Liam Bryan

Sometime in April 2013 I decided to go onto the internet and buy an ecig – I can’t remember why, probably a host of reasons. I’d heard a radio programme (You and Yours, Radio 4 maybe) that interviewed a shop owner that said that people would travel miles to stock up, they’d started to appear in Supermarkets and Garages, I was curious.

Was it a quit attempt? I’m not sure – I liked the idea of a sci-fi tube and I was always happy they were less harmful than what I was smoking (12.5g of Cutters Choice/day, a gradually increasing amount over my 20 ish years of smoking). It was certainly not like previous quit attempts (I’d tried three or four times), where I set a date and then spent every waking second agonising about not smoking. There was absolutely no pressure about just trying a different way to ingest nicotine.

Why didn’t I just try one from a supermarket? Again, I dunno, perhaps I was nervous about not really knowing what I was buying, it was probably just that as a new-ish product I knew there’d be reviews etc online, the internet is a frustrating place to shop sometimes, but it is potentially the best place to shop. Frustrating? Wow! I must have spent 3-4 solid days navigating spam sites touting cigalikes. Google is great but if you don’t really know what to put in the search bar you are easy prey.

I sensed most of these sites were dodgy, but I persevered and eventually bought a cigalike style device from JacVapour. It was a brushed steel tube, about the dimensions of a cigarette and it glowed green when I inhaled. I bought tobacco (still the only tobacco flavour I’ve tried) and apple. Battery life was pants, I ordered a second battery 5 days later but even two cigalike batteries can’t keep a smoker happy. When I had battery power I would happily use the ecig, when I didn’t I smoked.

Meanwhile I had persevered with the googling and finally broken through the spam sites circle – I discovered the forums toward the end of May 2013, shortly afterwards I ordered a Vamo from Fasttech 🙂 . I’d already added to the two cigalike batteries with an Ego Twist and a protank, but it was having the Vamo and two 18650’s that meant I would never be without battery power again. I was DIY’ing already (not with any great success) and I was finding out about the politics. I was still having a morning cigarette at this stage, but I was looking forward to vaping more than I was enjoying smoking it. At some point (still in May 2013 I think) I decided to try coping without. It was more of a clear quit attempt this time, but there was still no pressure – I knew I preferred to vape, it was just a question of whether I was happy with not having that headrush first thing in the morning.

Stopping wasn’t completely painless for me – I can remember getting annoyed when my partner would ask me to roll her a fag lol! And for months after going swimming I would have a real urge to light up, but to be honest, it was pretty easy – I was just having too much fun with my new hobby! Watching Grimm Green videos until the early hours, obsessively reading the threads on UKV and buying stuff! It took me 8 days to spend £100 on vaping gear in May 2013 (yes, I have a spreadsheet :p ) – a lot more than I’d have spent on tobacco, papers and filters!

By June 2013, the politics were really starting to interest me as much as the breakneck innovation in vaping products (an Aga T2 and an IGO-L were my purchases that month, I also bought some GVC) – I’d found out about VTTV and at some point accepted Dave Dorn’s amazing offer of a ticket to Brussels to protest about what the EU were cooking up (I think he paid for 50 Eurostar tickets!). I’d written to my MEPs and was actually flabbergasted (just did a quick google – being reduced to a jelly state because I was so aghast seems right) about what they were proposing. This thing that had so easily stopped me being a smoker – it was about to be banned!

Well, I was clear it was because the evil Pharma companies wanted to stop this product in its tracks. It would decimate their sales, not just of patches and gum, but all those medications for dying smokers too! Maybe the Tobacco companies had a hand in it? Maybe the Governments had realised their tax revenue from tobacco would dry up? Nowadays, I think its more likely to be ignorance with a nudge from the lobbyists, coupled with an inexorable desire by legislators to legislate that’s brought about the sorry state of affairs we’re in now.

The odd thing about vaping is that it was also expanding my life – I was making online and offline friendships and finding constructive things to do with my time, I was getting healthier by the day sure, but I was also becoming more alive.

When Szaxe first proposed a political party to fight the ridiculous EU requirement that: “any form of public or private contribution to any event, activity or individual person with the aim or direct or indirect effect of promoting electronic cigarettes and refill containers and involving or taking place in several Member States or otherwise having cross-border effects is prohibited”, among others, I was all over it.

I even stood for election – but that is a different story.

Today? I have three tubes and three boxes, four RTAs and two that need heads buying for them (grrr!). I’ve got a BIG tupperware box full of flavourings, and I know how to use them! I’ve spent £1793.14 (told you I had a spreadsheet) in my 907 days since I placed my first order (and in my approximately 880 days since I last smoked a cigarette). That’s a lot of money but its still (approximately) £1780.24 less than I would have spent on fags. I’ve made friends and gone places – I’ve advised SSS advisers and I’ve been to Vapefest 🙂

None of that will be possible next year 🙁 .