A research paper that was recently published in BioMed Central Public Health gathered 62 young adults (18 to 35 years old) who've been vaping nearly every day. Almost all of the participants also smoked cigarettes on the side. They're required to complete a self-report questionnaire, which gathered personal information from participants as well as information on their e-cigarette use and smoking behavior.
Soon after finishing their questionnaires, the participants were immediately assigned to twelve focus groups. Each group had a balanced mix of different genders and family members were deliberately sent to different groups. Discussions centered on the individual experiences of the group members with smoking and vaping. Members shared how and why they started smoking and at what age, and when they began using e-cigarettes and why they're still smoking tobacco.
Vaping is Less Harmful and Not As Smelly As Smoking
The study acknowledges that most smokers who completely switched to vaping wanted to quit. That's also the most common reason that cigarette users give for using e-cigs and vaporizers. The researchers, however, pointed out that research studies have shown that "only smokers who are older, more educated, and highly motivated to quit smoking are able to completely replace cigarette smoking with e-cigarette use." They also explained that dual users who couldn't stop smoking were actually blocking their chances of completely quitting.
It seems that most of the dual users who participated in this study have been using e-cigarettes as a social and emotional crutch to support their tobacco addiction. Many of them use e-cigarettes indoors because of the following reasons:
1. the vapors from e-cigarettes don't leave behind bad odors
2. their family members and co-workers are more tolerant of their vaping habit
3. there are minimal health risks associated with vaping and second-hand exposure to vapor
Dual Users Crave Strong Stimulation From Tobacco Smoking
Many dual users said that they smoked cigarettes whenever they craved a stronger stimulation, which to them only tobacco could provide. An e-juice with a nicotine level of 24 mg/ml and a PG/VG composition of 70-30 is probably not enough to satisfy that craving for tobacco. Dual users also gave the following reasons for smoking cigarettes:
1. to relax after a long day
2. to ease their boredom
3. to be mentally alert
4. to help relieve stress
5. to relax their rectal muscles and help them poop
Some dual users are discreet smokers. They prefer to vape e-cigarettes when there's no time for them to take a shower or when they had to meet a friend or a client afterwards. They don't like the smell of tobacco that sticks to their clothes and hair, and they certainly don't want to expose other people to the smell.
What Motivates Dual Users to Continue Smoking
The presence of cigarette users nearby stimulates the desire to smoke among dual users. The sight of other smokers enjoying themselves is a highly suggestive visual trigger. This strong urge to become part of the group motivates them to smoke in parties, on special occasions, and during weekends. They socialize with their friends by sharing a pack of smokes with them.
Another motivating factor for dual users to continue smoking was the general dissatisfaction they experienced with the different vaping devices they've been using.
Participants mentioned that the first few e-cigarette devices they experimented with were unsatisfying or of poor quality. As they switched between devices while trying to find the one they liked, in between, they continued to use cigarettes.
During the focus group discussions, most of the dual users agreed that "regular, uninterrupted e-cigarette use required vigilance and planning" and that "e-cigarette devices would need constant monitoring." They now see vaping as a high-maintenance activity. And so, they never leave home without checking their pockets or handbags and making sure "they had enough cartridges or e-liquid with them and the battery was fully charged."
I Kinda Understand Why
People who switch to vaping don't immediately quit. It's a well-known fact that quitting smoking is one of the hardest things to do in one's life. Once a smoker starts vaping, it doesn't mean he or she has totally called it quits with tobacco. The need to light up is still there; vaping is just something a smoker does to satisfy the urge to inhale and blow, but it's not the same thing as smoking. The odor of tobacco, the harshness of the smoke as it travels from the throat to the lungs, and the bitter aftertaste of tar mixed with ash - these are sensations that a smoker isn't ready to let go.
Yes, the odor is disgusting and so is the taste, but smokers are addicted to the whole experience. It's not just nicotine they want and it's not just about the feeling of holding a cigarette and putting its filtered end to your mouth. Lighting up a cig, I also enjoyed the sharp scent of phosphorus and the bitterness of the smoke wafting from the burnt paper and tobacco. I also embraced the brief sensation of pain as the smoke got into my eyes and made me tear up a bit.