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Closet Fascination

A blog about a journey, smoking, not smoking, vaping and everything in between

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Reduction of Nicotine in Cigarettes: A good idea or Prohibition 2.0?

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-fda-tobacco-regulation-idUSKBN1AD1VW

The FDA wants to reduce nicotine in cigarettes to non-addictive levels. Part of me thinks this is actually a good idea. You might be thinking, “But CF this might be the end of conventional smoking…this is horrible!” And on some levels I feel the same way. But a larger part of me thinks this is exactly the what a lot of people need to switch to a less harmful nicotine delivery device. I think combustion as a way of consuming both tobacco and marijuana are on their way out.

My guess is they are going to treat the tobacco I some way to remove some of the nicotine. If it something that regulates it through the filter, people will start cutting the filters off. Basically the nicotine levels will be so low that they won’t satisfy existing smoker and will be so anti-climatic to new smokers they won’t continue. Current smokers that want to continue using nicotine will switch to vaping. Or at least that is the hope. Part of me is like, “Of course that is what would happen…” But is it? I mean many people that are still smoking now, have tried vaping and have decided to continue to smoke, for whatever reason.

What if reducing the nicotine levels in cigarettes has the unintended consequence of opening up a black market in unaltered high-nicotine cigarettes? Sounds like Prohibition 2.0.

Wouldn’t it be better to promote the shit out of vaping if that is what the government wants people to switch to? Release a statement like the Public Health England, and continue to research vaping to confirm that it is less harmful than smoking. Put a hold on regulating ‘enticing flavours’ because they are the best hope at getting people to make the switch- fake tobacco flavour was largely disappointing. Honestly, people are worried about their teen trying vaping. News flash: if your teen is going to try vaping, they were probably going to try smoking. Take it from this nerdy, yet curious teen. I was a good kid, I didn’t drink or use drugs until I was over eighteen, but I tried smoking. I probably would have tried vaping. You could make the same argument for not legalizing marijuana. Wouldn’t it be better to talk to teen openly about drugs and why people use them?

Prohibition doesn’t work, and regulating the nicotine in cigarettes likely won’t work in the way they intend. I don’t think it would be a bad idea to stop treating tobacco with additives that make cigarettes more addictive, but this idea to reduce nicotine levels to ‘non-addictive levels’ strikes me as more prohibition and what have we learned from alcohol, marijuana  and opiates? Prohibition doesn’t work and often increases rather decreasing harm to people that choose to use. Let’s learn from our past and stop making the same mistakes with drugs that we have made in the past.

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Interesting… 

Study Finds e-cigarettes Don’t Make Tobacco Use Appealing Again – http://wp.me/p4uyBp-Sa

I’m not a young person, but I think that vaping is a great harm reduction tool that has been demonized unfairly in North America. 

I’m glad they are studying this and finding what those of us who have vaped were saying all along. My own experience: vaping has pretty much killed any enjoyment I used to get out of smoking. I honestly think it is a key as to why my brief lapses with smoking have resulted in a reaction of “meh…”. 

If I were to use nicotine again, I wouldn’t smoke. I’d vape. That said, I really have no desire to use nicotine again. Cigarettes taste gross and I like the cleaner (no CO) buzz of straight nicotine vs smoked tobacco.

So there you have it: seeing people vape doesn’t cause hordes of young people to go off and try it. Some might, but other studies have shown they are the ones that would have been interested in smoking as well. 

Is Nicotine addictive? Short answer: Yes Long Answer: It is complicated

By Alyssa Strong (LoveVapePlus.com) “If policy makers reject the scientific truth about nicotine and make e-cigarettes more scarce, then the likely result is that more Americans will die from smoking.” – Forbes When you think of nicotine, tobacco cigarettes are most likely the first thing that come to mind. This is where the stigma […]

via Vaping: Can You Develop a Nicotine Addiction? —

So I want to comment on this article as nicotine addiction is something that I have first hand experience with. I mostly agree with this article, but I think we should be cautious in understating the addictiveness of nicotine.

Now, for the main factor: nicotine found in traditional cigarettes. “It’s the addictive chemical used in cigarettes to keep a smoker buying!” Well, actually, did you know this is actually not a fact? Due to the fact that nicotine, by itself, has been found to not be addictive, there is no real evidence to show that nicotine is the primary or even the runner-up for addictive chemicals in cigarettes. You can find over 4000 chemicals within a traditional cigarette. It is pretty easy to see that with such a large amount of chemicals being used, there is most likely more than one at fault for the issue behind smoking cigarettes. Whether it is one chemical or the combination of the chemicals together, we do not know at this time. We do know, however, that nicotine solely is not the issue.

We are blaming a very crucial health concern on a stimulant, just like caffeine, that plays no role in the matter. This is due to many issues, but mostly it is from a lack of study and media. You see an ad on television or elsewhere telling you nicotine is addictive and that is generally what you are going to agree with.

I can agree that it is not only nicotine that makes cigarettes addictive. There are in fact studies that show that nicotine on its own isn’t as addictive as the combination of chemicals present in cigarette smoke and that smokers could be dependent not only on the nicotine but on the cocktail of chemicals. This explains why many smokers switch back to cigarettes saying they are not the same.

Is nicotine addictive? I think (and this is anecdotal, an opinion based on my personal experience and what I have read) that nicotine on its own is less addictive than when it is obtained through smoking tobacco. I also think that nicotine dependence has more to do with delivery method and spikes in blood nicotine levels rather than the drug itself. The addiction that can develop with vaping nicotine has as much to do with the drug as it does with forming habits and psychological cues to use. This Forbes article referenced in the above article has a good quote:

Many e-cigarettes deliver less nicotine per puff and generally produce lower blood nicotine levels (and, thus, brain levels) than cigarettes do. However, with access to increasingly sophisticated devices and more experience as a vaper, the user can attain a blood level of nicotine that is comparable to that produced by smoking. Still, it takes longer for vaped nicotine to reach its peak level than for tobacco-burned nicotine.

These two variables – how high the level of nicotine is in the bloodstream and how fast that level is achieved — are important in determining the addictiveness of any abused drug. As expected, Foulds’s team found that subjects who used weak “ciga-likes” (first generation e-cigarettes that physically resemble actual cigarettes) had among the lowest scores on a test of “dependency,” or addiction. Also, the length of time as a vaper was positively correlated with the strength of dependence. As Foulds suggests, “we might actually need e-cigarettes that are better at delivering nicotine because that’s what’s more likely to help people quit.”

So as the devices get better at delivering nicotine, I think we will see higher dependence. I used a sub-ohm tank which is fairly good at delivering nicotine. In fact, per puff, I noticed no real difference in ‘drug hit’ vs a conventional cigarette when using higher nicotine juices such as 9 mg and 12 mg. Granted, most people that sub-ohm vape don’t end up going that high, but I can tell you if you are vaping that regularly you probably will become dependent.

That said, do I think nicotine is the problem? No. It has been shown in countless studies to be fairly safe to use. I think that is what should be focused on. Nicotine, a stimulant like caffeine, is safe use. Nicotine, like caffeine, can also result in dependence. People need to stop worrying about that though and focus on the fact that these devices are being demonized for being ‘less safe’ for reasons outside of the addictiveness of nicotine. I think vaping is the best harm-reduction for people looking to quit smoking but who are maybe unwilling to go nicotine-free. I’d probably still be using nicotine if I had a job that could accommodate my fairly heavy need to vape. Vaping is not allowed indoors where I live. It is treated like smoking. Therefore, I spent most of my work days in nicotine withdrawal, a fog of nervous anxiety that was instantly relieved the moment I got into my car at lunch and at the end of my work day and vaped. I’m glad I quit and for me the negatives outweighed the positives. I continued to vape nicotine free for a bit, but for me, it really isn’t the same.

That said, vaping has ruined cigarette smoking for me. Part of me wants it but when I take a puff, I find it totally disappointing. Do I regret my 9 month stint as a total nicotine fiend? Nope. Not one bit. Do I want to go back? Nope. I actually really enjoy being off nicotine.

150 days…already?

To be honest, I feel like I quit vaping nicotine, recently. 150 days it turns out is 4 months and 28 days so almost 5 months. 5 months is almost half a year. What? Where did the time go?

Thoughts of using again pop into my head periodically, but quickly dissipate. I think I will deal with those types of thoughts for the rest of my life. Or at least as long as I find smoking sexually attractive. I have enough other ways to deal with anxiety that my anxiety no longer triggers cravings for nicotine.

Also- I think this is the longest I’ve gone sans tobacco in a very long time. I guess only time will tell. The hardest social situation smoking wise I will have to face is still 5 months away. The conference I attend every year for work. If my work friend isn’t smoking, it will be easy. We will not smoke/vape together. I likely will bring my vaping gear, load up with nicotine-free juice and vape. Of all things, I think it will make a difference being able to ‘join in’ without actually ‘joining in’.

I have another goal for that conference. I normally get entirely too drunk. Then I spend the next day too hungover and I don’t enjoy the conference speakers. My goal for next year is to not exceed three drinks over the course of each evening. So a total of 6 drinks total… I think is is reasonable, it will just take some planning. My downfall last year was free wine at dinner and buying $10 worth of twonie bar tickets. So no drinks at dinner and I am going to only bring enough money to buy two drinks. Reasoning: you normally win or get drinks from co-workers over the course of the evening. Three drinks is my upper limit recently without feeling shitty the next day. My tolerance has way decreased since I’ve started moderating. Not to mention, I feel better the next day.

Just some random things I’ve been thinking about. Because most days I don’t have cravings anymore. Most days are exactly like before I started using nicotine regularly. But special events have always been when I’ve engaged in smoking and/or excessive drinking and this conference is literally where I started my pattern of more frequent, than everyday smoking. I teach relapse prevention and I teach my students to have a plan to prevent relapse. So I’m working on the plan… it isn’t perfect yet, but I guess I have 5 more months to perfect it. 

Challenge Day 28: Favourite Movie and Quote

Carpe, carpe. Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.

The above quotes is from my favorite movie of all time. The Dead Poet’s Society. I rented this movie on a whim when I was in grade 9 and loved it from the first time I watched it.

I’ve always loved this movie. The message about seizing the day, going after your dream, living life to its fullest has always resonated with me.

I think a large part of it is because I really identify with the character Todd Anderson. I didn’t always know why but today I figured it out. Both Todd and I suffer from anxiety.

I actually have only been putting this together recently. I can’t believe I never connected the dots with this before now, but I think I’ve been anxious my whole life. It certainly explains a lot. It explains my overeating, my compulsive use of nicotine and why I was drawn/liked smoking to begin with. As well as various other coping mechanisms developed along the way.

Like Todd, I suffer from social anxiety. How I cope: normally if the social situation has food, I eat the whole time I am at the event. I think this could be why I feel drained at the end of a drain- less so now that I work with adults and don’t like I have to ‘put on a show’ for them as much. If you were to ask me which vape or smoke I miss the most it would be the one right after work. Probably because I feel totally anxious right as my work day ends. Today, I used deep breathing in the car to calm myself down.

I used to think that I was getting really hungry at the end of the day but it turns out it is anxiety.

My next ongoing challenge: figure out the healthiest ways to deal with my anxiety. Meditation works, so keeping up with that will be key. Exercise works. The smoking/vaping thing didn’t work out so well. Eating isn’t working so hot either. So learning how t change that will be my next challenge.

Meditation:Peaceful Sleep Meditation

 

 

Challenge Day 11: Authenticity, a trait I admire

Today’s prompt: One of the character traits I really value in people I meet is__________. How do you practice this trait in your own life?

One of the character traits I really value in people I meet is authenticity. How do I practice this in my own life?

By being as authentic as possible in my life. But what does that even mean?

According to Wikipedia (I know, great source) authenticity is:

In existentialism, authenticity is the degree to which one is true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character, despite external pressures; the conscious self is seen as coming to terms with being in a material world and with encountering external forces, pressures, and influences which are very different from, and other than, itself.

I try to adhere to this as much as possible. How? By making choices in line with my beliefs. I think this is why I ultimately could never start smoking, needed to quit vaping but also felt terrible hiding my smoking when I was doing it.

That is all I have in me tonight. I feel like this might be a topic I want to explore more deeply some other time.

Meditation: Two minute stress-release meditation

Challenge Day 8: Masks Part 1

Today’s question: What parts of yourself do you regularly hide from others?

I think we are wear masks. We wear masks to keep ourselves from getting hurt, or at least that is why I did and sometimes still do wear masks. I think I also wore masks sometimes to protect me from myself. My masks have changed over the years. Wearing them always felt wrong, like I was hiding who I was.

As a teenager, my mask was first one of being a happy person when the reality was I was depressed. As my friends started to experiment with drugs, smoking and alcohol, my mask was one of superiority when part of me was really desperate to join them. In part, that mask was thanks to my parents instilling in me that I shouldn’t do any of those things.

For my parents the mask was of the dutiful daughter. I still wear this mask. I wonder when I will gather the courage to remove that mask with them, and allow them to see me as the flawed human I really am.

I remember going to see Mulan at the age of 14. At the time, I had few people I could call my friends because I had alienated them all with my holier-than-thou attitude. I remember feeling a bit lame that on a Friday night, I had nothing better to do than to go see a movie with my mom, and at the same time feeling grateful that I have such a good relationship with her. I recall crying when Mulan sings the song Reflection.

Look at me,
I will never pass for a perfect bride, or a perfect daughter.
Can it be,
I’m not meant to play this part
?
Now I see, that if I were truly to be myself,
I would break my family’s heart
.

Who is that girl I see, staring straight back at me?
Why is my reflection someone I don’t know?
Somehow I cannot hide
Who I am, though I’ve tried.
When will my reflection show, who I am, inside
?
How I pray, that a time will come,
I can free myself, from their expectations
On that day, I’ll discover someway to be myself,
and to make my family proud
.
They want a docile lamb,
No-one knows who I am.
Must there be a secret me,
I’m forced to hide
?
Must I pretend that I am someone else for all time?
When will my reflection show, who I am inside?
When will my reflection show, who I am inside?

As I get older, I hide my flaws less and less. I am kinder and gentler to myself, although I still sometimes can be quite self-critical. I think that is why it was so important for me to let go of my tightly held control over my smoking, give in so that I could get to I place where I wanted to not smoke or use nicotine rather than tightly moderating something I really wanted to do. As I get older I hide less and less because I feel more and more comfortable with myself and care less and less about what others think.

More on this tomorrow as today, Thursday and Friday’s questions are all related. So you could say this is part one in a three part series.

Meditation: Guided Visualization for Deep Sleep

Day 25 & 26: Surfing the Urge

Yesterday, I was in a good mood all day. Got a little weepy watching Inside Out with my class, which is a great movie to teach older kids, teens and even adults about emotions. Picked up some wood from the hardware store to build a garden box with my cousin and had him and his wife over for dinner.  After, dinner we had some drinks and my husband and my cousin decided to smoke pipes. Cue giant craving to join them.

My husband was very good in not offering me any. I kept myself busy while they smoked, making the most delicious Bailey’s and Hot chocolate that I’ve ever had for me and my cousins wife. And I vaped which took care of the craving to ‘smoke something’. My cousin asked why I wasn’t joining them and I told him I was 25 days into quitting. I talked to my husband about it after and he said that maybe one day I’ll be able to smoke a pipe again. I agree with him. Pipe smoking is something I’ve always been able to moderate my use with. It is hard to compulsively smoke pipes.

But I’m not ready yet. I don’t think I’ll be ready for at least a year. In fact, I want to give my brain at least that long without any nicotine before I attempt any moderation with smoking tobacco. Perhaps in that time, I’ll find a good pipe tobacco substitute e-juice that doesn’t leave a shitty aftertaste. I’m going through e-juice at a much slower rate now. I think I have enough juice for the next 6 months at least. I mean, I only vape about maximum 3 times a day. My consumption is down from a half or two thirds of a tank per day to a tank lasting more than a week. Good part about that, is that it is cheaper. The bad part is less juice sampling. I think I might work buying new e-juice into a reward system: for every milestone up to a year, I buy myself a new juice.

I’m glad my moodiness is starting to stabilize. I totally get why people relapse at various points in the first month of quitting. Some of the mood swings I haven’t seen the likes of since I was a hormonal teenager.

As for my fetish, I know it isn’t going away. I’m at a place with it where that is OK. One of my commenter said I missed talking about an important kind of craving: the fetish craving. This is actually, for me, the craving that started it all. I tried denying my desire to smoke and my fetish and that failed miserably; I tried pseudo-moderation with smoking and that led me to daily smoking which led me to daily vaping. Daily vaping might have worked, if it weren’t for my job requiring me to go without for 3 plus hours and the affects on my sleep quality. Daily vaping allowed me connect some of the things I find attractive about smoking to a version of smoking that I might not have found attractive otherwise. It led me to nicotine free vaping, which seems to scratch the fetish itch just fine. We will how it fairs long term.

You might ask: why not go nicotine-free from the start? I don’t think it would have worked because I still hadn’t gotten that ‘chasing the high’ mentality out of my head. I would have felt it was lacking. Now that I’ve experienced the difference between beginning/occasional smoking and smoking/ using nicotine when you are well and truly addicted I have a different perspective. After 25 days, the thing that has gotten me through the rough patches  emotionally/cognitively is that I physically feel the best I have felt in months. And that makes it all worth it.

Day 20: No Craving Day!

They say it takes 21 days to break a habit. I’d say depending on the habit sometimes it takes longer. That said: today I have had zero cravings. I was even in the company of smokers and not once did I long for a cigarette. Nor did I long to vape nicotine laced vapor into my lungs.

It has been a long time since I’ve felt this way. No seriously. I remember longing to smoke from a very young age. A feeling that would often present itself when I was around smokers. The only smoker that couldn’t conjure this feeling in me was my father.

I don’t need to smoke to feel happy.

I don’t need to use nicotine to feel happy.

I can handle my ups and downs without nicotine.

I no longer feel like a non-smoker trapped in a smoker’s body. I am a smoker. I am a vaper. I am a nicotine fiend. I think I will always be all of these things, but I’ve realized I don’t have to be doing any of them actively to have a satisfying fulfilled life.

I found a draft called “Reasons to Quit” dated to May 2009. I never posted it, I think because I wasn’t ready to be done. Funny, I look back at my reasons to quit and they were good but I could tell I wasn’t convinced. Even though I knew they were true I hadn’t really experienced enough to not want to regular smoke, even though I knew that my reason was rational. I mean I had smoked 4 cigarettes over three days and felt one physical craving and decided to quit. Reading what I wrote and published, my ‘quit’ actually was a lesser version of what I just put myself through recently. My body is apparently sensitive enough to feel the hooks of addiction very quickly.

This time I’m armed with months of nicotine use experience to draw on and the fact that vaping actually has ruined smoking cigarettes for me.

In  my old post I was pretty dramatic, wanting to have a funeral for the cigarettes, for their loss from my life. I no longer feel that sense of loss, like I’m giving up a best friend. I feel now like I got to have my good times, I had some bad times and just like growing out of something I feel as though I’ve grown out of it.

Lastly, in my 7 year old entry, I wrote about what I will miss about smoking:

1) The feeling of inhaling, exhaling- breathing fire, blowing the smoke into beautiful plumes.

2) Instant turn-on.

3) The good effects of nicotine… because let’s face it, the drug is not all bad.

I’ll be honest, these are all the things that brought me back again and again. This time, I think nicotine vaping has armed me with a solution, at least for the first two. By the end, number 2 wasn’t happening anymore anyways which is exactly what I predicted. But vaping gives me the feelings of 1) without the fire, which is okay because I’ve grown to like it better. And 9 months of using nicotine, had me build tolerance to the point of the good effects of nicotine becoming mundane to me. So while my brain sometimes tries to trick me by whispering, “But it will be good again, now that you’ve stopped using for a time.” I counter it with, yes but it isn’t worth it.

As it becomes easier and easier to live life nicotine free, I’m going to start working on my other goals.

I’m just 10 days shy of 30 days. If you are just starting, it gets easier- just take those first few  days, 1 hour at a time, one day at a time. While the cravings seem practically unbearable at first, you’ll know you getting to the right place when you start to feel calm without smoking or using. After that, it becomes much easier and it literally is all in your head.

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