Photo: Steven Siewert
I’ve asked my partner to write an article as a non-smoker living with an ex-smoker using e-Cigarettes. These are her observations as an “outsider”. It’s also the 2nd in my e-Cigarette series that I’ll be publishing over the next twelve months of quitting.
Sortius has smoked since before we met, so have I, on and off. In the time we’ve been together, he has attempted to quit, with varying degrees of success about 10 times. Me? Never being truly committed to the habit, have been able to quit easily.
The problem is, the smell of a cigarette can be very alluring depending on the number of drinks you’ve had, but after it became illegal to smoke inside bars in 2008 in Victoria I gave it away for good.
Frankly, the inconvenience of having to go outside to have a cigarette shows more commitment to a habit than I care to give. If it weren’t this, it would have ultimately been the gradual rise in the price of cigarettes and tobacco products to the astonishing level they are today. Being a notorious cheapskate, I could not justify spending the better part of 20 dollars on a packet of 20’s or whatever it is now.
My better half on the other hand has had no such luck giving up the habit, having tried Gum, Patches, Cold Turkey, Champix, Mouth Spray, Inhalers, etc. We’d talked about Hypnotherapy and other strategies too however ultimately each attempt lasted anything from a week to 3 months before going back to smoking.
As an outsider I have some understanding of how difficult a habit it is to break. In my immediate family my own father has been smoking on and off for longer than I’ve been alive, my grandmother smoked from the time she was 18 until she was almost 80 (Although she successfully stopped during the pregnancy of each of her 4 children). Among my aunts, uncles, and cousins more of them did than didn’t smoke at some point.
Living with someone who is giving up smoking is more down than up most of the time, sure the house smells better, their clothes smell better, there’s not the awful smell of stale smoke when you lean in for a kiss, and slowly the nicotine stains on clothes begin to become few and far between. However, to balance that there’s the mood of someone giving up, generally they’re irritable, the cost of the patches (which isn’t cheap, almost more expensive than cigarettes in the beginning) the weight gain, and the hesitance you feel going out lest there be smokers there, then all the good work up until now will quickly be undone.
Even more sinister, nicotine patches are harbingers of brutal, torturous nightmares in some cases. Being woken up by someone screaming, sweating, and being afraid of going back to sleep is not pleasant. More unpleasant is the thought of what your quitter will be like the next day being sleep deprived on top of a lack of nicotine.
Champix also has been linked with depression and suicidal thoughts. Ok, not everyone’s experience is the same, some people can go cold turkey and good luck to them. Others struggle, and for those that struggle after trying all of the available strategies the future doesn’t look good.
So, when I was at a friends birthday and saw their cousin was using an e-Cigarette and was talking about how good they were finding it, naturally, I was interested. I passed the information onto my somewhat sceptical smoker.
To sortius’ credit he was willing to try anything, so I scoured the internets (poorly I’ve found now) for an e-Cigarette, some e-Juice, and proudly presented them to him to try. The initial results were very promising and I imagined our first big test would be a night of drinks at the pub among other smokers [ed: it was my first night on e-cigs too, at Melbourne Wonk Drinks].
This normally, I would dread because in my experience this would ultimately result in “Can I have some money, I want to smoke again” and my initial overpriced investment would have come to naught. That was not to be the case, to my great relief, a night surrounded by smokers, some even at our table, he said he was not even tempted.
Within two weeks he no longer considered himself a smoker, and more promisingly was already eagerly investigating what sort of community was out there, how to source more e-Juice, the sorts of mods available, things like this. That was over a month ago. Since then there have been a couple of times where he has said to me “I’m really tempted right now to have a cigarette” but they have been few and far between.
How is it living with e-Cigarette Vapour compared to Cigarette smoke? I much prefer it! Having always been a lover of Nargile/Sheesha/Hookah I love having the smell wafting around. All the other benefits of living with a non-smoker apply equally: No bad breath, No stench of cigarette smoke, No nicotine stains, no smokers cough in the morning, his sense of smell is back but best of all there is none of the mood swings associated previously with giving up! No treading on eggshells!
Other benefits are, not having to stop watching a movie for a cigarette break, not having to stop the car for a cigarette break… basically the end of the cigarette break.
The cost is cheaper too, so no having to buy cigarettes twice a week which at almost 40 dollars for a 50gm bag of tobacco is a significant saving indeed. Also I no longer have to pick up stray filters that have found their way to interesting places around the house, the bags of almost empty tobacco have disappeared as have all the ashtrays and their vile contents. I also no longer need to concern myself with carrying an extra lighter in my handbag. So far there are very few downsides!
The biggest downside for me is the strange laws around buying nicotine in e-Juice in Australia. You can’t buy it from a store but you can import it? Also the reporting on e-Cigarettes is very negative, it’s as if, you must go cold turkey or nothing. There is no harm minimisation mentality, there’s also the irritating misinformation about the amount of chemicals in e-Juice and how they’re “worse” than cigarettes. Uh *cough* Bullshit *cough*.
The attitude towards smokers is appalling, I am sick of the judgement, insults smokers cop, and how difficult it is becoming to smoke cigarettes anywhere in public. Yet when a suitable alternative which provides an avenue to quitting which was not previously available (and anecdotally seems be very effective for that small group of people who struggle to quit) becomes available, governments and health organisations immediately bring down the ban hammer on it. They universally pan it out of hand, which is worrisome.
Why condemn it ? It has worked for those I know who’ve tried it. Why not just add it to the list of available methods to stop smoking.