It is time to abandon the very harmful “quit or die” approach to cigarette smoking. Not only does this harm the health of cigarette smokers in the end, it also harms the vaping industry. It is time for the FDA, state and local governments, and the non-smoking populace to begin embracing all avenues for smoking cessation and stop the old adage of “quit or die.”
Cigarette smoking is not easy to stop, and with the FDA using the approach of don’t smoke at all is harmful — it doesn’t take into account the physical and mental and emotional dependence that smokers have on cigarettes. They know it but they do not want to acknowledge it or else be seen as ‘light on smoking’ which would ruin their family image and lose them government grants they receive.
The thing is, the FDA benefits greatly from people smoking cigarettes. They get all the funding in the world from various benefactors, including the government, to run campaigns, run research, and place advertisements educating people on the effects.
However, telling people to quit smoking cold-turkey is just not feasible. As someone who has family members who won’t give up smoking because they “already probably have blackened lungs” and “I’ve been smoking for 30 years, why stop now,” it is not taken into consideration that these forms of avoiding cessation of smoking are caused by society’s quit or else style of judgement.
In order to convince people to stop smoking, we must convince them that what they are feeling is normal. We must also validate their struggle, meet their physical and emotional needs, and support them through harm reduction methods until they can quit. Offering realistic ways of quitting smoking will motivate more smokers to quit — most smokers don’t even like smoking but are being bombarded with the “quit or die” approach — at some point, they just don’t care anymore — even about themselves. Nothing about that is helping smokers and a change must be made.
We must first have the FDA, the government, and other organizations support harm reduction methods — this is happening in the U.K. and other places abroad and is working. Compassion and realistic goals are the combination to quitting smoking. Advocating harm reduction methods such as e-cigarettes and vaping (which can be up to 95% less harmful than traditional cigarettes) is a great step towards allowing a person a real chance at smoking cessation.
Depending on their needs, vaping and e-cigarettes can meet the need to smoke with something in your hands, feel the throat hit, continually decrease one’s nicotine intake, meet emotional and psychological needs associated with smoking cessation, and more. It is a more comforting and effective way to quitting cigarettes. It’s much, much safer too.
However, vaping and e-cigs are not treated like nicotine patches and analog electronic cigarettes are. People still think of them in terms of a “trend,” because of how they look. And yet, those who vape do not expose themselves to the same dangerous chemicals, they are consuming nicotine safer, they can choose the amount of nicotine and begin dwindling down their amounts, and they can get their psychological needs met.
You can even vape well beyond the time you quit nicotine — you can purchase e-juice with zero nicotine in it and vape it in order to keep you from going back to smoking. So, short- and long-term, vaping and using e-cigarettes has much more promise and proven progress over the pointless and ineffective “quit or die” campaigns.
Give Smokers Hope
As we stated before, in order to help smokers quit, you must give them hope through realistic goals they feel they can accomplish and you must support them rather than attack them with black and white choices.
It’s patronizing when someone says, “just quit,” or get the patches or gum. There is more to smoking than that. You wouldn’t tell an alcoholic that. You wouldn’t tell someone with depression that. And for good reason. It is time to start seeing cigarette smoking as an issue that isn’t just a choice like drinking too much coffee — this is an addiction that takes hold physically, mentally, and emotionally. And step one to aiding in smoking cessation is a plan — and saying “quit or die” is not a plan — it is an ultimatum. Smokers don’t like ultimatums; nobody does. Especially in the face of a seemingly impossible task.
Now, advocating vaping and use of e-cigs is a great way of supporting smoker’s journey to smoking cessation. These are scientifically proven harm reduction methods that are very clearly less harmful than smoking. So, why is it so taboo still? Societal views based on anti-vaping and anti-smoking campaigns do not separate the two acts and so people are not educated on what vaping is exactly. This is why the FDA does not feel they can advocate it since most of the population thinks it’s just as dangerous as smoking and is used to smoke pot.
This is where the trouble lies — it’s cowardice from the FDA who is supposed to step up and speak true about the science of vaping, and it is the ignorance of a populace that is not interested in educating but judging people they do not know — this really doesn’t help anyone get better. It’s similar to the judgement that people on Methadone get when they try to kick the highly dangerous drug of heroin.
Don’t Listen to the Hateful — You CAN Quit
When it comes to quitting, remember, it is a process, not a sudden decision. Don’t get scared that you can’t do it. You take one day at a time until you realize that the days are passing successfully. Regardless of what campaigns are run about vaping and e-cigs, they are safer than cigarettes and by vaping, you can consume vapor that is not nearly as hot as cigarette smoke (saving your lungs), you consume your nicotine without all of the terrible chemicals (saving your life), and you can dwindle down the amount of nicotine over time (so slow your body adjusts and you don’t notice it).
FDA Backing the Wrong Horse
Harm reduction is a plan that takes a realistic and safer way of quitting and allows smokers a safer alternative immediately as they journey to quit smoking.
For example, other methods such as the patch or gum are not immediate — you are still smoking and you put the patch on or chew gum and try to smoke less and less over time — this doesn’t work most of the time and even more importantly — why the hell would the FDA support these options?
They don’t work for most people and this “plan” to quit smoking involves the continuation of smoking for months, even years. This means more disease-causing chemicals, more superheated smoke being inhaled, more emotional and psychological anxiety, pain from physical dependency on nicotine, relapses, and giving up.
E-cigarettes and vaping, however, allows smokers to immediately move over to a certainly safer way of consuming nicotine, which will lower their risks of health problems in the long run, while giving them a much better chance at smoking cessation that traditional options.
By being allowed to mimic the mechanisms of smoking decreases psychological stress and tricks the body. Tapering the amount of nicotine as you go along gives you power over the device. You don’t have to say “one cigarette” or “half of a cigarette” — vaping uses cartridges so you can vape what seems like endlessly — or be tricked into thinking you are vaping more when in fact, you end up vaping less.
In conclusion, a lot of the misinformation and lack of education about vaping comes from the fact that vaping industries don’t advertise their product like cigarette companies do. They also don’t advertise “quit or die” campaigns like the FDA does (who ironically says that the patch and gums and pills help you quit smoking).
If you do your homework and help to educate others, perhaps the U.S. can take a book from the pages of other countries who have successfully advocated for harm reduction strategies to smoking cessation rather than ignoring the actual problems associated with smoking (because they are secretly benefiting from it).
So, smokers: you can quit. And us vapers welcome and support you.