A blog about a different type of technology this time. One that’s had a very profound impact on me: the electronic cigarette
I stopped smoking and began vaping on Saturday 6th April 2013, when a good quality electronic cigarette (‘ecig’ or ‘ecigarette’) I had ordered arrived in the post. I haven’t looked back. I am much fitter, healthier and feel considerably better all round compared to when I was smoking. It was relatively easy to do I’d say. Yes, it required a desire and conviction, but nothing like the level I thought it might. It has also saved me a significant amount of money and I am no longer a creature of ritualised habit – a cigarette at the bus stop, outside the shop, immediately after a meal (and before) or when in any kind of stressful situation or when needing to concentrate
After smoking fairly heavily for over 20 years, I am now something I thought I would never be: a non-smoker. Statistically speaking at least, my likely lifespan increased significantly on the 6th April this year
There are approximately 1.3 million vapers in the UK (compared to 9 million tobacco smokers) and this number has been growing exponentially. The vaping sphere is a bit of an unknown to outsiders and comments such as “It’s still smoking though isn’t it, you’re still blowing smoke out” are understandably common (and wrong). Here’s my take:
What is vaping?
Vaping is a physical alternative to smoking that provides you with comparable effects to smoking tobacco but with vastly reduced risks to your own health and the health of those around you. The vapour you inhale is the product of combusting liquid commonly referred to as ‘juice’ or ‘e-liquid’ within an ecigarette device. The inhaled vapour contains the following, in varying degrees:
You would usually buy e-liquid already made up but you can easily make your own by buying the constituent parts and mixing it up yourself if you want to save money and/or enjoy experimenting. It’s worth stressing however, that nicotine is poisonous and should be treated with care, especially in its highly concentrated – before diluting it – form
Why is it so effective at stopping people smoking?
My view is that common nicotine replacement products such as gum and patches do not address the behavioural aspects of addiction to smoking. Note I said addiction “to smoking” there and not “to nicotine”. The act of vaping is physically similar to smoking, even to producing smoke-like vapour. Vapers are still free to follow the same routines as smokers as and when they choose eg going outside for a vape along with smoker friends who are going for a cigarette. In this sense it provides an effective substitute for both the behavioural and social act of smoking whilst also addressing the underlying physiological nicotine addiction
My personal experience was that when I first began vaping I continued to follow the same routines eg vaping on a morning with a cup of tea before I did anything, vaping after meals and so on. As the days and weeks went by what I found was that I just got out of the habit of following these routines. They became irrelevant, even to the extent that now if I forget to take my e-cigarette with me when I go out it’s just no big deal
I also very much enjoy vaping in a way I never experienced when smoking tobacco! It’s totally different to smoking and very pleasant, especially when you have a nice set up and are vaping a particularly nice juice
Are there health risks?
There isn’t much research available on the health risks of vaping given it is a relatively new phenomena. However, contrary to what various regulators and the big pharma and tobacco industry lobbyists would have you believe there is some, and what there is is both robust and particularly striking. If you are interested, watch the whole of the video at the end of this post, especially from this point here (YouTube video opens in a separate browser window). The video is an abridged announcement of the results (published June 25th this year) of the ECLAT Electronic Cigarette Study (“Efficiency and Safety of an Electronic Cigarette as a Tobacco Subsitute”) headed by Dr. Riccardo Pelosa from the University of Catania in Italy. Dr. Michael Siegel from the Boston University School of Public Health also discusses the implications of the study from the perspective of public health
I’m a smoker and want to give it a go, where should I start?
Good on you. The first thing I would say is don’t spend tons of money at the outset; there are countless options and things to choose from – work out what you like and what suits you gradually – experiment. Start with a kit, something that gives you everything you need from the get go. Spending anywhere between £20 to £40 will get you a very good ecigarette kit, including USB charger, a bottle of juice and other peripherals. For reference, the first 10ml included in the kit I bought lasted me just over 10 days. Assuming a cost of £4 per 10ml, that equates to a cost to vaping of 40 pence a day, or £2.80 a full week. Compare that with what you spend on cigarettes if you are a smoker
Where should I buy from?
It’s up to you, you could either do some research and join one of the forums out there such as Scott Bonner’s ECR and ask questions and listen to the considered advice or, you could just take a quick recommendation and get a starter kit from somewhere like Myepack, who do startlingly good deals and are well recommended in the vaping community. If i were starting out again, I’d go for something like an iTaste vv and a Protank 3 atomiser
There are loads of other shops out there but all I’d say is just be a little careful. There are lots of sharks – have a hunt around and compare/contrast. If you have some time on your hands I would also highly recommend exploring the various vaping forums – there’s some really interesting stuff going on and they’re well worth joining and getting yourself involved in the vaping community – you’ll also learn which shops to trust and how to identify which are just out there to fleece you
Good luck! I may do some follow up blogs at some point and talk in more detail about the various paraphernalia in a bit more detail, especially the mods and repairable atomisers, the vape shops (good and bad) and so on. OK, I appreciate the vast majority of my readers work in the legal profession but, it might be an interesting diversion from what we normally talk about!
I would like to dedicate this post to my beautiful five-year-old daughter, Ruby. On the 17th March this year as we were walking home together Ruby said to me that she didn’t really like me smoking and thought I should stop as it might make me “poorly” one day. I ordered my first ecigarette online the next day. Love you angel x
Press Conference: Announcement of ECLAT Study Results, June 25th 2013