Despite countless testimonials by electronic cigarette users, e-cigs are prohibited from being categorized as smoking cessation devices. Electronic cigarette companies would love the opportunity to educate smokers on the efficacy of these products for smoking reduction and cessation, but sadly, the FDA won’t allow it.
According to anti-smoking groups and the FDA, if electronic cigarettes were marketed as smoking cessation products (as they should) they would be taken off the market completely. This is because smoking cessation claims are treated as drug claims under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
Currently, FDA approved smoking cessation aids do exist. Pharmaceuticals (such as Chantix), Nicoderm, and Nicorette are the dominating players in the field. The side-effects of Chantix include depression, suicidal ideation, and suicide. Other nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) have notoriously low effectiveness rates. Smokers are merely asking for a safe, effective way to quit smoking.
Electronic cigarettes seem to be the obvious choice for safe and effective nicotine delivery. It’s really unfortunate that millions of smokers can now call themselves ex-smokers with the help of e-cigs, and yet the FDA will not allow electronic cigarette companies to market their products in a truthful, informative way.
Electronic cigarettes are still relatively new products. It is understandable that scientific testing and data collection is a necessity. The journal Addiction Science and Clinical Practice published a study to examine the reasons electronic cigarettes are effective for smoking cessation.
This study was conducted by using qualitative design. The focus groups consisted of nine men and 2 women. Open ended questions were posed as a way to find answers about the use of e-cigs, the differences in effectiveness between NRTs and e-cigs, barriers to quitting, and the reasons for choosing e-cigs over other methods.
Five key themes describe why these users find electronic cigarettes as an effective tool to quit smoking.
- Social Benefits: There exists a strong camaraderie among members of the “vaping” community.
- Bio-Behavioral Feedback: While NRTs deliver nicotine, they do not address the behavioral addictions associated with smoking. Electronic cigarettes effectively mimic the act of smoking.
- Hobby Element: Few smokers refer to their smoking addiction as a hobby. “The participants in this study repeatedly discussed vaping as a hobby.”
- Personal Identity: The use of e-cigs changed the participants’ personal identity from “smoker” to “vaper.”
- Distinction Between Smoking Cessation and Nicotine Cessation: The desire to quit smoking does not always equate with the desire to quit nicotine. While e-cigarettes allowed participants to quit smoking, not all participants wished to quit nicotine. Electronic cigarettes allow users to go “from a dangerous form of nicotine intake in cigarettes to a safer form in e-cigarettes.”
The conclusion of this study states, “These findings suggest tobacco control practitioners must pay increased attention to the importance of the behavioral and social components of smoking addiction. By addressing these components in addition to nicotine dependence, e-cigarettes appear to help some tobacco smokers transition to a less harmful replacement tool, thereby maintaining cigarette abstinence.”
Sounds to me like this research confirms the appropriate categorization of electronic cigarettes as smoking cessation products.