By Emily Ledger
Since their staggeringly successful introduction to the global market, vape products have established a reputation as an effective alternative to cigarettes. A growing number of smokers have successfully used vape products to quit smoking. However, studies have revealed that a significant proportion of vapers are non-smokers. This suggests that, rather than quitting nicotine, a large number of users are initially exposed to the addictive substance through vaping… So, is there an alternative?
While e-cigarettes containing nicotine are thought to have helped tens of thousands of smokers in the UK to quit, there is also a worrying trend of non-smokers – particularly young people and teenagers – being attracted to the products. This may result in more people developing an addiction to nicotine, even if they are not consuming the other harmful constituents of cigarettes, such as tar and smoke.
For most smokers, the end goal when switching to e-cigarettes is to eventually give up nicotine altogether. Cannabidiol (CBD) has been found to have some promising anti-addiction properties which could make CBD vape products perfect to help quit nicotine for good. But how does it work?
Replacing Smoking with Vaping
Despite an ongoing global trend that has seen the number of smokers decline in recent years, smoking remains the highest cause of preventable death. It is estimated that around 6 million people die each year as a result of smoking-related illnesses. In addition, only around 4-7% of smokers are able to smoke without the help of quitting aids such as patches, sprays, and vapes. Of these quitting aids, e-cigarettes are now the most popular.
CBD and Addiction
A growing number of studies have found that CBD could be an effective aid for quitting nicotine, as well as smoking. The cannabinoid’s ability to influence drug-seeking behaviours may be down to its interactions with the neural systems responsible for these behaviours. For example, the endocannabinoid system has been seen to influence the acquisition and maintenance of drug-seeking behaviours and reward mechanisms.
Previous studies have demonstrated that drugs – including nicotine – increase extracellular levels of dopamine – the neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of pleasure and wellbeing. This chemical is released as part of the brain’s reward circuit and fuels drug-seeking behaviours.
Increasing research is supporting the theory that CBD may help to reduce addictive beaviours by indirectly influencing dopamine levels. In addition to nicotine, it is also well-established that endocannabinoids anandamide (AEA) and 2-AG also produce increased levels of dopamine. It is through this mechanism that CBD may be able to reduce addiction to nicotine (and potentially other drugs).
Anandamide – whose name is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘ananda’, meaning ‘bliss’ – is an endocannabinoid that influences our mood. CBD has been found to have the potential to boost levels of this endocannabinoid through its inhibition of the enzyme that breaks it down (FAAH). Therefore, it is theorised that an increase of anandamide, facilitated by CBD exposure, may in turn lead to an increase in dopamine levels, without the need for exposure to nicotine.
Why Choose Vaping?
So, if CBD has the potential to help reduce your cigarette cravings, why choose CBD vape products? Well, research shows that tackling addiction could be as much about breaking a habit – for example, the ritual of inhaling from a cigarette – as the feeling of reward taken from the drug. It is likely that this theory has something to do with why vape products have become the most popular quitting aid for smokers, ahead of other products like patches and sprays.
Vaping also increases the bioavailability of CBD, meaning that more of the compound is effectively absorbed by our bodies. Thin barriers between the lungs and a huge number of blood vessels mean that the vapourised CBD can more easily enter our bloodstream. This means that vaping the cannabinoid will give you a stronger effect than other means of consumption.
Consumers are able to opt for sleek and stylish CBD pens – such as the Hiatus CBD pens – which come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and flavours. Alternatively, many companies now produce CBD vape juices which can be inserted into your refillable vape cartridge. Some users recommend the use of a CBD vape pen after the initial transition from smoking to vaping. Why not give it a go yourself and see whether CBD could help you to quit smoking for good?