Important Note: This was written in 2012 and while most of the specifics are still relevant any advice related to devices or specific products is no longer valid!
Recently I decided to quit smoking, for good. I have “quit” on many occasions for varying lengths of time using a number methods. My most successful attempt lasted for over three years, cold turkey. It seems, though, that the older I have gotten the more impossibly difficult it has become to quit. That, combined with the fact that many of my closest friends and family are smokers, has made my recent attempts to quit fail miserably, often only lasting a week or two. Some people might think that all it takes is good old will power, but the legality and inherent accessibility of cigarettes, added to the fact that nicotine is more addictive than heroin or cocaine – makes quitting cigarettes one of the most difficult things a person can do. I have tried Chantix, the patch, the gum, the lozenges – everything. They all work the same way – perfectly well, until you stop using them. Most people who have successfully quit long term will tell you, the only way is cold turkey, nicotine replacement generally only gets you away from cigarettes temporarily, or onto whatever nicotine product you have begun using instead. (i.e. people who are addicted to nicotine gum).
All of that being said, my most recent attempt to quit was using the patch. About a month in, I was browsing reddit and a thread came up on the very relevant to me subject of “How did you quit smoking?”, to which the top comment was a response that stated “I used an electronic cigarette”. I have of course known about these devices for some time, but I had always dismissed them as just silly and pointless, but could they really work? I started doing some research. Much to my surprise, it turns out that the electronic cigarette industry is huge and thriving, but it is fairly underground and the devices most people choose to use are not what you’ll find in mall kiosks or through radio advertizements. As a result of my experiences I have decided to write a series of posts to hopefully educate some of my friends and family on this subject and perhaps get some of those who have been unable to quit to make the switch.
Community and Health
This community of people refer to their e-cigarettes as personal vaporizers, or PV’s, to the practice of using their PV’s as vaping, and to the liquid used in the PV as juice. I will be using these terms throughout this series of posts. So far the community has been extremely friendly and very welcoming. Most of them take the use of e-cigs very seriously as it has become a bit of a political battlefield between the vendors of e-cig products, big tobacco, and the FDA. Most vapers are very proud of their new habit, and for many it is much more than just something to do instead of smoke, it is a full blown hobby. There are a number of forums, blogs, youtube channels, and basically anything else you can imagine on the subject of vaping. The sheer number of options when it comes to choosing a PV or a juice can be downright overwhelming, and it helps to have a friendly community to turn to with questions. This group of people has turned into a wonderful support system.
As far as health goes, the biggest thing for me was research suggesting that nicotine alone, while very addictive, is not very much more dangerous than caffeine – and that it is the other 4000 chemicals found in cigarettes which make smoking so dangerous. The bottom line for me was that I could still have the sensation of smoking (which I actually like) and get the nicotine my addiction requires all while improving my health by a thousand fold. Clearly there is no better choice for your health than to simply quit, period, but if you feel like you simply cannot quit, the e-cig alternative might be a smart choice. Literally thousands of pages have been written on the subject of health with respect to e-cigs but a very concise article summarizing the most common questions can be found here.
So, I got one. I was to a point with the patch where I had recently stepped down from the “step 1” to the “step 2” patch. I was finding my cravings for nicotine to be extremely strong and unbearable to the point where I was sneaking one or two cigarettes a day, I knew I was going to wind up smoking again unless I found a suitable alternative. I felt like anything was worth a try at this point and I had come to terms with the fact that while I might still be addicted to nicotine as an e-cig user, at least I wouldn’t be loading up my lungs with tar and increasing my risks for cancer.
At this point many of you are probably thinking, “Ok, so you still smoke.”, I know that’s how my father reacted when he basically dismissed my choice by saying something to the effect of “all nicotine addictions are created equal”. I would argue, though, that I do not smoke – and I no longer classify myself as a smoker. So far I can summarize my experiences in a few bullet points.
- I can breathe like I could when I was a non-smoker
- I do not cough, ever, unless I am actually sick
- I feel better
- I have more energy
- My clothes, hands, car, and breath no longer smell
- I never get cravings for traditional cigarettes
- I can vape indoors, guilt free
- I can choose how much nicotine I use
- I vape far less than I used to smoke
- I am enjoying it more as a hobby than as a habit
- I have hundreds of flavors I can choose from, depending on my mood
- I’m saving lots of money
Basically, I have been using an electronic cigarette for two months, and I have nothing but good things to say. I might still be addicted to nicotine, but I am not a smoker – and most importantly, I do not feel like I did when I was.
- CASAA – Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association
- CASAA – What are electronic cigarettes – Great article on the health concerns associated with electronic cigarettes
- World Vaping Day – Health Article
- Reddit – Electronic Cigarette – A reddit board on the subject of e-cigs
- E-Cigarette Forum – A message forum with a wealth of information for vapers new and experienced
- E-Cig Guides and Suggestions, via Reddit
Part two is on the subject of basic equipment and how to wade through the sea of information regarding electronic cigarettes, if you are already convinced then my first and simplest recommendation for a starter electronic cigarette is the Joye eGo-T, be sure to buy some juice to go with it.