Friday, October 26, 2018

About Vaping - Nicotine vs Tobacco

WARNING: This post has to do with vaping. If you are under age, please know that I do NOT encourage smoking or vaping for minors and this post is not intended for you.  I don't encourage nicotine use of any kind for anyone. This post has to do with my personal experience as I attempt to stop using nicotine.

I've been vaping for 3 months (or almost 3 months, I can't remember) and I'm hearing a lot about those who are against it.

Before I started vaping - while I was still unsuccessfully trying to quit tobacco for the umpteenth time - I tried to check out a lot of information about it. I'd had friends, both online and in real life, tell me that switching to vaping is the only thing that got them off tobacco. I first thing I wanted to look up was the difference between nicotine and tobacco. Basically, it's as summed up here:
Nicotine is the active ingredient in tobacco-derived products. Tobacco is the plant that contains thousands of potent chemicals, one of the main chemicals being nicotine. (source)

I knew that a lot of the harm of smoking came from all the things (other than nicotine) that's in cigarettes. I figured out that vaping provided the nicotine smokers like (or crave) without the intake of all the harmful stuff in cigarettes.

Okay, so I know that it's not good to be addicted to anything, but I also know that there are a lot of other addictions that aren't demonized. There are people who are addicted to alcohol or sugar or caffeine or salt or fat.

Some anti-vape folk claim that their concern is that kids might be tempted to vape. Kids have always been tempted to do everything they aren't supposed to. Going back to the sugar, caffeine, salt, and fat -  the first two being readily available and potentially harmful - I don't see the FDA or any other entity banning (yet) any of those things from kids.

Another thing mentioned when it comes to kids and vaping is that "vaping might be a gateway to smoking". That is so silly that I laughed when I first heard it. I can understand if people were to claim that vaping would lead to nicotine use, but I don't think that anyone would choose smoking cigarettes over vaping to get nicotine. I worry about kids vaping too - if nicotine is harmful. I don't want kids to pick up a bad habit but, how do you stop anyone from that.

Anti-vape folk are talking a lot about how the flavors used in vaping juices are what attract kids. So, is that like the fruity flavors in sugary, carb-laden foods attract kids? Is that what they mean? Or like alcohols flavored to taste like cotton candy or caramel apples? Like that?

Personally, I think that one of the worst products out there are those energy drinks that so many people love. There are some serious dangers associated with those things and yet they are openly sold - no I.D. required - in every grocery and convenience store in the USA.

Before vaping, there was cigarette smoking. A lot of underage people smoked. Parents were educated and advertising laws were passed and the rates of underage smoking declined. Also, I'm not convinced that teens are rampantly turning to vaping for the nicotine. I do know some teens are vaping marijuana. As a matter of fact, the very first time I saw someone vape, it was a 30-something year old with weed. Blew my mind.

There are some things I just don't understand when it comes to the conversation on nicotine use:

  • If nicotine is the problem, why aren't smoking cessation patches/gums/etc demonized?
  • Is nicotine a problem? More of a problem than caffeine or sugar?
  • We all now know about the dangers of smoking cigarettes, but is nicotine by itself a problem?
  • Why aren't more studies being done on the effects of vaping?
My take on the whole vaping versus smoking issue is that vaping obviously works to get people away from cigarettes. Isn't that a good thing?

Since I have quit smoking, I feel a bit better and I definitely breathe better. Vaping - whether using a nicotine or nicotine-free juice - helps with my anxiety and depression. Smoking cigarettes helped with the anxiety but I hated the way it affected me physically. I also hated stinking of the smoke. I wanted to quit so badly, but both the cravings and my mental state would pull me back. Vaping has changed my life.

There are a lot of articles online about the so-called hazards of vaping, but I found one that at least looks at the pros and cons of info from some studies. Just like with other news I've read about vaping, the "negatives" are always somewhat conditional or underdefined. Like I said, I think there need to be more studies done before everyone bashes people who switch from cigarette smoking to vaping.

Another thing to consider is that tobacco companies are not happy about people switching to vaping. Not just tobacco companies are worried, but "big pharma" could be shaking in their boots. I have to think about something the comedian Chris Rock once said about there being no money in a cure because the money is in the disease. Tobacco companies can at least get in on the game - and they have -sometimes, in a ridiculous way, in my opinion. I'm still shaking my head over that...

One other positive thing about vaping over smoking: I can vape inside and not inflict my vapor on anyone else. Smoking had to be done outside and was almost always offensive to someone.