When vaping was invented way back in 2003 it was designed for a very specific purpose, to help people quit smoking. Hon Lik designed his E-cigarette with the frame of mind that he wanted to quit the habit that had killed his father previously, smoking. Given what was on the market at the time, he must have truly believed there was a better way to quit smoking than what was available and the rest as they say, is history. Since that point, millions of smokers have been able to quit using E-cigarettes and we have seen the biggest drop of smoking rates we have ever known. The thing is, E-cigarettes aren’t the only product out there designed to help you quit smoking and in comparison vaping is the baby of the bunch, so we have to question, how effective is it? We can wax lyrical about the results but before we have some sort of solid foundation then we don’t actually know how well vaping is in terms of quitting smoking. So this is where we come in, Drip Hacks are dedicated to bringing you the very best information to give you, the most balanced choice.
What I want to do is take a look at how vaping compares to alternatives out there in the world of quitting. Let’s take a look at the usage rates, the quitting rates and most importantly, the quitting for good rates. There are many different ways you can quit but how effective are they when you compare them to vaping? That is what I want to find out because in all honesty, just because we are a vaping company, it doesn’t mean we can’t be unbiased in looking at the bigger picture. So join us whilst we take a trip down the stop smoking route and see if vaping really is as good as they say, or if it is the mirage of vape and mirrors that has misled you from the best way to quit smoking entirely.
Cold Turkey is arguably the most famous and most used ways of quitting smoking. It is the easiest and cheapest method to follow and many have swore by it over the decades. Just how powerful is going cold turkey? What going cold turkey essentially means is quitting entirely without any sort of safety net. You wake up one day, stop smoking and never return to it, dealing with the cravings naturally. It all sounds so simple, you just give up smoking, that’s it, just give up and never look back. The theory about it is sound, just giving up and having the willpower to never want to smoke again. Once you start getting the natural triggers such as hating the smell and the taste if you ever regressed then you are cured of your addiction and can go on living your life.
It all sounds so good in theory doesn’t it? So why don’t we all do that?
Well research over the past 25 years has concluded that out of 100 people trying to quit cold turkey, only 2-3 actually succeed first time. In better sense of this, the pure will power alone does not cope well with nicotine withdrawal and without any aid whatsoever, people are at their most likekely to regress using this method. In another source, that figure is around 3%-10% and it is this sort of ball park figure that shows you just how ineffective cold turkey can actually be. Some of the negatives can by psychological dependency on nicotine that can cause insomnia, irritability or even depression. This is what makes people so easy to regress and go back to their habit once again. The quick sharp removal of nicotine makes the body and mind unable to cope easy and as a result, makes quitting extremely difficult.
So with these sorts of figures, its quite easy to rule out going cold turkey because it has been proven to be the least effective rate of quitting.
The next popular way of quitting is by use of patches and they have been around for a long time, 1984 in fact. Its popularity remains to this day that it helps people quit smoking through its delivery method and when combined with methods such as cold turkey in the long run, it has fairly decent results. What is a patch though? Well it is a sticky patch you place on your body, usually the top of your arm and inside it there is a supply of nicotine. Throughout the day, the patch allows small amounts of nicotine to be absorbed into the body via the skin to replace the missing nicotine from smoking, helping with the craving aspect of quitting. It is easy to use and can be concealed from view making it easy to use on a daily basis. So with its ease of use and stealthy aspect, it must be really effective right?
Well, not according to the figures.
A study from 1993 found that when a controlled group were given patches as a form of quitting, only 19% actually did quit using them alone, but a further 11% had quit using the placebo patch instead. 15.8% of the subjects suffered skin irritation from the patch also. Although not a huge study pool (1686) smokers, it did show that the patch worked in some cases but not all, with even the placebo patch smokers essentially believing them to be working. In a study from Oxford dated 2019 they found that using one NRT therapy only amounted to 14% quitting and 17% who had combined NRT treatments to achieve this.
So in both cases, 26 years apart, it was found that patches helped people quit less than a quarter of the time making patches less effective as I was led to believe initially. This method still relies on willpower for the psychological aspect of quitting and it can lead potentially to nicotine overdoes if people are to relapse whilst using them. So despite it being a popular form of quitting over the years, it seems that patches aren’t at all that effective in helping you quit first time. You have a much better chance of quitting using them compared to cold turkey yet with figures as low as sub 20%, it doesn’t suggest its effective in helping you quit first time, which is the most important thing.
This all applies to any other NRT (nicotine replacement therapy) including gum and inhalers where the nicotine level contained also plays a huge factor in how successful they will be. So it is safe to say therefore that patches may help you quit, but there is less than 20% chance in any case that they will help you.
The one that carries the most recommendation yet carries the most question marks, champix. What champix is, makes it rather unique in the world of quitting as it isn’t trying to replace anything in your body, but a re wire for your brain. What is Champix exactly? Well it is a medication that is usually prescribed for patients for a total of 12 weeks. It is a drug that contains varenicline that attaches itself to the receptors in your brain that would otherwise be where the nicotine goes. It replicates the feeling of pleasure removing the aspect of the craving, which over time it is designed to make you hate the process of smoking and move you from nicotine in a way that doesn’t substitute it like a NRT product would. It can be quite expensive to buy if not prescribed but a drug that can rewire your brain in such a way must be fantastic right?
Well not quite.
The problem with varenicline is not the benefit it offers but more the side effects in can create, which can vary from mild to severe. For a full list of side effects you can check them out here but I want to focus on the side effects that come directly from trying to re wire your brain to quit. Mild effects can be insomnia or nightmares, sickness, tightness in chest, headaches, dizziness, dry mouth, confusion weight gain and many more. These are classed as less common but make up a huge chunk of different side effects with many more on that list. Add in the rare side effects such as loss of height, mood changes, hostility, muscle pain, discolouration of skin/eyes and many more, the list starts to get quite scary. In fact the list of potential side effects reads almost like a horror story, with potentially 50+ different ways it could negatively affect you when quitting using this method, that is not factoring in the most extreme effects and the unproven (but generally applied by users) mental effects.
On the positive note, a study found that 44% of people had stopped smoking by the end of the 12 week trial which makes it very effective when compared to NRT therapies so it does work. However given the potential side effects ranging from stomach issues to confusion, anxiety and breathing difficulties, how safe is it really? It may work for you but at what cost? Does the use of such a drug leave negative implications onto you at a price to pay? For me, the risk vastly outweighs the results on this one, the sheer number of side effects that you could experience makes this one seem very dangerous to use.
Onto the one we all know and love, vaping. The new player to the quit smoking group yet seemingly growing more and more popular each day. What vaping aims to do in a nutshell is break down the idea of quitting and allows you control instead in a way that is at least 95% safer than smoking. Although only existing in the mass market for about 10 years now, with an ever changing face, vaping (or E-cigarettes) are the most unproven method of quitting, or are they? Since its inception, vaping has been the most scrutinised method of quitting smoking with many studies taking place each year finding many different conclusions and for the most part, positive ones. It is the element of heating up a liquid containing vegetable glycerine and propylene glycol with suspended nicotine that you inhale like a cigarette. The idea behind it is that you mimic your old habit and replace it with a safer substance, but just how effective can it be?
Onto the studies now.
In this study published in the New England journal of medicine found that in a trial of around 800 or so subjects, the quit rate in using them was around 18%, more than double of those who used NRT. Following on from this, it was found that 80% of the e-cigarette users were still using their products a year later compared to again 9% of the alternative, all within the confines of behavioural support.
Now this study is far more comprehensive and actually shows some real data to quitting rates. This study found that vaping was at least 77% more effective in helping you quit smoking then without, 77%! That is far higher than any other form of quitting and in some cases, combined.
So what does this tell us then? It shows that in a small group, E-cigarettes were twice as likely to help you quit when compared to NRT and in the larger study, E-cigarettes had higher quit rates than all the others combined. Without any of the side effects that comes from the former discussed and without any of the mental side effects that come from the drug aspect of quitting, its been proven to be successful in helping people quit to such a large extent.
What vaping also offers when compared to the other methods is control without the withdrawal. Vapers usually start at 18mg nicotine when they quit to replace the nicotine they are losing from smoking. However over time vaping allows you to naturally decrease that level within your comfort zones and ease the level of your dependency on the drug. By swapping the toxic chemicals found in smoking with ones proven to be at least 95% safer, you are significantly more likely to quit smoking, just over a longer period of time. In this case vaping is the most expensive way of quitting over the longest period of time but it is proven to also work first time.
So which method do you think is right for you? We have looked at the statistics and the methods of each way of quitting and in every single case it has to be said vaping is the best solution for quitting. Sure it does have the longest quit time but it also gives you the most control as well. Cold turkey offers a quit rate of around 3% and at best NRT gives 18% quit rate although that varies on many factors. Champix offers a significantly higher rate but also comes with a significantly higher amount of potential side effects as well which makes you ask the risk vs reward element of the drug. Vaping however is more and more proven to be effective in helping you take that last cigarette and therefore I have to conclude that vaping is the best form of quitting as per the studies conducted. If this is the right way for you is another story and you can only make your own decision on the subject, however from my perspective, I have to recommend E-Cigarettes as the most effective way of quitting smoking.