Quit Vaping and Reboot Your Mind!

I have just read a book called Allen Carr Easy Way To Quit Vaping. But taking a second glance at the cover one can discern in small print the words ‘with John Dicey’. Did they both write the book? Obviously not, since it was published in 2021 and Allen Carr died in 2006 (ironically, from lung cancer). The explanation for this curious situation is given in the Introduction: ‘There is not a word in our books which Allen didn’t write or wouldn’t have written if he was still with us.’

That’s rather an assumption, especially as it is repetitively stated that ‘[I] have merely updated and amended the format to bring it up to date.’ If Allen Carr were still alive I doubt he would use the exclamation ‘Yippee!’ which occurs five times – nobody says that anymore.

Repetitive writing

The irritatingly repetitive style of writing is evident from the first page (‘It’s important that you don’t skip this important Introduction’) and redundant adjectives are found throughout. A few examples:

worked very closely, phenomenal success, genuine sacrifice, bandied about so often, completely illogical, entirely fictional, completely convinced, so all-consuming, vaping does nothing for you whatsoever, etc.

On page 16 we have ‘the most up-to-date, cutting edge version of Allen Carr’s method,’ and on page 22, ‘the most up-to-date, cutting edge, best-practice version of Allen Carr’s method.’

Easy Way to Quit Vaping is a re-hash of Carr’s original book on smoking so it’s a stretch to describe it as up-to-date, let alone the most up-to-date, cutting edge, etc., version of Carr’s method.

Although vaping au fond is merely a different way of putting nicotine into your body, it’s disappointing that there’s no discussion on the claimed benefits of vaping or why many people use it as an alternative to smoking. On this, Dicey even makes a point of saying, ‘We’re also not interested in the debate about whether e-cigarettes are safer than smoking or not. Who cares about that?’, though whether this important aspect is dismissed from laziness or ignorance is unclear.

The Easy Way pop-psychology approach has been turned into a cottage industry, with something like fourteen books on smoking, six on drinking, two on sugar addiction, four on how to lose weight, etc. This is hardly surprising, because, as Dicey modestly reminds us, ‘Allen Carr’s Easyway…is THE master. Of all addictions.’ (sic)

Critiques I wrote on the sixth edition of the Easy Way to Stop Smoking, which is identical to the fourth edition even to the pagination, and on Easy Way to Control Alcohol can be found here and here, respectively.

Perhaps there is a book in the pipeline called Easy Way to Abolish Unhappiness.

Monsters

Allen Carr, though lacking medical and biological knowledge (he was an accountant) grasped intuitively the key to stopping smoking easily: that smokers smoke to relieve the discomfort of nicotine withdrawal symptoms, but unsurprisingly he used simplistic explanations: ‘a little nicotine monster inside your body; the Big Monster in your mind.’

Unfortunately, Dicey doesn’t seem to know much about vaping. For example, there is a chapter on ‘The Advantages of Vaping’ which consists of a blank page taken straight out of Carr’s book on smoking where it’s called ‘The Advantages of Being a Smoker’. Very funny, except that there is on good authority (e.g. Public Health England) the idea that the main advantage of vaping over smoking is that there is no carbon monoxide and much less tar, but this is not discussed. Then there is the advice not to use substitutes for vaping, disregarding the fact that most vapers start this practice as a substitute for smoking. What could one substitute for vaping other than going back to smoking? It’s unlikely vapers would want to use nicotine gum or patches, because they’ve probably already tried these in an effort to stop smoking.

Reboot your mind

The book is a 272 page rant against what Dicey calls the nicotine industry and he also rails against the pharmaceutical industry. It’s largely based on Carr’s book about how to stop smoking. The approach seems to be to persuade vapers they ought to stop vaping and is put like this: ‘Let logic and reason (what’s the difference?) undo the brainwashing.’ Unfortunately, logic and reason make very little impression on addicts—otherwise there wouldn’t be any addicts.

The dense text is interspersed with phrases in bold italicised capitals, such as on page 131 where we find the essence of what the author is trying to say:

WE ARE GOING TO DELIVER THE FINAL BLOWS
TO THE BIG MONSTER. FREE YOUR MIND FROM ANY
LINGERING BELIEF THAT VAPING PROVIDES YOU WITH
ANY KIND OF PLEASURE OR CRUTCH AND SNUFF OUT
YOUR DESIRE FOR NICOTINE ONCE AND FOR ALL.

So that’s how it’s done! It seems he’s trying to replace one kind of brainwashing with another. This is born out by a similarly emphasised assertion on page 165:

ALLEN CARR’S EASYWAY REWIRES YOUR BRAIN

which is repeated on page 247 in slightly different words:

Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Quit Vaping effectively rewires your brain to disrupt those dysfunctional thought processes. It reboots your mind back to its natural state…

Illicit drugs

One troubling aspect of this book is that although Dicey says ‘we don’t endorse or recommend the use of any illicit drug,’ he then proceeds, repetitively, to give tacit license to do this very thing by saying ‘as long as the smoker avoids mixing their drug with nicotine they’re perfectly able to carry on using it as long as they don’t vape it (sic),’ and ‘Those who want to quit nicotine but don’t want to quit weed are recommended to use a pipe or bowl or to hot-knife it – in other words, have it neat…’

If Dicey doesn’t endorse or recommend the use of any illicit drug, he shouldn’t give advice about how to use weed.

Scientific knowledge

A show of his scientific knowledge appears, evidently sourced from Wikipedia and the like, such as with this claim:

In the brain dopamine functions as a neurotransmitter – a chemical released by neurons (nerve cells) to send signals to other nerve cells. The reward pathways play a major role in the motivational component of reward-motivated, or reinforced behaviour.

Dopamine doesn’t function as a neurotransmitter: it is a neurotransmitter. And I’m not sure what to make of the circular statement that ‘The reward pathways play a major role in the motivational component of reward-motivated…behaviour.’

Then Robert West, the self-styled ‘World expert on smoking and addiction’ gets wheeled out and is quoted as saying:

The dopamine release tells the brain to pay attention to the situation and what the smoker was just doing – and do the same thing next time they’re in that same situation.

Again, I’m not quite clear what to make of this dumbed down statement or how it is supposed to help one escape nicotine addiction.

Non-nicotine addict

As for how to stop vaping, it’s not before page 75 until we find the good news, ‘So let’s get started.’ And if we plod on all the way to page 193 we’re condescendingly told, ‘Congratulations on getting to this point,’ but it’s not until we’re almost at the end of the book, on page 264, where we find, somewhat disconcertingly:

NINTH INSRUCTION: I WOULD NOW LIKE YOU TO
HAVE YOUR FINAL DOSE OF NICOTINE PLEASE

The last chapter begins with meaningless praise and a presumption addressed to the reader:

Congratulations! You are now a happy non-nicotine addict! (sic)

Perhaps Dicey meant to say: You are now nicotine free.

Text © Gabriel Symonds

Gabriel Symonds

Dr Gabriel Symonds is a British doctor living in Japan who is interested in helping smokers quit. He has developed a unique simple method without nicotine, drugs, hypnosis or gimmicks that he has used successfully with hundreds of smokers. Further information can be found at www.nicotinemonkey.com

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