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Tuesday, February 18, 2014


After 35 years of smoking cigarettes, I've finally kicked that habit.

I started "vaping", or puffing electronic, or e-cigarettes.

My reasons were simple. Regular cigarettes are insanely expensive, I never actually liked the taste or smell of tobacco myself - even after 35 years. Plus, having had two minor heart attacks, a near fatal bout with pneumonia and breathing problems, I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I have enough other health problems and if I can knock just one of my worst demons out, I'll have accomplished a LOT. I also had a lot of encouragement and support from those closest to me - some whom have begged me to quit for years.

And after nearly losing a close friend to esophageal cancer last year, that was the last straw.

But quitting was next to impossible for me. And in fact, I probably never would have even taken on the habit if my mom hadn't forced me to smoke a whole pack as punishment for catching me smoking. So parents, for God's sake, do NOT make that mistake with your own children if you catch them smoking.

I've tried the cold turkey approach, patches, gum, lollipops, everything. I heard about e-cigarettes, but I always thought they were too expensive and didn't do anything. And I knew nothing about them. But one of my friends said he was going e-cigarettes and I pretty much decided to join him. Another friend recommended Caterpillar Vapes, where she ordered her e-cigarette kit and she told me it was so good, she hasn't craved a regular cigarette since.

So I ordered. I hoped for the best, but expected the worst. At the rate I was going, I resigned to the idea I was going to die next to a pack of cigarettes.

And it not only lived up to my lowest expectations, it exceeded my highest. For the first time in 35 years, I do not have a pack of cigarettes and a lighter on or near me.

In other words, a fucking miracle has happened.  

E-cigarettes have a LOT of advantages. First, you're not smoking, but inhaling a water based vapour.

Regular cigarettes create smoke and odours and eventual discolouration of the walls, ceilings and furniture over a long time. This was brought home to me shortly after my mom died and I had to clean off the light fixture above her kitchen table where she smoked for 13 years. The smoke residue had discoloured once white elements of the fixture into a dull golden brown. And cleaning it was one of the grossest jobs I ever had to do. And it really makes me sad that my mom didn't live to see these. If she knew the difference e-cigarettes can make, she would have switched in a heartbeat.

E-cigarettes create vapour that looks like cigarette smoke, but it's actually a vapour that disappears quickly and does not linger because unlike tobacco, it contains no tar and discolouring oils. It's no different than a water based air diffuser. Or even ordinary cooking odours. The vapour and odour of an e-cigarette disappears in seconds.

If you're still smoking regular cigarettes, you REALLY owe it to yourself to make the switch to e-cigarettes. Not only is it VASTLY cheaper than smoking regular cigarettes (which now cost nearly $10 a pack in Washington State - you don't need to buy a pack a day, you don't even need lighters or matches. You just press a button on the battery of the e-cigarette and inhale. And there's a HUGE yearly savings in that.)

E-cigarette smokers don't leave butts, empty packs and ashes everywhere. They don't smell bad. And in rental housing where smoking bans are becoming more and more common, they are completely unnoticeable.

And my starter kit has already paid for itself in the first week of use.

Total $69.03....Same price as a week of cigarettes. With no mess, odour and hassles.
Best of all, you don't have to put up with the usual tobacco flavour. E-liquid flavours come in an INCREDIBLE variety. From Roasted Marshmallows to fresh fruit and drink flavours - I even found one that tasted like roasted hot dogs, although I don't think I'm that adventurous. But if you prefer a tobacco flavour, they have those too.

Nicotine levels of the e-liquids also vary, depending on the kind of cigarettes you smoked - there are also nicotine-free varieties.

I smoked full flavours, so the nicotine level in my e-liquid is 2.4. Medium is 1.8. Lights is 1.2 and Ultra-Lights is 0.6. My goal is to gradually lower my nicotine levels over five years to zero. And eventually put the e-cigarette kit away for good.

The benefit to me is it simulates the feel of smoking, without the tar, stink, ash and chemicals of regular cigarettes. As a writer, taking a drag is a necessary activity for me every paragraph or so. And there's no worrying about burning down the cigarette in the ashtray. Or having to smoke the whole cigarette outside and then come back and write. Which only increased my smoking of regular cigarettes.

How it works:

There are two main components to an eGo e-cigarette (my brand). I ordered this kit. Which contains two 900mAh batteries, which holds more than enough charge per day for my needs. There are also higher 1,100mAh batteries for heavier smokers and 650mAh batteries for lighter smokers. The gist with this kit is you can charge one while using the other.

There are four cartomizers. A cartomizer is what holds the e-liquid. You unscrew the mouthpiece and pour the e-liquid at a 45 degree angle at the sides, not at the hole in the center, which is the air hole which you inhale from with the mouthpiece on. The silica fibers of the coil head inside the cartomizer is what absorbs the e-liquid and when you press the battery button, it heats the cartomizer, creating the vapour. The coil heads have to be replaced every so often, so I bought 4 extra coil heads. The extra cartomizers also have coil heads and I have used the same cartomizer and coil head (and the same e-liquid type) for a week and a half and so far so good. You can also use the different cartomizers to hold different flavours of e-liquids for variety.  

This is a 30ml bottle of Tropical Joy flavoured e-liquid. And in a week and a half of use, this is how much I used. Did I mention this bottle cost $7.69? A pack of the cheapest cigarettes at my closest grocery cost $8.10 and is gone in a day. And I have a second 30ml bottle of tobacco flavoured e-liquid. (Your own use may vary.)

And now the flipside.....

E-cigarettes are a gray area in the health and public regulations. It's not smoking, but it's still not kosher to be vaping in mixed company. There's lots of concern whether it will lead kids to smoking actual cigarettes, but after 35 years of pack a day smoking, I absolutely do not see why. Cigarettes do not come in all these flavours. And there are nicotine free varieties you don't have to inhale, some non-smoking dieters use these to curb cravings for sweets.

But there are also social nannies and misinformed politicians who will try to make access to e-cigarettes and e-liquids difficult. If someone is under 18, I can see it. But for older smokers trying to quit or looking for a tar free alternative, it's crazy.

I think e-cigarettes are probably the best thing yet to help smokers kick the habit. And I'm already feeling the benefit. I breathe easier (although for the first few days, it took a while for my lungs to adjust), my mood was stable, I wasn't going crazy like I did without regular cigarettes. And now regular tobacco smoke is becoming irritating to me. But to create laws against e-cigarettes would increase tobacco usage again. And I want to stay on the course I'm on now.

And my friend was right. I haven't craved a regular cigarette since.


  1. Glad its working out for you !!

  2. After 30 years of smoking: First vape 04/21/2011. Last cigarette 07/31/2011. Haven't had a cigarette ever since - nor do I want one.

    I smoked my way though lord knows how many attempts with gum, drugs, support groups etc. etc. Vaping was the only thing that worked.


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