By Anju Miura

Following Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s decision to ban all e-cigarettes for four months, regular vape or Juul smokers may be struggling to quit cold turkey.

Nicotine is one of the highly addictive substances and approximately 50 million Americans are currently addicted to it. Even the father of psychology, Sigmund Freud, was a smoker and eventually developed cancer.

It may be hard to convince a smoker to stop smoking. However, learning why it is difficult but necessary to quit smoking may help you or your friend think about quitting.


What is nicotine addiction?

Within a few seconds of inhaling, nicotine travels to the brain’s reward center, causing us to get high. As the brain remembers this feeling of pleasure, smokers gradually develop a tolerance to nicotine, which causes them to smoke more and more to get the same effect.

Although smokers may feel nicotine relieves stress and relaxes them, it doesn’t. Smoking makes the heart beat faster, increases blood pressure and breathing which are all signs of stress.


Nicotine withdrawal

Nicotine withdrawal takes place shortly after someone addicted to nicotine stops smoking.

The most common symptom is strong craving for nicotine, so nicotine addicts may find it difficult to go hours without a smoke. The severity of the symptoms depends on the frequency of nicotine usage, but other symptoms include irritability, headaches, insomnia and coughing.

Sounds terrifying to quit smoking, isn’t it? But there is never a perfect time to quit and at some point; you just have to jump.


Behavioral change

It sounds easier said than done to stop smoking because it’s essentially changing a daily habit. However, you need to change more than your smoking habit to stop smoking.

Smokers may have to break up their daily routines to quit smoking. If you hit a Juul or vape within 30 minutes of getting up in the morning, you may have to create another morning routine to distract yourself from the habit you’ll be skipping.

Also, smokers have to define their trigger times and try to avoid them. Many people smoke after drinking coffee or alcohol, having a meal, talking on the phone or driving a car.


Stages to quit smoking/vaping/Juuling

We move through different stages to change our behavior, known as the transtheoretical model, developed by psychologists James O. Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente. 

Smokers don’t even think about changing behavior in pre-contemplation stage, but all e-cigarettes smokers in Massachusetts must now be forced to take a moment to consider it.

In the contemplation stage, smokers may think about quitting smoking but are not quite ready to act. Later, in the preparation stage, they have to figure out what kind of strategies are likely to work and what might potentially cause them to relapse.

When smokers are ready to make a move toward quitting, they are in the action stage where they have to face challenges and break a bad habit.

After successfully becoming a non-smoker, people have to try their best to stay that way. In the maintenance stage, it is critical to think how important quitting smoking is to them and how confident they are in making the change.

The state’s e-cigarettes ban has created controversy, but it is an opportunity for smokers to think about changing their smoking habits.

Maybe, now is the time to end your addiction.