Four people reveal how using e-cigarettes helped them stop smoking and how they can help others quit.
In an attempt to reduce the smoking rates in England, the NHS is considering making e-cigarettes available on prescription to help tobacco smokers quit and switch to vaping.
Four people speak about their experiences of using e-cigarettes and how they helped them stop smoking.
I was a heavy smoker from the age of 17 until I was 40
I was a heavy smoker from the age of 17 until I was 40. I tried several times to quit and used nicotine replacement aids (chewing gum, inhalator and patches) as well as acupuncture, hypnosis and willpower. I had two young daughters and was very self-conscious of being a smoker and exposing them to it. Yet I continued to smoke.
Nothing worked until I took up vaping eight years ago. I have not smoked a single cigarette since then, going from 30 cigarettes a day to zero immediately. I started vaping with 18mg of nicotine and quickly reduced this to 3mg (the lowest level). I think that the physical act of inhaling vapour has acted as an ideal replacement for smoking and the taste is infinitely better than tobacco.
I am supportive of any initiative which will help people to quit smoking and I believe that vaping is the best way for smokers to achieve this. Mark Jones, 48, works as a student recruitment manager at a university, Penarth
I had tried many times in the past and failed
I first tried e-cigarettes when I lived in America but didn’t use them regularly until 2015. I’m married to a Brit who doesn’t smoke so originally I wanted to stop so I could get around the smell or worrying about using an ashtray or lighter. I didn’t like smoking but it was very difficult for me to quit – I had tried many times in the past and failed. I stopped coughing and having a stuffy nose and slowly, over time, I didn’t need vaping as much either and stopped altogether in 2019. There’s a constant worry of being caught without a cigarette and I knew with an e-cigarette I wouldn’t be caught without it. I think that reduces the anxiety which makes you want to smoke. Chey Cobb, 68, retired, Coventry
There is something for everybody
I started e-cigarettes about six years ago after becoming fed up with the smell, taste, and mess associated with smoking roll-ups. Also the wheezing I was experiencing in bed at night stopping me from getting to sleep. Since using e-cigarettes the craving is a lot less than tobacco.
Although the initial expense is high, I am very glad that I switched. I think the NHS should advise smokers to try e-cigarettes as they are definitely a good alternative to nicotine patches, gum and sprays. They take a little getting used to but the different kinds of tanks, batteries, and pens is vast and there is something for everybody to find the one that suits. And after using e-cigarettes for a while you can slowly wean yourself off nicotine by using lower strength e-liquids until you use none at all. Neil Bradley, 63, unemployed, Lancashire
More research needs to be done
I was a regular smoker until about 10 years ago and stopped “cold turkey” first time when I was 29, but would sometimes start smoking again. Nicotine patches helped but not with the habits and psychological associations that were ingrained from smoking – popping out at work, something to hold, etc.
I finally tried vaping at 35 and really took to it and, after about six months, I decided to quit vaping too. Even on the lowest nicotine content vape liquids, I wasn’t happy with the dependency and any potential long-term health impact. I found it surprisingly easy to stop but was unhappy to find a strong urge to smoke after a few drinks at the pub. I now only vape once or twice a month. Prescribing them could be a good idea but more research needs to be done on the long-term effects of vaping. It should also be seen as a tapering-off measure and not a lifelong substitution of cigarettes, ie moving from one dependency to another. Consideration has to be taken too on the monetisation of this and the implications for the industry it may support or create, as well as the message it sends, particularly to young and vulnerable members of society. Himal, 41, civil servant, London