Apart from a few nauseating puffs in high school, smoking was about as enticing as a root canal. My first day at college I walked out to the fire escape of my dorm where several people were hanging out, smoking. I started a pack-a-day habit then and there that lasted two decades.
Over that period I tried to quit multiple times- cold turkey, nicotine gum, nicotine patches, cinnamon sticks, and a few things I have long since forgotten and none of it worked for more than a week or so. You have to really want to quit to actually do it. Willpower is a limited commodity, some people have a bigger reserve of it but not even the Dalai Lama can run on willpower alone. For many smokers wanting to quit, you need to find a new habit to replace the urge to light up and for me vaping was that habit.
Despite mounting evidence from numerous studies, the government, federal and states, has declared war on vaping for no other reason than “Won’t someone please think of the children?” In a December 2016 report the Surgeon General warned of the dangers of e-cigarettes to kids and included a handy “tip sheet” for parents addressing potential questions from their kids about e-cigarettes. One such gem is:
I thought e-cigarettes didn’t have nicotine – just water and flavoring?
– I used to think that too. But many e-cigarettes have nicotine. There are also other chemicals in them that can be harmful.
Stunning insight, just like some soft drinks contain caffeine and sugar while others don’t.
As far as chemicals go, the top manufacturers and sellers of vaping liquid send samples to third-party labs to verify the absence of several harmful chemicals found in liquids from less scrupulous sources. The primary ingredient, propylene glycol, is found in everything from ice cream to pharmaceuticals. The question is not whether vaping is bad for you but rather is it better than smoking? The answer so far is a resounding yes.
Smoking accounts for 8.7%, $170 billion, of all healthcare spending in the United States. Vaping has been shown to be an effective cessation method and the Royal College of Physicians (the UK version of the AMA) has stated:
- Provision of the nicotine that smokers are addicted to without the harmful components of tobacco smoke can prevent most of the harm from smoking.
- Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is most effective in helping people to stop smoking when used together with health professional input and support, but much less so when used on its own.
- E-cigarettes appear to be effective when used by smokers as an aid to quitting smoking.
- However, the hazard to health arising from long-term vapour inhalation from the e-cigarettes available today is unlikely to exceed 5% of the harm from smoking tobacco.
Despite numerous studies and the experiences of countless former smokers like me, the headline is “Washington to smokers: drop dead!” Taxes on cigarettes continue to climb and employers have even begun barring smokers from employment but the government is a one-note band in its response- kids, don’t smoke, and those of you that have started, well, just die already.
Should teens vape? Beats the hell out of me but honestly I don’t give a damn whether they do or don’t. Where is the public campaign touting the benefits of not just vaping, but nicotine patches or gum? You see those ridiculous Truth commercials everywhere but its sole purpose is nothing more than to keep kids from smoking with dopey ads reminiscent of the infamously cheesy anti-drug ads of the 1980’s. The organization behind the campaign, the Truth Initiative, has a staff of over 125 and assets approaching $1 billion. They’ve got to have a few million laying around for a cessation campaign, right?
As if the government ignoring the benefits of vaping and other cessation avenues weren’t bad enough, legislators at the federal and state level have decided that vaping is a menace and must be regulated to the point of elimination, because “the kids”.
Last year, Governor Daniel Malloy of Connecticut proposed a 75% wholesale tax on vaping hardware and liquid. Pennsylvania levied a 40% tax in 2016. To add insult to injury, the tax applied not just purchases made after the passage of the bill but any inventory a shop owner had in his or her store. For a typical vape shop with $100,000 of inventory, on October 1, 2016 they owed $40,000 to the state.
The nanny state’s “do something” mantra has once again put up a roadblock to something adults should have the right to try and enjoy, all in the name of protecting kids from a new “danger”. If you’re a smoker and want to quit, give vaping a try. A starter kit will set you back less than $50 and can be purchased online (I’m not getting anything from this company, but I do use their products). Give it a try; the worst that happens is you’re out fifty bucks. $50 for the chance to quit smoking seems like a good deal to me.