Despite our best intentions, as February rolls around most of us have abandoned our New Year's resolutions. Sure, we want to do things like lose weight, get our finances in order, and quit smoking. But when it comes right down to it, we neither know exactly how to go about it or we fail to muster up the amount of willpower it takes to succeed.
Fortunately – at least in the case of smoking – you don't have to go cold turkey and deal with all that goes along with that. Several recent studies from medical researchers have found that e-cigarettes and vaporizers can help a tobacco smoker quit for good.
Tobacco cigarettes are a proven health risk. Tobacco smoke contains thousands of chemicals and many are known cancer-causing carcinogens. Smoking also can promote a variety of other ailments, including heart disease, vision loss and stroke. Beyond the health risk, tobacco smoke leaves behind a stench that clings to hair, clothing and furnishings and can be hard to remove.
E-cigs and vaporizers, on the other hand, take the dangerous tobacco smoke out of the equation. A 2015 study by Public Health England found that e-cigs are 95 percent safer than tobacco. So much safer, that as of this year health practitioners in England are now allowed to write prescriptions for e-cigs as a smoking cessation device in the same way they prescribe medication or nicotine gum and patches.
Here in the U.S., e-cigs are not yet available by prescription and there are many options to consider if you want to make the switch from traditional tobacco cigarettes.
To get you started, here's three things to consider when choosing the right e-cig or vaporizer for you:
E-cig or vaporizer?
When a user puffs on an e-cig or vaporizer, a liquid is heated and a smoke-like vapor is inhaled. The experience is meant to simulate traditional smoking, which can be critical when it comes to quitting tobacco. As most smokers know, the act of smoking can become as appealing as the effects of the nicotine, which is a stimulant similar to caffeine. Smokers who use nicotine patches and gums often report that while their cravings are reduced, they miss the process of inhaling and exhaling smoke or the communal experience of enjoying a cigarette with others. Since e-cigs and vaporizers simulate the smoking experience, converts say they miss smoking less and are less apt to pick up tobacco again.
Nicotine or no nicotine?
Unlike traditional tobacco cigarettes, e-cigs and vaporizers give a user the nicotine they crave without exposing them to the hundreds of chemicals and known carcinogens in tobacco smoke. One of the additional benefits of using e-cigs to quit smoking is that you can gradually reduce your nicotine intake, if desired. Nicotine is an addictive substance and in large part the reason why people smoke. E-cigs and vaporizers allow the user to decide the level of nicotine they want. For example, SmokeTip offers five different levels of nicotine – 6 mg, 12 mg, 18 mg, 24 mg and nicotine-free. So there's no need to go cold turkey and suffer the full brunt of the related physical effects, which can include headache, tiredness, irritability and trouble concentrating. You can instead gradually reduce your nicotine usage to your preferred level or go completely nicotine-free.
The choice comes in how true of a smoking experience you want. Many e-cig makers offer a choice that looks nearly identical to a tobacco cigarette in order to provide the user with a device that is the same size and has the same feel in the mouth and hand. While the terms e-cig and vaporizer are often used interchangeably, these are usually considered "e-cigs." If a user is less interested in finding a cigarette lookalike and wants a more modern design, there are also vaporizers in a large variety of designs, colors and sizes. Vaporizers work in largely the same way as the devices that look like cigarettes, but tend to be larger with a pen-like design. Both options are available in refillable or disposable options.
Traditional cigarettes taste like the tobacco used to make them. When it comes to e-cigs and vaporizers there are many more options. Adding flavorings to e-cigs can offer a different experience and add another dimension of flavor. While many former smokers prefer to stick with e-cigs that have a tobacco-like or menthol flavor, there are many other flavors out there. For example, SmokeTip offers flavors such as cherry, chocolate, coffee, vanilla, fruit mix and strawberry. These flavorings can be added to the different nicotine-level options or can be entirely nicotine-free.
Quitting smoking is not easy for most people and many unfortunately return to the habit. But e-cigs and vaporizers are proving to be a tool that can help smokers quit and significantly reduce their exposure to harmful toxins at the same time.