Does Vaping Make You Grumpy?
In previous blogs I have dealt with how vaping makes you feel bad, induces vulgarity, and is an activity from which you will get no satisfaction. Now I have to add another downside to this abnormal and potentially harmful behaviour: it can result in vapers being grumpy, as I shall explain.
Do you know what INNCO means? It’s an abbreviation, I recently discovered, for International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organisations. In November 2021 they published a document attacking Bloomberg and WHO over what they call a ‘misinfodemic’ about vaping.
INNCO’s LinkedIn entry says they’re a non-profit organization with 11–50 employees, and elaborates:
INNCO supports the rights and well-being of 112 million [although in the misinfodemic document this number has declined to 98 million] adults worldwide who use safer nicotine alternatives to avoid toxic forms of tobacco. We are ex-smokers, and we demand that our lived-experience should not be ignored…We promote health and saving lives [and] harm reduction.
To put it simply, they promote e-cigarettes as a claimed less dangerous form of nicotine use compared with smoking. But then they say: ‘Harm reduction focuses on minimizing negative consequences [of smoking] and promoting optimal health.’ Minimizing the negative consequences of smoking, however, is not the same thing as promoting optimal health, or even ordinary health.
The misinfodemic Foreword is by one Charles A. Gardner, INNCO’s Executive Director. A photo shows him with arms folded and a confident, almost defiant, look on his face. He declares: ‘There is overwhelming clinical evidence that vaping is by far and away the best way to quit smoking’, quoting a Cochrane Review.
This is grossly exaggerated. If we go to the Review, what we find is this (emphasis added):
More people probably stop smoking for at least six months using nicotine e-cigarettes than using nicotine replacement therapy.
Nicotine e-cigarettes may help more people to stop smoking than no support or behavioural support only.
For every 100 people using nicotine e-cigarettes to stop smoking, 9 to 14 might successfully stop, compared with only 6 of 100 people using nicotine-replacement therapy, 7 of 100 using nicotine-free e-cigarettes, or 4 of 100 people having no support or behavioural support only.
Nicotine e-cigarettes probably do help people to stop smoking for at least six months. They probably work better than nicotine replacement therapy and nicotine-free e-cigarettes…we need more evidence to be confident about the effects of e-cigarettes.
In other words, of 100 people using e-cigarettes to stop smoking, 86 to 91 will fail – hardly overwhelming evidence of their effectiveness.
Mr Gardner then launces an ad hominem attack:
The WHO and its financial supporter Bloomberg Philanthropies, the philanthropic organisation of businessman and former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg, seem determined to obstruct the availability of new nicotine alternatives to deadly cigarettes, feeding misinformation on such products and potentially discouraging conventional cigarette users, and users of other toxic forms of tobacco, from making the switch to considerably less harmful alternatives.
The charge of misinformation, however, might fairly be laid at INNCO’s door since they say:
What’s happening is ‘product substitution’, similar to electric cars replacing combustion engine cars. Similar to digital cameras replacing film.
This is misleading. Electric cars and digital cameras are welcome and important technological developments in normal human activities – travelling by car and taking photos – whereas smoking is harmful to health and environmentally damaging. It’s drug (nicotine) addiction. We don’t need product substitution for smoking; we need product abolition.
On the INNCO website they mention ‘nicotine’s many cognitive and health benefits’. And what might these be? I wrote to Mr Gardner and asked him. He sent a link, ‘Safer Nicotine Wiki’, which contains a list of references to experimental and preliminary studies in the use of nicotine in Alzheimer’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease, autism, etc. None of these amount to proof that nicotine has any health benefits and the fact remains that at present nicotine is not recognised for the prevention or treatment of any disease.
Not rocket science
I then engaged in a brief email correspondence with Mr Gardner. He is an ex-smoker who now uses e-cigarettes and claims to have coached dozens of people to quit nicotine vaping, although he was unable to tell me how long it took, on average, for them to become nicotine-free. Not to worry – this is his method:
Quitting nicotine vaping is not rocket science. Use an open system vape. Slowly taper down nicotine over time. Get to zero. Quit.
As the Irishman said, ‘If only I’d known dat!’
Every ten minutes
Mr Gardner admits that he vapes ‘on average throughout the day, about once every ten minutes for most of my waking hours, so approximately 100 times per day.’ And what does this do for him?
What I get from vaping is…a mild increase in focus, attention and memory similar to caffeine [and] mild reduction in stress/anxiety.
Difficulty with focus, attention and memory (that is, feeling distracted) as well as mild stress or anxiety are classical nicotine withdrawal symptoms. In other words, his distractedness and anxiety are caused through putting nicotine into his body by vaping, and these feelings are relieved by further doses. While it may be true that nicotine has a mild alerting effect similar to drinking coffee, why does Mr Gardner need to do this every ten minutes? I suggested that if he could stop vaping he wouldn’t feel so distracted and anxious in the first place.
Of course, he wasn’t having any of it and, misspelling my name, grumpily told me: ‘I’m done with this conversation, Gabrial!’
The happy state of being nicotine-free
As I have said before, recommending e-cigarettes as a less dangerous alternative to smoking is a gesture of despair and almost an insult to smokers: it implies ‘once a nicotine addict, always a nicotine addict.’
E-cigarettes are unnecessary in order to stop smoking because becoming nicotine-free is not nearly as difficult as many people believe. I explain how to return to this happy state (assuming other things are equal) in my books and with my one-to-one sessions.
If smokers use e-cigarettes as a ‘harm reduction’ strategy, they are likely facing long-term nicotine addiction, taking a hundred (or more) sucks on their vaping device every day.
This situation is nicely illustrated in the photo at the front of the misinfodemic document: it’s another view of the picture at the top of this post showing an older man vaping. I suspect the model is a former or current smoker. His thin anxious lined face and the tight grasp of an e-cigarette from which he sucks a nicotine-laced aerosol into his lungs are typical of what smoking and vaping do to you.
Why should you have to go through the rest of your life like this?
Text © Gabriel Symonds