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Toss the Viagra! Vape! ...new study suggests.

Toss the Viagra! Vape! ...new study suggests.

A look at some of the minor statistics buried in the new Farsalinos study of 19,000 vapers arouses... well, interest. Of course the primary, and most gratifying, result is the fact, yes fact, that 81% of respondents reported "complete substitution of smoking" by vaping products, the fact of an average (median) reduction from 20 smokes per day to 4 among "dual users", and an average (median) reduction of nicotine levels from 18 mg/ml to 12. Opponents can no longer claim that there are no studies about vaping as smoking cessation. They will claim it anyway, of course, but it will become increasingly clear that they are misinformed or worse.

But buried in the charts are additional statistics that could spawn considerable attention. Close to a third of vapers claim improvement in appetite, mood, quality of sleep, and yes, sexual performance. Thirty one percent report better appetite and better mood, 38% say they sleep better, while more that 27% report that things are going better in the bedroom since they started vaping. Vapers may just start leaving the Viagra on the back shelf of the medicine cabinet, in favor of more vaping.

Other detailed findings available to those who dig deeper into the statistics have to do with the controversial topic often called "dual use". Die-hard opponents often refer to dual use in hushed and horrified tones as something that prevents quitting. This simply means, of course, that dual use is an alternative usage pattern, one that may be distinguished from the complete quit. Of course it may also be distinguished from continued heavy smoking. Or it may delay the complete quit, or be part of a tiered quit. Only by ignoring these distinctions can the die-hards continue to call dual use an evil on a par with heavy smoking. Nothing but absolute cessation has any value in this view; anything less is a block to absolute cessation, and therefore represents a health danger rather than an improvement. Die-hards have been heard to claim that there is literally no difference in the health risk of smoking one cigarette and smoking 20.

The new Farsalinos data on dual use reveals that 30% of vapers who also smoke do not have a combustible cigarette every day, while 97% of the total study population vapes every day. This does not suggest a pattern, for about a third of dual users, that grants equal importance to smoking and vaping. It looks more like a pattern involving vaping as primary, with an occasional cigarette, perhaps as a special event, maybe after a particularly satisfying meal, maybe after sex. Or it could signify smoking over drinks in a bar or pub (in localities where that is still permitted) and vaping when at home. It would not seem to suggest the converse of that pattern, vaping in the pub and smoking when at home, since that usage style would more likely involve daily smoking with an occasional vape.

Another very interesting finding down there in those statistics has to do with the decline of the cigalike, the classic e-cigarette, the one that looks like a toxic smoke. Its popularity is down to 4% for respondents to this survey, to only 3% for those who have quit smoking, and to just under 6% for dual users. Forty percent of respondents prefer units with rechargeable batteries, 56% prefer mods that enable mixing liquids and refilling tanks.

It looks like quitters increasingly lose interest in imitating the smoking experience as they become confirmed in their vaping habit. Vaping becomes an attractive habit in its own right, not just as a substitute for something else. Far from "re-glamorizing smoking", vaping itself is what is emerging as glamorous. This bodes well for the little companies that make mods and tank systems,increasingly preferred by seasoned vapers. It bodes poorly for Big Tobacco e-cig products that appeal more to newbies, smokers just starting a quit attempt. These are the products that look like, and remain more closely linked to, poisonous smokes (although there are those who expect Big Tobacco to start dealing in liquids soon).

This change in user preferences is likely to impact regulatory developments as well, especially in Europe, where some regulators have displayed a special animus against refillable tanks. After all, the right to ban them is enshrined in the new Tobacco Products Directive, and the EU Commission even reserves the threat of banning them EU-wide if only 3 countries outlaw them. If the preference for such systems continues to snowball, the Commission could face even more volatile consumer resistance, in an already volatile consumer group.

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