These two terms, smoking cessation and tobacco replacement seem very similar but in fact are two very different things. And how they are defined is at the center of the electronic cigarette controversy. Let’s start with the Wikipedia definition for smoking cessation:
Smoking cessation (colloquially quitting smoking) is the process of discontinuing the practice of inhaling a smoked substance.
So when we talk about smoking cessation we are talking about quitting smoking. Why this becomes such a complex and in the case of ecigs, controversial subject is that the addiction to smoking cigarettes is much more than just an addiction to nicotine. In fact many studies support the fact that there are two distinct types of cigarette addicts and that the addictions are controlled largely by a genetic component in the brain. A person can be addicted to nicotine without being addicted to cigarettes and conversely a person can be addicted to cigarettes without being PRIMARILY addicted to nicotine. In other words, they are more addicted to the hand to mouth, the self soothing action of smoking a cigarette than they are to nicotine. And THIS is why patches, gum, lozenges etc do not work for these people. Yes those products will stop the physical symptoms of nicotine withdrawals. But they do nothing to address the addiction to the action of smoking itself. I would imagine that a similar phenomenon takes place with people who chew tobacco. They can be just as if not more addicted to the triggers, the physical actions of using the tobacco as they are to nicotine. Part of most smoking cessation programs is something called NRT or nicotine replacement therapy. This refers to the patches, gum, lozenges etc.
So what then is a tobacco replacement if it is not smoking cessation. Tobacco replacement is just that. Replacing the tobacco with something else but continuing to engage in the behavior of smoking. This can be achieved by replacing the tobacco with another (legal) herbal substance and many people feel this is a viable and safer alternative to tobacco. They believe that the replacement herbs may even have beneficial health giving properties to them and realistically this is something humans have practiced for many thousands of years. (please note I am NOT talking about recreational drug use). I personally have actually tried this method and found that it actually made me want to smoke more. I also have my doubts as to how inhaling the smoke from anything at all can be beneficial. But vapor is a completely different story. The difference between vapor and smoke is the temperature at which the change occurs. Smoke is a result of combustion, burning, and requires much higher temperatures than vaporization does. The chemical changes that take place during combustion also tend to be much more drastic and harmful.
So now we come to electronic cigarettes. What IS the SmokeStik? It is tobacco replacement. It is not smoking cessation. Because even if you use a non-nicotine SmokeStik you are still engaging in the act of simulated smoking. You are replacing one addiction with another. But is this a bad thing? Myself and the ecig industry say no, it is not. It is what we call “harm reduction”. You are eliminating the known, factual harm done by cigarettes while continuing to enjoy the soothing pleasure you recognize from the act of smoking. Are ecigs harmless? Honestly we don’t know enough yet to make that claim. But none of the studies that have been done to date have proven any harm and in fact there are finally studies now released that show increased benefits from replacing cigarette tobacco with an electronic cigarette. And there are many main stream studies now showing possible benefits and drug usages for nicotine by itself. This is an emerging science and I am not implying you can cure any disease with an ecig. Only that there is promise of nicotine in the pure form, at carefully titrated doses proving beneficial to certain disease states. And we do know that nicotine is not the “bad guy” it has been made out to be. Is it addictive? Oh yes…extremely. I would never tell a non-smoker to start using an ecig. That is just silly. And I think it’s silly that our government together with certain anti-tobacco groups uses this as a reason to try and ban our product.
So keep an eye on your local elections and be sure to VOTE! Here is a resource you can use to find out what is currently happening in your state to try to take away your freedom to vape: