As a smoker for two full decades, I decided in March 2013 to find out exactly what the e-cig was all about. I have not had an analogue cigarette since.
In February 2013, my wife and I found out that we were going to have a baby. I decided it was time, yet again, to quit smoking cigarettes. There aren’t enough fingers and toes in my household to count the number of times I have tried to redirect the lung dart, but I just wasn’t willing to quit trying to quit.
I have an older child too and I recall my best efforts to stop smoking when she was born. I used patches, gum, lozenges, and medications to supplement my efforts to exert my will-power. Some of these smoking cessation aids helped me get through a couple weeks, and even a month once or twice, but I always went back to the heater, the cancer stick, the coffin nail.
I believe that my research and testimony can help other smokers who are at their choking point. Once a hopeless smoker, I opened myself up for assistance and finally found help with the e-cigarette. I had five primary questions about e-cigs before they gave me room to breathe.
- What is an e-cigarette?
An electronic cigarette is also known as an electronic vaping device, a personal vaporizer, or an electronic nicotine delivery system. The newer vaping devices are far superior to the older generation models. An e-cig is a battery-powered device which uses a heating element that vaporizes a liquid solution. The user then inhales the vapor which replicates the act of puffing on a death cylinder.
- Is it dangerous?
This is the question of the season for folks trying to quit smoking and e-cig marketers alike. E-cigs had their start in China by a company named Ruyan in 1992. Today, you can get e-juice and e-cig paraphernalia online, or at stores and kiosks that seem to be popping up at the same rate as Starbucks did in the late nineties.
I was initially concerned about using the standard lithium battery to vaporize my e-juice. After all, it’s a heavy metal. I then came to a conclusion that became the answer to many of my concerns about e-cigs: It can’t be worse than a cigarette! Cigarettes, if used long enough, are almost sure to cause cancer and are certain to wreak havoc on your respiratory system.
I have also heard of folks who fret about the battery exploding. This is as likely as your camera battery exploding while taking a picture as it uses the same battery. And even if the battery exploded in my face, I had gotten to a point where I could honestly say, “It can’t be worse than a cigarette!”
- What’s in the juice they put in there?
E-cigs are only recently regulated in Minnesota. There are dangers to not knowing what chemicals are being used in creating the vapor that a user ingests. Typically there are four chemicals used in making e-juice: propylene glycol (a colorless, odorless, sweet tasting organic compound), vegetable glycerin (a food safe sugar/alcohol compound used as a base), and food flavoring. A user can make e-juice with or without nicotine.
Nicotine levels can be as low as 0 mg/ml and as high as 28 mg/ml. I have heard of higher levels, but I wasn’t a three-pack-of-cowboy-killers-a-day kind of guy, so I started at 20 mg/ml and worked my way down. There are 178 chemicals in a cigarette and when combined create an amalgamation of thousands of different chemicals that are harmful to the consumer and those around them. Smoking tobacco is a known cancer causing agent and the other effects are horrible as well. In my ejuice, the vegetable glycerin and propylene glycol are food safe ingredients that I guarantee you and everyone else who has ever eaten food from a gas station have already ingested. They are approved by the FDA. Food flavoring is also safe. Nicotine is a horrible and addictive drug but it is literally only bad for your bones. Not your lungs, not your heart, not a cancer inducer – etc. Also, from the Harvard University peer-reviewed articles that I have read, the vapor from e-cigs are not harmful to those around the user. My personal opinion is that I would rather ingest one drug that is bad for my bones that I have full control over rather than ingest a death cylinder created by a corporation who doesn’t care that they are killing you while they fleece you of your money. (It can’t be worse than a cigarette)!
- Is it expensive?
Years ago, I was a pack-a-day smoker but I had cut that down to about a half pack by the time I switched to e-cigs. I invested in a higher-end gadget because I knew that if I had a cheap e-cig that ended up leaking juice I would have just the excuse I needed to go back to the lung cookie.
I purchased a starter kit for $30.00 which included a battery, a USB charger for the battery, a cheap tank in which you put the e-juice. I also purchased an extra battery for $25.00, and a really good tank for $25.00. I find myself investing about $5.00 per month in the ingredients I use to make my e-juice. I buy in bulk.
For me, the price for one year of vaping ends up being an initial investment of $80.00 and a monthly investment of $5.00, for a total of $140.00 for the first year and $60.00 per year ongoing. With a low-end cost of $6.00 per pack in Minnesota, smoking cigarettes will cost a half-pack smoker $1095.00 per year. So, is it expensive to convert? It can’t be worse than cigarettes!
- Does it really help you quit smoking?
It helped me. I have a serious oral fixation and e-cigs are the only cessation device that has satisfied it. As Dennis Leary once said, “I tried the smoking patch but I just couldn’t keep it lit.” As I write this I am puffing on a Tropical Punch flavored, 5 mg/ml e-juice solution. I am not quite at the no-nicotine level but plan on being there by the end of the year.
I don’t use it around my kids but don’t feel the need to go out to the garage to use it either. There is no second hand smoke. I don’t smell rancid anymore. I am not out of breath simply walking up the stairs to the bedroom. My wife no longer threatens divorce, and the guilt – I don’t miss the guilt. I admit that e-cigs are not as good as smoking nothing at all, but hey – they can’t be worse than cigarettes!
Here are four links for those who have decided to move to vaping devices and would like to start making their own e-juice. (Disclaimer 1: Making e-juice can be harmful if not done correctly. One who has any reservations should not do this and those without reservation should watch someone with experience before trying themselves. Disclaimer 2: I am not affiliated in any way with the entities whom I am linking to.)
Here is a post from an e-juice maker who subscribes to the same logic within a forum on the topic.
Here is the e-juice calculator that I use.
Here is a YouTube video on how to make your own e-juice.
Here is a site dedicated to DIY E-Juice.