David

I was raised in a smoking household and at 16 I started too, stealing baccy from Dad’s tin and having a rollie when everyone else had gone to bed. Soon I was spending my school lunch money on tobacco. As a sixth form prefect one of my duties was to locate and chase out the smokers in the school grounds … a good source of free fags! Teachers do have a great sense of humour and irony.

I smoked until I was 32 though I tried to quit many times. Eventually a friend of mine went to an acupuncturist who offered 6 half hour sessions for £70. He quit after the first session and swore that he felt no withdrawal symptoms, so I tagged along for his second session. I was hugely sceptical, but I knew deep inside when walking out from that first session of acupuncture that I was done smoking. Amazing! I went along to 4 more sessions and didn’t bother with the last one … I was off the fags!

Withdrawals? Oh yeah, this kicked off 8-9 months of uncontrollable rages … I became a volcano that would erupt over trivialities … I could sense the rage building and there was nothing I could do about it. I was a horrible person during this period, eventually the eruptions became less frequent as I learned to cope with it. Cigarettes were not the answer, I managed my temper by meditating and becoming just a little less of a selfish prat. The girlfriend stuck through it … I don’t know how, I could hardly tolerate myself.

I got married, had kids, and got on with life. Thing is though, having been addicted once you’re never a non-smoker, always an ex-smoker, and sure enough 16 years later I got hooked again. Stupidly. Smoking was now banned inside buildings and a night out with the lads changed forever. Half way through a conversation, my mates would up and leave for a smoke outside. Gradually I joined them, saying I didn’t mind the smell really. Soon enough I was having one, then two and down the slippery slope.

The problem was that I was married to someone who hated the smell, and she could smell it on me. I denied it at first but things got pretty tense at home. Not only my wife but my sons hated that I was smoking. I needed to quit again and even though I knew I had quit once already it was, if anything, harder this time. Gums and patches didn’t work for me and I now lived a long way from that acupuncturist.

I passed by King’s Cross station on the way to work and a cigalike company were offering trials on this new e-cigarette of theirs. I was curious, I gave it a go. It seemed very different but it kind of made sense. I used both e-cigarettes and smoked cigarettes for a week or two, not sure if it would work. One morning I decided to fully commit to it. I bought a month’s supply of refills and loads of batteries. They were expensive but I wasn’t quitting fags to save money … I was saving my marriage and my health.

Cigalikes are dreadful, it took a lot of will power to stick to them instead of cigarettes. I still had cravings but I had this new dummy to suck on. It was purely self-administered NRT. I persisted knowing that they were giving me nicotine and I wasn’t stinking of fags. My wife was chuffed, she gave me the green light to keep using them after I convinced her that they were healthier and safer. I used them for 2 years and it cost me a small fortune, often going through five refills a day. The wife and I waited for the return of the rages, but they didn’t happen. Instead of becoming a volcano again, my self-esteem actually improved and I became calmer. It was a real solution.

There was nothing social about this … I was flying solo and unsupported. I had no idea that I was “vaping”, I had no idea what vaping was but one day I decided I was spending far too much money on cigalikes and had to look online for something cheaper.

That day, 4th July 2014, was an astonishing watershed; the internet was crammed full of vaping gear and active vaping communities. I looked at a few internet forums and dived into what looked like the friendliest, Planet of the Vapes. I ordered some generation 2 gear – the improvement in the vape was immediately apparent. As I learned more online, I ordered more and more gear which made the vaping experience better and better. Why had I stuck with cigalikes for so long? The different flavoured juices opened up a new world and it became a highly enjoyable experience, not just NRT any more.

Within a month or two I had progressed through to generation 3 gear, making my own coils and my own juice. I was having a blast and still saving a lot of money over what I had been spending each month on cigalikes.

Vaping’s a hobby now, I enjoy the technology, I love mixing new juices and best of all I get a kick out of converting my smoking friends into vapers. The big difference though is that I now consider myself to be a non-smoker … I will never return to smoking tobacco.

David, 54, Alton, Hampshire