Vaping giants like Juul attracted billions in investment from tobacco companies by reversing decades of progress in weaning children off of nicotine, thanks to deliberately targeting children with advertisements and phony in-school "mental health" seminars that advised them to take up their carcinogenic, highly addictive products.
Juul and other vaping products are marketed as a safe way to quit smoking, but as their products are increasingly discovered to be uniquely and fantastically unsafe, it raises a new question: how do you quit vaping?
The answer is: no one knows. There's virtually no research on how to quit vaping, which is incredibly addictive, thanks to the extremely high levels of nicotine salts in many vape liquids, and to vaping's smooth delivery, which allows users to take in much higher levels of nicotine than they would get from traditional cigarettes.
It's especially hard for teens, thanks to the prevalence of vaping in school, which means that kids who quit face massive social pressure to start again.
Quitting is a physically uncomfortable experience, and includes withdrawal symptoms like cravings, headaches, irritability, and depression. Managing these symptoms is the key to successfully quitting, Levy says, "because that's what makes it so hard to stop." Her program uses nicotine patches to ward off withdrawal. Levy tries to treat with the lowest dosage possible, but if the patch isn't working, there are also stronger medications like Buproprion. She also counsels parents to give kids nicotine lozenges if they start to get a craving. Because lozenges are ingested, not inhaled, the nicotine is absorbed more slowly into the body and they don't deliver the same euphoric dopamine hit of ripping a Juul.
Most of Levy's advice is based on strategies for quitting traditional cigarettes. The hope is that the medication, alongside behavioral counseling on how to manage anxiety or social pressure, will eventually help addicted vapers wean themselves off of nicotine entirely. How long will that take? And how many patches and gums and lozenges? Levy says they just don't know.
Some parents report their kids are asking for lozenges constantly, but Levy says she has no guidelines for when to cut the kids off. E-cigarette users inhale a lot more nicotine than regular smokers do. "We just don't know how well nicotine replacement is going to work," she says.
So You Want to Quit Vaping? No One Actually Knows How [Sara Harrison/Wired]