I had been smoking since early 1984, shortly after my 15th birthday. I had never tried or wanted to give up, and the first time I ever had thoughts that I should was spring/summer 2012, when another severe chest infection turned into pneumonia & was followed by a persistent cough that led to cancer & COPD testing. Results were clear, in fact my breathing was above average, but it did worry me for a while. However, negative tests tend to take the urgency out of good intentions and I made no effort to quit.
I first came across ecigs in Autumn 2012 at the local market, where someone was selling an imported American brand of cigalikes. As they were cheap, I thought I’d give them a try, but not with any plan or intention to quit smoking with them.
It was a brief novelty, but it wasn’t a replacement for cigarettes and I’d lost interest within a couple of weeks (though it did serve to take the edge off the suffering of long-haul flights a couple of months later).
The following spring (April 2013), at the same market, someone was selling unbranded eGo/CE4 ecigs with charger and a bottle of juice for £20. I decided to give this a try, taking the view that if it only served to replace 60 cigarettes, it hadn’t cost a penny. I still didn’t view it as a means to quit smoking, just a novelty that might save me some cash.
I fired it up straight away and found that I smoked only 4 cigarettes that day, instead of my usual 17-20.
At this rate, it would pay for itself within the week!
I was confident this was going to become part of my life. I joined a forum and started trying to find out as much as I could, and by the end of the week I’d spent £100 on bulk juice making ingredients & started making my own before the first bottle had run out.
I’d got an 18mg bottle with the kit, but having experienced a bit of a fuzzy head at times, I dropped down to 16mg with my own juice.
I still firmly asserted that this wasn’t a quit attempt & was putting no pressure on myself. I’d see how things went & go with the flow (though I could already see the potential of this replacing cigarettes somewhere along the journey).
Initially, there was no restriction on vaping at work, but within a few weeks, it was banned. This had a huge impact on my route away from cigarettes, as I tended to smoke rather than vape when the cravings were highest, which of course occurred when I couldn’t vape at my desk. Added to this was the ritual of going outside for a nicotine fix that I associated with smoking, the presence of cigarette butts & packets and, of course, smokers. I found that I smoked on these occasions, where I’d not needed to leave the office, or even think about nicotine when I’d been able to keep cravings at bay with the „little and often“ approach of vaping.
I was still only smoking 4-5 cigs per day, 3 of them at work because of the vape ban.
I continued dual use like this for 14 months from buying the kit.
In November 2013, I went abroad and returned with about 600 regular cigarettes and 600 skinny flavoured ones. At this point, I made a decision that I no longer wanted to pay UK prices for cigarettes, and that I would stop smoking when these supplies were exhausted.
The only way this was going to be achieved was by ignoring the work ban, putting my health first and vaping in my office (sharing with only one person who was supportive & trustworthy was a lifesaver).
Of course, smoking so little and having so many cigarettes meant I eased myself towards quitting very gradually, but I knew vaping tasted better and was equally satisfying. My only barrier was the long relationship I had with cigarettes and breaking the psychological dependence I had on them. I gave a few packs away and found myself on the last pack by June 2014. I knew that finding myself without any cigarettes at all might cause anxiety, and actually thinking about the countdown to stopping was stressful, so I decided to stop smoking with about 10 to spare.
The next day I just didn’t smoke, and left the cigs in the packet so I could tell myself they were there if I needed them. I didn’t.
I did end up smoking about 8 of them over the 2nd week, whilst off sick & a bit bored, but I view my quit day as the first day in 30 years I chose not to be a smoker anymore – 10th June 2014. After smoking most of that last pack later in the month, I haven’t had so much as a puff on a ciggie since.
It would be a good story of perseverance & dedication to say it was tough, but it wasn’t. It was easy! I’ll admit there were brief moments when I wanted to light up, but purely out of nostalgia & habit I think. Those yearnings were fleeting & the sense of achievement & pride in myself were far too great to want to spoil it.
I had thought that, during my trip to India in November, I might allow myself a few flavoured cigs each day, but when the time came, I didn’t want to spoil my success and I refrained (though for the first time in my life, I brought cigs back for friends, as I didn’t need the allowance for myself).
Ecigs are not only an incredibly effective alternative to smoking for those wanting to give up, but its very nature as an effective alternative consumer nicotine delivery system gives it the potential to create „accidental quitters“ like me. I wasn’t looking to quit smoking, so there’s absolutely no doubt that I would be smoking still if it wasn’t for this miraculous product.
Restrictions on products and use of ecigs, along with misinformation and anti-ecig propaganda will only serve to reduce uptake and maintain smoking rates. Smokers need to be offered every opportunity and incentive to switch.