Nicotine vaping prescriptions are now available at Yarra Medical. Here’s what you need to know.
Ed Skinner is one of the very few GPs in Melbourne able to provide vaping nicotine prescriptions. Here’s what he thinks you should know about this method of quitting.
Quitting smoking is hard. If you’re one of the many who have tried time and again, you don’t need me telling you this. The reason why so many smokers keep trying is that it’s just about the best thing you can do for your health. Smoking harms almost every organ in your body. It’s estimated to kill 20,500 Australians every year and it’s accountable for nearly 10% of our total burden of disease.
The many people trying to quit (50% to 70% of smokers, depending on the study) don’t need extra motivation, but they might want an alternative method. If you’re one such quitter-in-the-making, and you’ve tried Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRT) to no avail, you’ve probably considered e-cigarettes, or vaping.
Promoted as a stepping stone between traditional cigarettes and not smoking at all, a lot of questionable ‘information’ surrounds vaping. Let’s take a look at what we know about it and how a vaping nicotine prescription could help.
What is vaping?
E-cigarettes are so called because they use a battery to heat a liquid nicotine solution (known as an e-liquid or e-juice), turning it into an aerosol, or vapour (hence vaping), which is then inhaled and exhaled as a mist. Not only does it deliver nicotine like a traditional cigarette, but it also mimics the hand-to-mouth movement that plays a significant part in smoking addiction.
Vaping is less harmful than smoking (but not harmless)
While e-cigarettes do contain nicotine, they don’t burn tobacco, the smoke of which is what can lead to lung cancer. Nicotine in itself is not a carcinogen. Vaping also exposes you to fewer toxics chemicals than regular cigarettes.
Studies are showing marked improvements in the health of those who switch from smoking to vaping. Blood pressure lowers, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary heart disease improve, and there is a reduced risk of ischaemic heart disease.
‘Less harmful’, of course, doesn’t mean ‘not harmful’. Vapers are exposed to low doses of toxic chemicals such as heavy metals and volatile organic compounds. And e-cigarettes do contain nicotine, a highly addictive substance, so vaping is only recommended for those trying to quit smoking; non-smokers who start vaping can get addicted to it.
All in all, vaping isn’t risk free, but it is safer than smoking.
Studies suggest that vaping is an effective quitting method
Meta-analyses of RCTs (randomised controlled trials) and a review by the RACGP (Royal Australian College of General Practitioners) has shown vaping to be 53-69% more effective than NRT (nicotine replacement therapy – patches and sprays, for example) at helping smokers quit. In other words, six out of 100 smokers will successfully quit with NRTs, whereas nine or 10 will with vaping.
The certainty of the evidence wasn’t high in either the meta-analysis or the review, so more studies are needed in this space, but it does gives us an indication of the efficacy of vaping as a quitting device.
My role as your GP regarding nicotine prescriptions
I’ve seen many patients desperate to quit smoking who haven’t found success with nicotine replacement therapy. It’s a difficult journey with countless chances to fall back on bad habits. Quitters need a toolbox to draw upon; sometimes, an alternative method, or a combination of methods, just happens to work where others failed.
Like patches, mouth sprays, lozenges and other forms of NRTs, vaping provides a smaller dose of nicotine than a cigarette, helping to wean you off smoking. Unlike these NRTs, though, vaping allows you to still perform that hand-to-mouth movement that so many smokers find a part of their habit. Some people, therefore, find it easier to stick with vaping, giving themselves time to reduce their dependence on nicotine.
Vaping is a relatively new treatment, so there’s much still to be learned about it. For instance, we don’t know its long term effects. All of this, of course, will be discussed when you inquire about nicotine vaping prescriptions, as well as any previous attempts you’ve made at quitting with NRTs. We’ll assess your suitability for vaping and discuss how to do it most effectively.
Make a booking today to discuss nicotine prescriptions
With clinics in both Richmond and Abbotsford, we’re a convenient option for many Melburnians. Our online booking system makes it easy to find an appointment, so don’t hesitate; come in and see us for vaping prescriptions today.