The “Clouds of Doubt”: E-Cigarettes and Smoking

by Dr Antonio Howell, MD

in quit smoking

The 3 Week Diet

How do you define smoking? Is it the act of inhaling nicotine? Is it the act of exhaling smoke or smoke-like vapor, or the attachment you have as a smoker? Or is it the combination of these all? Who will decide, and then what’s next?


Girl Holding Traditional And Electronic CigaretteThe “Clouds of Doubt”

The research on the benefits of e-cigarettes as alternative to smoking is still limited as to this date. It continues to evolve as new facts are revealed. The long term use of these products has yet to be studied. The safety is still somewhat speculative and it lacks the quality control precautions. This can lead to a conclusion that most, if not all, of its marketing claims may not be true.

Vaping, depending on how you define smoking, may not be the same as smoking. Using e-cigarettes is behaviorally indistinguishable to smoking, only that it does not use tobacco and does not produce smoke. Manufacturers of e-cigarettes even claimed that the use of these products is a safer alternative to smoking – a safe way to smoke. States, cities, insurance companies, and employers consider it as smoking, as you will be positive for nicotine. On another view, however, smokers who switch to e-cigarettes often consider themselves to have quit smoking.


Some restaurants, bars, and private establishments would allow vaping only in designated areas. Others are more liberal and allow the use of e-cigarettes in areas where smoking is prohibited. There are states that are now passing legislation limiting the sale of e-cigarettes. But manufacturers promote a “restriction-free” marketing base on the claims that may not be true. Nicotine-free e-cigarettes may not actually be “free” from nicotine, but if they really are, only adds further questions.

For quit-smoking advocates’ point of view, for someone to successfully quit, it involves changing the smoker’s habits, behaviors, and emotional attachments to smoking. Getting rid of nicotine is an important part of the quitting process. Majority of e-cigarettes contain nicotine. All of the approved FDA quit support options are specially designed to help smokers quit smoking while doing away with their old habit associated with smoking. Using e-cigarettes does not offer new behaviors or coping mechanisms to give room for new habits.

Some smokers might be able to quit smoking with the help of e-cigarettes as it is viewed to be safer than the traditional cigarettes, however, it cannot be said the vaping is healthy or safe. There is no solid proof or founded statistics that will establish the actual success rate of the product. There is even a greater possibility of a relapse because of the close resemblance of the behavioral and physical attachment to smoking.


Established research suggests that the use of NRT or Chantix increases your chance of quitting smoking. If you’re already an e-cigarette user, it is best to work your way out into becoming completely cigarette- and nicotine-free. Quitting smoking is among the best gifts that you can give to yourself. There is no such thing as safe smoking. The wisest choice is to stop using any form of cigarettes.


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