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Worried about weight gain when you quit vaping? Read this. There are healthier ways to help prevent weight gain when you quit, NRT is one of them. 

I felt terrible. My migraines got worse and more frequent. My stomach hurt constantly. I knew my body needed me to quit vaping, but one nagging thought kept resurfacing–"what if quitting makes me gain weight?" 

I’ve struggled my whole life with body dysmorphia, disordered eating, anxiety and the like, but as I got older and more therapized I’d managed to keep a lot of these harmful thoughts at bay. I gained confidence and comfort in my own skin and was feeling much healthier than I had in years. Yet, this era of newfound confidence post college coincided with a habit that I couldn’t kick – vaping. 

I struggled to disentangle causation vs correlation. Was I feeling confident in my body as a result of vaping helping me stay thin? Or, was I feeling confident because of external factors (plus lots of therapy) and I just happened to also be vaping? I was terrified to find out. Quitting is notorious for weight gain–historically the combination of an increased appetite without nicotine, and snacking to feed an oral fixation, gave quitting a bad rap.  

At night, unable to sleep from all the nicotine, I’d lay awake googling “Do people gain weight when they quit vaping?” I’d scroll on reddit reading people’s posts about gaining weight following quitting smoking or vaping and I’d convince myself I wasn’t ready to try quitting just yet. Soon, I’d discover that quitting would be much tougher than just overcoming this fear, but knowing the possibility of weight gain loomed, I didn’t even want to consider giving quitting a try. 

After hours of googling, I’d feel intense shame. Why was I so superficial? Why did I care so much about my weight? Wasn’t it more important to live a long and healthy life than sacrifice my lung-health for a few pounds? 

There are so many problems (an understatement) that arise from our society’s propagation of thinness as a metric for self-worth, and dangers that come from people (like me) adopting and thereby spreading these imposed standards. I’d feel dishonest if I didn’t address the quiet enjoyment I got from vaping keeping my appetite at bay. I felt ashamed to admit this out loud, and was too embarrassed by the superficiality of it all to even discuss this with my therapist. Through building Jones, I’ve realized how wide-spread this sentiment is. Nearly 25% of the (several hundred) customers we’ve spoken to have acknowledged weight-gain as reason they don’t want to quit vaping/smoking.  

I’m not qualified to address the larger societal problems that come from these damaging systemic beliefs. What I can speak to is my personal quitting journey and the tools available that help me quit without gaining weight. When I finally came clean to my mom, who is a doctor, about my vaping use and my inability to quit (having attempted cold turkey dozens of times to no avail…) she recommended I try nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). She was the first person I was able to vocalize my fear of weight-gain to, as she’s been well-aware of my eating/body-image issues throughout the years. In response to my admission, she told me that NRT actually helps people quit without weight gain. Because NRT still delivers nicotine (safely), as well as an oral fixation (you literally have a lozenge in your mouth) weight gain after smoking cessation is significantly reduced. Hearing this helped fuel my confidence in quitting using NRT, and it also led me to research these findings.  There are dozens of studies spanning decades on the fear of weight gain as a barrier to quitting, and the potential benefits of using NRT (if dosed correctly) as a method to attenuate post-cessation weight gain. I found it surprising that this fact wasn’t more widely known.

Why were so many millions of people inhaling highly toxic chemicals and unwilling to quit for fear of weight gain, when a non-carcinogenic alternative for nicotine consumption existed?

Even several years after using NRT to quit, I’m still surprised by how rarely discussed it is. I found it essential to my success quitting, and I’ll add that through using NRT I did not gain any weight after quitting vaping. 

3 years later, I still use nicotine lozenges when a craving arises even though the FDA approved use is just 12-weeks. That said, studies of long-term NRT use have repeatedly shown that it’s safe for consumption. One study, published by the National Library of Medicine writes, “This review demonstrates that NRT is associated with adverse effects that may be discomforting for the patient but are not life-threatening. Given the long-term benefits of smoking cessation over continued smoking, concern about NRT related adverse events should be balanced against the benefits of cessation.” I wanted to add this because it adds color to the quitting debate that is so rarely discussed openly and honestly. I’ve met so many people (me included) who’ve used NRT longer than the 12-week course, but it’s always kept hush hush, as if there’s something fundamentally wrong with needing NRT for longer. Study after study has shown that the adverse effects of NRT are far less harmful than smoking, so personally, I’d rather rely on NRT than relapsing any day of the week. 

If you’re struggling to quit vaping/smoking for fear of gaining weight, I hope this entry has given you some hope. Options for quitting exist & the Jones team is here support you throughout the journey. 

A Personal Dialogue by Caroline Huber, Co-Founder & Co-CEO of Jones. 

Note: I’m not endorsing nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) as a means to curb appetite, I’m writing this because I don’t want anyone who (like me) struggles with eating-disorders, disordered eating, body dysmorphia, etc, to maintain an extremely harmful habit of vaping/smoking when there are options available to quit without weight gain.*

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