So, let me start by saying, I smoked for a hard 22 years. My addiction was conceived at the ripe age of 14 during my distinguished career as an east bay rude boy. For the better part of those 22 years I was a pack a day smoker and in that time there was NOTHING that could stop me from visiting my addiction, daily - oh the taste of a freshly rolled smig from discarded cigarette butts. Nuff said, I was an addict.
Maybe it was my lifestyle that contributed to my addiction. Most all of my friends smoke, even the folks I didn't know that were "around" smoked, when I'd go out partying it was impossible to deny that cig to compliment that ice cold beverage. And there was that big social scene, where people would gather - smokin' and chatin' it up outside a bar or club, a cigarette was the perfect companion to great conversation. "Hey brah, gotta smoke?"
A big part of it was the ritual aspects. That euphoria in taking that first drag of that first smoke with some freshly brewed coffee - the best, that smooth camel (I was a Camel man) after that delicious meal, the after workout smoke, the after accomplishing the impossible smoke, that great song smoke, the after work smoke. Well you get the picture.
There was also this spiritual quality, where in times of distress I'd pull out a smoke, light up, take a few drags and chaos transformed into clarity. I wouldn't go as far as saying I saw visions, but there was this grounding where I felt slightly separated from the "physical world" and closer to my purpose in it, I gained a better understanding in these little smoking retreats. My greatest ideas and resolves came in these moments
For those 22 years it just seemed normal to smoke, and I never really questioned it. If anything my cig felt like my little buddy, through thick and thin. If I was having a hard time he was there to keep me company and help me through it. If I was bored, well we would just hang out. If a celebration was in order my cig was the first in attendance and the last to leave. Sometimes I would light up a smoke for no reason other then making a great time even better. To make the moment perfect, a smoke had to be in the picture, my cig was never left out.
I'm not sure if I could isolate one distinct thing I liked about smoking, I LOVED everything about smoking. The taste, the way it hit my throat, the oral fixation, that tiny little nicotine buzz (usually only in the morning), the timeouts, the smoke, the social aspects, the support it gave me and yes, even the way it smelled.
And now the reality check, I needed to quit.
My motivations were:
1) Save a couple of bucks
2) Not getting winded going up a few stairs.
3) Wanting to live past 60
4) And for me the most important, my girlfriend Caroline, a non-smoker who has put up with my stench and braved the ashtray mouth for way to many years.
I could not for the life of me (literally) figure out how I could accomplish this seemably impossible feat. I felt I was giving up much more then a physical addiction to nicotine, I was giving up a life.
I am now a non-smoker, going on 2 years without a single cigarette. Here is my badge to prove it.
So how did I do it? How did someone as addicted come to quit?
It started on a Business trip in Atlanta, it just fell on my lap. I was outside the company building deep in one of my smoking moments when I start chatting it up with this guy. We shoot the .... for a bit, then he leads into a conversation about how he wants to quit, he tells me there are a couple of guys in the company smoking these Electronic Cigarettes instead of the "analogs" and he was thinking about giving it a shot. I had never even known these things existed, so he proceeds to break the devise down. Basically, a battery, an atomizer, and a cartridge that contains water, flavor and nicotine (at various strengths). The device looks and feels like a cigarette but it's not, when you inhale the atomizer kicks in and vaporizes the liquid in the cartridge and produces vapor (not smoke) that you inhale. You're smoking but you're not, no tar, no carcinogens, no carbon monoxide, around 10 chemicals instead of 3000+. I was sold, but I have to admit, I was skeptical. So I wished him luck and we went our separate ways.
I went right to my laptop and googled "Electronic Cigarettes", five minutes later I was wrapping up my order. From the information I gathered there was no doubt that e-cigs are an extremely healthier alternative to the real deal, that's all I needed. I would wait for my order to come it and see what this was all about.
5 days later back in my home in Berkeley, it happened, my order was in. It came in a US priority mail package, I tore into it, unwrapping the individual components. I assembled the pieces (battery,atomizer,cart) and prepared for my first hit. It was at that time that I considered having my last analog cig, but it felt like a trap (DON'T DO IT), I declined knowing (really believing) that I was now a non-smoker, this was it, if this device could not get me to quit, nothing would. I took my first drag from the e-cig, and at that moment I knew that I was all good, this was going to work. I thought about throwing out my pack of camels, but I didn't, I recommend you hold on to the pack, not to smoke (of course) but to not smoke for the right reason, because you don't want to, not because you can't. I still have my pack collecting dust in my closet.
Later that night my girlfriend came home and I revealed the news, she was ecstatic, and deep down, I was too.
The weeks that followed were smooth sailing, I thought I would have a hard time with the coffee ritual, but I didn't, the drink at the bar, not a problem, if fact it was better as I could vape inside the bar. I didn't even think about having an analog cig, my e-cig covered all my addictions, both chemical and behavioral (the oral fixation was a big part). My senses (smell and taste) gradually started to come back, I almost felt like I was developing an enhanced human ability, but I knew that was just how normal people taste and smell, I was coming back.
The other benefits that followed were an overall increase in energy, I didn't smell or taste like an ashtray - which made my girlfriend Caroline very happy, and possibly the biggest was increased endurance and stamina - to put it in prospective, I work out religiously, so this was easy to gage, I hit the cardio machine for an hour, before switching to vapor, I maxed out at level 11, two weeks later I was pushing into level 15.
So, that's my story, at the time of writing this I have been a non-smoker for 594 days. I don't even have the slightest urge to smoke an analog. I can't say everyone will share the same experience but there are plenty testimonials online that will testify to the same positive experience.
Now, with that out of the way it's time to have some fun. Vaping, unlike smoking is not just limited to lighting up and puffing away, oh no, there can me much more. Sure you can buy cartridges (carts) and not bother, but where's the fun in that, how can you not make your own delicious recipe, custom made to fit the growing needs of you're new enhance taste buds. I plan to expand this blog to share the wealth of information I have personally collected and applied to making my own custom juices (e-liquids), I will also publish any worthy e-cig articles and a series of post on healthy vaping and health risk.
if you've made it this far, make sure to check back for (instructional/informational) post, tasty juice (e-liquid) recipes and electronic cigarette reviews.
Peace and happy vaping,
Brian (from the Vapor Den)