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New Research Reveals 74% of Vapers Fail in Their First Attempt to Quit

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New research reveals that 74% of vapers fail in their first attempt to quit. The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, analysed social media posts to track vaping behaviours and quit attempts among users over a three-year period. Addiction rehabilitation specialists at Rehabs UK warn that vaping may be much more addictive than most people assume.

  • 27% of the identified digital cohort reported making at least one attempt to quit vaping during the study period.
  • Of the first quit attempts, 26% were successful. Among those who failed the first time, 13% made a second attempt, with a 36% success rate for these subsequent attempts.
  • On average, individuals made their first quit attempt 531 days after their first vaping-related post. If the first quit attempt failed, a second attempt typically occurred 361 days later.

“Given the highly addictive nature of nicotine, it is no surprise that people are finding it difficult to quit vaping,” says Lester Morse, founder and director of Rehabs UK. “The study’s findings on the progression of addiction are particularly revealing. You can see the transition from the initial excitement when introduced to vaping to experiencing severe signs of addiction and adverse health effects. It shows how clever marketing tactics can lure people into a false sense of security, making them believe it is much more innocent than it actually is.”

The study leveraged social media data from X (formerly Twitter) to create a digital cohort of individuals who self-reported vaping and posted at least 10 times about vaping from 1st January, 2017 to 31st December, 2020. Over 19 million vaping-related posts were analysed, identifying 25,112 accounts with significant vaping activity.

Those who quit vaping cited signs of addiction, adverse health effects such as chronic wheezing, and peer influence as their primary reasons. Users commonly reported feeling out of place or anxious when their vape was not available, expressed a need for help to quit due to severe nicotine addiction, and acknowledged their addiction openly in their posts.

Lester warns that the adverse effects of nicotine addiction are well documented: “While the idea of gateways drug is contested, nicotine is known to influence changes in the brain that encourage drug abuse.”

Far from a hip accessory for teens, e-cigarettes were originally meant to help long-term smokers quit their addiction. However, with hundreds of people a month searching “why do I vape more than I smoked?” Lester does not endorse its use in addiction rehabilitation settings: “Many people use e-cigarettes to help them quit smoking, but there is currently no scientific proof that this actually helps. In fact, it can actually lead to higher nicotine dependence, as it’s much easier to have a quick puff of an e-cigarette than to light a cigarette.” Other experts have noted that a consumer can also choose to fill their e-cigarette with a higher dose of nicotine, making it even harder to use the device to overcome an addiction.”

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