Examining Why Some Vapers Return To Smoking

A study published 30th November 2022 on the Nicotine & Tobacco Research website examines why some people who have stopped smoking with vaping return to smoking again.

Puzzling isn’t it but the report does have some ideas why this happens.

Study Details
Apparently there are few qualitative studies examining this phenomena so this study looked at a small sample of people to try and understand why.

The study took place in New Zealand and 20 people participated. There were 7 indigenous Maori and 13 non Maori.

In depth interviews took place with the participants and they were chosen as people who smoked tobacco at least weekly and reported using ENDS (Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems) to stop smoking for at least 30 days.

The study examined their experiences of vaping, the triggers which made them return to smoking and analysed what could have helped prevent them returning to tobacco.

Some of the reasons why vapers return to smoking were summarised as…

Some users felt the experience of vaping was not a substitute for the sensation of smoking. An urge to smoke was still a problem, especially when surrounded by smokers, the temptation to join in was high.

Vaping has fewer constraints – i.e. less areas where vaping was not permitted and they found it harder to control the frequency and intake.

Some felt that vaping had a risk of dependency and harm.

Summing up the reasons given for why vapers return to smoking by those who took part it was established that people should be given more “real life” data about swapping vaping for smoking.

Perhaps if these people had been warned that vaping was not a magic wand and still required behavioural adjustments they may have been more prepared.

“Sarah explained how ENDS did not completely eliminate cigarette cravings but instead distracted her and “subdued” cravings:“. . . it didn’t completely get rid of the feeling of wanting to have a cigarette, but it gave enough of a distraction to kind of ignore it. It made it feel probably like 90% go away.””

Those who reported less satisfaction from vaping than smoking cited how vaping health scares, lack of rituals and social connections when smoking were part of the issue.

“Despite mimicking some smoking attributes, many participants found ENDS less authentic and satisfying than smoking; Hugh described ENDS as “a substitute . . . not the real thing” (Hugh), and others felt they were “missing something” (Natalie). Participants’ experiences varied; some found the flavors artificial, others disliked the device mouthpiece, or the aerosol’s mouthfeel, and yet others found the hand-feel less satisfying”

More honest reporting of vaping is needed – less scaremongering and perhaps personal experiences to guide others on transitioning.

We have shared our own tips and experiences.

I think most vapers who have quit the smokes have a few moments of doubt or temptation which is normal. I myself even have the odd roll up – I enjoy the first few drags, then the taste makes me feel sick. But this just reinforces how much I prefer vaping.

Another message which is important for people to know is that even if you do relapse and have a couple of ciggies, you are not a failure. This doesn’t mean you need to quit giving up. It is just normal, a blip, you have still smoked way less tobacco than you would if you hadn’t quit smoking. People need to not beat themselves up for it and continue to carry on quitting smoking.

Behavioural support could also be helpful to get people over the humps of transitioning to vaping.

Please share your stories in the comments to help others know what to expect when swapping smoking for vaping!