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Vaping Is big tobacco’s bait and switch (nytimes.com)
85 points by pseudolus 14 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 122 comments

All advertising of tobacco products has been banned outright for some time in my country, Australia.

Even cigarette packets on a shelf behind a shopkeeper must not be identifiable in any way, and be behind a closed door. And all brands look exactly the same except for small lettering of the product's name (in the same font for everyone).

They all look like this;


Just grey packets with a confronting image of disease.

But it's the cost that has had the most dramatic effect on smoking rates. Particularly with younger people. A single packet of 25 cigarettes costs something like $35-$40 (@$25US) in Australia now. Teenagers just cant afford to start smoking anymore.


Not grey, but "drab dark brown" Pantone 448C, chosen specifically as the least appealing color possible!


How common are contraband cigarettes, or roll-your-owns? I know that here in Canada, many people get their cigarettes by the carton from the nearest native reservation, who can produce them for their own use or are exempt from the rules (I don't know which).

All tobacco sales are heavily regulated and taxed. The taxation amount increases each year until 2030 (i think).

It used to be possible to buy them duty-free if you were traveling internationally, but that loophole was closed too. An individual can only bring a max. of 200 individual cigarettes, into the country now without paying the Australian taxes.

I was a smoker, and I looked into roll-your-owns as an option to save on the rising costs, but it was a negligible difference. Gram for gram it was a tiny difference between purchasing loose pouch tobacco and pre-made cigarettes.

It is also illegal for anyone to cultivate it in any amount without a government license, and the penalties are very harsh.

There is apparently a black-market for unprocessed tobacco (known colloquially as chop-chop) but I haven't ever come across it. It is much easier to buy weed, which is still outright illegal here.


For some idea of the crazy high prices; https://www.cigars.com.au/products/cigarettes

The UK cigs seem very reasonable, even low. $10.75 AUD is $7.57 USD, which while not as low as you'll find in the south for example, but for cigs in major cities on the coasts these days it's not crazy.

Do they contain any actual tobacco or are they "herbal"?

Anecdotal, but among my friends roll your own was very popular.

It’s cheaper. The end result generally contains less tobacco than the pre-rolled, so go guess it goes further. And people often say “it doesn’t have all the chemicals that the pre-rolled ones have”, which is justified off the basis that pre-rolled cigarettes will finish themselves if left on a table, but a roll your own will go out. (I don’t smoke, so I’ve never bothered to look into it).

Additionally, mixing tobacco and marijuana is more common in Australia. Roll your owns go hand in hand.

The tobacco in ready mades is sprayed with saltpetre among other things.

Out of curiosity, how does this compare with loose tobacco for rolling your own cigarettes in price and packaging?

I was in Australia on a trip last year, and met a lot of people who rolled their own because that was still affordable for them.

I wished they kept them behind the shelf here, as well. Not because I care if other people smoke (once that is over, they will come for fat guys like me), but because as a non-smoker, I hate to see the images of disease every time I have to buy my food.

Anyway, once the young stop smoking they will start doing something else which is dangerous.

Personal experience:

1. Smoked in college in earnest.

2. Started quitting after college with great difficulty.

3. Failed to quit for more than ~6 months at a go for a decade and half.

4. Started smoking e-cigs / vape last year (the liquid kind).

5. Quit vaping AND smoking months ago WITHOUT EVEN TRYING.

There was a pleasure loop hard-wired in my brain from smoking that I could ignore but would always win if 1) I was exceptionally stressed out or 2) I was drunk.

Without any difficulty whatsoever and without a conscious effort to do so, vaping somehow de-programmed that loop. My desire to smoke anything just disappeared. Stress and alcohol cause zero cravings now.


1. I don't recommend smoking. Risks far outweigh the benefits.

2. I don't recommend vaping unless you already smoke cigarettes and want to quit.

3. YMMV.

Juuls have been great for me. Been smoking a pack every 2-3 days for the last 2 years. I tried vaping but it gave me a headache for whatever reason. Tried juul recently and I went without smoking for a few weeks. Improved my breathing a whole lot. Unfortunately I am using both juul and cigarettes now, but I am smoking a pack every two weeks or so since I am okay going days without smoking, which is a big improvement.

I vaped and smoked for six months. Its not a race or competition -- just so long as your trajectory is toward quitting tobacco, you're succeeding.

Keep up the pace!

My only remaining question is about finding rigorously tested eliquids. I wish there was a standard.


>I very much doubt the above is true

Seeing that I know like 4 people that do it (and I haven't got that much of a social circle), I very much don't doubt it's true.

>Vaping somehow magically helps you stop smoking but without hooking you on vaping, you just somehow lose the desire to smoke or vape at all. And it happens "WITHOUT EVEN TRYING".

"Magically"? This is rich.

For one, it has other substances, so it's not the same as smoking apart from nicotine. Tobacco companies used to put all kind of addictive shit to cigarettes ( https://www.tobaccofreekids.org/press-releases/2014_06_23_re... ).

And if you're familiar with the subject, you know that nicotine patches and gums, that contain, you guessed it, nicotine (like vaping does), have been a long term medically suggested way to quit smoking.

Second, even if you get used to nicotine (like we get hooked on coffee), with vaping you can control (to the ml) the amount of nicotine in in your ecig liquid, and reduce it gradually over time.

>This denies all logic

No, knee jerk reactions denies all reasoning, and opt for confirmation bias.

For what it's worth, I had the same experience. Vaped for a year - the first few months I switched between vaping and real cigarettes, then vaping only. Went down a few levels until I got to 3mg liquid. Found 0mg unsatisfying, so I took the plunge and threw my vaping gear away - cold turkey. It was bizarrely easy. I've tried and failed numerous times and it was just easy. Over two years later and I haven't looked back. I haven't been the slightest bit tempted to smoke or vape and I know I never will - it's like a switch has been flipped in my head. I'm free!

This isn't everyone's experience but I think it's common enough to not just write off as propaganda. I can't prove I'm not some socketpuppet account but this felt real to me.

I went through the same cycle: smoke > vape > quit. But I suspect I likely would have quit as I got older anyway. I've read that the greatest reason people quit an addiction is age.

There's evidence that nicotine is more addictive in the presence of MAOIs, which are absent in e-cigs.

Let's not forget about these bad boys, either:


Wikipedia neglects mentioning it, but those are very much psychoactive.

Hookah smoke has almost no nicotine since it’s filtered through water, but hookah can still be addictive. That’s because tobacco also contains addictive MAOIs in addition to the more well-known nicotine. E-cigs don’t have MAOIs, only nicotine, which makes them easier to quit.

Nonsense. The water in a hookah cools the smoke, but doesn't really do much filtering, and it DOES NOT remove nicotine. Hookah smoke is fairly low in nicotine, but that's because most shisha is "washed" to remove most of it's nicotine -- kind of like how decaf coffee still has a trace of caffeine in it. Try an unwashed shisha some time, they're out there.

Reg. MAOIs & addictiveness, there's another group of substances besides MAOIs involved:


Also, go look up why the tobacco industry used to add tons of sugar to their products.

You could have a compelling argument if you had any actual fact-based reasoning in there.

For those of us that have actually gone through the process described in the post you responded to, it's just really complicated all around. How do you respond to someone that categorically denies your experience is impossible?

So are newspaper headlines. Big tobacco didn't create e-cigs and in my experience quitting e-cigs was easy, but cigarettes nearly impossible. Maybe it was all about the additives, but I guess no one is sure yet: https://ec.europa.eu/health/scientific_committees/opinions_l...

Also, if e-cigs turn out to be safe, or can be made safe, what is the problem? Just a bunch of puritan's with their underwear in a knot.

"if e-cigs turn out to be safe, or can be made safe, what is the problem?"

This is weasle-wording.

"Just a bunch of puritan's with their underwear in a knot."

Reframing the debate in moralistic terms is not useful here. It's a public health issue, plain and simple. If there is research that you are privy to that shows nicotine to be harmless, please share it with us; don't keep it to yourself.

Nicotine != tobacco and is not a known carcinogen. Hence, this is now a moralistic conversation as we are now talking about a drug with health effects similar to caffeine (forbidden by Mormons for example)


"The accepted medical position in 2007 was that nicotine itself poses few health risks, except among certain vulnerable groups"

Actually, as research continues we are beginning to understand the role nicotine can have with cancer. The link I've shared elsewhere in this thread is a good place to start.

The original cigarette epidemic led to a massive public campaign demonizing ciagerettes (justifiably so). This campaign (like all succesful PR compaigns) was very much conducted on moralistic terms [0].

Now, there is a public health discussion to be had about e-cigarettes, however they have inherited much of the moral baggage that we attached to traditional cigarettes (as well as much of the public perception of safety we have attached to traditional cigarettes).

If you are reading something in the opinion section of a general purpose news paper, odds are you are reading a moralistic piece. That is not the place where technical discussions of public policy occur.

[0] This is not to say the motivations of those conducting it were moralistic, but many of the compagns themselves were, and cigarettes are now widely viewed as a moral failing.

I wouldn't call the campaign demonizing, it's not like cigarettes are just a slightly bad for your health... There's way enough studies to back campaigns against it. I wouldn't call this moralistic...

I have the feeling that with vaping there's a "safe until proven unsafe" factor... The fact that it is used as a way to get people away from cigarettes tends to make think that it can just be better, which might be true, but at the same time there's absolutly no knowledge about long term effects.

Personally I think it would make sense to apply tobacco regulations to vaping. For safety purpose as well as respect for non smoker/vapers.

I know for a fact from people who worked for BAT that it is now a big part of their strategy.

When I see news like this, i can't help but make a parallel with tobacco lobbying: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-45212444

>Reframing the debate in moralistic terms is not useful here. It's a public health issue, plain and simple.

Of course it is a moral debate. Sure its not healthy, but shouldnt people be allowed to use it regardless if they decide to do so? It only becomes a public health issue once people who dont smoke are effected, which is why we got bans to smoke in certain places and not a ban on smoking in general.

1) In countries with public heath system, people who don't smoke are also affected when the government has to subside treatment for smoking related diseases.

2) Smoking impacts on individual productivity which directly impacts on economy:

> Current smokers missed more days of work and experienced more unproductive time at work compared with former smokers and nonsmokers. The average annual cost for lost productivity for nonsmokers was 2623 dollars/year compared with 3246 dollars/year for former smokers and 4430 dollars/year for current smokers. More than half the costs were due to unproductive time at work. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17033509

3) Tobacco smoking is the cause of many preventable diseases and premature deaths in the UK and around the world. It poses enormous health- and non-health-related costs to the affected individuals, employers, and the society at large. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that, globally, smoking causes over US$500 billion in economic damage each year: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4502793/

Dismissing discussions about impacts of smoking as moralistic is borderline disingenuous in face of the numerous studies freely available on the internet.

You dont get what I said. I said, despite the effects on health. I am not arguing that smoking is not unhealthy. Its not an either or question between public health issue and moral question. Smoking is bad for you. It will likely kill you. And so are heroin crack and fast food. If it was only a matter of public health all would be banned. They are all unhealthy and cost the healthcare system massively. The decision that we still tolerate some and dont tolerate others is a moralistic one.

I misinterpreted your comment. Apologies for my disproportional rude tone.

I'm all for freedom of choice as long as it doesn't impact the collective. And To add to your point, imagine if sugar-rich and fast-food packagings were photos of sickly-looking obese people and insulin injections. Also imagine if fast-food was prohibited from being advertised. That's what some govs do with tobacco. As you said, allowing one but no the other is indeed a moral debate.

>The average annual cost for lost productivity for nonsmokers was 2623 dollars/year compared with 3246 dollars/year for former smokers and 4430 dollars/year for current smokers. More than half the costs were due to unproductive time at work.

Are you sure you don't see any methodological issues with this study & those claims? Cuz I see a lot.

>Dismissing discussions about impacts of smoking as moralistic is borderline disingenuous

Please consider avoiding backhandedly calling people liars.

Don't put words in my mouth. I called out parent's dismissal tone which adds nothing to the debate and provided studies to back what I wrote.

Meanwhile your comment also adds nothing to the debate by going straight to personal attacks and a vague dismissal of one of the linked studies.

To stay on topic:

Could you provide a study that disproves collateral damages, be it with to health or simply economic, to non-smokers?


Wow now that's a convincing argument.

>"if e-cigs turn out to be safe, or can be made safe, what is the problem?" This is weasle-wording.

Only if you can point out what the weasel word is.

Asking what's the problem if they're/can be made safe is not a weasel phrasing.

Is a totally legitimate question.

It would be a weasel phrase if the healthiness was assumed somehow.

Nicotine has many beneficial properties: increasing cognition and IQ, as a mood stabilizer, as a stimulant, while also helping prevent dementia and Parkinson's disease.

Having gone through the experiences you describe, your opinions match my own perfectly. I don't think most people that have not gone through it themselves will really understand the topic in this way. I know that you could have never convinced "prior experience me" of what I eventually found out along the way. I also highly don't recommend it. There are also dozens of exact relatable addictions that are represented in completely different ways such as coffee, social media and sugar by society. Not sure I get the newspaper headlines analogy though.

E cigs are far safer than tobacco, so converting smokers to vaping is a good thing.

We don't know if they're actually safe, and we don't know how addictive they are, and so the precautionary principle tells us not to recommend vaping to people who are not already smokers. Small amounts of harm across an entire population adds up.

We have very good reason to be wary of any action taken by tobacco companies because of their many years of abusive practices. An abundance of caution around tobacco companies isn't a bad thing.

E-cigs are not safe, and we know this. They are just more safe than straight cigarettes (not exactly a high bar).

The primary issue is that Big Tobacco is marketing to children, again, with the goal to get children who currently wouldn't use cigarettes. That needs to get stomped on.

> E-cigs are not safe, and we know this.

Do you mind providing a source for this claim? :)

I don't see much in there that is relevant to vaping in general being unsafe. The main concerns seem to be related to non-nicotine contents of the liquids being used. While that is certainly an issue to keep in mind when talking about current vape usage, it should be something that is addressable without getting rid of vaping altogether. The only concern specific to nicotine seems to be the possibility of spills leading to overdoses. I suspect this is minor enough to ignore entirely, but if not then better education and even product design can be used to address this.

Otherwise the section referenced said nicotine does not seem to be a carcinogen but some people suspect it may be a tumor promoter. If we're drawing the line at "suspected to be involved in cancer somehow but doesn't cause it" then we're going to have to rework most of society and then some.

The only other thing that stood out was the particulates issue, though they didn't mention any health effects of being exposed to the particulates and I don't have that knowledge off-hand.

yea, they aren't safe and that's been understood.

Vaping has been pretty well studied (except for the flavorings). Nicotine is very addictive but not very damaging on its own. From what I've read, vaping is probably a better habit than, say, eating lots of sugary food. I say this as someone who's never vaped and likes too much sugary food.

This is incorrect. E cigarettes are still in a very early stage of research. My partner works at one of the leading institutes in tobacco research and they are literally just kicking off most of their research on e-cigs. Most of the researchers (including one of the world experts on tobacco research) has a gut feeling that the health effects will be in the same magnitude as cigarettes. Early research confirms this, but again it's still a gut opinion. Literally the first major study on e-cigs affect on heart disease was released last year (and it does not look good): https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190307103111.h...

I don't believe any e-cigarette research institute would agree with either of the claims that: 1) vaping is well studied. It is about 10-20 years from being well studied as most of the major research institutes are just starting (or are in grant application stage). 2) vaping is less harmful than the health effects of a high sugar diet (not to discount that a high sugar is very bad)

Public Health England published a review of evidence of e-cigs. They concluded e-cigs are about 95% safer than tobacco. So being the same magnitude as cigarettes seems an absurd claim, on the strength of all studies so far, anecdotally too.


Because a statement like "e-cigs are about 95% safer than tobacco" seems meaningless to me without any scale to reference it to, I dug out the paper that they based their estimate on [1] (which I got from [2]).

I'm just going to say that this looks like the least rigorous assessment that I've ever seen. As far as I can tell, they went to a conference and over a 2 day period collectively came up with a list of "evaluation criteria" which is not at all limited to health. It includes (among other things) crime, environmental damage, family adversities, economic cost, community,etc, etc).

Then they scored each product against each criteria on a 100 point scale. This is not an evidenced based approach. It was a bunch of people sitting in a room arguing with each other how they think it should be scored.

Then they weighted the results. Finally they gave each a final score of "harm" base on a 100 point scale. Cigarettes ranked at 100. Pipe smoking ranked at 21 (nearly 5x "safer" than cigarettes!) ENDS ranked about 4 (based on what I can guess from the graph). There's your "at least 95% 'safer'" tag line.

Oh and the committee included a consultant working with companies on tobacco dependence, another consultant working with smoking cessation products, and another consultant working for an e-sig distributor. Several of the committee received grants from the nicotine industry.

[1] - https://www.karger.com/article/FullText/360220 [2] - https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachm...

Doing a review of the current research isn't valuable for the reasons I outlined: overall research is immutare so an overall review isn't going to be that insightful right now.

Here's an example of a gaping gap in research on e-cigs: "To our knowledge, there are no relevant study in humans on carcinogenic effects from pure nicotine including products, such as NRT and e-cigarettes." https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4553893/

It's really hard to summarize a body of research if there's barely any research been done in an area.

From your article:

> After adjusting for these variables, e-cigarette users were 34 percent more likely to have a heart attack, 25 percent more likely to have coronary artery disease and 55 percent more likely to suffer from depression or anxiety. Stroke, high blood pressure and circulatory problems were no longer statistically different between the two groups.

> Cigarette smoking carries a much higher probability of heart attack and stroke than e-cigarettes, but that doesn't mean that vaping is safe

From the CDC (to get a sense of the magnitude of the health effects of smoking [0]:

> People who smoke cigarettes are 15 to 30 times more likely to get lung cancer or die from lung cancer than people who do not smoke.

None of these statistics talk about the base rate at all, which (imo) makes them very difficult to interperet, but I am too lazy to look up and factor in the base rate myself, so I just pretend that these statistics are meaningful without them.

To look at this from another perspective; we may not have studied e-cigarettes very much, but we have extensive studies showing the traditional cigarettes are very, very bad for your health. And, even absent empircal studies, we have strong theoretical reasons to believe that e-cigarettes are less bad; and the empirical studies seems to back this conclusion up.

[0] https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/lung/basic_info/risk_factors.htm

I think my overall argument was that we have barely studied studied e-cigarettes so OP's assertion "Vaping has been pretty well studied (except for the flavorings" is false.

You are correct that it's entirely possible that e-cigarettes are not in the same magnitude of impact as tobacco. However, it's also possible it may be just as bad. The research is too early stage. What I do know (anecdotally), is that most of the researchers in the field have a gut feeling that it is a large issue. Specifically, early findings are showing the product has convinced an entire new generation of teens that vaping is cool even while they believe smoking is gross. It is reseting the gains made in the 80s and 90s on reducing teen addiction to smoking. There is also research to indicate it has a strong impact on health. Probably not as strong as tobacco, but if you are more likely to use it as a teen because you perceive it as healthy and cool, the net effect on public health is just as bad. i.e. the individual effect might be less, but the overall net effect on society is more since its a more compelling product (for young people).

We are probably 5-10 years from knowing with solid peer reviewed research of knowing whether vaping is more like eating a few donuts a day or whether it's closer to smoking a pack a day.

Nicotine remains a vasoconstrictor, that doesn’t change - some increased risk of certain cardiovascular disease isn’t going to shock anyone. Sugar is terrible for your cardiovascular health too though, yet we continue to ignore that fact.

Most studies I’ve seen on e-cigarettes have had faulty controls or are designed with unrealistic scenarios in mind, I hope that changes because proper study is certainly warranted.

There is evidence that nicotine alone is a complete carcinogen. It is pretty damaging on its own.

Love to see a reference for that. Scientific American had an article a while back saying exactly the opposite.


FWIW, my friend's psychiatrist recommends nicotine gum.

Ummm... I see the article was written by a Kate Kelland from Reuters?

Was this same person? "Reuters’ reporter Kate Kelland, who has a history of cozy relations with a group partly funded by agrichemical company interests," ( https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/monsanto-spin-doctors-t...)

> Experimental group of mice received subcutaneous injections of the LD50 dose of (−)nicotine hydrogen tartrate of 3 mg/kg/day, 5 days per week for 24 months, and control group received the vehicle phosphate-buffered saline.

> ...

> The purpose of this pilot study was to evaluate the pathobiologic effects of long-term, high dose nicotine treatment of A/J mice susceptible to tobacco product-induced lung carcinogenesis.

These were mice genetically engineered for increased cancer susceptibility and also given insane dosages. This study is designed to answer whether nicotine is not carcinogenic. That is, if the result was negative then it would suggest any future study would be wasted effort. A positive result doesn't say anything about the safety of nicotine, per se; just that there remains the possibility it may be carcinogenic. That's very different as many absolutely benign substances could also produce this result.

We actually have no idea. It is entirely possible but its unclear at this point:

"To our knowledge, there are no relevant study in humans on carcinogenic effects from pure nicotine including products, such as NRT and e-cigarettes." https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4553893/

There is evidence that nicotine alone is a complete carcinogen

That's the first time I heard that. Do you have any links to this evidence?

I was able to successfully quit cigarettes (for a year) by quitting drinking and switching to the vape. I reduced the nicotine from 12mg to 1.5mg over the course of three months. One day I realized I hadn't touched my vape all day...then I started drinking again after a year. I was bored. Now I smoke cigarettes when I drink and vape other days. It sucks, alcohol and stress is my biggest trigger for smoking cigarettes. When I do drink, I tear through the pack pretty quick too. Basically turn into a chain smoker.

What I can say about vaping is, my endurance and performance in gym/sports is noticeable improved after 3 days of vaping instead of smoking. I can breath deep and feel better. That's the only proof I need until a study tells me otherwise. I would love to quit everything, but I do enjoy a drink.

Does this story sound similar to anyone who successfully quit? Send advice if so.

You asked for advice and mine is that nicotine is your addiction, with a lot of other components swirling around it, and you should decide if you want to quit nicotine or not. Patches, gums and vaporizers are just new and fancy ways to feed your body the ridiculously addictive nicotine it craves.

I also suggest reading "The Easy Way to Quit Smoking". If nothing else it's very encouraging. It might also help you realize that nicotine and alcohol have no special relationship. Not any more than cigarettes and food or cigarettes and sex. When you are a nicotine addict, everything becomes a trigger for your addiction. Trying to differentiate is just playing into the addiction and giving it special powers.

Can vouch for Allen Carr's Easyway. At first the idea that someone can _talk_ me out of smoking seemed silly. Anyhow I tried it via audiobook that I listened while driving. Near the end of the book I just... stopped smoking. This seemed really weird to me. Allen has a weirdly effective way of explaining smoking away.

> Tobacco may well be as addictive as heroin, crack, alcohol, and Cherry Garcia combined into one giant crazy sundae. But as laboratory scientists know, getting mice or other animals hooked on nicotine all by its lonesome is dauntingly difficult. As a 2007 paper in the journal Neuropharmacology put it, “Tobacco use has one of the highest rates of addiction of any abused drug. Paradoxically, in animal models, nicotine appears to be a weak reinforcer.”

> That same study, like many others, found that other ingredients in tobacco smoke are necessary to amp up nicotine’s addictiveness. Those other chemical ingredients things like acetaldehyde, anabasine, nornicotine, anatabine, cotinine, and myosmine—help to keep people hooked on tobacco. On its own, nicotine isn’t enough.


There are other sources and studies I'm too lazy to look up, but AFAIU nicotine is a powerful cognitive enhancer that makes activities easier to perform and more rewarding (including, perhaps, the metabolization of other substances), and it's this experience boost that may be what addicts people. In any event, it's now understood--relatively uncontroversially--that this is why many people with certain cognitive deficits (ADHD, schizophrenia, depression, etc) self-medicate with nicotine, though it works to elevate cognitive performance even for people without deficits.

Humans generally move easily from one nicotine delivery system to another but fail miserably when trying to quit nicotine all together.

It's also very important to understand that nicotine, like most addictive chemicals, impacts different people in different ways. Some people have no problem smoking a few cigarettes a month for years bon end without every developing an addiction.

> It might also help you realize that nicotine and alcohol have no special relationship.

I thought the relationship was that alcohol lowers your inhibitions, including your inhibition against smoking?

I was able to successfully quit cigarettes (for a year) by quitting drinking and switching to the vape. I reduced the nicotine from 12mg to 1.5mg over the course of three months

I did the same thing, and started again in the same way. I've just quit once again, and I'm determined to stay away from nicotine, and vaping for good now.

Whatever, vaping is still better than cigs - it doesn't load your lungs with tar and doesn't make you stink nasty. If you don't smoke - don't start (or maybe do if you struggle from ADHD and can't get any better treatment), if you do and can't or don't want to quit - switching to vaping is a great idea.

I notice a weird tar looking substance in my vape chamber sometimes. I use a 70/30 VG/PG. Not sure what it is, but makes me question things...

It's neither the nicotine nor the pg/vg. What flavour do you vape? A sweet one? You could check without flavour or methanol-only to find out.

Sweeteners are known for producing "coil gunk".

To add to the discussion without starting another thread, count me among those who quit smoking by switching over to a vaporizer and currently only use liquid I personally mix (easier than it sounds and you can control what goes into it). Very low nicotine and minimal flavoring with no diketones or added sugars/sweeteners.

The hardest part for me was the initial switch. As I understand it, the nicotine is mostly absorbed through your mouth and mucous membranes (probably closer to nicotine gum than anything) and you trade the immediate rush of nicotine for a more slow, steady dose.

Smoking seems to give you a rapid, heavy dose followed by a tapering off of blood concentration. This leads to a craving an hour or two later to restart the cycle. With a vaporizer, I had to get used to not having that big "hit" of nicotine but rather a slower, steadier intake as I had a puff now and then throughout the day.

Once I got past that, it all but "unwired" the typical cravings I had when I smoked. Now I still use a vaporizer in some situations when I would have smoked (when drinking, on a long drive, etc. Likely self medicating for focus in both cases) but I don't feel that cranky, annoyed feeling of really needing a smoke like I did for years after taking up the habit in college.

I'm in the exact same boat. I had a smoke free period for 7 years when I started smoking again during a period of personal stress 4 years ago. Vaping helped immensely to reverse that - I started with 13mg and slowly went to lower nicotine levels until I was down to a final 0mg (I also mix/mixed the liquid myself). Now the gear is sitting in the drawer and gets used only every couple of months... As a side effect the cigarette cravings subsided not to say have inverted completely. All in all it was almost effortless and easy.

It seems fairly obvious and in line with most research that has come out that #1) vaping is far less dangerous than smoking cigarettes, #2) vaping is not harmless and the true extent of the risks probably won't be known for a generation because there are just no longitudinal studies possible yet, #3) vaping is a great alternative to smoking cigarettes in terms of harm reduction - both in terms of effects on the vaper and effects on bystanders (not to mention it doesn't cause entire rooms and all things in them to stink) #4) The extent that vaping will lead to more nicotine addicts later becoming cigarette smokers is unknown, but seems anecdotally unlikely but worth keeping an eye on (ie; someone that never would have started smoking starts vaping because it is less harmful but then eventually becomes a cigarette addict) #5) Prohibition doesn't in general work with any substance and there is absolutely no moral justification for not making safer ways of delivering substances available while still being open-eyed about their possible risks

Personal bias - smoked heavily starting at age 13/14 until my 30s. Switched to vaping heavily and saw marked improvements in my health. Eventually weaned down nicotine levels while vaping over the course of many months. Quit vaping with some difficulty, but not the difficulty level of quitting cigarettes. Now don't use nicotine at all, but will never be able to use it in moderation.


Happy to let someone else address this false equivalence in depth. All I will say is that substance use is a personal choice, there's no evidence that the legality of a substance makes it more/less likely the use thereof will impact oneself or others in negative ways (indeed, alcohol is probably one of the worst substances in terms of addictive potential, anti-social effects while intoxicated, likelihood of eventual physical/biological damage because of frequent use, etc), and indeed all the evidence we have so far shows that making substances legal and also making resources to help those that have substance abuse problems widely available decreases negative personal and social effects of substances while also, from a moral/ethical standpoint, allowing people the freedom to alter their consciousness and body and way they want to, so a win win.

I feel like people often come at this topic from an individualistic perspective that ignores what's really going on. People see a new product has appeared and immediately accept it as a new fact of their environment and then debate whether they should be free to use it or not. This discussion is entirely absent of why this thing has appeared and why not some other thing.

The reason it has appeared is because it is profitable. It is profitable because it is addictive. So some company or companies begins applying a population level medical experiment, introducing an addictive substance with only extremely ephemeral benefits and potentially serious health consequences. Intensifying this problem, the companies proceed to target children, in order to attempt to create lifelong money drips based on a physiological addition. The question is why is this a legitimate activity?

While you personally may have some intelligence and ability to not waste your health and money on this product, simply placing it in accessible areas, advertising it and making it appealing, means that less informed or more risk taking members of the population will basically trip into a bear trap and feel like they're making an affirmative decision about their life because it feels good for a few moments at a time.

This is insanity. Why do we allow known bad actors to manipulate and poison the public?

EDIT: I should clarify that I don't have a problem with individuals growing and making this stuff themselves, just with the license we give to apply these medical experiments at a population level by entities that care nothing about the people they serve.

> introducing an addictive substance with only extremely ephemeral benefits and potentially serious health consequences

This seems like a description of any method of nicotine use, and you're about 3500 years too late for that. I don't see how it's accurate to describe e-cigs advent as the introduction of a new addictive substance: it seems to me to largely be the introduction of a new (far safer) method of delivery for an existing addictive substance.

The complaint about e-cigarettes seems to me to be a complaint about the ease for teens of hiding their usage, relative to stinky cigarettes.

To be clear, the use of tobacco has been an element of human culture (broadly construed, not all cultures) for millennia, on that we agree. I also do not have a problem with people growing it for small scale use. I do have a problem with the perverse incentives of industry to scale and market the product far beyond whatever niche it might otherwise occupy in human society. Furthermore, I object to the inflation of market share by targeting children.

I thought about this a bit overnight and I think if we wanted to use this technology in a way to reduce harm and improve human health, we would offer it mainly through doctors' offices. While it would reduce reach among current smokers, it would also be fairly specific to that population sans some small scale cheating. This would prevent uptake by children and non-users. Instead, we take the opposite approach of selling it for profit and expand the market as far as possible. This is a gross behavior that does not care for the value of human life and health and we allow it.

The new tactic is to push smoking practice in movie scenes. Though (I don't know for a fact but I presume that) smoking went naturally in movies before, when the actors were actual smokers and choose to have a cigarette in some movie scene, now we have smoking (simulation) performed by non-smoking actors! Smoking in manga animations is yet another thing I don't remember seeing in '90s.

A new tactic? People have been smoking cigarettes in movies forever, for a couple reasons.

1) Stylistically, it looks cool and makes great shots. The light going through the smoke, the burning sound of the inhale.

2) It tells us something about the character and their value systems and their psychological state. Maybe they have a devil-may-care attitude, maybe they are under distress.

3) It gives an excuse for characters to stand and talk. It also is an excuse for a character to be alone is silent contemplation while also doing something the audience can see (smoking). Without cigarettes, both of this situations feel more contrived and less natural.

Personal experience:

- Started smoking as a young teenager (13) - Quickly turned into a pack a day smoker (16) - Went up to two packs a day (twenties) - Spent a year off and on cigarettes using a vape pen - Decided to completely switch to vaping

It's been 2 months since I've smoked (besides little mishaps at parties).

I've spent the most of the time coughing up all the shit my lungs have been accumulating since a child. I can breath a lot better now, suffer no lung/chest pains (daily before I quit cigarettes).

I'm a happy vaper and will continue to vape for now. I am 100% aware that it may not be risk-free, but I feel an enormous difference between smoking and vaping. I had tried numerous things before vaping (patches are pointless, nicotine gum horrible, champix made me extremely depressed/suicidal), and am grateful e-cigarettes are a thing.

I've seen this opinion dozens of times and the best response is a Slate Star Codex post from 2013[1]:

> The worst are the people – one of whom has so far appeared in every article I have read on the subject – who say that we should be careful because “Big Tobacco” is pushing them as a “solution” to the problem of declining cigarette sales. First of all this is just factually wrong; most e-cigarettes are made by alternative companies in direct competition with Big Tobacco. Second, if your reasoning strategy is identifying the Evil People and then minimizing their utility, you probably shouldn’t be making public policy.

> ...if a public e-cigarette ban reduces the number of smokers who switch to e-cigarettes by 2%, you’ve just killed an extra 9000 people per year – about three 9-11 attacks, or twice the number of US soldiers who died in the Iraq War.

As soon as you do the math, it's clear that allowing vaping is extremely good for public health. Those opposed to it demonstrate their innumeracy and puritanism.

1. https://slatestarcodex.com/2013/03/28/thank-you-for-doing-so...

Yes, and if 2% of Americans who would not have ever smoked start vaping and get addicted to nicotine, and 2% of those people subsequently develop a cigarette habit...

My concern is not that e-cigs are dangerous (they might be, but they're very probably not more dangerous than actual tobacco), but that e-cigs' perceived safety might eventually get people, a lot of them, to start actually smoking.

Personal anecdote: I'm an ex-smoker. I love that e-cigs are helping smokers quit, but I don't like that e-cigs are getting non-smokers addicted to nicotine.

I'm not enthusiastic about banning things in general, and e-cigs are no different. But as someone who was dependent on nicotine for years, I hope The Public is wary: nicotine goes from being your lover to being your boss very very quickly. And once it's your boss, all it does is make you feel terrible if you aren't consuming nicotine.

If you have a nicotine habit: try to kick it. Life's great on the other side.

If you don't have a nicotine habit: life's great on the side you're already on.

> My concern is not that e-cigs are dangerous (they might be, but they're very probably not more dangerous than actual tobacco), but that e-cigs' perceived safety might eventually get people, a lot of them, to start actually smoking.

If cigarettes are cheaper, some people who use vapes exclusively will smoke cigarettes in order to get their nicotine fix. Addiction doesn't care about price or which delivery method is healthier.

If cigarettes are more accessible, as in if you're out and your vape's battery is dies and/or it breaks and you need your fix, some people who use vapes exclusively will smoke cigarettes in order to get their nicotine fix. Addiction doesn't care about where you are or if getting your fix is inconvenient.

You can draw similarities to the opioid epidemic: if you give 'safer' prescription opioids out like candy, and then take them away, some people who used prescription opioids exclusively will move to cheaper and more accessible heroin.

Your first point is no longer true, as mentioned in the article:

"the company also received a $12.8 billion minority investment in December from the tobacco giant Altria"

FWIW, I've tried vaping, gums and nicotine pouches. They all make me sick, unless I drop the dose to a level that is so miniscule that I can't feel it. Real tobacco, on the other hand, calms me down and feels great as long as I watch the dose(say, 1/2 cigarette, but usually pipe tobacco). I don't use tobacco very often, and I've never had a problem quitting(23andme confirms I have low nicotine addiction risk). Curious if anyone else has noticed this with nicotine products? I know there is a difference in pure nicotine freebase vs salt form, but I feel like it's more than that. There's something else in tobacco that makes it work for me.

There's MAOIs in tobacco that are not present in gum or e-cigs. MAOIs change the psychoactive effects of nicotine. There is also some evidence that MAOIs significantly increase the addiction potential of nicotine.

A little off topic, but I find that cigarettes really work for me as a software developer. Program for a couple hours, and then smoke a cigarette, rinse and repeat. More often than not, I catch bugs in my programs while smoking, not while at the computer. It significantly improves my cognition while also inducing a calm and reflective state. Part of this is probably from being alone and stepping away, but the tobacco definitely does have a strong effect separate of this.

Yep, I have pretty similar experiences with those products (never tried gum though). Anything more than a few puffs of a cigar will make me sick as well.

Gwern has a discussion of Nicotine, and basically concludes it's safe:


How is someone who claims to be known for their writings on dark markets and bitcoins supposed to be an expert on smoking? Meanwhile, actual scientists and oncology doctors have concluded that for nicotine on its own (not smoking) (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4363846/) "There is an increased risk of cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal disorders. There is decreased immune response and it also poses ill impacts on the reproductive health. It affects the cell proliferation, oxidative stress, apoptosis, DNA mutation by various mechanisms which leads to cancer. It also affects the tumor proliferation and metastasis and causes resistance to chemo and radio therapeutic agents."

> How is someone who claims to be known for their writings on dark markets and bitcoins supposed to be an expert on smoking?

This is a non-sequitur in context: Gwern's whole thing is trying to take a from-scratch look at the literature instead of relying on the standard appeal-to-authority arguments that sometimes lead to flawed conclusions due to things like institutional incentive structures. That is to say, if you're the kind of person who reads thing blindly based on whether the author is an expert or not instead of taking advantage of the fact that he shows his work to assess the quality of his analysis, then gwern's writings probably aren't for you. (FWIW, you should probably be doing this to some degree even when reading the recommendations of those designated experts)

Don't get me wrong, there's obvious ways for "ignore the experts and read the literature from scratch" to lead to flawed conclusions, but it's just a different type of analysis.

Did you look at the page thoroughly? More citations to peer-reviewed studies on nicotine than Wikipedia. That’s what he does. And his research into the dark web and bitcoin was very thoroughly researched, analyzed, he posts his datasets and methods used to reach conclusions, etc. Are you suggesting that someone studying these has lost credibility because of the nature of the dark net and such? Or are you suggesting that a person is only capable of applying investigative and analytical skills towards only one area of study?

There is even some evidence that monoamine oxidase inhibitors in cigarettes, rather than nicotine, may be the causative agent of addiction in cigarettes.

Juuls can be relatively hard for long-time users (6+ months) just because they're so strong (50mg/ml, though at low output). But, you don't have to go cold turkey, as they now do 30mg/ml pods, and there's always normal vapes. I'd imagine in any case its not nearly as hard as normal cigarettes, though I wouldn't know (never smoked).

While they've somehow gotten the stigma of being flashy and hip, they're very much designed for a specific purpose: getting people off cigarettes. In doing so: they're expensive, harsh, and have poor flavor options.

I legitimately can't understand why high schoolers would be attracted to them when normal vapes are (1) substantially cheaper, (2) so much more flavorful, and (3) available on a wide variety of websites that do zero age verification. I mean, kids aren't smart, but its almost so unbelievable that, dare I say, the media is making broad generalizations and Juul is just taking the brunt of their ire.

> Health officials know next to nothing about the flavorings or about other chemicals generated by the heating of e-liquids.

Even the officials knew anything about the flavourings today, they will spin another five flavours by tomorrow.

And even if knew everything about a flavour.... what's in the mass produced / delivered to consumer flavouring will not remain the same day on day.

This whole thing makes my spidey sense tingle.

It's interesting that no-one mentioned Formula 1 in here.

F1 was one of the biggest industries to embrace tobacco advertising, and indeed was exempt from several tobacco advertising laws in the UK. The Ferrari F1 team still takes sponsorship from Philip Morris International (the company that owns Marlboro), and indeed at the start of this year, the Ferrari team was named "Mission Winnow Ferrari". Mission Winnow is Philip Morris' project looking for Tobacco alternatives. Read: Vaping.

As @satori99 mentioned however, Australia has very strong advertising laws when it comes to tobacco, so as the first race is in a few weeks, the Mission Winnow branding was removed from the Ferrari as it was revealed that the Australian authorities had launched an investigation: https://www.autosport.com/f1/news/141908/ferrari-removes-mis...

I was stunned when people actually began 'Vaping'. I thought (and still think) it doesn't have the basic 'cool factor' that a lit cigarette has. (Why I think that's cool is something I probably should think about. It doesn't seem to be a naturally generated thought, but rather one that's been placed there through years of media influence.)

I imagine there's some deep social need that's being met by the e-cigs.

It is probably just the addiction. Nicotine is super-addictive.

Vaping itself is not the issue, it is better than combusting the product and inhaling the result into your lungs, it's the next step to quitting for addicts. The numerous e-liquid products and vaping devices where quality may vary is where the focus of public attention needs to be on. The additives and potency of e-liquids needs to be advertised clearly and regulated so we can properly see the effects.

Banning vaping outright seems ridiculous but there need to be more aggressive policies and enforcement on the sale to children. The FDA did a study and I remember the numbers being staggering (2/3 teens I think) have vaped before. A high number of people using addictive substance before 19 is a recipe for disaster regardless of the compound since lifetime addiction rates soar at that age.

I'm one the road in Albuquerque and hearing commercials on the radio trying to convert older smokers to vaping. specifically it is the juul brand. the pitch is that smoking is no longer acceptable so why not vape instead? at the very end of the ad they warn that juul products contain nicotine...... hard to understand how people profiting from this go to sleep at night.

What's wrong with nicotine? Besides being addictive, all of its effects are positive: increased cognition and memory, preventive against dementia and parkinson's, mild mood stabilization.

There is always a new generation of gullible suckers waiting in line to be taken advance of, once I was one of them.

I started smoking when I was 15. I smoked for 15 years and manage to quit 17 years ago. I can honestly say that to quit smoking is the best (health) choice I ever made.

The unconscionable marketing of e-cigarettes to minors should alert us to parallels with marijuana. The same concerns apply to marijuana legalization if we are not careful.

Never underestimate the relationship between the rich and the ignorant. These people trade tobacco for a synthetic chemical......cancer just comes sooner I suspect.

Fortunately we have science in place of what you "suspect." And E-cigs have very little cancer potential (possibly none at all) compared to tobacco.

Stop on holidays. Take champix. An cut alcohol and coffee for a few days and that'all you have to do quit.

Take champix

That's terrible advice. Champix and Zyban produce "feelings of agitation, depressed mood, hostility, changes in behaviour or impulsive or disturbing thoughts, such as ideas of self-harm or of harming others". I had several doctors literally tell me "to stay the fuck away from that garbage"

Yet it's the only thing I've found that helped me permanently quit a 32 year smoking habit.

My family is deeply grateful for that "garbage".

You realize you could say the same thing about almost every other drug as well? Look up the side-effects of SSRIs, SNRIs, caffeine, really anything at all.

They can now optimize the "perfect" amount of nicotine in each hit now that'll maximize profit while accounting for lifespan.

Nicotine is dirt cheap. Here [1], you or I could buy 5 gallons of 100mg/ml liquid base for $750. Typical eliquid is sold in 3-6 mg/ml, so that could be diluted to produce 420 liters of ejuice. A 60ml bottle of juice sells for ~$25 on the high end; simple math leads to six figures of revenue from that single jug.

Of course, none of that includes flavoring. Flavoring, and the process, clean rooms, scientific equipment, that's the actual expensive part and why you'd never actually see those six figures. The nicotine itself is pretty much a rounding error in the total cost of the product.

[1] https://liquidnicotinewholesalers.com/100mg-nicotine-liquid....

Nicotine is no worse for you than caffeine; it’s not what kills you in cigarettes, it’s just what makes them pleasurable.

This is not correct. Nicotine may be carcinogenic on its own and is definitely implicated in the advancement of cancer in the presence of other carcinogens, and it interferes with cancer response in the body and even cancer treatment. Caffeine has none of these properties and the usual vehicle for caffeine (coffee) has demonstrated protective effects against various cancers, heart disease, and diabetes.

Battery is dead. Guess I'll just satisfy my addiction with some cigs.

Or gum. Or patches. Or lozenges. Or go buy another vape or recharge your battery. You'd have to go out and buy the cigarettes anyway. It's not like they magically appear in your home.

I can think of several gas stations, liquor stores and convenience stores that sell neither nicotine gum, patches nor lozenges. They all sell cigarettes, though.

Quite. Who the fuck wants to smell of smoke when you can just have lozenges or the gum? Also: actual cigarettes are prohibitively expensive in most countries.

You're a PhD in a medicine/biology field I hope? Because otherwise, it might seem overly presumptuous to think you fully understand the effects of nicotine on health enough to make overarching conclusions. Like, the effects on atherosclerosis.

AFAIK you can choose your nicotine dosage. It's how people slowly quit.

I smoked for around ten years. Switching to a vape with a ~12mg nicotine fluid took me 48hrs to completely put down cigarettes. Cut that nicotine mixture down to half that shortly after. Now I find myself using the vape for around a minute two to three times a day, and reducing that usage to nil.

It's worked far better than any traditional methods to quit. I haven't touched a cigarette in three months.

True! You can for the most part but there are definitely brands where you get what you're given.

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