Escape the vape

| October 11, 2021
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Note: this post was updated in December 2023 to reflect new resources.

E-cigarettes and other vaping products have only been on the market for a fraction of the time of cigarettes. While they may have originally been advertised as a healthier alternative to cigarettes, it has since been established that vaping is detrimental to health. Dangerous chemicals in e-cigarettes cause heart and lung disease. One of the chemicals is an herbicide and has been associated with lung injury, COPD, asthma, and cancer. Johns Hopkins researchers recently found that vaping aerosols contain thousands of unknown chemicals and substances not disclosed by manufacturers, including industrial chemicals and caffeine

Fortunately, there is also evidence that once someone does quit the benefits are plentiful. Heart rate and blood pressure drop, risk of diabetes goes down, cancer and stroke risk decrease, and lung functioning improves. Better lung functioning is particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic, as one of the systems the virus attacks is the respiratory system.

Quitting vaping can be really challenging. Nicotine is one of the most addictive substances, and most people try at least a few times before quitting for good.

If you are ready to cut vapes out of your life, here are some tips to support your efforts:

1. Keep a vaping diary. Before you quit, keep track of your vaping. Take note of when you feel the biggest pull to vape. Is it part of your daily routine? Where are you when you vape? Who are you with? What is your mood?

2. Pick a quit day. Give yourself enough time to prepare by building confidence and skills to avoid vaping. Keep your date within one to two weeks. It should be close enough that you don’t lose motivation.

3. Cut down. There are two main ways to try to quit vaping. The first is to quit “cold turkey” or go from regular use to none. While this technique does work for some people, it can result in greater withdrawal symptoms. Gradually reducing the number of cartridges smoked each day, and even how many puffs are being inhaled each time, helps to remove nicotine more slowly from the body. Keep track of how much you are vaping in your diary.

4. Pick a new behavior for when cravings pop up. Replace vaping with other actions that take a similarly short amount of time.

  • Chew a stick of gum.
  • Brush your teeth.
  • Take a walk.
  • Text a supportive friend.

5. Use other stress reduction strategies. Many people vape when they feel anxious or stressed. It will be helpful to have a plan for coping with potential triggers. Exercise is great; check out the options at O’Connor Center for Recreation and Well-Being (Homewood) and Cooley Center (East Baltimore). The Calm app is available for free to all Hopkins affiliates and helps with stress and sleep. The SilverCloud app also helps build skills for managing stressors; it’s available for full-time students over the age of 18.

6. Remind yourself of the benefits of not vaping. What is motivating you to quit in the first place? Write down all the reasons you want to quit and read them when you are experiencing moments of doubt.

  • Health benefits.
  • Easier breathing and less coughing.
  • Save money.
  • Food will taste better.
  • Skin and teeth look brighter.

7. Celebrate small wins. The first two weeks after quitting are the hardest. Congratulate yourself for every small milestone to stay motivated. Did you go one day without vaping? Amazing! Can you feel yourself breathing easier after climbing stairs? Give yourself a pat on the back!

8. Ask for help. Find friends who will cheer you on. Students can also schedule an appointment with the Alcohol and Other Drugs Specialist for a one-on-one consultation to build a quit plan.

9. Try, try again. A slip is having one or two vapes after quitting. Remind yourself of all the reasons you do not want to smoke and double down on your strategies to stay smoke free. This is just a temporary setback. Relapsing is when someone returns to regular smoking. Even if you have relapsed, you can try to quit again. The benefits are worth all of your efforts.

10. Use resources. Your doctor may be able to support your decision to quit by offering temporary nicotine replacement options. The Maryland Quitline (1-800-QUITNOW) is a FREE resource that can help you quit any type of tobacco use. There are coaches available to consult with you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Callers are also eligible to receive 12 weeks of FREE nicotine replacement therapy.

Hopkins Resources

Calm App. Guided meditations and sleep tools.

SilverCloud App. Online, confidential mental health resource.

TimelyMD. Scheduled virtual counseling sessions.

Mental Health Services. Accessible, equitable, and quality mental healthcare to Hopkins students and trainees.

Outside Resources Tools and tips to help quit.

CDC Quit Line. Call for support. 1-800-QUIT-NOW

Maryland Quitline. Counseling in English, Spanish, and other languages.