by Cheryl K. Olson, M.P.H., Sc.D. Originally featured in the Tobacco Reporter

Switching from cigarettes to alternative nicotine products

Like many people who smoke, Doug Halterman wanted to quit. “I tried other ways, even prescription drugs, and nothing worked.” When he decided to try vaping, “At first, it was a research and development stage. I had to figure out what ones best acted like a cigarette,” he recalled. “I started with menthol tobacco. I then liked the fruit flavors because it helped stay clear of cigarettes. After vaping fruity flavors, cigs tasted absolutely disgusting.”

Halterman’s story of switching is one of several dozen generously shared via emails from members of the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA). This exploration of what drives change was triggered by anecdotes and research suggesting that encountering and trialing a range of alternative nicotine products, or rotating among an engaging mix of options, can be key to ditching smoking. The typical successful quitting journey seems less like a thruway and more like a meandering river. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products’ approach to researching switching, described in its Final Rule guidance, assumes simple choices and straight lines.

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