E-cigarettes: good or bad?

This image is released under Creative Commons. If used, please attribute to www.vapour.co.ukThere has been much in the press this week about e-cigarettes, and lots of debate about whether they are good or bad.  People have strong opinions on both sides.  Supporters of ‘e-cigs’ (or ‘vapes’ as they are sometimes called) claim that smoking an e-cigarette is less harmful than smoking tobacco, and that e-cigarettes can help a smoker to quit.  Whilst there is some evidence to support this, there is also evidence that suggests that e-cigarettes pose their own risks.

My personal opinion is more in line with the latter.  From working with many smokers wishing to quit, as well as with people with smoking or nicotine addictions, and talking to them in depth about their smoking habits and attempts to quit, I have come to believe that:

  • E-cigarettes cause people to remain addicted to nicotine, so they maintain a need to have regular doses of nicotine.  Whereas nicotine is a fast acting drug which means that withdrawal is relatively easy and quick – why prolong the addiction?
  • People who become ‘addicted’ to e-cigarettes are more likely to go back to smoking cigarettes – for example if their e-cigarette runs out of charge
  • There is increasing evidence that young people are taking to smoking e-cigarettes, because they are seen as cool.  Whilst this is a relatively new phenomenon, I expect that many of those young people will eventually move on to smoking tobacco to get their nicotine hit.
  • Nicotine is a dangerous chemical.  It is a strong stimulant and has a damaging effect on the nerves and blood vessels.  It is so poisonous that even just a small amount injected into the blood stream can kill; indeed it is used by the veterinary profession to euthanise animals a large as horses.

Many people who have come to me for stop smoking therapy have told me that they tried e-cigarettes, and were able to quit temporarily but ultimately went back to smoking tobacco.  However, after just one session with me they found quitting easy and became non-smokers overnight:

“…I just wanted to let you know that I never thought it would be so easy to stop smoking!  Thanks to you I’ve got rid of that nasty habit that was starting to make me feel like a social outcast.  I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to give up, but after our session together it just seemed like the easiest thing in the world. One of the easiest things I’ve ever done in fact!  Thanks so much.”  Testimonial from a male stop smoking client.

It will be interesting to see where the debate leads, and if organisations will also ban e-cigarettes (as some already have).   I recommend to people who come to me for stop smoking therapy that they avoid using any nicotine replacement products, including e-cigarettes, as this can prolong their nicotine addiction and may lead to them going back to cigarettes.  If you would like to stop smoking, check out my stop smoking therapy  or get in touch.

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