According to Cancer Research UK, smoking is the largest cause of cancer in Britain. Looking for viable, healthier alternatives to cigarettes is a constant subject of discussion and research.
Over recent months, vaping has been on the receiving end of a lot of negative press, and therefore many have been rather dismissive of the potential benefits of the smoke-alternative, even on heavy smokers.
Research carried out by the University of East Anglia’s Medical School, however, has suggested these attitudes towards e-cigarettes are perhaps too pessimistic. These findings, published by the journal Drug and Alcohol Review, imply that vaping not only encourages smoking cessation, but also long-term relapse prevention.
The major challenge a smoker wanting to quit faces is continuing the smoke-free lifestyle after relapsing. The research by UEA concludes that vaping is a positive and pragmatic approach to living life smoke-free.
E-cigarettes offer a replacement for not only the psychological side of smoking, but also the physical and social aspects. Social situations are one of the main reasons a smoker might relapse.
Relapsing is extremely common, happening to one in two smokers according to UEA. The defining factor of vapers that sets them out from the rest is the fact they are not viewing relapsing as failure. This mentality ensures a person avoids a full relapse and is what can ultimately lead to a smoke-free lifestyle.
In the study, the majority of the smokers interviewed stated that they did not have the same mentality towards lapses during their other attempts at quitting.
Before the switch to vaping, Dr Caitlin Notley, Senior Mental Health Lecturer at UEA, said that ‘a brief smoking lapse would almost always lead to a full relapse’. Whilst some vapers viewed smoking the odd cigarette as acceptable, other vapers described becoming even more determined to abstain. Both situations mean the person does not experience a ‘full relapse’, and is less likely to return to their former smoking habits.
What can be deduced from this research is that the old-style ‘cold-turkey’ approach to quitting smoking needs revisiting. There is a need for effective advice, guidance and support for smokers that are trying to quit. In terms of trying to avoid the threats posed by relapsing: vaping could very much be the way forward.