How Hard Is It To Quit Vaping?

By David Konow 01/03/19

A new report offers multiple firsthand accounts of the difficulties of quitting vaping.

man vaping his last e-cig before he quits.

Many people are concerned about young adults and vaping. Juul, the biggest e-cigarette company around, has come under fire for being popular with teens and for making their products attractive to young people with their ad campaigns.

Now a report in USA Today has revealed that withdrawing from vaping can be very difficult, and it can lead to symptoms of depression and anxiety.

A mortgage banker named Andrea “Nick” Tattanelli told USA Today that quitting vaping was “hell” and that he suffered from depression for three days. “It’s delicious. It’s too attractive,” Tattanelli explained. “You don’t make something you can vape in a watermelon flavor and think people aren’t going to do it all the time.”

Tattanelli is 39, and he turned to vaping to wean himself off cigarettes. Tattanelli had been a smoker since he was 17, and he did finally leave cigarettes behind, but the withdrawals he, and many others, have suffered, have made the FDA question if vaping is a good way to quit cigarettes.

As one rehab director, Dr. Malissa Barbosa, said, “The studies aren’t fully available around vaping and I’m very conservative. This is new, and I say, ‘Why aren’t we thinking of traditional means of quitting?’”

Another smoker, Kevin Kee, also tried vaping as a way to stop smoking, but he realized vaping was a harder habit to break. And yet another vaper, Elvijs Arnicans, wrote on Facebook that he had been off vaping for two weeks, and he wished he knew how tough it was going to be before he stopped.

He experienced “intense tiredness for the first three days, and then the cravings intensify as the brain fog clears.” He also felt “no enjoyment in pleasurable activities experienced until about day three.”

Barbosa told USA Today only one patient she treated has been able to stop vaping, and the patient suffered headaches, agitation and nausea.

In a first person account for The Fix, Amy Dresner recalled that her first two days after quitting vaping weren’t bad, “but on day 3 or 4 it got gnarly. Unlike quitting cigarettes, I didn’t feel so much agitated as I felt physically ill; nausea, mouth sores, sore throat, achy and incredible lethargy. And then a mild depression came over me. As somebody who has ferociously struggled with clinical depression for over 20 years, just the hint of it popping back up alarms me.”

On January 19, the FDA will be holding a hearing about teens and nicotine addiction. The FDA has good reason to be concerned, and regulators are now calling vaping an “epidemic.”

The current stats report that 3.6 million people in middle and high school are using e-cigarettes, and close to 21% of high school seniors have confessed they’ve vaped in the last 30 days, an 11% jump from 2017.

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.