Diminishing Dependency

As Professor Karl Fagerström explains in Dependence on tobacco and nicotine, it isn’t as simple as a single substance addiction. It’s rather complex with lots of individual differences.

Here is something I noticed:

When I was a smoker (2 packs a day), one hour was the longest I could go without a cigarette. After that the craving would increasingly occupy my attention. Two hours? Impossible.

Last year I went to a tobacco control conference. Well, vaping in the audience wouldn’t have been welcome, I guess. So I faced these two hours with a bit of trepidation. Expecting to sneak out for a break. And I got a surprise! At the end the cravings were far less than after an hour as a smoker. It was more like the longing for the caffeine in a nice relaxing and invigorating cup of green tea. I even lingered and talked a bit before I went out and satisfied that longing.

At that point I had been vaping exclusively for almost 2 years. And I’m not quite a typical vaper. Most vapers reduce the initial nicotine concentration after a while. I’m still using 18 mg/ml and like it this way. I even vape more than in the beginning.

Of course I don’t have any reliable data, but a lot of long term vapers have anecdotes of similar experiences. They report that when adverse conditions deprive them of vaping, they can even go several hours without significant stress. I haven’t heard of anyone where possible withdrawal symptoms had worsened after switching. Further scientific investigation might provide interesting data on pure nicotine addiction.

Sudden cravings:

A few vapers (not me) report that 8 to 12 weeks after the switch they suddenly experience a craving for smoking. Increasing the nicotine level can compensate this only partially. But it’s usually gone for good after about a week. To me this suggests:

  • This is (at least) one other substance they are addicted to
  • It is much slower metabolised than nicotine
  • It only affects a minority of the smokers

I’m quite curious what these substances could be.

Unable to switch completely:

I know some vapers who still smoke, even if they rather would switch completely. And I don’t mean those that really still like smoking.

No. This is also a minority who really dislike the taste and feel of smoking compared to vaping but still can’t overcome their cravings. It can’t be the nicotine. It must be some other dependency. If you could identify the responsible substances (maybe the same as above, but with a stronger individual reaction?), it might be possible to create additives – just for them – to remove or reduce that craving.


Confirmation! A scientific survey  by Profs Etter & Eissenberg:

“We found that e-cigarettes users were less addicted to e-cigarettes than smokers were addicted to tobacco cigarettes and nicotine gum users to the nicotine gum.”

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2014.12.007

And whoever want to dismiss this as “biased”, please consider Beneficial Bias

Mice experience it, too:

Different physiological and behavioural effects of e-cigarette vapour and cigarette smoke in mice.

Dependence on e‐cigarettes and cigarettes in a cross‐sectional study of US adults


“Use of e‐cigarettes appears to be consistently associated with lower nicotine dependence than cigarette smoking.”

I’ll collect here links to blog posts of similar “anecdotes”. If you have one please leave a comment and I’ll add you.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Cessation, Dependency, Nicotine, Studies & Surveys, Vaping
16 comments on “Diminishing Dependency
  1. e h says:

    A packet of DRUM for me, every couple of days, for 41 years…

    Coming out of the cinema, for example, I rolled a cigarette on my way out and had the lighter ready in my hand….and lit up immediately outside…

    These days I walk maybe 15 minutes to a bar where we sit down, after a film, and after I got my drink I might take a puff from my NicotinDeliveryDevice…..

    3 month vaping….not going back…

    Liked by 3 people

    • Angel Tibbs says:

      Nicotine fits look really strange to me now from the outside. The smokers seem far less able to wait….I remember waiting for that next cig and being unable to think straight. Nicotine calms me and focuses me at the same time; I am 16 months smoke free, and happy at 6 mgs of nic on a gen 2 set up.
      Now I will wake up from a much better night’s sleep, get up and wander around and make coffee, and it’s ridiculous how long after I open my eyes I can go before vaping. I’ve left my vape at peoples’ homes;never did that with cigarettes.
      Hon Lik needs a Nobel Prize, and thanks for sharing Diminishing Dependency with us. The cloud chasers who use the more advanced devices vape at 3 or zero mgs. So I laugh at those stories that claim they jack up the devices to ‘get more nicotine’. Peace.

      Liked by 3 people

    • fair says:

      Hi, Thanks Norbert for all the helpful information and links, which encouraged me to switch from cigarettes to vaping.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. yj says:

    you might want to look into WTA (whole tobacco alkaloid), the first 2 days when I stopped smoking/started vaping I had some difficult moments, craving for this I think

    Now 7 months later, I have the same “symptoms” as you described, being busy, doing stuff, and then seeing my ecig lying there and thinking about how many hours I didn’t think of it 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Angel Tibbs says:

    Trying to go from my 6 mgs of nicotine to 3 mgs made me want to smoke. A bad flavor of e liquid will also make me want to smoke, but once I found my perfect flavors from an AEMSA member, I was set.
    I don’t drink decaf coffee, either, though I have cut way back on coffee since I retired and switched to vaping. I smoked for the effect of nicotine, and I would be a nightmare, no Chantix/Champix required, without it. Outdoor secondhand smoke= far less hazardous than me quitting cold turkey.
    So I stay at my 6 mgs of nicotine; for me, this is the sweet spot. Vaping is so individualized I honestly believe that this is why it helps so many smokers switch, unlike those one size fits all lousy NRTs…..which don’t work as well as cold turkey. Check out QuitNet comments sometimes…..NRTs are pushed at smokers who already know they don’t work, and that quitting cold turkey works better for longer.
    Still not as well as non Big Tobacco vaping, though.
    I will have an occasional smoke with smokers in my family socially, but never got re-hooked. Still trying to set a good example for them with my vaping, but I am the last ex smoker who would ever preach or scold a current smoker. Shaming never worked, and is a horrible solution.
    If outside with strangers smoking, I wait till they ask me.
    Nicotine calms me and focuses me, and I like that effect. So I keep it.
    I also enjoy your writings very much. Please keep it up.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. As a heavy smoker for over 50 years, I had tried on many, many occasions to give up the habit. There was something happened on each attempt that i could not quite get my head around, and that was: each time I decided to stop, the cravings would start hours before the actual attempt itself and I would find myself puffing away like mad to try to alleviate the feeling; each time I decided to start smoking again the cravings would stop before I had even lit up the cigarette…. This begs the question, is it the nicotine withdrawal that causes the cravings, or is the reward system so fine tuned by the habit it is activated by the act of smoking?

    This also goes quite a long way into explaining why people who start smoking at an early age are more ‘addicted’ than people who start when they are older.

    And if I am correct, this begs another question: why has science and research not uncovered this?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. […] how do you explain away that many long term vapers have been surprised to experience Diminishing Dependency even if they–like me–still like to use high nicotine […]

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Alan Beard says:

    Started Vaping 3+ years ago using 24mg/ml and continue to this day at the same level,but maybe use the devices(3rd Gen) a little less than when I started my conversion using CE4 + eGO type of equipment

    But I think the majority of folks may very well have reduced their nicotine strengths over the same period of time due to the more efficient devices now available.

    Using much of Kevin Crowleys survey I produced(or butchered 🙂 ) this blog that discussed a little of what your blog is about http://alanbeard.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/evolving-nicotine-usage-and-consequences.html

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Arnold Kammler says:

    My experiences are quite similar. Although I have never been a hard smoker, it was unthinkable to leave the house without my smokes or taking part in a meeting for hours without a break. At the beginning, I also used 18mg/ml, but always felt kind of “poisoned”, when I was vaping as much as I liked to. So I reduced the amount to 12, then to 6 and now to 3 mg/ml, and with the modern atomizers and the more powerful attys, I reach the same level of satisfaction with the reduced nicotine-content. But generally, I consume the same amount of nicotine per day for years now, but 18mgs with 8 Watt on an e-go is less satisfying for me than blowing a lot of big clouds with 60 Watts and 3 mgs. I have to admit, I never was thinking about quitting, since I never was a real hard smoker. So my dependency of tobacco changed unintentionally to a habit I really enjoy, without that heavy craving for a cigarette of the former days.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. […] nicotine the proponents of the Gateway myth have changed their “reasoning” from dreaded nicotine addiction to “learning of the smoking […]


  9. […] with things like this, this and this  – there’s […]

    Liked by 1 person

  10. […] level by itself loses some of its importance for long term vapers. Consider the many anecdotes of Diminishing Dependency. When vapers can forsake the pleasure of vaping much easier than they ever could skip smoking, it […]


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