About a year ago I traded in a 30 year, 2 pack a day cigarette habit for vaping e-cig devices instead. That’s a good thing, right? No, not really. Well, e-cigs are safer or better for you than analog cigs. The jury’s not completely out on the safety aspect, but I’m more concerned here about the addiction issue than anything else. While I stopped smoking old fashioned cigarettes, I’ve developed a new habit & a new addiction-based ritual, focused on keeping even levels of nicotine in my bloodstream. People tend to congratulate you when they find out you haven’t smoked a cigarette in a while. In my case, I tell them not to bother because I actually am still smoking — see that cloud of smoke-type-looking stuff I just exhaled? Wait, oh no, that’s not smoke, its vapor. Yeah right.
Some Studies Show Nicotine Is Beneficial
I’ve heard the arguments about nicotine being beneficial, how it may be used to treat Parkinson’s disease & other neurological syndromes, stimulate areas of the brain for greater cognition, oh and ancient shamans used it too! It’s also highly addictive. You could probably find studies on the internet that show cocaine has positive effects on brain chemistry, mood & cognition as well, but that doesn’t make it a good idea. Nicotine is addictive, very addictive, like one of the most addictive substances on the planet, addictive. In fact, many ex-addicts have claimed they had an easier go at quitting heroin than they did stopping smoking. That’s probably due in part to the combination of addiction to nicotine & the ritual of smoking, two primary things still involved in the vaping experience.
Vaping Is Less Expensive
Maybe, maybe not. How many bottles of juice are you going through a week? How many samples have you tried & discarded? How many batteries, chargers, & accessories have you replaced because they broke or you wanted new gear? The issue isn’t really whether it’s safer or less expensive than cigarettes anyway, the issue is about addiction. Vaping is not a great nicotine delivery system, nothing can touch cigarettes on that one. You can observe this concept by looking around. Some people that smoke, you may or not know they smoke, they may only have a few cigarettes or less in an hour. People who vape, well, you’ll always know because they’re usually always vaping when they get a chance, you’ll see it.
The combination of the flavor, always trying to get a fulfilling throat hit, striving to keep an adequate amount of nicotine in the bloodstream, and the ritual of the whole thing keeps vapers vaping. Former smokers especially have to vape ALOT more than they used to smoke to get the same nicotine levels. You can test this by buying a device that shows you the amount of times you hit it in a day. For me, and some others I’ve spoken to going straight from cigarettes, it was close to 500 or 600 times a day.
Well, It’s Still Better Than Smoking Cigarettes!
Who cares and so what? It’s still addict behavior and, quite frankly, it’s sort of ridiculous. We’ve taken basically what was some plant or weed (saturated in chemicals, mind you) that was rolled up in paper with a filter & replaced it with a giant (sometimes smaller or less than average) metal phallus attached to a battery with a cartridge (saturated in chemicals, mind you), that you have to plug in & charge every day so you can inhale & exhale some kind of vapor smoke cloud which may or may not be harmful to your health (or those around you), but most certainly is addictive. Which is harmful to your well-being, and perhaps the well-being of the other people in the car, or room, who just got vapor bombed by your most recent PG/VG blend-24mg-nicotine-and-‘natural’-flavors-and-colors-filled exhalation.
As for the ritual, a pack of cigarettes & a lighter was all smokers needed to carry around before, and banging the box against the palm of your hand to ‘pack’ them, lighting them up, and the hand to mouth motion, that was pretty much it for ritual. Vaping steps it up a bit. Now you’ve got batteries you need to charge every day or night, atomizers or cartridges that need to be replaced or swapped out & refilled, different cartridges for different flavors of liquid, new mods, new gear, usb pass thru devices so you can charge & vape while you’re in the car, a case to carry the stuff on the go, etc. It’s like a junkie having to keep their works around to fix.
It’s Not About The Relative Safety Of One Thing Over Another – It’s About Addiction
Think vaping isn’t that addictive if you’re a habitual vaper? Then try stopping for a day or two. It’s probably almost guaranteed you will reach for the first cigarette that comes near you. What you’ve replaced with cigarettes is most likely a greater obsession with nicotine (depending on what level you’re vaping & including the fact that vaping is not a very good delivery system), and a far more complicated ritual around ingesting it. For former smokers, you have to vape ALOT more than you had to smoke to keep those nicotine levels stable.
Sure, some people have quit cigarettes with the help of e-cigs & then quit the e-cigs by lowering nicotine levels gradually. At least I think they have? I’ve seen more people go down to zero nicotine levels but continued to vape, than I have people who don’t vape at all who told me they quit both smoking, then vaping. I also know quite a few people who have picked up vaping who never smoked before. A lot of the vaping snobs, those who were never smokers before (but are now totally addicted), feel a sense of superiority over former smokers who vape, because they feel they made a choice to start vaping, because they enjoy it. Well again, that’s the same rationale people used to use when smoking was popular & socially acceptable.
For Some People Vaping Is An Entire Hobby & Subculture
Check out all the guys modding their gear in vape shops all over the country, in garages, on blogs, and YouTube. There’s even cloud chasing events held all over the country to see who can produce the mightiest vape. Too bad junkies didn’t start off giving themselves this much PR on the web & social media. Is that extreme? I don’t know, how about some YouTube videos of who can take the hottest dose with some crazy hypo-mod? This isn’t about one thing being a superior choice over another thing, it is simply choosing one addictive thing over another addictive thing. These are both addictions that involve substance dependency and/or ritual. It doesn’t matter which one harms you the most or least or first or last. Smokers have been making that argument for years, when continuing to smoke after quitting other harmful substances that produce more immediate consequences.
Safer Than What? For Whom?
There just are not enough, or any, long-term studies. No variety of 10 or 20 or 30 or 40 year studies to contrast and compare yet. None. Concentrated nicotine is a poison, a stimulant, a drug, and it’s one of the most addictive chemicals on the planet. Is it good for people who have high blood pressure (labeled ‘the silent killer’ because many don’t know they even have it)? Who knows if huffing nicotine concentrate dispersed in propylene or vegetable gylcol with other assorted ‘natural’ colors/flavors (mixed who knows where & under what conditions), heated up by metal (?) coils & manufactured by whomever/wherever, is safer than anything really, or for anyone? Better yet, who cares and so what? It’s about addiction. No addictions are actually good for anyone and comparing the lesser of two evils drags the whole argument down into the realm of pointlessness. Does anyone really want to develop or continue to foster an active addiction? If you never smoked, but vape, you might consider that you may now be an addict. Try putting down the rig for a few days & not think about it. Few real vapers can probably do that without discomfort, some may be able to white knuckle it to prove a point, most will probably return to vaping after proving said point.
If you’re a former smoker who vapes, maybe admit to yourself that perhaps it’s a half-measure (at best) without mounting the lesser of two evils defense. I have. I know it’s a complete cop out probably because I got called out on it right away by an old-timer outside an AA club who was a former smoker & saw me vaping after a meeting. He said, “You know you’re fooling yourself with that.” What response could I have? I said, “You’re right about that.” He was and I knew it. I traded one addiction for another one. It may not smell as bad (though, have you been inside a vape shop lately?), it may not kill me as fast (who really knows), it may or may not be less expensive, but it is a form of active addiction. So if you’re a former smoker and satisfied by what would at least appear to be the lesser of two bad choices, vape away. Just remember, you’re still one dead battery or empty bottle of juice away from grabbing the nearest cigarette or hitting the pharmacy for some nicotine gum because you’re still an active addict.