I decided back in January that this would be the year that I stopped smoking. I got a scare a few years ago when I had a series of heart attacks and ended up in hospital to clear a 99% blockage in an artery. That only kept me from smoking for five days. That was how long I was in the hospital. I came home and within an hour I had a cigarette. If you smoke, you know the feeling. I liked the feel of the cigarette in my hand, the draw, the throat hit, watching the smoke curl up when I exhaled and of course, the nicotine. The problem I had in the past was that I believed the hype from NRT (nicotine replacement therapy) companies, that the only addictive part of a cigarette was the nicotine. Well maybe for some people but for me it was the whole package. I tried everything over the years, gum, patches, lozenges, inhalers. They all did what they said to some extent. They delivered nicotine to the body. The patch delivered it 24/7 which caused some awful nightmares. The gum tasted like old shoes. The lozenges burned my mouth and the inhaler just irritated my throat. None of them stopped me from smoking. The longest I was able to go without a cigarette was seven days. I tried cold turkey also but no nicotine and no smoking was even worse.
I wanted to be retired for at least as long as I worked. I wanted to be around for my wife and kids and grand-kids. Something had to be available that would give me nicotine and the visceral experience of smoking with out the smoke and its tar and about 4000 other chemicals. What I needed was a magic wand that I could wave and stop smoking. It was not magic but technology that helped me.
I had heard of e-cigarettes the past few years but hadn’t paid much attention to them. They seemed to be a good idea but not very well done. I would see them at the local gas station. I tried one but it was like putting a pen in my mouth and hoping something akin to smoke would come out of it. It tasted awful, there was almost no vapour and the battery died within two days. I forgot about them entirely until two months ago. I was visiting a friend and while walking back to my car, saw a store called The Urban Cloud. I wondered what it was and took a look in the window. I saw a lot of strange looking devices in cases. Some looked like single cigar cases like my dad used to have and some looked like large pens or small flashlights. I went in and met Tyler, the manager and asked him about his business. He was friendly and enthusiastic and that counts for a lot in my book. He told me about the PV (personal vapourizers) that he sold and about the e-juice that was made in a lab in Waterloo. He was professional in every way. I left with some information and went home to do some research on the internet.
The information I found was almost overwhelming. There were Doctors and scientists on both sides of a debate. One side said that e-cigs were the best thing since sliced bread and the other saying that the apocalypse was upon us if they were not banned. I read blogs and reports and watched news videos until I was satisfied that I had a good idea what it all meant. The term I kept coming across that really jumped out at me was “harm reduction”. I had heard many times that the nicotine in smoking wasn’t the worse part, it was the smoke. Nicotine is not good for you but without the smoke, it is not a killer. If nicotine alone was so bad we wouldn’t have every Doctor recommending NRT to anyone who wanted to quit smoking. The e-cig works something like a fog machine at a theatre. A low temperature coil vapourizes the e-juice and this vapour is inhaled like smoke from a tobacco cigarette. The e-juice contains Propylene Glycol, Vegetable Glycerin, flavours and sometimes nicotine. Propylene Glycol and Vegetable Glycerin are used in fog machines and are considered non-toxic. The sensation of smoking is there, the nicotine is there but the smoke is gone. This is the “harm reduction” that I was reading about.
Armed with my new understanding, I decided to visit Tyler at The Urban Cloud again. He recommended a good starter system for me and showed me how it worked. The confusing part was the e-juice. There are a lot of flavours available with and without nicotine. I didn’t want to branch out too far so I picked the Canadian tobacco blend flavour with 18 mg. of nicotine as recommended by Tyler because of my pack a day habit. I walked out of the store and after more than 42 years of smoking a pack a day, I just stopped. I don’t know what the future will bring but it has been a month since that day and I can’t even think about smoking a tobacco cigarette. I’ve since picked up more juice but lowered the nicotine to 12 mg. and picked up a flavour other than tobacco (Urban Cloud’s own Anex), really tasty. The smell of cigarette smoke actually bothers me now. It doesn’t bring back any desire to smoke. It just makes me smile and think about the magic wand in my pocket.