and is a cause of heart attacks, how we should stop smoking. For many people, these messages were enough to convince them to quit smoking by sheer willpower alone.
For others, however, cold turkey was not an option and they tried every medically available smoking cessation aid from patches to gum to hypnotherapy – some with success and more not, and just giving up and continuing to smoke as it was “just too hard” and the alternatives provided did not satisfy the other behavioural and social aspects of smoking.
Then came along Safer Nicotine Products such as vaping – the use of an electronic atomiser, attached to a battery that would provide the user with the nicotine they craved, without the harmful tobacco aerosol residue (TAR) that was the cause of the harm of lighting a cigarette. Safer nicotine products are the cornerstone of Tobacco Harm Redu
Vaping is a way to quit smoking by getting nicotine with fewer of the toxins that come from burning tobacco. Although vaping is much less harmful than smoking, it’s not harmless. Prominent medical journals published research and information on vaping that put the risk at 5% compared to smoking.
The technology itself wasn’t new, but it was new to the millions of smokers who had tried and failed to stop smoking with all the available options from the pharmaceutical and medical toolbox. It addressed the social and behavioural aspects of smoking in ways that Nicotine Replacement Therapy could never do.
According to the Cochrane Review in the UK “One of the limitations of current treatments is that, apart from providing nicotine more slowly and at lower levels than smoking, none adequately addresses the sensory, behavioural and social aspects of smoking that ex-smokers miss when they stop smoking (holding a cigarette in their hands, taking a puff, enjoyment of smoking, feeling part of a group). E-cigarettes may offer a way to overcome these limitations.”
As with any other behavioural change, the person who uses tobacco and wants to quit must really want to give it up. And most actually do, once they have said they are done and want to stop smoking. Vaping offers them an alternative that is much less harmful and provides the same type of ritual as smoking, without the nasty things that come with combustion of lighting tobacco and creating smoke and TAR.
Of course, with any new and disruptive technology, this has not been without controversy, however, as the science catches up to what the millions of adults who have switched off tobacco and now use safer nicotine products, such as vaping, have already known, tobacco harm reduction works best when it is customisable to the end user and provides them with choices that make the process enjoyable and satisfies their need for nicotine, social engagement and ritual behaviour.
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