Electronic cigarettes, also known as vapes or e-cigarettes, may not be the best option for those looking to quit the smoking habit. E-cigarettes have been touted as a promising and less harmful way to help people stop smoking. While vapor cigarettes do not contain the destructive tar that traditional combustible tobacco cigarettes contain, vapes still contain the highly addictive substance nicotine that makes it difficult to quit.
“By and large, studies have shown that smokers who have not used e-cigarettes are more likely to attempt to quit,” said Dr. Brinton Woods DO, a family practice physician with Intermountain Ephraim Clinic. “Smokers who switch to vaping are less likely to stop smoking and more likely to become a dual user of both combustible cigarettes and e-cigarettes. Current studies show that vaping actually makes cessation more difficult.”
Electronic cigarettes have been referred to as a new path to nicotine addiction. Whether nicotine is delivered by inhaling the smoke of a traditional cigarette or the candy flavored vapor of an e-cig, nicotine is a stimulant that is comparable to cocaine or heroin in its addictive capability. Vapes are often advertised as a less harmful way for smokers to get their nicotine fix, but in reality, they are appealing to the young 18-24 years of age segment of the population that has never smoked combustible cigarettes – creating a new generation of nicotine addicts.
Another point of difficulty is that vapor cigarettes are relatively new, and more research is needed to determine exactly how safe or harmful they really are. People have been smoking combustible cigarettes for decades, centuries even, and yet it has only been in the last 30-40 years that research has shown how detrimental to health tobacco products can be.
“E-cigarettes are normalizing a behavior that has been stigmatized over the last 30 years,” Woods said. “The use of e-cigarettes has caused the numbers of young people becoming addicted to nicotine to rise dramatically. What is sad, is that a large fraction of them will eventually become a dual user of both vapor and combustible cigarettes.”
“One of the first steps towards quitting would be to talk to your doctor,” suggested Woods. “There are a lot of free community resources available and FDA proven effective adjuncts such as gums and patches that your doctor can suggest. Using an e-cigarette is not an effective way to stop smoking.”
This LiVe Well column represents collaboration between healthcare professionals from the medical staffs of our not-for-profit Intermountain Healthcare hospital.