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How Vapers Can Help Smokers Quit

How Vapers Can Help Smokers Quit

The controversy surrounding electronic cigarettes continues to smolder. E-cigarettes are the battery-powered devices that deliver an aerosol that contains nicotine but no trace of cancer-causing tar. Despite ample data to the contrary, critics insist that e-cigarettes are a “gateway” to teen smoking and that they contain dangerous levels of toxins. Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration has yet to issue regulations.

Things may seem stagnant – the same debates, the same anxieties about pending regulatory over-reach – yet researchers are busy. New data from Scotland underscore how e-cigarettes are helping smokers quit, saving millions of lives and untold health care dollars. More exciting, they suggest an untapped way to spread e-cigarette use, or vaping, to smokers who might otherwise not try to give up their deadly habit or who have failed using traditional means.

In a new survey, psychologist Christopher Russell and colleagues at the Centre for Drug Misuse in Glasgow collected a large pool of data from vapers. The Centre, an independent research entity that collects epidemiological data on substance abuse and harm reduction efforts, and performs policy evaluations, has received research funding from public bodies, such as the UK Government Department of Health and the United Nations, and from tobacco companies, such as British American Tobacco and Philip Morris.

Russell ran an online poll, conducted over 12 weeks last summer, of 7,300 people who said they had vaped at least once. Of those, 5,000 had been regular smokers when they first tried vaping. Russell’s data show overwhelmingly that vaping helps smokers quit. More than 80% of smokers had quit completely since they started vaping regularly, which, at the time of the survey, was an average of 14 months before they took the survey.

Of the respondents who were still smoking at the time of the survey, more than 56%, had at least halved their daily smoking since starting regular vaping (defined as at least every other day). The average reduction was from 23 cigarettes per day pre-vaping to four per day.

To round out the picture of the experiences and motives of vapers, Russell asked a litany of questions: What was their experience with flavors and nicotine strengths; their reasons for vaping; their perceptions of harm relative to cigarettes, their perception of addictiveness of e-cigarettes relative to cigarettes, health changes they have personally experienced since initiating vaping? Then came the question with real public health power: “What could smokers, who are curious about using e-cigarettes to quit smoking, learn from vapers who have quit or significantly reduced their smoking by using e-cigarettes?”

The most common piece of advice concerned the importance of finding the right device and flavor for the user. Other advice included “don’t start with a cig-a-like [the weaker versions that look like cigarettes]. Rather, start with a newer generation device,” “ask for expert advice,” “do not expect a cigarette experience.”

Here’s where Russell’s survey spurs an idea that could start saving lives tomorrow: Why not assemble a loose network of potential vaping sponsors? True, some vapers communicate informally with smokers already, but if we can build a vaper-smoker buddy system into the public health landscape, we can further arm the fight against smoking.

The local health department or area hospitals could run public service ads on TV or radio and post billboards advertising the availability of vaping buddies (or sponsors, navigators, etc). A website would contain the name of local vapers who volunteer to serve as sponsors or direct smokers to local vape shops where those names would be listed, too.

Civic-minded vapers could sign up to be sponsors through the local vape shop or health department. Their names could be posted at the nurses’ station of emergency rooms and circulated to local primary care doctors who can urge their smoking patients with COPD and other smoking-related conditions to pair up with someone on the list.

It need not be a long-term relationship, but it would be a great way to introduce a patient to vaping if his or her physician determines that the patient intends to keep smoking for the foreseeable future or has had little to no success in quitting with the help of conventional anti-smoking aids.

People grappling with alcohol and drug problems routinely have sponsors as part of their involvement with Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. Although most smokers don’t need long-term support groups, they need awareness of alternatives, access to them, accurate information, and encouragement.

After all, a vaping sponsor can provide the same benefits that have helped so many others quit alcohol. As Stanford University psychologist Keith Humphreys, a scholar of addiction recovery self-help groups, notes, “a large number of studies identify ‘active ingredients’ of AA’s effect, as role models for change, greater social support, better coping skills, greater self-confidence, and more motivation to change.”

Unlike many abusers of intoxicants, nicotine-dependent people don’t need to learn to live without a drug, they need to learn to use it in a safer form. They need practical advice (best local vape shop, how to maintain equipment, how to find high quality e-liquid); they need to know what they can expect (e.g. that dual use – vaping while continuing to smoke, at the beginning is very common) and which puff techniques lead to maximal satisfaction. They need a fair assessment of the known and unknown risks associated with alternatives to cigarettes and some need general motivational support if they are ambivalent about relinquishing cigarettes.

The day-to-day policy implications of these observations in combination with known facts about behavioral change argue for a number of strategies.

Take public vaping. Vaping has already been banned from offices, public parks, restaurants and airports. But at the very least, it should be allowed in non-smoking adult establishments with well-marked vaping areas. While not emission-free, any “second-hand” vapor that wafts several feet, unlike smoke from a cigarette, will be virtually undetectable as the subtly “flavored” odors dissipate rapidly. Studies show that emissions, such as propylene glycol, formaldehyde, and acrolein, are at negligible levels, thus below clinically meaningful thresholds for otherwise healthy bystanders.

The idea is for people who smoke to be exposed to vapers as often and as visibly as possible. The infiltration of vapers into non-smoking environments where there are temporarily abstaining smokers (that is, smokers who are, at the moment, banned from lighting up) is a great way to spur curiosity and conversation about vaping.

The day-to-day policy implications of these observations in combination with known facts about behavioral change argue for a number of strategies.

Take public vaping. Vaping has already been banned from offices, public parks, restaurants and airports. But at the very least, it should be allowed in non-smoking adult establishments with well-marked vaping areas. While not emission-free, any “second-hand” vapor that wafts several feet, unlike smoke from a cigarette, will be virtually undetectable as the subtly “flavored” odors dissipate rapidly. Studies show that emissions, such as propylene glycol, formaldehyde, and acrolein, are at negligible levels, thus below clinically meaningful thresholds for otherwise healthy bystanders.

The idea is for people who smoke to be exposed to vapers as often and as visibly as possible. The infiltration of vapers into non-smoking environments where there are temporarily abstaining smokers (that is, smokers who are, at the moment, banned from lighting up) is a great way to spur curiosity and conversation about vaping.

For non-smokers, the difference between vaping and smoking should be reinforced in every way possible. That difference should make vaping look more attractive than smoking. For example, airports should have attractive vaping lounges. Smokers should still have to go outside.

There is a large literature on what people need to do to change a well-established habit. If we want people to stop smoking, we’re likely to engage them more successfully if there is a feasible replacement available. In the case of smoking, it’s vaping. Not only that, the smoker needs a sense of “self-efficacy,” the confidence that he or she can engage in the replacement activity and be successful at it. Showing someone how it’s done, answering questions, reducing uncertainty is an excellent way to do that.

I’m excited to see how Christopher Russell turns established vapers into assets: what strategies does he use and how successful is he? I’m optimistic. The “vaping sponsor” – my term – aspect of his project will start in December. As he says, “To dismiss, misuse or under-use these individuals’ insights and experiences as part of health services’ efforts to engage with smokers would, in my opinion, be a monumental missed public health opportunity.”


Written by: Sally Satel
Repost from: forbes.com

VAPEFAM TO THE RESCUE!

VAPEFAM TO THE RESCUE!

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Hi Beyond Vape Fam, today we’re asking for you to take a moment to support your fellow vaper.
This is @blueeyedgoon83’s four and a half year old nephew, Nathan and he’s fighting Cerebral Palsy. In a few months Nathan and his family will need to move from their home in North Carolina to St. Louis so he can undergo Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy surgery followed by intensive physical therapy to combat his tight muscles.
We want to show Nathan and his family that they are loved & supported during this extremely difficult time in their lives. We also want to support our fellow #VAPEFAM and community member @blueeyedgoon83 and show him that family means something here in the vape community.
There are a lot of people outside our community who are skeptical of the vape community and what we stand for – let’s show them that we’re more than just businesses and individuals who vape, but we’re mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles – let’s use this as an opportunity to make a difference!

 

How you can help:
Let’s give Nathan and @blueeyedgoon83 as much support as we can!

 

CASAA Call to Action: Massachusetts

CASAA Call to Action: Massachusetts

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While yesterday may have felt like a huge win for the vape community as SB140 was shot down in California, there are many states still fighting harsh legislation and we have a lot of work ahead of us.

 

Massachusetts Hearing: July 14th, 2015

According to the CASAA website, there are several bills scheduled to be heard in the Joint Committee on Public Health in Massachusetts on Tuesday, July 14th at 1:00 PM. These proposed regulations range from obvious (prohibiting sales to minors), to predictable (public vaping ban), to dangerous (requiring burdensome testing by manufacturers that would result in all or most e-liquids being banned from sale in MA, raising the age to purchase ALL “tobacco products” to 21 — even low-risk, smoke-free products like snus and e-cigarettes).

While there are a number of bills that CASAA opposes, there are a few that they consider to be thoughtful and appropriate. Below is a summary of each bill with links for further reading of both the opposed bills and those they are in favor of.

 

Let’s keep the momentum from CA’s win going and come together to help Massachusetts out! Please take time to call and write the Massachusetts lawmakers. 

 

Opposed: 

HB 1954 (Same as SB 1137):

  • Redefines “tobacco products” to include “electronic cigarettes” and other vapor products
  • Prohibits the sale of “tobacco products” in any retail establishment that “operates or has a health care institution within it, such as a pharmacy, optician/optometrist, or drug store…”
HB 2050 (Same as SB 1119):
  • Redefines “tobacco products” to include “electronic cigarettes” and other vapor products
  • Prohibits the use of “tobacco products” in schools
  • Prohibits the sale of “tobacco products” to any person under the age of 18
  • Redefines “smoking” or “smoke” to include the use of “electronic cigarettes” and other vapor products.
  • Prohibits vaping in public places where smoking is currently banned.
  • Would require manufacturers to file annual reports with the MA Department of Health which identify the “concentration of any toxins contained in the vapor produced by an e-cigarette when used…”
  • Provides an outrageous fine — $10,000 per day — for understating the concentrations of toxins within a range to be determined by the DOH.
  • Directs the Department of Public Health to develop regulations “for restricting the marketing, labeling, and restricting youth access to so-called ‘Other Tobacco Products’.”
  • Redefines “tobacco product” to include “electronic cigarettes” and other vapor products.
  • Prohibits the sale of “tobacco products” to anyone under the age of 21.
  • Would require “tobacco retailers” to conspicuously post a sign directing customers to the Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation & Prevention Program and The Smokers Helpline.

In Favor:

  • HB 1943 would direct the Department of Public Health to conduct a study on the use of Tobacco Harm Reduction as a means to reducing smoking rates. While the Bill as currently written is seriously problematic, CASAA is attempting to engage with the sponsor to help it meet its positive goals.
  • HB 1951 would prohibit local Boards of Health from banning the sale of legal “tobacco products.” (You may remember an incident from 2014 when Westminster, MA attempted to implement a ban on all tobacco sales.)
  • HB 3466 would prohibit sales of vapor products to anyone under the age of 18 and manages to do so without confusing vapor products with combustible cigarettes.

Info from: CASAA Blog

 

California SB140 Fails, Vapers Celebrate Small Victory, Sen Leno Cries

California SB140 Fails, Vapers Celebrate Small Victory, Sen Leno Cries

I'm vaping extra hard today just for you, Mark

NEWS   |   JULY 9, 2015

SB 140 was a bill put forth by Senator Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, that sought, among other things, to reclassify electronic cigarettes as “tobacco products”. While there was no controversy over prohibitions on selling to minors, reasonable licensure requirements, and child-resistant packaging for e-liquids, putting e-cigarettes in the same classification as combustible tobacco was something the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee would not accept, and that caused Leno to withdraw his bill and essentially throw a tantrum.

You can watch the whole discussion here (be prepared to yell obscenities at your screen).

It was frustrating at first to see the misinformation passed along by prominent politicians and doctors, but I suppose I’m pretty used to it at this point. There was a lot of this logic: “cigarettes kill hundreds of thousands of people every year, therefore e-cigarettes are bad” (WTF?). Horribly flawed studies were cherry-picked, the uptick in teen vaping was hammered home without mention of the drop in teen smoking, Leno frequently conflated Big Tobacco with the vaping industry, and the word “toxic” was thrown around as though everything isn’t toxic given a high enough dosage. The line of small business owners and employees, former smokers, combat veterans, and cancer survivors stepping up to the mic to air their grievances with SB140 was a real tearjerker though. This takes up the majority of the time in the video.

Despite all the deception from Leno and his comrades, the committee kept its head screwed on straight and refused to classify e-cigarettes as tobacco products. When it became evident that this wasn’t going to change, Senator Leno no longer had any interest in passing the amended bill which contained all the provisions necessary to protect children, making it pretty evident that he didn’t actually give two shits about whether or not children were vaping or being accidentally poisoned due to a lack of childproof caps. Surprise.

Classifying e-cigarettes as tobacco products (which would have included products containing no nicotine!) would make it very easy to pass further restrictions and taxes on them in the future without having to mention them specifically, making it harder for current vapers to continue using them instead of cigarettes and making it harder for smokers to get accurate information and access to a device that may help them kick a very dangerous habit. Another issue in the bill would have required you to show ID and sign for any vape mail you received, which would add $6 to all of your online orders, but it’s dead in the water, so you need not worry for now. Presumably, this was their last chance to pass a law regarding e-cigarettes before the FDA finally drops the whatever it is the FDA is finally going to drop.

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Written by: Shawn C. Avery | Repost from Dripclub

Editor-in-Chief at the Daily Drip and vaping enthusiast with a B.S. in physics and a couple of adorable cats. Follow me on Twitter.