Most People Using E-Cigarettes Still Want to Quit
April 06, 2021: New research finds that many people who begin vaping as a way to quit smoking end up addicted to both. This has potentially severe consequences for their health. Experts say that there are no clinically proven treatments to help vapers quit the habit.
Over 60 percent of adults who currently vape want to quit the habit, according to new research from Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC).
Researchers also found that among those who vape in an effort to quit smoking, only some are successful, while others end up smoking and using electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes).
“While e-cigarettes may work for some people, they’re hindering quit attempts for other people,” said study first author Amanda Palmer, a postdoctoral fellow at MUSC in a statement.
The study was published Trusted Source this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
Former smokers had the greatest intention to quit
Researchers analyzed survey data from over 30,000 adults across the United States to estimate how many Americans are interested in quitting e-cigarettes or have made past attempts to quit.
According to the findings, former cigarette smokers had the greatest intentions and interest in quitting their vaping habit. The study authors say that this is most likely due to the fact that an increasing number of smokers are using e-cigarettes to transition away from cigarettes.
“Since e-cigarette use is often initiated to quit cigarettes, former cigarette smokers had the highest levels of intention to quit and interest in quitting vaping,” the study authors wrote.
Exchanging one addiction for another
“I think it’s a case of ex-smokers continuing the same addiction but trying to find a safer alternative,” said Patricia Folan, RN, DNP, director at the Center for Tobacco Control at Northwell Health in Great Neck, New York.
She explained why it may be more difficult to quit vaping.
“One issue related to vaping that may result in a decreased motivation to quit relates to the belief among e-cigarette users that vape products are a safer alternative to smoking conventional cigarettes,” said Folan.
She added that they are, in fact, safer than tobacco products and one way to quit conventional cigarettes.
Perceived safety of e-cigs makes quitting nicotine harder
According to Folan, who’s also a certified tobacco treatment specialist, people may be less likely to try to quit because of the perceived safety.
“It reminds me of the tobacco industry’s development, sale, and advertisement of light cigarettes,” she said.
Folan pointed out that light cigarettes were promoted as a safer alternative to regular cigarettes, which was subsequently discovered to be untrue. Also, smoking light cigarettes may have caused many people to postpone or avoid quitting their tobacco use.
“In addition, individuals who use the pod-type vape products will often inhale them frequently throughout the day,” she explained.
“Unlike conventional cigarettes with a controlled amount of nicotine consumption, vape products can offer a greater amount of nicotine, perhaps making the addiction more difficult to manage and treat.”
Vaping may also have negative health effects
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
, e-cigarettes may benefit adults who smoke and who aren’t pregnant, but they’re not safe for youth, young adults, pregnant adults, or adults who don’t currently use tobacco products.
“On the other hand, more recently there have been studies
conducted demonstrating the negative health effects of e-cigarette use,” said Folan, “including severe respiratory diseases (EVALI) as well as burns associated with exploding e-cigarette batteries.”
She added that other research
is also underway indicating e-cigarette use may even increase your risk for developing COVID-19 and cause more severe outcomes if you contract the virus.
No proven treatments to quit vaping
Palmer said that vaping is unique among smoking cessation products.
“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 drug,” she said in a statement.
“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.”
Making matters worse, researchers say that there are currently no evidence-based treatments to help those who want to quit vaping.
Psychologist Benjamin Toll, PhD, chief of Tobacco Cessation and Health Behaviors at Hollings Cancer Center and the study’s senior author, can only offer methods proven to help people quit smoking, which may not be relevant to adults who vape.
“I think we’re doing patients a disservice by not having rigorous research to give these patients appropriate evidence-based care,” said Toll in a statement.
Palmer cautions people who want to vape as a way to quit using tobacco.
“E-cigarettes are addictive and are not 100 percent safe,” said Palmer in a statement. “If you’re considering vaping as a method to quit smoking, consider some of the risks and benefits, and be aware that many people continue to vape after they quit smoking.”
The bottom line
New research finds that many people who begin vaping as a way to quit smoking end up doing both — with potentially severe consequences for their health.
Experts say that people may perceive vaping as safer compared to using tobacco products. They also point out that there are no clinically proven treatments to help vapers quit the habit.
Experts agree that e-cigarettes are addictive and not 100 percent safe, so if you’re considering vaping to quit smoking, be aware of the risk that you may become addicted to both.