Watch: Patt Denning Describes Her Switch From Cigarettes to Vapes

September 3, 2021

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 Redmond

Helen is Filter's senior editor and a multimedia journalist. She is on the methadone, vaping and nicotine train. Helen is also a filmmaker. Her two documentaries about methadone are Liquid Handcuffs and Swallow THIS. As an LCSW, she has worked with people who use drugs for over two decades. Helen is an adjunct assistant professor and teaches a course about the War on Drugs at NYU. She lives in Harlem.

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