Many smokers are swapping their lighters and packs of smokes for vaporizers and vials of e-liquids, which sparks the argument of whether or not electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, can help to quit smoking entirely.
I sparked my first cigarette at the rebellious age of 14. I'm currently 22. I'm well aware of the risks involved with smoking. As a smoker who has tried to quit on numerous occasions, I made the swap when I first heard about e-cigarettes. It worked for a while, but there was always something about e-cigarettes that failed to deliver the same satisfaction of a traditional cigarette. "Vaping" did not entirely feel like smoking.
Since then, I've swapped back and forth between e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes several times.
I'm not alone in my struggle of swapping back and forth between cigarettes and e-cigarettes. According to a study conducted by the University of California San Francisco, e-cigarette use can actually lower the odds of quitting cigarettes because some users continue to occasionally smoke traditional cigarettes in addition to vaping e-cigarettes.
I've also witnessed this back and forth swap among some of my friends and family, who gave up traditional cigarettes for e-cigarettes, but eventually went back to their old habits.
So why do some smokers constantly swap between the two? I can't speak for all smokers who have tried to switch, but maybe I can shed light on the subject by explaining my own struggle.
The longest I've gone without smoking a cigarette was about six months. In addition to making some lifestyle changes, such as exercising regularly and staying inside when my smoker friends step out to smoke, I used e-cigarettes to help me quit. The e-liquids used in e-cigarettes come in varying nicotine levels.
When I first started the process, the e-liquids I used contained six to 10 milligrams of nicotine, which is equivalent to the nicotine content of a "light" cigarette.
Over time, I switched to lower levels of nicotine, and eventually I was vaping e-liquids without nicotine. I weaned myself off of the nicotine, but I was still addicted to the habits associated with smoking. I used my e-cigarette with my morning coffee, after meals and on car rides. Eventually, I knew I had to quit using my e-cigarette as well, and I did.
At the time, I was working a downright miserable job that made me very unhappy. In addition to that, my grandmother passed away in March 2014. The grief I felt with my grandmother's passing in addition to working a miserable job caused me to fall into a very deep depression. As a result, I fell back into the cycle between smoking and vaping.
One cannot quit a habit by simply replacing it with another, especially if the replacement habit is similar to the old one.
I'm not saying that e-cigarettes can't be used as a tool to stop smoking, but here's the catch: if someone is to use e-cigarettes to help them quit smoking, they will eventually have to quit e-cigarettes as well.
Usually, outside factors play a role in substance addiction, therefore, quitting a habit that is part of one's daily routine requires more than just a temporary solution, but significant lifestyle changes, sheer determination and willpower.
Eric Gutierrez is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow him on Twitter at @atticus_adrift or email him at EricG@CentralFloridaFuture.com.