Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

In two weeks, I will be celebrating my six-month anniversary smoke free.  In September 2019, I started following a story about a respiratory illness that was affecting the vaping community.  I started my own research and realized that vaping might help me stop smoking.

I had been a smoker for 35 years, so I put together my umpteenth quit plan.  I would buy the Nicotine patches and use vape as the backup.  The Nicotine patches are still unopened in a drawer because I quit smoking in just three days using the dreaded Juul.  It was common sense that made me realize that the less tobacco, tar and chemicals I put in my body and my lungs, the healthier I would be and feel. 

Vape politics

Florida’s vape ban, SB810, remains on Governor Ron DeSantis desk to be signed or vetoed.  The Florida vaping community is working hard to encourage the Governor in this time of public health and economic uncertainty to veto this bill.  As Florida gears up to fight COVID19, the vape community is in the unique position of being more informed and prepared for COVID19.  We know that it is of vital importance that smokers and ex-smokers have the choice and freedom to protect their health as best they see fit. And the Florida vaping community is a clear example of putting that knowledge into action.    

Obstacles

I had originally decided my quit date would be June 1st giving me a total of eight months to not only quit cigarettes but to quit vaping as well.  I had a clear step down plan in place but found myself constantly pushing up plan dates as anti-vape hysteria and panic hit not only the media but our local, state and national governments.  This was very annoying as there is clear information out there that nicotine vape was not causing the EVALI illness.  The ex-smoking vape community’s voice was being ignored in favor of the “think about the children” trope.  The banning of flavored vape products was mistakenly being touted as the cure!!

More vape politics

This week, Governor Raimondo made Rhode Island’s flavor ban permanent.  The ban includes menthol flavors and leaves all other tobacco products on the market.  This unilateral decision was made by the Governor, bypassed the state legislature and used the Department of Health to enact this permanent rule. The Eastern portion of the United States is being hit hard by COVID19 so any distraction from preparation, mitigation and resource acquisition to fight this new coronavirus could end up costing many lives.  And once again, the vaping community is in the position of witness to history. 

“Rumours are started”

Are you getting a sense of déjà vu yet?  Yes, we seem to be going down the same path again.  Instead of fighting the smaller EVALI illness, the vape community is now up against newer COVID19 rumors and misinformation.  Along with many other unsubstantiated rumors, the media and anti-tobacco prohibitionist are peddling to connect vaping with increased susceptibility to COVID19.  All the vape community can rely on is their own intense research and our common sense.  The research so far has not connected vape to COVID19 but it has connected smoking to increased risk for severe illness.  And this research, certainly does not give free reign for the media to speculate with scare tactic headlines only to have most doctors in medical community clearly stating within these articles that they don’t know if vaping has a COVID19 connection.  This might change as more research becomes available, but my common sense tells me, my risk for severe illness is due to being recent ex-smoker.  The Public Health Quit Smoking literature and apps all tells you lung function improves within six months of quitting smoking.  I have much gratitude that I quit smoking and now breathe easier and deeper these days. 

Gratitude

I have much to celebrate as I reach my six month anniversary cigarette free.  The vaping community is as strong as ever, researching, discussing and advocating for vape as a successful quit smoking tool.  We are also in the unique position of understanding how our Public Health, media and Non-profits can misstep and misuse a legitimate health issue to promote unrelated political agendas.  We are closely watching and supporting our vaping brothers and sisters that have COVID19. So now more than ever, the vaping community will fight these new rumors with fact, research and common sense.  We remain united in advocating for choice and freedom to protect the health of ourselves and our families.

I am now personally in the middle of the COVID19 storm in the United States and I am still vaping my favorite flavors.  Am I nervous? Of course, I am! But vaping is helping me stay away from cigarettes during this stressful time.  And yes, I have been tempted to smoke away my anxiety.  But I am still celebrating a Happy Anniversary to me because I’m no longer smoking cigarettes!!

I wish everyone to stay safe and be well. 

Key information for vapers and the vaping community

Smoking, Vaping and hospitalizations for COVID19 – 7 Studies from China

https://www.qeios.com/read/article/554

CASAA – Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association