For smokers, vaping helps save cost and decrease nicotine cravings

For many cigarette smokers, quitting can be hard. Electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes are marketed as a safer alternative to conventional cigarettes, making them appealing to smokers who wish to quit.

Nick Yen started smoking when he was 18. He soon found himself addicted to cigarettes, consuming seven packs a day. Yen tried to quit, but cheap cigarette prices lured him back, until he came to the United States for graduate school.

“I was so shocked at the cost of cigarettes here,” said Yen, an international student from China. “A pack of cigarettes cost me $12. That’s $84 a week. Then my friends introduced me to e-cigarettes.”

E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that deliver nicotine and flavorings to users. The “e-juice” is not harmless. All e-cigarettes or vapes contain nicotine, which is addictive and hurts brain development, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

One of the most popular e-cigarette brands is Juul. “The starter kit costs about $35 to $50. The kit includes one Juul device, a charging deck and four pods,” said Jon Lau, owner of the Vape Shop in Brighton.

“Nicotine salts are popular because of the high dosage and concentrated nicotine. They allow users to get a large amount of nicotine to create a nicotine buzz, because they are a lot stronger than freebase nicotine,” Lau said.

For Yen, vaping cost less than smoking. “I go through one pod a day or a day and a half,” Yen said. “A pack of four pods cost $16.99 at convenience stores, which is cheaper than cigarettes.”

Yen added, “You can find them at liquor stores, corners stores, gas stations and other places. In Allston where I live, you can buy Juul on almost every block.”

For Yen, vaping helped him with nicotine cravings. “I actually can’t even finish a whole cigarette now. The smell became too strong and aggressive to me.”

However, nicotine addiction is not the only health concern for smokers who switch to vaping. A recent study by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found diacetyl, a flavoring chemical linked to severe respiratory disease, in more than 75 percent of flavored e-cigarettes and refill liquids.


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