Beyond the Quit: what happens when e-cigs go wrong? – Louise Ross

Guest post by Louise Ross, Service Manager at Leicester City Stop Smoking Service – the pioneering e-cig friendly service for smokers […]

Foxys Vape Bar
Meet people where they are or want to be

Guest post by Louise Ross, Service Manager at Leicester City Stop Smoking Service – the pioneering e-cig friendly service for smokers who want to quit.  Louise explains how her service is teaming up with a vape bar and vaper to give practical help to smokers as they master vaping as an alternative to smoking. This is real public health to me – and I hope the public health establishment is paying attention and reflecting carefully on what is happening here.

Louise starts here…

Opportunity – switching from smoking to vaping

Imagine you’re a heavy smoker, and you see a stop smoking advisor because you really, really want to stop smoking. It’s hard but when you try your first vapouriser you realise you could well get used to this, and it makes the loss of a cigarette remarkably easier to bear.

Then add to this promising picture the fact that you have sensory impairment, or are elderly with no internet connection, or struggling with a liquid that makes you cough so much that your throat feels like it’s being ripped out. What do you do when you start getting a burnt taste when you vape? Or the battery only lasts half the time it used to?

Barrier – mastering the technology

The common factor here is that setbacks in the transition from smoking to vaping transition can push ex-smokers into going back to smoking again – unless support is available.

‘It was OK, but it’s just easier to buy a packet of 20, you know what to do with them.’

In the Leicester City Stop Smoking Service (“Stop”), we’ve been proud and pleased with the development of our e-cig-friendly approach, and I know we have influenced many other services to go down the same path.

However, we’ve been increasingly aware of the risks to people’s ability to persevere after they stop seeing us. Have they got the confidence, or the contacts, to solve problems when they arise?

Solution – technical sessions in a good venue

We’re lucky to have two perfect partners to help tackle this.

Foxy Browns is the first vape-bar in Leicester, and when they opened, they offered Stop a chance to use their very lush space to hold meetings.

We were also offered help by an experienced vaper (@BoatingFuzzy), who was the one who suggested technical sessions in the first place. He could see how hard it must be for newbies to get the information they need, and was very keen to spend a relaxing hour or so in Foxy Browns, talking about what he knows so well with people who need the knowledge.

We had our first session on Monday 23 May (we had to postpone the first date suggested as it would have clashed with the Leicester City Football Club Victory Parade…)

People came! They asked questions. They got shown stuff. They described what had gone wrong, and they got told how to put it right. Even I knew, and the Stop advisor who came knew, that the man who found vaping too harsh for his throat needed a liquid with higher VG, and within minutes, he’d been shown how this could make a difference. He was ecstatic.

My favourite visitor though was the man I thought was a Foxy Browns’ regular when I arrived. He was already settled comfortably on a sofa, vaping quietly on his own, and I tried not to disturb him while I pinched the stools from his table to seat the visitors as they crept nervously in. When I took the last stool, he reached out and gently took my hand, whispering ‘I think I might be on your list, dear’. Turns out he was deaf and nearly blind, but showed himself to be a committed student as our expert vaper gave him some tips.

We’ll be running the sessions monthly. We’ll text people who have used Stop and are down as e-cig users. I suspect interest will grow, and I hope they bring some of their friends.

Big thanks go to Natasha at Foxy Browns for making us so welcome, and @BoatingFuzzy for his techie genius.

Louise Ross (@GrannyLouisa)

Stop Smoking Service Manager

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21 thoughts on “Beyond the Quit: what happens when e-cigs go wrong? – Louise Ross”

  1. Doug Neaves

    Vaping is particularly hard for the blind, I started vaping when I went blind. The biggest tank you can get hold of, all metal if possible, as there is no point having a glass tank when you cannot “see” the liquid. Glass obviously is hazardous. Filling the tank is a dreadful faff, so you do not want to do it multiple times a day. I found a high nicotine liquid 36mg or 24mg was most satisfactory, backed up by several lower nicotine non tobacco flavours.

    Why does the EU hate blind people? The TPD just about puts the kybosh on the blind getting the full enjoyment out of vaping. Presumably the TPD conspirators were duty bound to do a disability impact assessment? Back of a fag packet possibly? Maybe it was on the back of a green fag packet, and some cretinous politician ran off with it, dribbling. They must have been spitting tacks when they realised that the blind could not be influenced by gruesome pictures on packets. They got their own back by specifying 10ml e-liquid bottles, easily confused with eye drop bottles.

    If anyone is interested, I could write down some pointers for blind vapours, as blind smokers must be at greater risk of fires caused by cigarettes. I admit to crawling around the carpet sniffing as I detected smoke.

    1. Clive Bates

      Doug – very interesting indeed, thanks for sharing this. It’s not one for me, but I’m sure someone will wish to follow up.

    2. vapingpoint


      It is also hard phaffing about filling tiny tanks with any disability of the hands. You want to do it as little as possible in a day! The 10ml bottles with extra child-proofing and hard plastic, are a nightmare to hold in a hand that is not dexterous. I wrote a long explanation of these problems to PH when they had a “public consultation” which is another term for “we will pretend we care”.

      I have a disabled left hard and a helpful husband, but it must be worse for others with any disability that makes all that co-ordination a REAL effort. Just smoking a cigarette is much easier.

      Whoever takes this matter up on behalf of disabled people, don’t expect any consideration from Public Health England, or Tobacco Control. They have no idea we exist.

      1. I’m also disabled with grip issues and find filling with small hard plastic bottles almost impossible. I’m also liable to drop things without notice. I too wrote a long explanation of how the bottle size would affect me as a disabled vaper, but it fell on deaf ears.

    3. Doug.

      Thanks for this, we shall bring this into our sessions as of next month, I have to say I didn’t bear this in mind dealing with our elderly gent.

      If he’s not taking to the tank I recommended I shall refund him, and we’ll try again.


    4. Hi Doug

      My husband is a blind vaper too. He has Stargardt’s Disease. Luckily he has me to help him but the 10ml bottle restriction and the tank sizero restrictions would have kept him on cigarettes had he not had help and bought tanks before the ban. The downside is that the tanks he relies on will soon not have coils made for them any more. Rebuildable was something we explored (I use RBAs) but the extra ability to ‘go wrong’ put him off. I really don’t know what he will do when he can’t get his usual coils any more (the tank has a newer model which isn’t TPD compliant so not only will the original coils soon drift out of circulation, he won’t be able to upgrade).

      He’s managed to get down to a 6mg nicotine juice so that’s fine. However it seems TPD is particularly discriminatory against the disabled. Mind you the government love a bit of discrimimation against the disabled so not sure what the answer is.

      Squonking may be an option!!

      Best wishes

      Kathy Akrigg

    5. John Walker

      Hi Doug
      I was poking around one of my favourite profesional artists materials supply shops , suddenly realised that they stock plastic, easy squeeze, bottles with a plastic ‘needle ‘ style outlet, they are about 50 mls easy to refill etc (intended for watercolours etc) . If you have somebody who can help by emptying a few of the 10ml bottles into the 50 ml ‘ artists bottle’ :-)
      Suggest you and other disabled vapers might try your nearest artists materials shop.

  2. Margaret Hermon

    Louise Ross has been key in the PH involvement with e-cigs – she was first to recognise the potential and promote the use – we owe her enormous thanks.
    Very impressed with Doug Neaves’s post; have to admit it had never struck me how the appalling TPD would impact on those with visual limitations. Quite aware that it will affect those, like myself, who have arthritic hands and find the present tanks and bottles quite challenging, and that’s before the “shakes” take over; so we need to hear more from vapers with any challenging medical conditions who will be affected by this legislation.

  3. I love Louise. Just brilliant! She understands what is needed and delivers it. Real public health in action. Could we clone Louise, please? Every city in every country needs someone like her.

    Doug – kudos to you. Like others, I hadn’t thought about the problems of vaping – and the additional issues that will be posed by the nonsensical TPD regulations – for blind people. I reckon Doug is right about the lack of a proper disability impact assessment!

  4. Louise Ross

    Doug’s story needs to be told for #LordsVapeVote. I’ve used up my allowance of Lords, can someone else use it maybe?

  5. Lollylulubes

    When I started vaping three and a half years ago, it was only when I went online to see what other cigalikes (that I’d been directed to in my local supermarket) were available, that I found the amazing vaping community, all the superior devices and all the lovely non-tobacco eliquids. It was a minefield … I spent two weeks reading research and trying to make sense of all the choices available to me. Now there’s even more of everything and I’m sure it can seem incredibly complicated to the novice and especially so for those with mental health problems. If you suffer with depression, even relatively simple things can be hard to understand and those with even worse illnesses may find it impossible.

    I think the idea of vaping mentors, Stop Smoking Services and vendors all working together to help novices is a brilliant idea and it would be marvellous, Clive, if you were to write a blog encouraging it. Experienced vapers who are willing to give up their time, could contact their local vape shops and SSS and encourage the idea. A few mentors could share the gigs so they don’t have to give up too much time and vendors should jump at the idea if they have the sense.

    I find that when my tanks go below half full, they can start to leak a little and need topping up, so 2ml tanks means topping up several times a day. This would be a pain for able bodied vapers, but could be extremely difficult for those who are blind and/or have dexterity problems. Then there’s all the extra waste generated by 10ml bottles, as well as the added expense. It’s cheaper to buy eliquid in bigger bottles, so this particularly impacts the less well off but nobody should be forced to pay more for no good reason. What makes it worse is there’s absolutely no need for any of it and it’s the opposite to what the TPD is allegedly trying to accomplish. As far as safety goes, my morphine pills are a pretty bright purple and come in blister packs in a cardboard box, as do my other pain pills. I’ve managed for ten years to keep them out of the hands of my twice weekly visiting Godson, so clearly adults don’t need treating like idiots if you’re a pharmaceutical company.

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  9. Well done Louise, yet again you show compassion and intelligence when it comes to helping people make the switch to vaping. I only wish that we could do the same in my country, Australia, but unfortunately we are afflicted with fanatical, stupid, corrupt and ignorant politicians and public “health” officials, and that is without mentioning the so called cancer “charities” that want to ban vaping altogether, (nicotine liquids are already banned, and in my state, all vapour products are banned from sale, hardware and liquids. Vapers here are considered criminals, for giving up smoking the “wrong” way.

    In my state, we cannot meet in public places to talk about vaping, or show people how to use the equipment, as vaping is banned wherever smoking is banned. I have helped friends and family members to switch to vaping, but cannot do this openly, because of the laws that punish those who want to switch. Without access to the internet, and a knowledge of what to buy, (this in itself is a huge obstacle), and then some practical help, (such as offered by you and your wonderful service), most people will continue to smoke, as it is legal, and available everywhere, including black market cigs which are becoming very common even in my small remote town.

    Reading stories like this one gives me hope, but also makes me so sad, that in my own country so many have tried to make the switch, but gone back to smoking, or will never have the chance to try and make the switch, because the government would rather they pay high tobacco taxes, and die young, than be able to legally save their own lives, and improve their own health, with a product that actually works,and is a vastly safer alternative to smoking.

  10. I’m with Michael and very likely most of the reader’s of Louise’s post. In case you haven’t checked it yet, what are you waiting for?

  11. It’s great to see this initiative working.

    When the NHS first announced plans to offer cigalikes on prescription, I thought the money would be far better spent running technical support sessions. I’ve seen several friends relapse to smoking due to technical problems, the barrier to switching from smoking to vaping is not financial. A lot of people feel intimidated in vape shops and/or are not inclined to join internet forums for help and advice; beginners’ technical sessions are a fantastic idea to support people who want to try quitting with ecigs.

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