Has anyone tried an e-cigarette?

I just thought I’d throw this one out there…..

My health is slowly deteriorating. I can feel it. I’ve been able to feel it for a while now. Things took a turn for the better when I was in Sweden as I was enjoying my work and had a flat landscape which made it easier for my lazy arse to get some exercise. Here in hilly Hobart, that’s a much less attractive proposition, no matter how bad I’m feeling.

Of course, the big health hazard in my life continues to be smoking. I’ve never been a truly heavy smoker – less than a pack a day and I smoke the lightest cigarettes you can buy here (yes, I know they’re still bad, only have tiny holes in the filters, etc. I’ve heard it all, thanks). Nevertheless, I’m still a consistent, habitual smoker and I can feel it affecting my throat and my breathing. My physical fitness left me a long time ago thanks to the cigarettes, a predominantly poor diet and this blogging habit that took over from playing basketball around 7 years ago.

I’m facing an elephantine task and how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, of course.

Hence my wondering if anyone out there has tried and/or had any successful outcome with e-cigarettes. These are the ones I’m thinking of. I’ve tried patches and a medication called Zyban and both came with some initial success. Part of my problem, however, is that I enjoy the ritual that comes with smoking – getting outside for 5 minutes and having a chance to think about stuff, having a chat with a colleague or a friend.

From what I’ve heard/read about these e-cigarettes, the ritual can remain but they serve up a cigarette-like experience without all the really nasty chemicals that go into traditional cigarettes. No tar, no carbon monoxide, no ash, etc. You still get nicotine as per a normal cigarette so the base chemical dependency is taken care of.

Many users seem to report feeling the benefits of not taking in all the really bad stuff and of course, a large number of people use them as an aid to quit smoking, which is my intention, too.

The idea of inhaling something delivered to you via power from a battery is rather odd. Ironically, it worries me because it doesn’t sound healthy. E-cigarettes are not able to be sold legally within Australia right now as they haven’t been approved by health authorities. You can source them from overseas, however.

I’m willing to give them a go based on my own limited reading. The way I’m feeling right now, they can’t be any worse than what I’m on right now.

Has anyone used them? And if so, what did you think?

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42 Comments

  1. While I have not heard about e-cigarettes, I can say this- I have absolutely been there.

    I picked up smoking in undergrad, and it was purely a social habit. It slowly became much more over the years, especially during law school. I joked that I would probably lose a lung by the time I took the Ohio bar exam – which had an unusually high failure rate at the time.

    I kept finding ways to delay quitting- getting out of law school, taking the bar, starting the new job, dealing with 9/11, you name it. But, around 2000-2001, I started running. And then I used to run fastest at the end, because there was a cigarette at the end. (sad, I know).

    I started with running with other folks, and I started running faster and farther. One day, after a particularly challenging run, I literally slam dunked my pack of Camels into a public garbage can. It was 2002. For all intents and purposes, that was the end of my habit. Something else- something I loved much more – finally won out.

    I found that I craved the situational nature of smoking more than the smoke. I ended up chewing a ton of gum for weeks. I did whatever I could to distract myself. Learning to drive without a smoke was the hardest, especially since I would travel around the state of Ohio for work pretty frequently. I developed little mantras to myself for when I was feeling weak.

    Slowly, it started losing its control over me.

    I have occasionally slipped, but it only takes one drag to remember why I quit. The hit is never as good as my mind thinks it will be.

    Good luck, Swade. And don’t give up!!!!! It’s so very worth it, e-cigarette or not. You are stronger than you think you are – it’s just a matter of connecting with the right motivation.

  2. How about quitting altogether? I was a smoker like you for about 20 years. It is difficult to quit and it may take a year or more to completely get over it. I am one of “those” ex-smokers now, feeling sorry for the individuals who have to go outside (especially in winter) to get their short-term fix. Suck in those chemicals. Starve your brain of oxygen because of the carbon monoxide. Just go sit in front of your Alfa’s tailpipe and get the same effect.

    Going cold-turkey was the best thing I did. It won’t kill you. On the comtrary.

    This book was very helpful for me: http://www.amazon.com/Allen-Carrs-Easyway-Stop-Smoking/dp/0615482155/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1334850967&sr=8-2

    Instead of doing the cigarette ritual, just go for a walk and think about stuff. Lots more oxygen for your brain to think.

    My apologies for giving the “ex-smoker” speech..! πŸ˜‰

    1. More or less what I did as well. I read Mr Carrs book many years ago, I even have one chapter left to read. When I stopped reading the book (before the final chapter) I didn’t stop smoking right away. Oh no, several months went by, but Mr Carr had planted some new activity in my brain. In the same period I was also more and more forcusing about the nasty health consequences smoking can cause. To shorten it down: one Thursday night after a rehearsel with my band (I’m a bass player) I sat on my doorstep with two cigarettes left in my box. I smoked them, threw the empty box in the garbage can and has never smoked since. That’s now many years ago. Now I feel much better in many ways, and I also have found out how bad smokers smell. I just can’t believe that I walked around myself years ago smelling like………. you know. πŸ™‚

      Actually I was surprised how easy it really was to quit smoking. I didn’t replaced my cigarettes with subtitutes either, I think substitutes can make it much more difficult to quit smoking – you’re keeping the ‘Beast’ alive with substitutes (also according to Mr Carr).

      Best of luck, Steven. You can do it!

      Cheers from Norway
      -Olav-
      Always on the longest road home when out there with my SAABs. Always, and now only with natural exhaust.

    2. Just saw that Carr’s book is available for Kindle. Job done.

      Apology accepted. The aim IS to quit all together, but I know myself well enough to know that that’s not going to happen with the snap of a finger.

      Going cold turkey probably won’t kill me, but that’s not the point. The point is who I’d kill while it was happening.

      1. Yeah, I know the feeling. I was afraid about the same, very afraid actually, but I still have all my family and friends around me :).

        I think you’re gonna enjoy that book, Steven. Mr Carr is a good writer, and his book gave at least me a lot of good laughs.

        I wish you all the best there is. Without knowing you I think even you can make it. πŸ™‚

  3. Swade OH my goodness ,by this simple piece memories have just flooded me about my mom.my mom started to smoke at 13, no one understood… Smoking was a part of her.In her sixties after trying to quit a few times(I remember her vividly breaking down at a downtown corner ,when I was young, after just a few hours of trying to quit.) she had pneumonia.she fell asleep in bed, too sick to get up, with a cigarette in her hand. The horror of grandchildren in the house at the time made her quit.For years after we would have a cup of coffee and she would say “Sue what I wouldnt give for a cigarette right now”.coffee and cigarettes always went hand in hand for my mom.Thanks,on a very bad day for me,the memory of my mom has made me smile.Susan

      1. Swade
        That was the day she quit .Fear of burning the house down with her grandchildren inside.She never lit up again .After she quit,she always had a hard candy to offer {butterscotch was her favorite) out of her purse.Frankly I have cried this morning thinking of her,she died a few years ago.I have also smiled.I hated her smoking,but it was a part of her. No one was going to convince her to quit except herself.
        Pierre used to be quite a smoker also,I think he quit by saying it was not his last. If he traveled to Paris today to visit relatives he would most likley have a cigarette in hand at the first meal he had upon landing. I hope not but maybe its just the idea that he could…… Susan

  4. Hey mate,
    my advice being a P.E man, along with quitting walk the dog, ride a bike, swim, park further away from work. Go bushwalking, whatever it is that you can do to gently up your Physical Activity, Garden! You’ll be surprised how a little moderate physical activity a day (coupled with whatever quit smoking method you’re using), will have you feeling so much better and give you more energy.
    My new favourite, Riding.
    I’m not playing hockey this year, too hard to commit to. But I am riding my bike. It’s easy on the body, fun, and gives me time out. Some days I only ride the 6 or so Ks to work, others I’ll do 60ks… In riding to work every day I’ve found a time effective, flexible and fun method of keeping active.
    Hmm another reason to move home…. take you for a ride!, I’ll show you my pushbike, you show me the alfa!

    1. Smokeless tobacco is absolutely the wrong thing to use if you want to quit smoking.

      It opens you up to mouth cancer, throat cancer, and a whole host of other wonderful cancers that you probably have never heard of.

      A really bad suggetsion.

      ” Smokeless tobacco increases the risk of these cancers by about 50 times. ”

      http://www.idph.state.il.us/cancer/factsheets/oralcancer.htm

      http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Tobacco/smokeless

      http://cancercontrol.cancer.gov/tcrb/less_effects.html

  5. Yes I’ve used an e-cigerette , and still didnt slow down , used a pipe ,still I suffered from the evil of ill health smoking caused . I’m hooked badly too , however I look at it I must quit . I wish us both the will to quit . My issue is getting my mind around it , everyone at work smokes , a beer and a smoke after work is a go-together . 42 years of smoking is plain killing me , and it has added to the crohans as well . Dad died of emphzima , so I’ve seen up close what the future holds . I dont wish to leave my dear wife too soon . I hope we both find a way .

    Best wishes Steven

    1. You’ve got 17 years up on me, but I think I know how you feel. I can’t sneeze now without feeling like someone has kicked me in the throat (just happened as I started writing).

      I’ll be ordering one of these e-cig thingies today. Will let you know how I go.

    2. Out of curiosity: Have you discussed this situation with your colleagues? The social aspects of smoking is the part that I imagine (based on a complete lack of knowledge) would be difficult to overcome.

      If you could somehow gently push a few good colleagues to join you in an effort to quit, then maybe it would take some of the sting off?

  6. I, too, loved the ritual–a smoke with a cup of coffee after dinner, with a drink and a chance to sit back and think–things that also triggered the desire to have a cigarette. I smoked 2-3 packs a day for 20 years and quit. Here is what worked for me–honest! — go to the spice section in the market and get a jar of whole cinnamon sticks. They are exactly the size of a cigarette and can be held like a cigarette. They are hollow so you can “draw” on them, and when you do, you get just the slightest taste of cinnamon (the sticks have almost no taste until they are ground). And they are firm so they won’t get soggy in your mouth. I can’t tell you how many cinnamon sticks I “smoked” but they were the only thing that got me through those times that I needed the ritual or when I thought I’d go crazy without something in my hand and mouth to go with my coffee or a beer. Gradually I needed them less and less until I eventually realized that I had been carrying around an untouched cinnamon stick in my purse for months. You may feel silly at first, but people don’t really notice that it’s not a cigarette or what we used to call a “cigarillo” (and of course, if you tell people you are quitting smoking, they all understand…..) It really worked for me and for others that I have told this to. Good luck! If you quit, you will be amazed at how quickly you’ll feel the difference!

  7. Never smoked but from those that did quit the best advice was don’t quit, just stop. No goals, just every time you feel the need tell yourself you will have a smoke later.

    Agree with Tim too, lost my job and used it as an opportunity to drop a stone.
    At the start I could ran 5 maybe 6 minutes at a time. Last summer I was up to 10 miles on a good day.

    1. nice work!

      Swade, the couch to 5k program is a great one for people wanting to get back into physical activity. You can get a few pretty good apps that use it, i know you can grab then for iPhone, not sure about android phones…… If you’re one of those techno men!

  8. Keep trying Swade. My cousin, just 69, quit cold turkey 2 years ago. Too late though, his funeral was this past Tuesday. Cause of death: emphysema. A devastating blow to his parents who are both still alive. I’ll miss him too. Don’t give up.

    1. Cheers, Ted. I have an abiding memory of an extended-family member who died from lung cancer 20 years ago. She was the heaviest smoker I’ve ever met, had the hoarsest voice and died at an age pretty similar to where I’m at now. Her husband’s and kids’ lives have continued on and it’s incredible to think of all that she’s missed out on.

      I didn’t actually know her that well (a generation older, related only by marriage, etc), but she sticks in my mind as the poster child for quitting.

  9. You have got to want to quit. So, decide what’s important. If your health is not important, then it doesn’t matter.

    Just a thought.

      1. I think 100%Saab is trying to give you some “tough love” Steven.

        It is a hard habit to break…but you will be a better person for it in the long run..and your family will be greatful as well. The sooner you can do it, the better.

        Smoking killed my mother, my Aunt, and a dear friend, way too early in each of their lives. My mother quit cold turkey after 40 years, soon after having a mild hear attack. Didn’t do her much good, however. Died a couple of years later in 1989 at 73…2 weeks to the day after my birthday…and 2 days before Thanksgiving (US version). Made for some REALLY crappy holidays for the rest of 1989/90. πŸ™

        My Aunt was a bit “luckier”, lived into her late 70’s, but it caught up with her as well.

        My friend…well he was a brilliant nuclear physicist who suffered an extended illness, all the while bitching to people around him, until his death at age 52…”why didn’t you all MAKE me quit?” Believe me…we tried.

  10. “Ironically, it worries me because it doesn’t sound healthy…”

    Hahahah…. priceless!

    In all seriousness, I hope the plans to quit go well. Several years back I had to ‘deal’ with a coworker who was trying to quit. He was highly strung at the best of times and lack of nicotine was regularly pushing him over the edge. I actually dragged him down to a pharmacy once to get him some nicotine patches, but for some reason he was against them and wanted to do it ‘cold turkey’. In the end I asked the pretty pharmacy girl if she had patches I could take to make him seem less annoying… (sadly they don’t make them… yet).

    It took this guy a few attempts to quit, but in the end he attributes one thing to his success – fruit juice! After a couple of weeks of no smokes, he got some of his sense of taste back and discovered how wonderfully tasty juice was. So whenever he’d usually go for a smoke, he’d go get a small bottle of juice instead. His desk did look a bit like a glass recycling centre for a period, but for him it worked and to this day he hasn’t picked up a smoke since.

  11. Anything that gets you off inhaling polycyclic aromates is good. So start with the e-cigarette as soon as possible. Imho, nicotin as such is not that critical, its the fume that kills you.

    Aside from that, this is only a first step, unfortunately. Further measures to be contemplated:
    -Stop blogging about cars, start blogging about bicycling (there is also a lot of high tech in that field)
    -Get a metabolic balance analysis, and start eating what they advice you to eat.
    -Convert your life into being a physical exercise, i.e. avoid escalators, motorized lawn cutters, driving by car, etc.

    The good news is that you are still in an age where you can turn around fate.

  12. Good that you ‘put it out there’ that you want to stop smoking; that’s a big hurdle. Now I can join with others in supporting your quest for a smoke-free life. It’s better when you feel accountable to others – even if it’s self imposed, you don’t want to let others (and yourself) down. Much the same as people who have trouble sticking to an exercise regime often arrange to go with a friend to help with mutual encouragement…which is something else I would recommend. Does anyone else in your household smoke, Swade?

    It would only take 2 or 3 weeks exercise to begin to notice health benefits – lower resting pulse, higher energy levels, faster metabolism…we are designed for endurance. The body has amazing powers of re-generation..to a degree. Lung function does become irreversibly compromised by smoking BUT you can slow down the rate of decline by giving up at any time – see this graph from the British Medical Journal:
    http://www.bmj.com/highwire/filestream/407598/field_highwire_fragment_image_l/0.jpg

    I sincerely wish you every success, Steve. I agree with Tim Burns, the key is to get into a (healthy) activity you enjoy which will replace smoking. Running and cycling I have found enjoyable to the point of addiction at times, Endorphins are pretty powerful chemicals from within! Walking is just as beneficial in the first instance, provided you go fast enough to elevate your heart rate by about 20 – 30 beats per minute. You should start by going for 5 minutes in each direction, most days of the week and gradually build up to 20-30 minutes once or twice per day over a period of 6 weeks to 2 months. That way exercise is achievable rather than setting unrealistic goals for yourself. Then you have a platform for becoming more energetic if you wish.

    You know what it was to play sport – that feeling is not yet beyond you to recapture but you must seize the moment!

    I see this blog is pretty therapeutic as well as a good read. You never get zero responses and everything written strikes a chord with someone/others around the globe. You know, most thoughts we ever have can’t be that different to what other people are thinking; we’re all human in the end. …mind you..Prince?… I have to admit that video ‘While my Guitar Gently Weeps’ was pretty smokin. (Oops! pardon the pun)

    KEEP US POSTED WITH YOUR PROGRESS.
    Ian

  13. Ahh Swade, such a hard bugger of a thing to give away. I’m on now to my most recent spell of being a non-smoker. First time lasted 4 years..so far, this is 9 months. The hardest thing that I found was not being around friends that smoke…the time out, getting to think about stuff while enjoying some sweet lady nicotine..

    Coke. I mean the stuff in the can, not the nose stuff. It gave me the oral fixation that I needed to forget about that bit of the durries, and just hung out with my friends regardless.

    I will admit to being an absolute ass-hat to everyone for about 3 months, and the slightest thing would tick me off, but I got through and now I’m feeling good.

    All the best for it. Anything, and everything, is worth a try πŸ™‚

  14. Some roommates who chronically smoked tried the e-cig thing, and it worked insofar as it provided a kick of nicotine with the oral fixation. I think it’s a great option for “stepping down”. Plus, you can get them in many different flavors. Good luck mate πŸ™‚

  15. If you want to improve your health. Do not start with trying to cut out cigarettes. If you stop smoking, your body weight will increase since you will start eating more, and also you will loose the social aspect of smoking. Both of these things will lower your happiness and when the happiness drops you will start smoking again, only now you will be fatter.

    This is the road to success (or at least it worked for me):

    1. Start sleeping 8 h per night. (No compromise, this will make you physically and mentally more alert)
    2. make at least one small physical exercise per day e.g. walk, move the lawn, snuggle with wife, vacuum clean the house etc..
    3. Start reducing your consumption of carbohydrates in your food. Drink only water.
    4. Start doing sports one time per week.

    Every step needs to be established before you can move on to the next one.

    When you manage to keep this way of life-when you have reached equilibrium-then you can start thinking about cutting cigarettes out too because then you will be both physically and mentally more stable to handle the drop in happiness.

  16. Swade, I’m all for mind control, ie controlling your mind and being aware of what it is up to. It is my firm opinion that the only way to quit a bad habit is to keep your mind 110% alert and aware of what you’re doing and what you really would like to be doing in any given moment. I don’t believe any replacements will help because they always come with a much too strong link to your past/bad habit which often makes it much harder to really quit. You instead become hooked on the replacement. Always remember that any habit/behaviour you have developed, whether good or bad, is the result of conscious effort on your part to develop it. Therefore you can also “undevelop” something, or simply develop the opposite. Every time you make up and excuse – ‘not right now’ – that is you making the conscious effort to reinforce your old behaviour. Just imagine what you could achieve if you directed that effort towards creating a new behaviour, one that’s positive … πŸ™‚

  17. Steven, a great many years ago a really good accupuncturist worked for me cold turkey
    For 8 yrs…then I slowly went back. Stop, start, stop, start, a struggle still working on. Not sure about the e- cigs..My neighbour used them and stopped for 8 months but went back to smoking. I’m there with you for it is a nasty habit but hard to kick πŸ™

  18. Steven, one of the last times I saw you in person I was a smoker, in fact I cadged a Malboro light from you (thanks again).

    Anyway about 16 months ago I came to a similar conclusion to you – basically the smoking was catching up with me and if I carried on I would die young.

    I was heartened when a friend, a very heavy smoker, a 60-a-day man, went on an Allen Carr course (I have heard great things about the book) and he quit immediately with very few problems. I thought if he can do it anyone can.

    I would recommend going cold turkey – the cravings and grumpyness will subside surprisingly quickly and you will be amazed how free and energetic you feel in a short space of time. Go for it! Good luck!

  19. Check (and avoid) if the nicotine in the e-cigarette is extracted from tobacco, since apparently, this leads to a certain content of nitrosamines whiahc are also cancerogenous.

  20. A bit late but cold turkey is the way to go! GF did it after several years of smoking, also with the money you save you can probably buy another Alfa!

  21. As Kanundrum indicated, coming up with financial equivalents is another excellent motivator to quit smoking. Buying a pack of smokes may not seem like a lot of money in and of itself, however, if you sit down and calculate the annual cost of your smoking habit (or any other habit, like drinking diet sodas) you can then imagine what you would be able to do with that much extra money. Pay yourself what you would otherwise spend on the habit and establish a goal for the funds. Whether it is helping to retire some debt or to save for another car to add to your bucket list that is still money you have in your pocket instead of having it literally go up in smoke.

  22. Steven,

    While I was only a light smoker, I can identify with the extreme difficulty to quit. I think you will also appreciate this book: Switch – How to change things when change is hard. http://www.amazon.com/Switch-Change-Things-When-Hard/dp/0385528752

    I really like the idea of using a cinnamon stick.. probably would go great with coffee. For me, I chewed on paper. Not exactly everyone’s cup of tea but it helped. Finding new routines to replace the old ones is probably your best bet. Exercise is a huge, huge boost too.

    Wishing you the best of luck. Don’t ever give up!

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