Monday, 28 July 2014

To quit smoking really isn't that hard...

Having a few beers used to make me start
smoking again. Vaping solved this problem
This weekend I was at my wife's cousin's wedding. The weather here in Norway is still pretty damn good, at least if you can stay outside. Inside it can really be a bit to hot at the moment, at least when there is no air-con like at this wedding, but luckily the venue were the party was held had some great outdoor spaces as well, so most people stayed outside. This made the smokers happy as they was able to attend the whole party. And I was of course vaping happily outside as usual. I was the only vaper there, but a bit to my surprise I got only one comment on my vaping. And this was just like: "... I see you switched to e-cigarettes". It felt a bit like even thought no other people there vaped, this was something they'd seen before and they knew what I was doing. In these kind of settings I'm used to getting some questions and maybe even end up in some discussion about the benefits of vaping, especially when it's getting late and people have had some drinks. But now I think vaping is becoming more visible here in Norway as well, and people are getting used to it.

Norwegian newspaper Bergens Tidene published an interesting article about "The new vapor" a couple of days ago (, not sure if google translate will work on this). The article starts out with the following quote, which confirms my theory above: "You see them on street corners and on cafes, the smokers that are sucking on electronic devices that just emits odourless vapor". As I wrote a couple of days ago: Norwegian vapers are coming out from their hiding places. The article in short tells the story of Han Li and how he invented the e-cigarette, then Karl Erik Lund from SIRUS has some great comments as usual, asking why the hell we should wait 20 years for long term studies when we already know that e-cigarettes are less harmful than cigarettes, and then there is some info on today's legal status here in Norway. I'd say the article shines a pretty positive light on vaping and e-cigs. What I find especially interesting is the comments from psychology specialist Halvor Kjølstad at the end of the article. He says that addiction consists of a physical and mental part. How much of the addiction is physical and how much is mental varies from person to person, but in the long run the mental part is the hardest one to get rid of. Some substances are more addictive than others and will give stronger physical reactions when quitting than others, but these physical reactions will go away. However the mental addiction can stick for years, and may never go away. Kjølstad then reminds us that "an addicts biggest problem isn't quitting, but not starting over." This, as I've said many times now, is a big part of the explanation to why e-cigarettes work so well.

Now relating this back to the wedding: I saw quite a few people there that I know have been smokers, that had a cigar or even a cigarette. This reminds me very much of all my own quit-attempts. Actually I'm not sure I should call them just attempts. I've stopped smoking for longer periods of time several times, but I've usually started again after some kind of party. There is actually a big chance that if I hadn't been vaping, I'd been smoking at this wedding and probably finished the pack the morning after... and you all know where I'm going with this right? My own experience tells me that Kjølstad is 100% right. To quit smoking isn't really that hard... it's staying off the cigarettes that's the hard part. And this is where vaping comes in so handy.

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Friday, 25 July 2014

Vapers coming out from their hiding places here in Norway

Currently I'm kind of on vacation. I'm not sure if vacation is the right term but at least I am off work, and I'm spending my time off trying to build a kitchen for the first time. It's amazing how many times you have to go to IKEA, to different hardware stores and to building supply stores to pick up things and tools you need. You would think IKEA supplied you with everything... but they don't. So I've spent a lot of this week driving around town picking up everything I've forgotten or didn't know I would need. So I haven't had much time to blog, but during the last week I've discovered something: I'm not the only (public) vaper in my town any more.

When walking home from work on my last day before the vacation I was surprised to see a middle aged man pull up an ego with a clearomizer at a cafe just as I walked by. Later that day I was out shopping for more kitchen stuff and I actually saw another one at a parking lot. Then a couple of days later my wife went to a cafe to meet a friend and she came home telling me that her friend had pulled out an e-cigarette as well, and it turns out that my wife's friend's boyfriend is also a vaper. Pretty hardcore one as well from what she told me. Finally, yesterday when I went to IKEA to pick up the last parts of the kitchen (yeah right!) I saw a guy outside with a big-ass mod and a huge tank filled with some green liquid, making some pretty big clouds of vapor.

It finally looks like the vapers are coming out from their hiding places here in Norway. Prior to this week I can't even remember seeing anyone with an e-cigarette here in this town. Well, actually I have some colleagues at work that I have convinced, but this is the first time I've seen some out and about. Maybe it's the weather (it has been fantastic the last week by the way) that has brought them outside? I don't know, but I hope it stays this way :)

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Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Pfizer Norway wants the government to pay for Champix

Sissel Lønning Andresen, CEO of Pfizer Norway, recently published a post in Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet, where she claims that "E-cigarettes are neither the problem nor the solution to the tobacco problem". This was published in a section called "Meanings", where readers can express their opinions: I wouldn't expect Pfizer to see e-cigarettes as the solution, and she writes that it's not the problem either so this doesn't look to bad. But actually this article is nothing but an attempt to promote their own products, especially Champix. Lønning writes that "the problem with replacing cigarettes with other nicotine products is that it doesn't affect the the underlying nicotine addiction. Every week 100 Norwegians die from tobacco, therefore our main focus should still be on how we can offer pragmatic and realistic solutions to get as many as possible to quit smoking, or even better, become totally free of nicotine addiction." And she goes on to reveal her true purpose of this post:
"In the toolbox of Norwegian doctors there is nicotine free pharmaceutical products with well documented smoking cessation effects. These products are still not covered by the "blue prescription plan". Even patients with severe cases of COPD cannot get these products through "blue prescription", even though we know that quitting is by far the most important medical measure for a lot of these people."
The "blue prescription plan" is a system where the government covers expenses for drugs for patients with serious and long-term illnesses. There is a little known paragraph in the medicine regulations here in Norway that hinders drugs for hair loss, impotence, alcohol addiction and tobacco addiction from being covered by this plan, and this paragraph is what Lønning wants to get into focus and probably rid of by writing this post.

Lønning doesn't argue that nicotine is bad for you, but she says that not getting rid of the addiction increases the chance of reverting to cigarettes. Actually it's the other way around. If you still get the nicotine from other, less harmful, sources the chance of reverting decreases. That's common sense. And that is exactly why e-cigarettes are working so well.

I also found a quite interesting comment on the post from a vaper who was part of the Champix trials here in Norway. She says she only managed to quit for 3 days through the use of Champix. After only 2 years Champix was available in the pharmacies. Where was the cry-out for long term studies before this happened? I think we all have read about the side-effects of Champix by now. And this vaper also says the last Champix attempt almost killed her, and having claimed 500 lives so far the pill kills faster than the cigarettes. Good point!

This has nothing to do with concern for public health from Pfizer Norway's side. It's all about the money. Lønning finishes the article by saying she believes our minister of health, Bent Høye, belongs to a party that believes more in reason than prohibition and that she hopes the government will re-consider their position when it comes to refunding smoking cessation drugs. Her agenda seems pretty clear now: She wants the Norwegian government to pay for peoples Champix, so her company can sell more of it.

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Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Big Pharma's first anti-vaping ad(?)

Photo by
Chris Snowden spotted this very interesting ad on the London tube on Saturday. Looks like Big Pharma is getting pretty desperate. Not very surprising though. NRT sales are plummeting as Dick Puddlecote  reported already in January this year, and, as Dick writes, it doesn't look like 2014 is going to be a good year for Big Pharma's NRTs. They are looking at a predicted double digit decline in the market this year, so no wonder they are getting desperate.

"Don't vape. Quit for Good" - what does that even mean? It sure doesn't mean quitting nicotine, so maybe it's the PG or VG they want you to quit. Nah, can't be that either as they are both in the spray as well. Have a look at the list of what's in the spray here: (Scroll down close to the bottom). Looks to me like they've taken some mint/menthol e-liquid, added some other scary chemicals, that I have no knowledge of, and put it in a spray can instead of a vaporizer. So it's the ritual of vaping/smoking that they want you to get rid of then?

To me this ad shows that Big Pharma is really starting to feel the impact of e-cigarettes on their NRT market, which is a good thing in my opinion. It's quite interesting to see that they don't really present any argument to why their product is better than vaping. They're only trying to say that switching to e-cigarettes is not really quitting. To be honest I'm not sure what effect this ad will have, I doubt it will make many vapers do another switch, but it might actually help raise awareness of vaping.

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Friday, 11 July 2014

E-cigarettes in Norwegian gas stations

After surviving a week in the mosquito infested woods of Sweden, I got back to some fantastic weather here in Norway. Almost 30 degrees Celsius for several days in a row. That's not something that happens too often here, I tell you that. And of course it happens the week we have to spend moving houses and cleaning the old apartment. Nice timing eh? But we managed to squeeze in some time for a trip to the beach too cool off after moving what seems to be a million cardboard boxes filled with stuff we haven't used since we last moved. On the way to there we had to stop for ice-cream at a gas-station (of course we had to) and then I saw something I haven't seen yet here in Norway: A sign that said  "We have e-cigarettes". Of course they were hidden away behind the covers that hides the regular tobacco products, but I asked what kind they sold. The guy behind the counter was quick to inform me that it was zero-nicotine as well... almost like he thought I was some kind of undercover cop out to get him. Kind of funny actually. When I told him I was using the stuff (with nicotine) myself he seemed to relax a bit and showed me what kind they had, some re-branded eGo starter kits (from these guys I guess:

With this in mind I started looking for e-cigarettes in other gas-stations whenever I was in one. So far I've been able to find just one more that had some disposables from Playboy. Turns out they've had them for a while actually. They told me that most people who buy them are drunk as hell, on the way home from a night out (this particular station is pretty close to a bar- and restaurant-area downtown).

Both of these gas stations are part of large chains (I guess all stations are, at least here in Norway), but the people who run these stations have some kind of freedom to choose if they want sell at their station, and at the moment I doubt any of the big chains have decided to start selling e-cigs in all their stations ... yet. But who knows what they decide in the future. These guys might just have gotten the snowball rolling (even if it's 30 degrees outside).

So, now we have e-cigarettes in gas-stations here in Norway as well :) Wonder how long it takes before we start seeing them in the super-markets? And I wonder how the big chains will react to merchants putting e-cigs in their shelves. I'm pretty sure it will start happening soon. Actually we're known to be kind of slow here in my part of the country so there might be e-cigarettes in the shelves of super-markets in other parts of Norway already for all I know. Feel free to leave a comment if you've seen any.


photo credit: Alexander Rentsch via photopin cc

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

I'm not dead, I'm just in Sweden

This week I'm enjoying life in a mosquito infested camping site in the Swedish woods. I'm here as coach for my twin stepdaughters' football (soccer) team. We played our first match today, winning comfortably 5-0. Thanks to vaping I was also able to join the team jogging this morning, something that would have been unthinkable a couple of years ago. Actually I would probably have been "stuck at work" two years ago... one of my favourite excuses for avoiding these things were I have to share a room with others. My coughing would have kept everyone awake, and I would have had to come up with all kinds of stuff to sneak away for a cigarette. To be honest... these things used to suck and I hated them. But now... I love it. Watching the girls play beats the hell out of watching any of the world championship games.

So this week there won't be much vaping related stuff here at the vaping giraffe, but I'll be back next week with the review of the Zamplebox that arrived yesterday just before we left for Sweden and a competition to go with it as well. That is if the mosquitoes don't suck all life out of me before then.

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