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Are e-cigarettes a safe way to kick the habit?

AUG 07, 2014
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Can You Vape Your Way to Smoke-Free Living?

Shocked to see everyone from celebrities to news show pundits lighting up on the air recently? Not too long ago, it seemed that cigarettes had been banished from the tube entirely.

But these slender cylinders are now popping up in public all over the place—with a twist. Today’s form of “more acceptable” smoking involves e-cigarettes.

How is it possible to “smoke” without smoking, anyway?

An e-cigarette is an electronic inhaler that is used as an alternative to traditional tobacco cigarettes. It is a multi-part device with a battery, a cartridge full of liquid, and an atomizer to turn the liquid into vapor. The vapor can be inhaled into the mouth or lungs, just like regular smoke. It may contain nicotine, and it might feature a flavor additive to make the flavor more appealing. Since there’s no smoke involved, people who use e-cigs aren’t technically smoking. They’re “vaping.”

Is vaping the key to quitting?

While sucking on an e-cig might satisfy the urge to have something between your fingers or your lips, it isn’t necessarily the smart solution for smoking cessation. Currently, the FDA has not approved e-cigarettes for this purpose.

According to Albert Ray, MD, physician director for patient education and health promotion for Kaiser Permanente Southern California, there are still too many unanswered questions. “One of the things that concern us about e-cigarettes is that you don’t know exactly how much nicotine you’re getting.”

In contrast, other forms of nicotine replacement therapy deliver a precise, regulated dose into the bloodstream at a slow rate. Patients can know exactly how much nicotine they are consuming and taper off gradually.

Go smokeless for real

Instead of waiting for additional research on e-cigs to come out, take matters into your own lungs by choosing an approved method to quit smoking. Here are four safe and proven ways to stop smoking:

  • Use FDA-approved treatments such as nicotine skin patches and chewing gum to step down your dependence over time.
  • Try an online or in-person smoking cessation program or class for professional and peer support.
  • Contact a Kaiser Permanente wellness coach at 1-866-862-4295 for telephone coaching to help you loosen your grip on tobacco (no charge for Kaiser Permanente members).
  • Discuss nicotine replacement therapy and other treatment options with your healthcare provider.

You don’t have to vape it until you make it. These methods can help you kick that carton to the curb without picking up a new inhalation habit.

TOPICSInterviewResearchSafety