Quitting the sticks (Part II, My Electronic Pacifier)
Okay, so I have taken the first step. I have admitted that I have a problem. I am a nicotine addict. That’s as far as the clichés go. I am not going to do a whole 12-step number on you; I just needed a good segue to carry me from part 1 to part 2. Now all the alcoholics out there are screaming, “You don’t understand overcoming addiction! You must submit to a higher power! You must make amends, blah, blah”.
First of all, forget the higher power stuff. I can’t stand Nancy Pelosi. And I made amends. I took Herself (aka my wife, Lyn) to Key West last year. And I don’t make a habit of apologizing to anyone but Herself. AND I am not going to any meetings. I went to smoking cessation meetings when I was on the patch. We all wanted so badly to do the right thing and participate but it was a total contrivance. We didn’t cover anything that wasn’t in the Navy’s quit smoking handout.
Also of note: I have been getting a lot of kudos and “well dones” on Facebook and in emails. Thanks everyone, I love you all for your kind words, I seriously do. But I am not going cold turkey here. I am taking the lame ass’ way out. I am using a substitute device. See? The 12-step thing won’t work here. You don’t see AA moderators telling attendees to shoot the alcohol into their veins instead of drinking. Druggie meetings don’t include telling people to just put the heroine in their coffee. Those guys do the real deal. And they have my undying respect. Me? I’m a lame ass.
In my last installment I told you about my experience with the patch and my (perfectly rational) fear of Chantix. But I never related my experiences with electronic cigarettes or e-cigs.
I’m a man with lots of ideas. For example, idea number 335 was selling satellite dishes door to door. I believe joining Amway was number 417. My long-suffering wife loves these ideas. That’s why she calls me “Twit” all the time. Twit is British for brilliant. Anyway, I was messing with my Google machine a few years back and got idea number 504. “Honey,” (That’s what I call Herself just before announcing the next brilliant idea) “I know how I am going to quit smoking. They have these things called electronic cigarettes.”
Now, this was a big leap of faith on my part. I was mindful of an attempt by R.J. Reynolds to develop a “smokeless” cigarette. They called it Premier. According to a 1993 movie, Barbarians at the Gate featuring the development of Premier, everyone who tried it said it tasted like shit. They weren’t just saying it didn’t taste good. It evidently tasted the way fecal matter smells.
The original electric cigarette goes back to 1963 and the inventor, Herbert Gilbert. It never gained marketability and the idea died. Depending on whom you believe, the modern electronic cigarette was created by either Stephane Vlachos in Michigan in 2001, or Hon Lik in China in 2003. Vlachos seems to have an edge in credibility since, according to Wiki anyway; his e cigarette was exhibited at the International Exhibition of Inventions in Geneva in 2002.
I ordered my first e-cig, called N-Joy, a product of China, in 2009. It looked like a cigarette. The long white part was the battery the filter was both a vaporizer and flavor cartridge. I immediately had two problems with it. As a heavy smoker, I didn’t like that you could only get one or two draws from it, then you had to wait for the liquid to ooze onto the wick. I was also terrible about keeping the batteries charged. As time went by, I found more and more excuses to grab a real smoke here and there. “Oh, dead battery.” “Oh, left my e-cig at work”. I also experimented with reusing the cartridges. I ordered a jar of juice and tried to refill the little buggers. Somehow, I ended up breaking the battery and sucking in a bunch of liquid nicotine; not a good thing.
“It’s okay babe,(that’s what I call Herself when I am explaining the latest change of plans) I’ll get back to these and try again soon.” The N-joy went into the china closet. And I went back to smoking for two more years. My queen was displeased.
In the spring of 2011, I noticed some friends using an e-cig called Blu. The brand carries multiple flavors and lasts a bit longer than the one I had used before. It was sleek and black with a blue LED tip. AND it was sold in convenience stores! I was intrigued. One day Herself accompanied me to King George so I could pick up a new car (read: used piece of crap to be used as a commuter car). We stopped at a Sheetz store and I spotted the Blu display behind the counter. “Honey!” We were back to that again. “Check these out! They’re way better than the ones I tried a few years ago. My friends are doing really well with them.”
I could see the word “twit” forming on her lips. But she smiled and said, “Well, if it will help you quit smoking…” Brilliant woman; brilliant.
I took a kit home, charged it up and was ready to be free from tobacco. I drew an e-cigarette from the box, which was also a charger and looked like a cigarette pack (these guys think of everything) and took my first drag. I spent the next two minutes coughing up a lung. I just convinced myself it would just take some getting used to. Two weeks later I was sliding the Blu kit into the china closet next to the N-joy. “Don’t worry Babe, I'll figure out whatever the problem is, or they’ll come out with better juices and I’ll be back in the game in no time.”
Views on E-cigs. Even Beckle can see it.
- Gutfeld: The stupidity of banning e-cigarettes| Latest News Videos | Fox News
Armed with no research, lawmakers take a stand
In Thornburg “no time” equals 18 months. Since dumping the Blu I had noticed some friends had switched to large e-cigs. These are impressive. They are cylinders anywhere from five to 11 inches long. The latest ones have controls for wattage and resistance to increase and decrease the strength of a hit and the amount of vapor produced. I was sorely tempted. One of my ex-smoking buddies at the office hadn’t been out to the smoking area in a very long time. That really meant something. He smoked as much as I did; perhaps more. Still I resisted the urge. Finally I remembered an old bit of wisdom. Once learnt. Twices burnt. And the corollary: Three times, and you’re…well…me. I was taking the plunge again!
I found a site online that offered free e-cig kits and juice. The batteries and juice cartridges were far superior to the original e-cigs. I found out later that it wasn’t exactly free, but you only pay if you like the product, then you find yourself enrolled in a standing order program that is not cheap. I bailed out of the program immediately but bought an e-cig anyway.
“Honey!” It was time for idea number 622.
In the next installment I will take you through the process of switching to these new e-cigs. I will say that I am impressed with them. I'll also talk to the owners and staff of Avail Vapor, a hip, new e-cig store in Fredericksburg. I am learning a lot about the product, the process and about the way the body reacts to being denied everything in a cigarette except the nicotine.
Matt Jordan is a travel writer living in Thornburg.