Stop Smoking Start Vaping Cover next to vaper.

Stop Smoking Start Vaping – Book Review

The world of vaping exists in a cloud of confusion and misinformation. Arguably there’s never been a greater need for clear, authoritative guidance for smokers who are considering switching to vaping.

A new book, Stop Smoking Start Vaping, by Dr Colin Mendelsohn, aims to do just that.

Colin is well qualified to write this book. Specialising in helping people to quit smoking, he has over 35 years experience both in tobacco treatment and in related research. Well known and respected amongst vaping advocates, he has been a strong voice for vapers in a country which is prepared to fine or even imprison smokers who try to quit smoking with electronic cigarettes.

Still, before I opened the book, I was worried that it would be difficult to understand. Too many medical and science professionals suffer from ‘mind blindness’ – an inability to grasp that lay readers do not share the same background of knowledge as they do.

(To be fair, vaping bloggers like myself have to watch out for this too, and bear in mind that most people don’t know what vaping terms like sub-ohm, MTL, DL e.t.c. mean.)

But Stop Smoking Start Vaping was written for clarity. It’s also very comprehensive – but each section is preceded by take home messages for people who don’t have the time or inclination to read each section in depth.

What really brings the book to life, though, is the real life stories that are dotted throughout the book. These feature an impressive array of figures, from mums to doctors, from vape shop owners and bloggers to government ministers. They’re also pretty good. Says one on a draconian Australian vaping law:

It’s absolutely ridiculous and medievally insane. It would be like selling cocaine at every super-market but requiring a prescription for coffee.’

Others simply speak from the heart:

I have now been vaping for four years. It has honestly, whole-heartedly, saved my life, my physical self, and who I am.

When I first started reading the book, I thought it was very much aimed at the smoker who is considering vaping – useful for any smoker, but with a particular focus on Australia.

But the second part of the book takes a different tack. Arguments against vaping are considered and responded to, looking at issues such as the harm from nicotine (it’s not the nicotine that causes the harm, it’s the smoke) and the argument that nicotine vaping causes dependence (yes, but much less so than smoking).

Myths are busted (no, vaping doesn’t cause popcorn lung) and, one by one, the arguments against vaping are destroyed. For example, on whether vaping is a tobacco industry ploy, Colin writes:

Mr Hon’s invention is a huge disruptive threat to the tobacco industry. Vaping products are in direct competition with cigarettes. Vaping is to cigarettes what digital cameras were to Kodak and electric cars are to the combustible engine – an existential threat to survival.

Activists will especially benefit from a detailed explanation of why vaping is opposed when the evidence in favour of it is so strong. This varies from the obvious (tobacco taxes) to the less obvious – such as the psychology of the anti-harm reduction movement. For example, Colin explains that:

…when confronted with new evidence, false beliefs often become more deeply entrenched (the ‘backfire effect’). Reasonable attempts at discussion or logical persuasion are generally doomed to failure.

These additions make this book valuable not just for smokers, but also for doctors, advocates, politicians and policy makers.

This book has some hefty testimonials to it, with heavyweights from Professor John Britton to Professor David Sweanor endorsing it. I’m adding my vote to theirs – if you’re a smoker, or even if you’re a non-smoker who has an interest in vaping, you should read this book.

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