In the reactions to yesterday’s blog post I found I had hit a chord that resonated amongst my vaping friends. There is a core of us who wish we had heard about vaping sooner. I can only give my experience of this, more anecdotes, I hope someone picks it up and adds it to a survey question at some point because I think the answers will be telling.
“If it sounds too good to be true – it probably is”
Those were my words, against a link to a cigalike ecig. I remember posting it somewhere – facebook or twitter or LiveJournal – and asking my friends if they thought it might be the answer. If there was some way I as a smoker could have my cake and eat it. That has to be a good five years ago now. I did buy that ecig, and it was “too good to be true” in that it didn’t directly replace smoking for me. What if I hadn’t bought a cigalike from a company which actively discourages moving on to second and third generation products even now. What if I had been taught to use it correctly in the first place. What if I had bought a good quality second generation product, or even bought that first ecig from a different retailer with a bigger range of products and better, more balanced, information.
What if these products had been freely available everywhere I could buy cigarettes or tobacco?
I would have switched sooner.
I would have been able to directly replace smoking with vaping five years ago. That means I would have avoided four miserable quit attempts, and been nicer to be around when I relapsed to smoking while living with an ex-smoker. Looking back I turned into something I really don’t like every time I gave up my beloved tobacco. And yes, I did love it. Both times I had given up smoking while in a relationship with someone who didn’t smoke, almost the first thing I did once out of those relationships was buy a pack of twenty and mentally stick another single finger up at the world in general.
I needed to know these things existed
If there’s no marketing, no means by which the message gets out, how are smokers like I was supposed to find out about these products. If the only information being put out there is scaremongering and hysterical puritanism-driven advice to “quit or die” do you think that it’s going to be easy for the average smoker to make an informed decision.
I didn’t intend to quit before I saw the ecig
I didn’t intend to quit when I bought my first ecig. I was curious to find out if it worked well enough to let me get round smoking bans. I didn’t know that there were more effective ecigs out there. Up until the point I saw a second generation device I had absolutely no intention of giving up smoking again. I was adamant that I was never going through another quit attempt. Anyone telling me to do so got my standard response that there was nothing that replaced smoking for me, and that I was better off physically and mentally smoking than not smoking. Quit attempts for me mean; weight gain, mood swings, tears, anger, carbohydrate cravings and the fact that my intense need to smoke a cigarette never eases with time. I bought my second generation device and began documenting my switch to ecigs as a blogging exercise; I tried to mentally set myself up to succeed as best I could in order to give myself the best chance possible. But in reality all that made me try it was one simple fact that vapers were repeating over and over again. The fact that for them vaping directly replaced smoking. That I was not embarking on a quit attempt which for me were always horrendous.
I didn’t quit: I switched
And I don’t intend to give up using an ecig. Some medical practitioners are horrified by this, as if somehow my deciding to replace an addiction to tobacco with a habit of smokeless nicotine use means that I have not stopped smoking. I have not put a paper tube filled with tobacco between my lips, set fire to it, and breathed in the smoke. I have used an ecig ad lib in a similar way to the way I used tobacco; not exactly similar as they are different delivery systems, but not so different from cigarettes as NRT. You see I didn’t know what dose of nicotine I was getting when I smoked a cigarette, but I learned to titrate my levels instinctively. E cigarettes are less effective in delivering nicotine, and studies show that it is highly implausible that a vaper could overdose on nicotine by vaping. I don’t need to know the dose I’m getting, I just need to experiment to find the level which suits me; by which I mean find the level which makes me feel as though I’ve had a cigarette.
I’m not using it as a medicine
If I had been handed a personal vapouriser by a medical professional which had measured doses, and I was told that I could only have x number of puffs over y amount of time I wouldn’t have been able to switch. Taking something designed as a consumer product and making it medicinal takes away a huge part of the mechanism which makes it work for me. I need to be able to use it ad-lib, more when I need more, less when I need less. I need to be able to change strengths and flavours, and I need (as a 43 year old woman) all of those flavours to be there. Without them I would not have switched. Medicalising my nicotine use, shaming me for being weak willed enough to want to use nicotine past the magic thirteen weeks therapeutic level… actually all boils down to one thing.
What do you want us smokers to quit, Nicotine or tobacco?
I can’t do both. Neither can a lot of people. We have a choice of vaping or smoking and no amount of shaming, demonisation, bans, restrictions, health warnings, plain packaging, sin taxes or any other puritanical crusade against enjoyment will stop that. You’re dealing with a percentage of smokers with whom you have never yet been able to engage. Listen to us. Vaping is working to directly replace smoking as it exists today. The scaremongering, the horror stories, Public Health “experts” shouting unproven nonsense against it is working against the best interests of the people who matter. I get really angry about this, because we’re talking not just about my health when smoking, but about my mental, physical and emotional health when being put through yet another doomed-to-fail quit attempt.
Yet still, I am just an anecdote.
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