They don't help you quit

They don't help you quit
These electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) were seized at two residences at Yishun Street 81 and Seletar Hills Estate which was raided by the Health Science Authority's (HSA) Tobacco Regulation Branch.
PHOTO: HSA

He had planned to use his electronic cigarette as a form of "therapy" to wean himself off smoking completely.

But it lasted only 10 months.

Mr Jonathan Lim, who is in his 30s, used them while working in Europe.

"I couldn't kick the habit," he says. "It made smoking seem cooler because people would ask about it."

And his e-cigarette was cheaper than cigarettes in the long run because there was no tax, says Mr Lim, a sales executive.

As a result, it tempted him to use the e-cigarette even more.

One 75ml bottle of e-liquid costs around $12, which is similar to the cost of one box of cigarettes.

But a bottle of e-liquid can last a month.

He stopped using his e-cigarette last year when he read about the heavy penalties he risks if caught using the illegal device here.

Addiction specialists say Mr Lim's experience is typical of e-cigarette users, and that e-cigarette has not proven to be an effective smoking cessation aid.

The proper way, they say, is through the use of nicotine patch or gum, as well as medication.

Dr Thomas Lee, a certified substance abuse counsellor at The Resilienz Clinic, says: "The idea is not to completely cut off nicotine to a person, but to use an alternative way to deliver nicotine to the person without smoking.

"The thing about e-cigarette is that the action of bringing the cigarette from the hand to the mouth is still there. It does not modify his or her behaviour."

Also critical to the treatment process is the use of therapy.

Dr Lee explains that patients have to identify the triggers that lead them to resume their smoking habit.

This ranges from boredom to peer pressure.

TRAINING

"It is essential that patients go through a form of assertive training. If they just use e-cigarettes alone as a nicotine replacement, the tendency to relapse is very high."

Private psychiatrist Munidasa Winslow, known for his work in addictions, believes that e-cigarette may be a "gateway drug" for younger kids to start smoking too.

Says Dr Winslow: "The main danger is that non-smokers may see e-cigarettes as a cool thing. And with the many flavours, it can also get younger folk hooked too.

"Perhaps the better implementation is something like what is done for nicotine gum, which is dispensed only to those with prescriptions by pharmacists.


This article was first published on June 28, 2015.
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