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Unintended Consequences Of Nicotine Nearly Killed Pippa Starr

By Jessica Moroney

27 September 2021

Imagine your close friend from high school, the one that has been addicted to cigarettes since a teenager. Walking along the main street of town, smoking, and flicking the remaining ash on the sidewalk.

Ten years later their lungs line with tar and toxin. Until they tried vaping, nothing could convince them to kick the habit.

Cigarette smoking remains Australia’s leading cause of avoidable death and disease­ despite immense tobacco control.

Many Australians have successfully quit cigarette smoking through nicotine

e-cigarette replacement therapy or purchasing nicotine to put in devices themselves. Electronic nicotine delivery systems, or ‘vapes’ are devices that imitate smoking used to deliver nicotine without the harmful chemicals generated from burning tobacco.

On October 1st, ex-smokers who vape nicotine fear the risk of relapsing as the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) implements harsh $222000 fines and ban all importation of nicotine into Australia without a doctor’s prescription.

Their reason for the restrictions is simple, regulation and the prevention of adolescent exposure to nicotine in e-cigarettes (1.9% of 14 to 17-year-olds regularly vape).

In 2019, 11% of Australian adults were daily cigarette smokers, and adolescents between the ages of 14-17 were least likely to have ever smoked compared to any other age group (around 97%).

Smoking addiction stems from the addictive chemical nicotine,

Robert West mention’s that nicotine is the main factor contributing to ‘cue-driven smoking urges’ or ‘situational cravings’ that result in cigarette addiction.

‘Nicotine hunger’ contributes to the primary mechanisms that underpin cigarette addiction and is the culprit for withdrawal symptoms including irritability, restlessness and difficulty concentrating.

Pippa Starr is one Australian who has successfully quit cigarette smoking through vaping, and the choice quickly became a vital part of her life today.

Within a week of vaping nicotine, Pippa put down the packet of smokes once and for all. The coughing and gasping for breath eased and her sleep had never been better.

“I had a horrible wheeze up until I stopped smoking and it was like the effects were immediate. Not just the huffing and puffing and skin discolouration changes, mentally it was very important. I went through one of the most interesting parts of my journey of life,” she says.

Cigarette smoking prevented Pippa from being someone she truly was, to the point where she no longer felt life was tolerable. Beginning her journey into a gender reassignment in 2013, she wasn’t aware smoking would be a deal-breaker for the recommended regime she required.

When warned by her doctor she wouldn’t be prescribed the hormonal replacement therapy until she quit smoking, vaping nicotine became an integral part of overcoming her depression and enabling her to become her authentic self.

“This is just one unintended consequence of what it could mean for people that don’t have safe alternatives to quit smoking that work. It’s one consequence of such ridiculous regulation,” she says.

So, what is stopping the government from banning toxic cigarettes? American Professor of Medicine Neal Benowitz released an article researching nicotine-related roles in cardiovascular disease, determining that nicotine itself does not enhance thrombosis and is far less detrimental to acute cardiovascular events compared to the other toxins in cigarette smoke that cause the damage.

With the health risks involved with a smoking addiction you would assume the TGA would allow less harmful alternatives, but instead have enforced strict border security measures and $222000 fines to individuals who import nicotine.

United States Tobacco Use Supplement-Current Population Survey found successful quit attempts were positively linked with vaping, while vaping is the most popular quitting aid in the UK.

Smokers that use vape alternatives are 73% more likely to quit than those who don’t.

Pippa tried her first e-cigarette in 2013, and two years later discovered she could import nicotine from New Zealand. There were no other cigarette quitting methods before vaping that helped her to quit.

“I had allergic reactions with all the other nicotine replacement therapies, including the gums and lozenges. If there was a book, I would read it. If there was an acupuncturist to pinprick my hand, I tried it. Then there was the Champix which just made me sick,” she says.

More smokers have quit around the world from vaping than any other nicotine replacement option, and vaping has helped contribute to the decrease in Australian smoking rates.

Adult Australians deserve the right to decide if these alternatives are right for the benefit of their health when evidence shows cigarette smoke is at least 95% more harmful than nicotine vaping alternatives.

“Vaping was clearly my godsend, if I continued to smoke cigarettes, I knew I was running the risk of suffering a stroke or a fatal blood clot.” Pippa says.

For more information on the benefits of quitting smoking visit


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