My father reluctantly tried a Juul e-cigarette six months ago. He loves him so much now that he will not abandon her.
In November, I bought my father a Juul, as an experiment, to see if it would help him get rid of his old cigarette. After a little over a week of his Juul's vaping and smoking his Marlboros, he gave up the Marlboros completely. He sent me text messages every day to brag about how many days had passed since he had smoked a cigarette.
This month, he is celebrating his six months without a cigarette, a feat I had never really imagined. The SMS are stopped, but he keeps me always informed of our calls on Sunday evening.
"It's such a relief to not smoke," said Casper LaVito, 69. "It's great, I can not believe it, I still can not believe it."
It typically vines Juul pods, such as blueberries or strawberries, as well as 3% mint pods. He stated that he had "no desire, no desire, no care" to smoke a cigarette after 35 years of smoking, minus the few attempts to quit smoking. He says that he even convinced his friends to try Juul.
Dr. Stephen Gawne, my father's primary care physician at the Veterans Hospital Edward Hines Jr., said he could not rely on any medical data showing that the nicotine pods had allowed to improve my dad's health. However, he stated that Juul had helped him because it had caused him to quit.
"Smoking cigarettes is the worst thing for me, so you gave him a nice present," he said.
Electronic cigarettes can pose their own long-term health risks, concluded the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine. They were sold for the first time in the United States in 2003; therefore, there is no study of the health consequences of long-term use. However, US health authorities have stated that e-cigarettes are intrinsically less dangerous than cigarettes because they do not burn, a chemical process that occurs when tobacco burns and releases toxins.
That's why they are so hotly debated. On the one hand, they could help adult smokers get their nicotine dose in a less harmful way. On the other hand, we do not know what happens when people use them for years.
"The best thing to do is do nothing," said Belinda Borelli, professor and director of behavioral research at the Henry M. Goldman School of Dentistry at Boston University. "It's better to make Juul than combustible cigarettes, the question is how long?"
I am proud of my father who quit smoking after more than three decades of smoking. Refraining from smoking for six months without wanting to return, especially at one's age, is a considerable achievement. My only concern is that when I first gave him Juul, he said that he wanted to use it for a while, and then he ended up leaving it. Not anymore.
"I will stop using it, but I will always take one away, and if I feel like it, I have to smoke," he said, adding that he liked more than all his Juul.
It sprays less today a nicotine pod every other day, against a pod every day and a half. He also started using Juul capsules with less nicotine.
My father highlights a key debate in the tobacco control community: can e-cigarettes help people stop using nicotine or simply keep it hooked to a potentially less harmful product? To be clear, nicotine, while addictive, does not cause cancer, lung disease or any of the harmful effects of smoking.
The Food and Drug Administration has taken the position that nicotine-based products pose various risks: cigarettes are the deadliest and other products, including electronic cigarettes and heated tobacco products, are less harmful .
"In the absence of combustion, we will have tough questions to ask ourselves as a society about nicotine and the so-called risk continuum, as well as about the unintended consequences and desired consequences," said Mitch Zeller , responsible for the FDA's Center for FDA. Tobacco products, said at a recent e-cigarette forum.
Questions as if someone had to stay on these products for a long time or forever, how did we feel about it? Especially like electronic cigarettes that require a pulmonary delivery and can be addictive. "And if that's what it takes the smoker to avoid the relapse of the most harmful product, cigarettes?"
These are issues that I am struggling with now. My father "stopped" for years, never really leaving. At least now, he does not smoke cigarettes, the deadliest way to use nicotine. Still, I do not know if he'll ever stop Juuling, and I do not know the consequences of that.
Ray Niaura, professor of social and behavioral sciences at New York University, assured me that it was still early. From there, my dad could make a reduction or, at some point, maybe decide to completely abandon his Juul.
"Let's start by quitting," he said. "So you have more room to decide to get rid of nicotine."
For the moment, I will celebrate the fact that my father is finally without a cigarette.