Much has been made of the potential electronic cigarettes hold as possible quit smoking aids; while some preliminary studies have shown that e-cigs might be more efficient at helping smokers quit than other nicotine replacement therapies, such as nicotine gum and nicotine patches, data on the question is still pretty limited. Given that I would go as far as to say that the fate of vaping is primarily tied up in how much vaping can help current smokers, it’s shocking how little reliable research on the topic is even available, and how disparate results appear to be.
At point, it may seem like vaping has already been acknowledged as a helpful means of quitting smoking. The anecdotal experience of most vapers and some real-life studies support the claim that vaping is immensely helpful for smokers looking to quit. I can think of a good number of smokers who have quit using, as Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister of the UK, put it, the vapes, and I can think of a good number of smokers who have quit cold turkey, while very few smokers who have quit using other nicotine replacement therapies come to mind. Various studies have estimated the proportion of smokers looking to quit actually succeeding through the use of vaping to be upwards of 40%, which is an immense number. By comparison, other nicotine replacement therapies can claim a success rate of around 7%, which is barely better than the overall quit rate of all smokers, which usually seems to hover around 4%.
So why is it that various agencies still feel okay declaring that we do not yet know whether vaping is actually useful as a means of quitting smoking? I think a lot of this discrepancy stems from the discrepancy between the results of vapers using advanced vaping devices and those using convenience store cigarette-like e-cigs in their efforts to quit.
Going back to anecdotal evidence: most of the former smokers I know who have quit by vaping had tried vaping cigalikes several times before finally succeeding. The issue wasn’t that they weren’t committed enough to quitting the first few times they tried, but rather that they were using the wrong vapes. In fact, though research on this is pretty limited, some studies have shown that smokers rate cigalike vapes as far less useful than modular vapes for the purpose of replacing cigarettes. This isn’t shocking in the least. Cigalikes are notoriously bad at actually delivering nicotine, they taste kind of terrible, and they are increasingly unpopular due to their association with the tobacco industry.
So I would guess that much of why there is any kind of debate about the effectiveness of vaping in replacing smoking for frequent smokers can be attributed to a failure to disambiguate between two totally different classes of electronic cigarettes. This, of course, is explained by the fact that seemingly no one who has ever vaped (or smoked) is in charge of anything related to vaping or smoking. Makes a lot of smoke. Anyway, you should totally get a real vape. You probably won’t regret it.