Vaping not the answer for some

The vaping route to quitting smoking is not always simple, researchers say. Photo: Getty Images
The vaping route to quitting smoking is not always simple, researchers say. Photo: Getty Images
The e-cigarette or "vaping" route to kicking the smoking habit is not always plain-sailing for those trying to escape their nicotine addiction.

That was the conclusion of new University of Otago research published in the international journal, Tobacco Control.

The study, looking at why some smokers did not make a full transition to vaping, involved detailed interviews with 20 vapers who also regularly smoked traditional cigarettes. The main reason the group did not stop smoking completely was a strong attachment to, and a sense of nostalgia for, what they described as "real" cigarettes, according to lead author, Dr Lindsay Robertson, a Research Fellow in the University of Otago’s department of preventive and social medicine. Many started their "quit" attempt expecting exactly the same experience from vaping as from smoking. They often became disappointed when their experiences did not replicate smoking and continued  to smoke traditional cigarettes as well as e-cigarettes, Dr Robertson said.

Researchers suggested one way of addressing the particular problem could involve managing the expectations of smokers more carefully. That could include ensuring smokers wanting to switch to vaping received good advice from well-trained retailers with specialist vaping knowledge because participants saw specialist vape-shop staff as expert retailers, Prof Janet Hoek who lead the Health Research Council-funded research project said. And she said retailers of electronic nicotine delivery systems could help remind people of the importance of giving up entirely.

That advice could be very important because some participants thought having cut down the number of "traditional" cigarettes they smoked was a successful outcome, so they stopped trying to give up completely.

Prof Hoek highlighted a UK study published in the British Medical Journal last week that showed smoking only one cigarette per day carried a much greater risk of developing heart disease and stroke than previously expected — around half of the risk for people who smoked 20 per day.

Other reasons given by study participants for using both e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes included side-stepping legislation which had made tobacco less affordable and less convenient to use in public spaces, and to avoid feelings of stigma.

Whether participants vaped or smoked a cigarette often depended on the people around them,  Dr Robertson said.

And the research suggested government legislation could help people make a full transition away from smoking to exclusive use of e-cigarettes and vape devices.

"We need to get the balance of regulation right, to ensure smokers who choose to quit by vaping receive the best support and advice possible, are not encouraged back towards smoking and, of course, to prevent harm to young people," Prof Hoek said.

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