Watch: Patt Denning Describes Her Switch From Cigarettes to Vapes

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    Dr. Patt Denning is a pioneer in developing the field of harm reduction therapy. She is the director of clinical services and training at the Harm Reduction Therapy Center (HRTC) in Oakland/San Francisco, which she co-founded with Jeannie Little, and an influential author.

    Denning has worked with countless people who use illicit drugs and alcohol. But another focus for her is tobacco harm reduction, informed by her own experiences. Denning was a lifelong smoker—with the exception of an interlude where she quit for five years, before returning to smoking.

    In this short video, she explains what it took to quit combustible cigarettes permanently by switching completely to vaping. It was a long and at times frustrating journey. For a couple years, Denning both smoked and vaped, and didn’t realize she was practicing harm reduction!

    Finding the right vaping device was key, but that involved trying a number of disposable vaping products and different strengths of nicotine. She got discouraged. Some she found too strong, others not strong enough. Many of the cartridges she bought online were duds.

    Still, she persevered until she finally found a vape that almost felt like she was smoking a cigarette. And that was it. As Denning says in the video, “I’ve never picked up a cigarette again.”



    • Helen is the senior editor of Filter. She has written about nicotine, mental health and drug policy for publications including Al Jazeera, AlterNet, Harper’s and The Influence. As an LCSW, she works with drug users in medical and community mental health settings. An expert on tobacco harm reduction, she provides training and consultation on mental health, nicotine use and THR, and in 2016 organized the first Tobacco Harm Reduction Conference in the US. Helen is also a documentary filmmaker.

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