Saturday, March 8, 2014

I Have Switched To e-Cigarettes






It was the summer before grade 9. I turned 14 years old and that was the year I picked up my first cigarette. I openly say that I began smoking at this age, but what does that really mean? At that time, my friend and I would split a pack and it would last for a week. Which means that I probably became a full fledged smoker when I was about 16 years old. But does that really matter? This summer I will be 46 years old, which means that I have been smoking for over 30 years. Or to look at it in another way, I have been a smoker for 2/3 of my lifetime.  In other words, I have smoked longer than I haven't! In fact, in 30 years, I have not gone a single day without a cigarette! And it has taken a toll on me.

My lungs. My asthma. My skin. My wallet. My life.

It is said that quitting smoking is more difficult than quitting heroine. Well, having never tried heroine, I cannot speak to that. But, let me say that as a smoker, it is extremely difficult to quit! Like many smokers - probably the majority of smokers - I did not enjoy being stuck under the thumb of the addiction. Being a slave to the cravings. Knowing full well that it was slowly killing me!

It is interesting that non-smokers think smokers are stupid. The graphic pictures on the cigarette packages of a diseased lung. Do they really believe that we do not know smoking is bad for us? NEWSFLASH - It is called an ADDICTION for a reason people!!

Like many smokers, I have attempted to quit countless times throughout my lifetime. The gum, the sprays and inhalers and prescription drugs and the patches. None of which worked for me. All of which gave me a headache, or caused me to gain weight - the very last thing I need is to gain more weight! If you are like me, and have tried everything, you feel helpless.

Meanwhile, the government is applying more and more taxes on cigarettes. I remember when a pack was less than $3.00 .. now a pack of duMaurier is easily $10.00. Crazy!! These increases forced me to switch to reservation cigarettes a couple of years ago. Just because I could no longer afford to spend $80.00 for a carton of duMaurier, when a carton of DK's could be bought for $30.00!!

The problem is that even with the cheaper cigarettes, it was still costing me $150.00 a month! And that is if I didn't have help smoking them. If I gave packs away, well, that would end up costing me another carton. And because reservation cigarettes are not as strictly regulated - they were truly killing me.

I could feel my asthma worsening in the time that I had been smoking the DK's. I could feel myself winded while walking my dog three times a day. Simple tasks would leave me breathless - and not in a good way!

And lets be honest. They stink! I mean regular cigarettes smell ... but DK's are horrible smelling! My home, my clothes, my hair,, all smelled of the smoke!

The irony in all of this is that we smoke cigarettes for the nicotine, and yet the nicotine is 1/4000th of what is in a cigarette. Amazing right? There are in fact over 4000 chemicals in a cigarette, many of which are unknown to man!

Some which are known are:

Carbon Monoxide (found in car exhaust)
Arsenic (rat poison)
Ammonia (found in window cleaner)
Acetone (found in nail polish remover)
Hydrogen Cyanide (gas chamber poison)
Napthalene (found in mothballs)
Sulphur Compounds (found in matches)
Lead
Volatile Alcohol
Formaldehyde (used as embalming fluid)
Butane (lighter fluid)

When you smoke, all of these chemicals mix together and form a sticky tar. The tar sticks to clothing, skin, and to the cilia (tiny hairs) that line the insides of your lungs. The cilia help to clean out dirt and germs from your lungs. If the cilia are covered in tar, they can't do their job properly, and germs, chemicals and dirt can stay in your lungs and cause diseases.

Can we talk about the tar for a moment? Smokers know that one of the less attractive parts of smoking is what is affectionately known as 'smokers cough'. And that lovely rainbow of crap you cough up in the morning and several times throughout the day. Lovely isn't it?

When I started smoking way back in the early 1980's there was not nearly the stigma there is today. I mean you could smoke in Hospitals for heaven's sake. I remember when my daughter was born in 1990 - I went upstairs to the next floor to the smoking lounge. Knowing what we know now - that was just crazy - right?

I decided that there just has to be a way for me to get out from under this disgusting habit. I knew that cold turkey was not an option for me. And that none of the quitting-smoking-aids worked (for me.) So I began to do research. Months of research on e-cigarettes.

I have to admit that when I first began to look into them, it was very confusing and very controversial. The government does not like them - because they cannot regulate them. In other words - they have not figured out a way to make money from them - so they frown on them.

But after having read every article, every forum, every bit of literature I could get my hands on, after watching every video on youtube about the products, the testimonials - (and there are thousands of them online!) I decided that this just may be what is right for me. Electronic cigarettes may be my way out!

Firstly, e-cigarettes are not a traditional cigarette. There is no smoke. There is no burning. There are none of the over 4,000 chemicals as outlined above. In fact it is not even called 'smoking' it is called 'vaping'. Why? Well, because instead of smoke - it is vapor that is being inhaled.

Simply, the e-liquid, which comes in every flavor under the sun, from mint to chocolate, all fruity flavors, liquor flavors, and tobacco flavors, is contained in the cartridge section of the e-cigarette, which is screwed into the heating coil and connected to the battery. When you inhale (take a draw) the battery activates the heating coil, which heats up the liquid and produces vapor. Really no different than a vaporizer that you use when you are sick - sometimes you use plain water and sometimes you add Vick's.  Same thing with the e-liquid (or e-juice as it is referred to) - it can be with or without added nicotine.

What does that mean? If you want say black cherry flavor vapor for example, you would only use plain black-cherry e-liquid. However, if you are an analog cigarette smoker and now using e-cigarettes, you are craving the nicotine, so you would have a selected amount (mg's) of nicotine added to the e-liquid and then your vapor would provide you the nicotine 'fix' you require - with the black-cherry flavor (or whichever flavor you choose).

The good news is that you crave the nicotine - you can have the nicotine ... without the rat poison and embalming fluid etc etc etc!!

Now, the government will say that there are two compounds in an e-cigarette which makes them unsafe. Let's discuss. The first is Vegetable Glycerin, which is approved by Health Canada for use in many items including:

Sugar substitute
In Beauty products including makeup, mousse, shampoo, bubble bath, after shave, and deodorant
Pet food
Soap
Skin and hand cream
Baked goods - increase moisture
As a thick gel for creams, gel capsule pills, rubs and jellies
Eye & ear drops, toothpastes, pastes, and many dental care products

The other compound is Propylene Glycol, which Health Canada has approved the use in products such as:

Pharmaceuticals - Oral, injectable and topical formulations
Beauty products including makeup, mousse, shampoo, bubble bath, after shave, and deodorant
baby wipes
Pet food
Asthma inhalers

So, needless to say, these compounds are of no concern to me.

My months of extensive research have brought me to conclude the following. In my opinion. e-cigarettes are safe. They are better for you than analog cigarettes. There is no smoke. Nicotine is optional. They are absent of the over 4,000 chemicals which are known to cause cancer and other life threatening diseases. They don't stink up your house. And e-cigarettes are 1/3 cheaper than what I was paying monthly for DK's!

One month supply of e-cigarettes would cost me about $65.00. One month of DK's would cost me a minimum of $150.00. One month of duMaurier would cost me $400.00 (At 5 cartons a month.)

Here is another thing I have discovered. While doing my research, in trying to figure out how much e-liquid I would need, I really started to NOTICE how I smoked. I began counting how many drags I took in a cigarette and discovered that I was literally burning away 1/2 - 2/3 of each and every cigarette. I was only taking 5-7 drags of a cigarette.  What does that mean? Well, it means that of that $150.00 I was spending each month - I was actually smoking about $70.00 of it. The other $80.00 I may as well have just rolled up and set on fire!

Crazy right!!

After all of my research, I decided that I had to give e-cigarettes a try. I had never seen a single person say they tried them and hated them. In fact it was quite the opposite, I would say 97% of the people I read from said that once they picked up an e-cigarette they never touched another analog cigarette again!

There were many people who say they liked one version better than another. Cartridges over Cartomizers. Another preferred Clearomizers. What size? What brand? Someone swore by the duMaurier e-liquid .. someone else said it was too sweet. So, what I got from all of that is that there would be a lot of tweaking involved and it was all really subject to personal preference. But I also knew that I had to give it a shot. What did I have to lose?

So, upon finding a supplier who I felt comfortable with, and after a LOT of math - trying to figure out what I would need in terms of supplies. How much e-liquid for a month. Do I use cartridges or cartomizers or clearomizers? There are so many options and it is all really confusing for a newbie. I settled on a 510 starter kit with a pair of 280 manual batteries in black. Two extra packs of cartomizers and three 30ml bottles of Benson & Hedges e-liquid.

I inhaled as deeply as my tar filled lungs would allow and I placed my order on Friday, February 28th. Much to my surprise, my order was shipped later that day and was in my mailbox on Monday March 3rd! One business day! WOW!!

One of the things they prepare newbies for is to ready your mind. An e-cigarette will never 'feel' like an analog cigarette. First of all they are not made of paper. Secondly, it is not smoke you are inhaling. Thirdly, they are heavier feeling and at least the length of a pen (larger ones can be a like a thick marker.)  So, over the weekend I was actually holding a pen in my hand like a cigarette, trying to prepare my brain - and my hands for the change.

Once my package arrived, I tore it open - excited - ready. I charged up the batteries, which took about 2hrs each. And I loaded up the cartomizer, inhaled - and coughed! LOL

OK - adjustments needed to be made. I have been inhaling smoke for 30 years, vapor is a shock to my ill tar-coated lungs. I could not direct inhale. I had to draw into my mouth and then inhale. No problem.

I have to say, in regards to the personal preferences, I did make a mistake in choosing cartomizers (pictured in my hand) and my selection of e-liquid. I do find the Benson & Hedges liquid to be sweet - I liken it to a smell / taste of scorched sugar.  However, I received gifts with my order - two clearomizers (pictured in the e-cig that is laying down on the counter) and a sample bottle of Canadian Smooth - both of which I LOVE!

That is part of the trial and error we spoke about earlier. I now know what I will be ordering in my next shipment!

But back to my testimony. Monday, March 3rd at 5:00PM I vaped my first e-cigarette and have not touched an analog cigarette since! It has been 4 days and approx 8 hours, which is UNHEARD OF for me!!

I can honestly say that I will never smoke an analog cigarette ever again!!

I can even say that in my first order - as a newbie - I bought my e-liquid with 24mg of nicotine, and in my next order I will reduce that to 18mg of nicotine. And I see the potential of further reducing that over time to 12mg and then 8mg .. and hopefully one day - 0mg! But I am not concerning myself with that today.

Today I view the fact that I have eliminated over 4,000 chemicals from my body. I have eliminated smoke. I have reduced my expenses to 1//3 of what they were. And in only 4 days - I feel better!!

Seasoned vapors say that for the first week to two weeks you will cough quite heavily, it is your lungs attempting to expel all of the tar and crap that has built up over the years. This is true! However, on day 4 - I am not coughing as much as I was on day 3 - and day 2 ... I can feel the gunk loosening and coming up. (Gross! But better out than in!) I feel my lungs already getting stronger. I am already noticing that I am not getting as winded doing simple things. Nor am I using my asthma inhalers nearly as much!

While I am not having nicotine withdrawal because I am still consuming nicotine, what I was not prepared for was the withdrawal from the over 4.000 other chemicals! Day 1 was pretty easy. Day 2 sucked! Day 3 was not as bad and today was a bit easier still. I will say that I had not planned for this and it did take me completely off guard. I had not given any consideration to the fact that I was not only addicted to nicotine - but also to rat poison and embalming fluid! Scary!

What is interesting is the physical memory of smoking. My hands. I have actually caught myself with my fingers bent as if to pick up a pack of cigarettes and reaching for them - mindlessly! It is very eerie! I have caught myself doing this many many times already.  Weird!

My hands actually crave the feeling of a package of cigarettes! LOL And I miss having an ashtray sitting next to me. I cannot tell you how many times I have picked up a crumb or piece of lint and went to drop it into my ashtray - and where no ashtray sits - the crumb or piece of lint land on the table. LOL

From what I understand from my mother who quit smoking in 1988, this physical memory can take years or even decades to go away. She still finds herself from time to time doing the motion of flicking a cigarette when she is not holding one. Her fingers will just go through the motions. I suppose that is to be expected though. For over 30 years a cigarette has been sort of an extension of my hand. So in essence it is like having a finger cut off. Like when an amputee can still feel the limb that was lost. That phantom limb syndrome.

So, I suppose that probably for the rest of my life I will experience phantom cigarette syndrome! LOL

In the meantime, I wanted to share my testimony with you. My experience and my journey. If you are a smoker and have not been able to quit, I strongly encourage you to research e-cigarettes for yourself. I can attest that they DO work for me!!  And I am feeling better and stronger with each passing hour!!

Love and Light

-Laura


Some of the chemical information referenced for analog and e-cigarettes were taken from www.lung.ca and www.canadavapes.com