How to Quit E Cigarettes

Three Parts:Quitting Smoking in GeneralReducing Nicotine DependencyStopping Before You Start

Electronic cigarettes (“e-cigarettes” or “e-cigs”) are still a relatively new phenomenon, but many people see them as a safer alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes. It is still highly debatable whether or not e-cigarettes can help you quit smoking regular cigarettes, but it is clear that e-cigs (from which you inhale a nicotine vapor) can become very addictive themselves. Whether you are trying to use e-cigarettes as a bridge between traditional cigarettes and quitting altogether, or have never touched anything but an e-cig, quitting presents many of the same challenges and potential methods as any other type of smoking cessation. Don’t expect it to be easy, but know that it is worthwhile.

Part 1
Quitting Smoking in General

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    Don’t go it alone. The advent of a wide range of smoking-cessation medications has offered many new options for those seeking to quit, but for most people, support networks and professional assistance seem to be critical factors. Quitting is as much of a psychological as it is a physical task, and proper guidance, motivation, and encouragement is essential to success for most people.[1]
    • It is essential that you surround yourself with the right people at this time. Seek out supportive friends and family who understand your desire to quit and will offer you encouragement and even constructive criticism as warranted. You will probably need to stay away from many of your old “stomping grounds” and normal leisure activities for at least a while, as you may associate these with smoking. Make sure your friends and family can support such changes.[2]
    • How to Quit Smoking offers more information on the need for support, as well as more detailed information on quitting smoking in general.
    • This WikiHow article on quitting also offers a helpful array of advice regarding the need for internal and external emotional support when you want to stop smoking.
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    Know what has worked for others, but don’t assume it will work the same way for you. There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to smoking cessation, but some methods seem to be more likely to succeed than others. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a combination of counseling plus medication offers the best chance for success. This is followed by use of medications alone — including Chantix and nicotine patches, gums, sprays, etc. — and counseling and support alone.[3]
    • Accept that your initial attempt(s) to quit will quite possibly fail, no matter how highly-recommended your approach and how strong your determination. An early failure or two does not mean you are weak-willed; it means you are normal. Keep trying, and know that you can quit — because anyone can quit with the right mix of methods and support.[4]
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    Seek professional guidance and counseling. The support of friends and family is essential, but smoking cessation often also requires the help of people trained specifically for the task. Regularly utilizing person-to-person counseling, or even counseling over the phone, can double your chances of successfully quitting.[5]
    • Quitting smoking isn’t just about kicking a nicotine habit; it also requires changes to behavior patterns that have become fundamental to your daily life. Properly-trained behavioral therapists can help guide you through the difficult transition into smoking-free behaviors, such as with your typical post-meal, after-work, or post-argument routines.
    • For most people, professional counseling works best when combined with medication, and when they are supported by friends and family.
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    Try smoking cessation medications. Recent years have witnessed a marked increase in approved medications that can help you quit smoking, and it is easier than ever to get started with them. Many of the common medications work by replacing your nicotine “fix” with an alternate source other than cigarettes, while others deal with how your body responds to nicotine.[6]
    • Varencline (Chantix), for instance, impacts your brain’s nicotine receptors and can make the sensation of smoking less enjoyable. It requires a prescription and must be taken according to specific instructions, and with an eye out for possible side effects.
    • Bupropion (Wellbutrin or Zyban) can help reduce your experience of symptoms caused by nicotine withdrawal. Again, follow your doctor’s guidance closely and pay attention to potential side effects.
    • Various nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) medications are now available in the U.S. without a prescription. They come in forms including patches, gums, lozenges, tablets, inhalers, and sprays, under brand names like Nicoderm, Nicorette, and Nicotrol. They deliver nicotine to your body to replace what you lose by not smoking, and ideally will make it easier for you to wean yourself off of nicotine dependency.
    • As mentioned in the counseling step, smoking cessation methods work best for most people when paired with professional therapy to deal with behavioral changes.
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    Be cautious of unproven methods. Commercials, advertisements, and testimonials will tell you that methods like hypnosis, laser therapy, and acupuncture can help you quit smoking. There is nothing to say that they can’t work for you; however, there is also no solid scientific evidence that such alternative methods can improve your odds of quitting. You don’t have to avoid them because they are unproven according to medical research. You should just choose to use them or not with that knowledge in mind.[7]
    • Note that switching from traditional cigarettes to e-cigarettes also falls into this category of unproven methods.
    • In the end, it doesn’t really matter how you quit, so long as you are not using a method that harms you in some other way or replacing smoking with another bad habit. The most important thing is to quit, in whatever ways work best for you and for your overall health and well-being.
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    Find a healthy replacement for smoking. Cutting out the act of smoking will create a void in your daily routines, and people often fill this void with comforts like food, alcohol, or other alternatives that are harmful in excess. It is important that you have a plan in place ahead of time to replace smoking with healthy, beneficial behaviors. Exercise is probably the best replacement, as it will help you compound the health benefits of not smoking.[8]
    • Smoking increases your metabolism and reduces your appetite, so it is common for weight gain to occur after you quit. Making healthy food choices, exercising regularly, and becoming more physically active in general will help combat weight gain, benefit your overall health, and give you positive replacements for the time you used to spend smoking.
    • Consider investing some of the money you’ll save by not buying cigarettes into healthy foods or a gym membership, for instance.
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    Keep in mind why it is so important to quit — and to “stay quit.” Smoking traditional cigarettes exposes you to a wide range of toxins and known cancer-causing agents. Smoking any type of cigarette containing nicotine exposes you to compounds known to damage heart cells. No matter how you look at it, smoking is one of the worst things you can do for your health.[9]
    • The good news is that much of the damage caused by smoking can be reversed once you quit. Your risk of heart disease reduces by half one year after you quit, and your risk of heart attack after fifteen years is about the same as if you had never picked up a single cigarette.

Part 2
Reducing Nicotine Dependency

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    Choose your e-cigarettes wisely. Because e-cigs are completely unregulated by the American FDA and many similar government entities elsewhere, there is no way to know for sure what is exactly in the e-liquid that turns into vapor. Your best bet is to seek out e-cigarettes from established companies that show at least some track-record of providing products of relative quality and safety (“relative” being the operative word, as no e-cigs should be called “safe.”)[10]
    • If you want to wean yourself off nicotine dependency via e-cigarettes, it is best to choose the refillable, tank-type version as opposed to the “cigalikes” variety (which look more like traditional cigarettes and are pre-filled). With the refillable type, you have more control over the amount of nicotine and flavoring you add, and can more readily reduce your nicotine amounts as desired.[11]
    • Once again, however, there is no regulation over the contents of the e-liquid refills, so there is no way to know for sure that the claimed amount of nicotine is accurate. Indeed, testing has indicated that some supposedly nicotine-free e-liquids actually contain nicotine.
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    Stop smoking traditional cigarettes. If you want to try to use e-cigarettes to help you quit smoking altogether, you almost certainly have to wean yourself off of traditional cigarettes first. For many people, e-cigs provide a similar but distinct type of “fix,” because of differences in the smoking process, the contents of the cigarettes, and the settings in which you can smoke each type.[12]
    • This means that if you are smoking both traditional and electronic cigarettes at the same time, you may be trying to quit two types of addictions at once. For most people, it is probably best to quit one smoking type at a time.
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    Reduce your nicotine concentration over time. Since e-cigarettes are not marketed or officially approved for smoking cessation, there is little clear advice on how best to go about using them in order to quit. Generally speaking, though, the best option seems to be to steadily reduce the nicotine concentration in your e-liquid until you are smoking (supposedly) nicotine-free vapor. From there, you can work on kicking the physical habit of smoking.[13]
    • For example, you may want to start with an e-liquid with a 1.8% nicotine percentage, then work your way down to 1.2%, 0.6%, and 0.0%. If you need to start at a higher nicotine level, many e-liquids come at 2.4% and 3.6% levels as well. The process may take several weeks or more, and is dependent upon your individual willpower, determination, and physical ability to shake your nicotine addiction. Please remember, though, that this is not an regulated, tested, or officially recommended process for reducing nicotine dependency or quitting smoking.
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    Anticipate nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Once your body has become accustomed to regular nicotine dosing, it will not respond well to having it taken away. Whether using traditional or e-cigarettes, withdrawal symptoms can start within two to three hours after your last dose of nicotine, and often peak about two to three days after you have begun the process of quitting.[14]
    • Typical withdrawal symptoms can include: intense cravings; increased irritability; drowsiness; anxiety; depression; headaches; nightmares; and a range of other physical and psychological impacts.
    • Expect to “not be yourself” for a while after you wean yourself off of nicotine, and make sure you surround yourself with supportive friends, family, and counselors, and stay clear of places or situations where you will be tempted to smoke again.
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    Deal with the physical habit of smoking. One reason why e-cigarettes can be more appealing to people trying to quit than nicotine patches or gum is that it replicates the same habit of holding a nicotine delivery system between your lips and seeing a billowing puff in front of your face. If you want to quit e-cigarettes, you need to overcome not only your dependency on nicotine, but also your dependency on the habit of smoking.
    • Try to change up your daily routines while quitting, so you will be less tempted to fall into the habit of smoking after lunch or your afternoon meetings. Take a walk, read a book, eat your lunch at another time or in another place, etc.
    • Deal with your “oral habit” of smoking with healthier replacements like nibbling on carrot sticks, chewing sugarless gum, sucking on a cinnamon stick, or swirling a straw or toothpick in your mouth.[15]

Part 3
Stopping Before You Start

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    Recognize the uncertainty surrounding e-cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes have been around for less than ten years, which means there is simply no way to know their long-term effects. This newness is part of the reason why they are still not regulated by many government agencies around the world, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S. In short, there is often no way to know for sure what is in your e-cigarette, and what exactly the materials that are in it may do to you.[16]
    • Assuming that your e-cigarette contains what it is supposed to, it is probably safer overall than a traditional cigarette. That is to say, if you were going to spend your life smoking either only e-cigarettes or only traditional cigarettes, the e-cigs would likely be the better choice. However, there is no real way to know for sure yet, and most people who do smoke e-cigs don’t completely eschew traditional cigarettes anyway.[17][18]
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    Know how e-cigarettes work. Although they come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, practically all e-cigarettes work by using a battery-powered heat source to vaporize an “e-liquid,” which typically contains nicotine and flavorings (among many other things). You breathe in and puff out this vapor in much the same way as you smoke a traditional cigarette.[19]
    • Extra care needs to be taken with the e-liquid, especially if there are children around. The liquid provides a far more concentrated dose of nicotine and other compounds that the vaporized mist, and increasing calls to poison control hotlines indicate that consuming the e-liquid in non-vapor form can cause a host of medical problems, and can present serious risks to children.
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    Weigh the pros and cons vis-a-vis traditional cigarettes. Proponents of e-cigarettes point out that they remove the “smoke” part from smoking. Traditional tobacco smoke contains a host of toxins and carcinogens, created in part by the burning process. This lack of smoke probably makes e-cigarettes overall less damaging to your health than traditional cigarettes, but they are far from risk-free.[20]
    • Traditional cigarettes bring nicotine and a host of other chemical compounds to the table; e-cigarettes are primarily nicotine delivery systems. Nicotine itself is not recognized as a carcinogen, meaning e-cigs are probably less likely to cause ailments like lung cancer.
    • However, nicotine can cause direct damage to heart cells, making heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems more likely. Therefore, switching from traditional to electronic cigarettes may simply be a case of trading one bad habit for another.[21]
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    Don’t assume they will automatically help you quit smoking. Some people want to make the switch to supposedly healthier e-cigarettes long-term, while others want to use it as a bridge to stopping any and all types of smoking. While there is ample anecdotal evidence and some research indicating that e-cigarettes can improve your odds of quitting altogether, there is precious little clear, research-supported evidence that e-cigs are an effective method for quitting.[22]
    • Part of the problem is that it is not so simple for many people to switch completely from traditional to electronic cigarettes. Indeed, as of 2013, some three-fourths of e-cigarette users also regularly smoked traditional cigarettes as well.
    • For many people, e-cigarettes simply become another part of the smoking repertoire, one that is often more acceptable in public places.[23]

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Categories: Smoking Addictions