After 42 years of smoking I put out my last cigarette at 3.55 pm on July 14th 2012, just before I walked into the ‚Totally Wicked‘ electronic cigarette store in Blackburn, England.
I bought a good quality refillable tank system. Leaving the store I assembled the kit and gave it a go. I knew immediately that I would never smoke again. I never have.
I started smoking at 16 years of age. I started trying to quit at 25, but I just couldn’t stop. By July 2012 I was a 58 year old heavy smoker with all that goes with it – an awful racking cough, yellow fingers, smelly clothes. I had lost three dear friends who died early because they were smokers. I expected I would join them.
The e cigarette I bought on that sunny afternoon was an early model – it didn’t hold much e liquid, it had a small battery and it leaked regularly. But it was like a miracle. I counted the hours I managed without a ‚real‘ cigarette. Then I counted the days. Then the weeks. Then the months.
The cough I had had for at least two decades went away in two weeks. The yellow on my fingers faded soon after that. My sense of taste returned. At five months I tried a little training – which was very uncomfortable. At 6 months (at a friend’s challenge) I put my name down for an off-road marathon. I trained on the local hills. It hurt, but slowly my times got better. Eleven months after putting out that cigarette I completed the Swaledale Marathon (24 miles with 4200 feet of ascent) in 7 hours 11 minutes, finishing 350th out of 450. And a year later, at 60 years old, I did it in 6 hours 55 minutes.
Before I walked into that store I was living a lie. I knew that every cigarette I smoked was reducing my chances of a healthy old age. I knew that every cigarette I smoked was increasing the chance that I would hurt my loved ones by dying too young. I knew that my health was already declining. But I put it all out of my mind – because I just couldn’t stop.
I sincerely believe that e cigarettes saved my life. I sincerely believe they have the potential to end the tragedy of smoking and save many millions of lives. If they had been invented in time – perhaps my three friends would still be alive.