We get it. The idea is that e-cigs can help us quit cigarettes. The vapor doesn’t hang in the air and cling to surfaces—it’s so clean that we can even smoke them inside our homes and cars without leaving a trace. They can be stowed in a pocket or purse, no lighter necessary. They don’t make our fingers and teeth stained, our hair and clothes a wreck. They are honestly genius.
However, more often than not, they actually contain more nicotine than cigarettes do. One pod, or one pen, can last as long as several packs of cigarettes. The high nicotine content makes them even more addictive, and coupled with the ease of smoking them (in bed, on the couch, while at our desk) means we are hitting them way more than if we were to take a few cigarette breaks a day. Some even say they only like a social smoke, so they bought an e-cig, and now they smoke more regularly. Yikes.
Of course, there are some healthier vapes or e-cig options on the market. The number one ingredient that causes the dangerous bronchiolitis obliterans, aka popcorn lung, is a compound called diacetyl. This compound is usually used for flavoring, making tasty options like mango, strawberry sorbet, mint, and an assortment of other candy flavors that sadly appeal to us all, especially kids.
There are vape pens that don’t have this ingredient. There are vape devices that don’t even have nicotine, which could be a great option to help wean oneself off of vaping in general, since oral fixation is a major part of it.
We spoke with addiction and wellness specialist Erica Spiegelman to go over some ways to start cutting back on vaping, and eventually cutting it out entirely, for those who may have gotten a little more addicted than they planned for. Here are her tips.
Cut down the amount of nicotine you use
“Smoking cessation therapy can help to wean down the levels of nicotine that the individual has been using, or you can wean down yourself,” Spiegelman says. However, it’s also important to look at the percentage of nicotine on the label of each vape, e-cig, or pod you purchase. We can select lower and lower percentages until we feel comfortable with an option that has little to no nicotine as the last phase in our quitting journey.
Set a date and time to stop
This is a tactic Spiegelman utilizes in addiction therapy of all kinds. “Set this goal, tell someone so there is accountability and that way you can cut down the amount of nicotine or times you vape a day.”
Put it in your G-cal. Give yourself a reward on that date, and maybe set yourself up with another award later down the road when you’ve stuck with that date and can celebrate your success. Maybe a new pair of shoes on the start date, a dress a month later, and a fun trip three to six months down the road. Willpower takes a lot of mental energy. You deserve it.
Go cold turkey
We know we know, this is everyone’s least favorite option. But Spiegelman encourages, “It may be rough at first, but in the long run you will address the issue head-on.” This will protect your lungs and skin from further damage and oxidative stress than if you take a lengthier route, and while the withdrawal period might be more intense, it will be shorter-lived. Over and onward.
Up your self-care habits
Fill that time you spent vaping with other stress-reducing activities, Spiegelman says. “If you vape after work go for a walk, keep yourself occupied and held accountable. Ask a friend for help the week you decide to quit.”
Add more mellow movement, like Pilates or yoga into your routine. Have nuts or goji berries on hand for a snack when you want to hit that vape. Try sunflower seeds or pistachios for that oral fixation. Chew on a toothpick like the Fonz. Try stress-reducing herbs like ashwagandha, rhodiola, and reishi during this time to keep the nicotine withdrawal anxiety in check. Sip tea, and stay hydrated.
The pattern here is prioritizing wellness, keeping ourselves accountable, and not being afraid to ask friends for help.