As of day before yesterday, I've been smoke-free for 3 1/2 months. I started smoking when I was 13. I was about a pack-a-day smoker by age 14, and continued until late February of this year. That's twenty-eight years, give or take-10,220 days. There are 20 cigarettes in a pack, so a pack a day means 204,400 cigarettes. That's a lot of coffin nails. It's... appalling. I won't even get into what the cost of all that comes to, in today's tobacco prices. But it's a lot of money, especially for a product that can kill you. All of it went to Big Tobacco- and they're such nice people, aren't they? I really feel great about the time, money, and energy I've wasted with smoking for all of these years. Yeah. Ugh.
Around late November of last year, the Big Guy and I were chatting with an acquaintance of ours, who works at a nearby store. We'll call him Ray. Ray's an older guy- he'd always been a little pudgy, going a little grey- he looked to be about my dad's age, so probably in his early-to-mid 60's. He saw the Big Guy and I standing outside of our car, having a smoke. And he was looking good- I swear, he looked like he'd lost about 15 pounds, and about 10 years. He ambled over and said: "You guys are still smoking? I quit, you know. Check this out!" And he whipped out one of these.
|My blue Riva|
|My blue "vape-stick"|
A couple of months went by- we kept seeing Ray at the store, and he kept looking healthier, happier, livelier. (These days, he's not looking much older than the Big Guy and I!) His hair was darker, too- my first thought was Grecian Formula or something like that, but he said he didn't do anything to his hair- it was growing in dark again, since he'd quit smoking. Every time we saw him, he'd ask, were we still smoking? Why were we still doing that to ourselves? I filed it away in my head: Gotta go check that out. This is AMAZING- how long before Ray starts looking like he's 30? Gotta get down to that shop, one of these days. I finally did. And the rest is history.
Vapoligy is a great store- they have a whole line of e-cigarettes, plus parts, so you can rebuild or modify them to your heart's content. They also make their own line of Niquids, in just about any flavor you can think of, plus the ingredients to make your own, if you prefer. They recommend that smokers start out with a tobacco flavor to start with, and gradually switch over to others, but I made the switch within days, and never looked back. (I love the Cool Raspberry and Watermelon flavors for during the day, and then swap over to Iceberg in the evenings. Campfire Coffee, Grape, and Strawberry are really good, too.) Truth is, I've hated the taste of cigarettes for a long time- I just didn't know it.
They also carry accessories, such as the pass-through- that's been key to my success with quitting. The pass-through hookah is used in place of the battery pack that makes your ecig work- it plugs into your computer's USB port, and allows you to "vape" without having to worry about whether your battery's charged. Since there's no second-hand smoke to worry about, my boss kindly allows me to use my pass-through and a Stardust tank while I work. This helped me to break the habit of getting my nicotine fix on breaks- a biggie for me. And the only smell is fruit! S., one of my coworkers, tells me all the time how nice the scent is, when she walks by our office. I also love that my clothes don't smell like an ashtray anymore. Cigarettes STINK. Don't ever kid yourself about that. Non-smokers know that you smoke. It's not something you can cover up- it's always with you, in your hair, your skin, and on your clothing.
In the months since I quit, I've begun to ease back on the amount of nicotine that I'm taking in. Vapoligy offers their Niquids in a variety of strengths, from 24 mg. to 0 mg.- you can wean yourself off of the nicotine at your own pace. I've worked my way down from 24 to 18, and I'm on my way down to 12. I hope to be down to 0 mg. by this winter- but I'm not pushing it too hard. Baby steps are fine- this is, after all, a lifetime's worth of badness I've gotta undo.
If you decide to try this, too, there's a few things to consider. One is the initial cost, and that held me back for awhile. My Riva kit cost about $55, but it was very much all-inclusive- it came with 2 batteries, a Stardust tank, a battery charger, cartridges, an atomizer...a whole bunch of stuff. I also picked up the pass-through (and later got a second one to use at home), for around $12, plus a couple of Niquids. My start-up was about the cost of a couple of cartons of cheap cigarettes. If you're on a tight budget, that's like diving off the fiscal cliff, and it scared the heck out of me, to throw down for something that I wasn't sure would work. However, when I finally went to the shop, they had me try several flavors of Niquid (as many as I wanted to!), so that I could get a feel for how vaping is. It feels so similar to smoking that I knew I could do it and stay sane- much better than other methods of nicotine delivery. The other things I've tried just did not work. (I'm lookin' at YOU, Nicoderm! You are a flesh-eating, ouchy-painful leech! And you, Nicorette! Thanks for nothin'! Oh wait- not nothing...I have permanently sensitive teeth now. Thanks a freakin' bunch. Can you tell I've tried to quit before? Yes. I've tried EVERYTHING.) However, after that initial cost, you're only putting up money for Niquid, and for "heads", the little electric coil things that vaporize the liquid. I go through about a 6 ml. bottle of Niquid per week (although I now buy the larger bottles instead- less trips to the store, and cheaper by volume). The Stardust heads run about $3.50 or so, and I burn one out about every two weeks. However, you can rebuild them yourself for even less- Vapoligy's video explains it in detail. I do it myself- it's easy, and the parts cost very little. Per week, this is costing me about $5, total. Vaping is a much less expensive habit than smoking, in more ways than one.
Another issue is not knowing how you'll physically react to it. This may not be the case for everybody, but in mine, it's all been pretty good. After I swapped over to vaping, I got more energetic within days. I mean, REALLY energetic. When you're already kind of hyper, that can be frustrating- for other people. (For me, not a problem! It resulted in this blog, getting out more, meeting people, and DOING stuff, after being in a serious slump for a very long time. It's been great. But it can be, eh, daunting, for others. Be prepared to become a dynamo.) You might want to take up some form of exercise- it helps to temper the extra energy just enough to keep your loved ones sane. (I started bike commuting, so it's saving my household about $100 in gas a month- total bonus.) I also rapidly regained my sense of smell. That's mostly been positive, although there have been a few times that I've almost wished that I didn't have the olfactory clarity that I do now. But when the flowers started blooming, it was all worth it. Another side effect was some acne- as the poisons and additives from the cigarettes started working out of my body, I got breakouts. It was like being 13 again. However, drinking more water, and being more careful of my skincare regimen has helped a bunch. It's steadied out now, and seems to be abating, so I think it was a temporary side effect, and not necessarily a negative one. Ditto for the coughing, when I first switched- vaping doesn't seem to leave the same amount of crap in my lungs that cigarettes do. I coughed a LOT, those first few weeks. Without getting into detail, a lot of bad stuff cleared out. My lung capacity seems to be better now than it was in my 20's! And last but not least, I seem to have shed most of my allergies- a few things still set me off, but the constant congestion, wheezing, and sniffling that I used to live with have ceased, along with the constant sinus headaches. I can breathe again, and it's marvelous. One generic Claritin on peak pollen days, and I'm good!
It's been more than worth it. And while I am still using nicotine, its hold on me lessens each day. I feel good about supporting a local business, and my own health. I feel good, period. Thank you, Vapoligy! And many thanks to Jim, who gave me the OK to write about my experience. You guys are GREAT. Congratulations on your new store opening, and thanks for putting it right near my neighborhood, too! (If you live in Boise, they've got two locations- 9225 West Chinden in Garden City, and at 8495 West Overland, across from the Walmart complex in Boise- it's right next to the Primo's. If you live elsewhere, they have a great online store, too- check them out at Vapoligy.com!)
In the coming weeks, I'll be showing you guys the neato e-cig lanyards that I'm developing. When I'm not at my desk, I'm finding that a pocket's not the best place to carry my "vape-stick", so I'm working on making some cool carriers. There are some out there already- crocheted, mostly- but none of 'em really appeal to me, and I'm guessing that there are others out there who feel the same way. I'm thinkin' hardware, wirework, leather and metal and black rubber. (Sounds vaguely BDSM, doesn't it? *Giggle*) Maybe some macrame, too. Wanna see? There will also be more tutorials, recipes, and random musings. Stay tuned!