There’s a rumour going around that’s been plaguing the nicotine-crazed community since vaping firmed up its unsexy chokehold on the world: Can switching back to ciggies help when you’re trying to quit? And which is the lesser of the two evils, anyway?After speaking to some experts, I’m gonna cut to the chase and give it to you straight. The answer to the first question is, basically: No. But there’s a few things going on here.
According to Ron Borland, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Melbourne who has been studying the effects of nicotine and smoking for the past few decades, ciggies are exponentially worse. It’s a bit complex.Borland says that yes, cigarettes can be used to quit vaping, but they are not successful in shaking nicotine addiction. Rather, you are just swapping one device out for the other and, according to his research, cigarettes are the more addictive of the two.“Going back to smoking is absolutely the worst thing anybody could do. You can use cigarettes for quitting vaping but you'd be increasing your health risks,” said Borland.“It'll be more difficult to quit cigarettes than to quit vaping. So, in fact, that's a backward step.” According to Borland, various studies, including his own, have concluded that vaping is considerably less harmful based on the toxicology.“There is a lot of weak evidence, but, cumulatively, quite convincing that some of the chemicals in tobacco smoke compliment the effects of nicotine, and make it more potent,” he said.“And it's the potency of the immediate experience that makes it particularly more dependable. So, it becomes much more likely to be addictive.” Aside from the actual addictiveness based on chemicals, Borland says that the difference in accessibility between cigarettes and vapes (e.g. being able to vape pretty much anywhere, at any time), doesn’t make much of a difference to quitting, either.
“Most people can vape in just about any situation because we're getting pretty good at stealth vaping these days, particularly with the new devices,” says Borland. “And, yes, vaping has some characteristics that may lead to people finding it easier to maintain their blood levels of nicotine, because you can vape more continuously than with a cigarette. That spacing through the day means that people feel that they are perhaps more dependent. But in terms of their ability to quit, I don't think that that's going to make a significant difference.”So there you have it. Short and sweet. No: switching back to ciggies, in an expert's opinion, doesn’t work.In my uneducated, unscientific opinion, it’s probably better to just go cold turkey. Follow Julie Fenwick on Twitter and Instagram.Read more from VICE Australia and subscribe to our weekly newsletter, This Week Online.