It’s been two weeks today since I had my last cigarette. I had been smoking for about 20 years, and been trying to give up over the last 10 of them. I’ve had success previously, but always ended up smoking again within 12 months.
My fiancée suggested I try e-cigarettes as an alternative to smoking, at the very least I could cut down, if not cut out, my tobacco use. I was a little hesitant to try them, I’ve known how ineffective inhalers, gum, patches, sprays, the list goes on, could be when it comes to reducing not just the nicotine cravings, but the addiction to smoking itself.
My best description of said addiction is a tightness of the chest and an overwhelming desire to smoke. Even when nicotine cravings have been dealt with.
So I agreed to try e-cigarettes, getting a cheap eGo-T device (not recommended at all, I’ll explain why later) and some “e-juices” (the liquid that’s vaporised) that contain nicotine.
This is one sticking point with me is the unavailability of nicotine e-juices in Australia. You do have to buy all your e-juices from overseas if you want them to contain nicotine, although there is a black market here for such e-juices.
I realise there’s hesitation to legalise the sale of nicotine e-juices in Australia. I find it hard to understand why anti-smoking campaigners are so against e-juices (yet support British American Tobacco’s products).
This idea that the same people who run tobacco companies also rule the “vapour space” is laughable. In fact, none of the e-juices I’ve bought or are looking at buying are from tobacco companies. Most are large Chinese biotech companies, or smaller American “mixers” who combine the various ingredients on-site at their stores.
The other preposterous objection to e-cigarettes is that the devices are colourful & techie, and the e-juices are in fruit flavours, therefore they are aimed at kids. I’ve never seen such ridiculous arguments in my life. Middle Eastern & South Asian cultures have used the narghile or hookah pipes since the mid 1500′s. Not only are the pipes colourful, but the flavour of the molasses tobacco is very similar to those in the e-juices.
This idea that adults don’t like flavours and colours really sticks in my craw.
How It Works
Essentially there are two components to an e-cigarette or “vape”: on the top an atomiser/vapour chamber (cartomizer, clearomizer, etc) and the bottom a battery.
Batteries vary in quality, charge, and features. From the basic eGo-style devices that use only voltage regulation, through to the more complex Provari-style devices that allow voltage, wattage regulation and, in most, an ability to change both voltage and wattage. The latter being called “mods”.
The atomisers all essentially work the same: a wick draws (or holds) liquid to a coil of resistance wire (anything from 0.5Ω through to 2Ω), when you press the fire button, the coil heats the liquid & turns it into vapour.
I started off with an eGo-T as I stated above, a small device that uses a top-coil system; the coil, as you’d assume is at the top of the “clearomiser”, or chamber that carries the e-juice. There’s some design flaws with the device, you have to incessantly tip it back to get a good clean hit of the vapour.
So off I went on an online shopping spree, purchasing five Aspire E-Pen clearomizers and two Kanger Evod batteries (and some more juices). I’ve been impressed with the E-Pen, it’s a BDC (bottom dual coil) clearomizer, quite a neat design too. The only problem I see is with the “drip tip” (essentially the mouthpiece that connects to the clearomizer/atomizer/cartomizer).
Essentially everyone’s tastes are different, so you may find that something one person enjoys you won’t. Don’t worry, there’s so many different types of battery & atomiser heads in many different configurations. From bottom coils to top, from cartomizer tanks that you have to punch your own holes, through to fully rebuildable devices that allow you to wrap your own coils & wicks for different resistances, number of coils, and types of wicking material.
If you are interested in how all this stuff works, Pete Busardo does some great reviews and did a great run-down for beginners:
The next thing to understand is your e-juice. It’s really simple, there are generally four ingredients: flavouring, nicotine (optional), Vegetable Glycerol (noted as VG on bottles) and Propylene Glycol (PG on bottles).
They’re usually split in a 10% flavour, 10% nicotine, 80% VG/PG mix, which can vary wildly.
The VG portion is the sweet taste, and creates a smoother vape, the PG on the other hand offers more of a “throat hit” to simulate a hit from a cigarette.
Pretty much all you need to know is that there’s a lot of variety in liquids, and many can even be tailored to your needs (many of the American vape stores allow you to select PG/VG mixes, nicotine levels, etc).
My experience so far has been positive, in fact, the first day of quitting tobacco I went to Melbourne Wonk Drinks, truly a test of the e-cigarette’s ability to help me maintain my quit smoking. I was fine, even with the shitty eGo-T I had. People were smoking around me, and if anything, the smell was a turn off, even after only 24hrs of quitting.
The past two weeks have been the easiest quit period of my life. I am not cranky, I am not pacing continually, and most of all, I’m sleeping well; something I’ve found immensely difficult with other nicotine replacement therapies.
My intention is to step down in nicotine levels until I become nicotine free, then deal with the habitual part of the addiction. I’m already seeing my nicotine intake drop as there’s no “I have to finish this cigarette” feeling, a few puffs from the vape and my craving is satisfied. Essentially I’ve already cut my nicotine intake down by anything by 50% to 75% already, in just two weeks.
I have also found them far more effective than even Champix (the quit smoking tablets), and with far less hallucinations.
So would I recommend them? For sure. If you find it difficult to quit and are willing to do anything that’ll help, these are definitely the way to go.
Do I think that they are the answer to smoking? Not at all. Even those who are well known in the vaping community state clearly that e-cigarettes are not the end, they are a means to an end. The end being 100% smoke free.
To anti-smoking campaigners: don’t sacrifice such an effective quit smoking aid on a zero-tolerance attitude, this is about harm minimisation, which should be at the core of any rehabilitation of addiction. Whether you agree with nicotine replacement therapy or not, if it helps me quit after 20 years I call that a win for myself and for the health system.
Remember, these are not health products and should be kept well away from children.