Listen tobacco, it just isn’t working so I’m leaving you…

First off, a tiny bit of background to my thinking here. We should all be aware of the complete insanity portrayed by the BMA in the media recently, where the enlightened representatives spoke with calm authority on e-cigarettes and how harmful they were. Now of course, I’m pretty clued up on the topic as well I should be, but what about those that are considering the switch to vaping?

Before I sat and watched the England Lionesses scare their fans and viewers witless last night with their blessed 2-1 victory over Norway, I found myself perusing some relatively old, but still incredibly pertinent videos from the E-Cigarette Summit 2014. One video in particular caught my attention more than the others, and in light of today’s blog post from Clive Bates; along with some other discussions that took place on social media, I got to thinking.

Well, I tried to envisage myself in the shoes of smokers over a year ago. Of course, I’m probably slightly different to most that are looking to switch or try to quit smoking using e-cigarettes simply because I enjoyed smoking back then, but I tried anyway.

I tried to remember the sensations of my first ever cigarette that I sparked up at the back of a bright, sunny school playing field. I do distinctly remember the sensation of the smoke entering my lungs, how my gag reflex kicked into overdrive because my body didn’t like that something odd was going on. I remember the slightly giddy feeling I had, and then the exhale that was swiftly followed by a sore-throat inducing hacking cough. I can honestly say that the very first drag on a tobacco cigarette felt damn good up until the coughing fit and that was only the first puff. The following puffs were a heck of a lot easier, or at least they weren’t followed by a bout of coughing. If the scholars are to be believed, that’s when my addiction began.

I also have just shy of twenty years of smoking “experience” so I can call up pretty much every time I lit up, inhaled and exhaled to feed my smoking habit. I can say with 99% certainty that my feelings and experiences towards smoking did not change over those twenty years. I thoroughly enjoyed the sensation of the warm smoke curling into my lungs, that brief pause to savour the sensation before exhaling through my mouth or in some instances playing at Puff the Magic Dragon and blowing it out of my nose.  It is more than a little seductive, frankly there isn’t an experience like it..

Watching the Vimeo video and hearing Lorien talk about her relationship with tobacco, I began to wonder if my relationship with tobacco was similar or different.

Back in May, my best friend tied the knot and I had the distinct pleasure and honour of being the best man, though truth be told I think I was actually far more nervous than he was.  My best friend is a former smoker, like I am now but for far longer. My other best friend is a current smoker (although technically he could be classed as a dual user), likes to smoke cigars.  Both myself and my soon-to-be-married best friend also enjoyed the odd cigar from time to time, but always on special occasions only. It is just one of those “things” that the three of us do.

Of course smoking a cigar is a completely different experience to smoking a cigarette, but I had a tendency to smoke cigars just like cigarettes with the mouth to lung inhalation. I didn’t consistently do that mind, that was a sure-fire way of completely destroying my throat, maybe once or twice per cigar. As it was my best friends wedding, my other best friend bought along a dozen cigars. My soon-to-be-married best friend’s soon-to-be-wife used to smoke also, but she was purely a social smoker. Didn’t smoke at any other time than when she was out on the town, and even then it was rare. Since she’d been back from university she had long since stopped completely (cold turkey in case anyone is interested), and whilst she didn’t exactly approve of smoking,  she wasn’t overtly against it either. Complicated story…

An hour or so before the actual ceremony, we three amigos were out of sight of the soon-to-be-parents-in-law when it was decided to toast the groom with a cheeky beer (no bar at the venue until the evening), and a cigar. Did I spark a cigar? Yes I did. Did I feel pressured to do so? No I did not. Did I enjoy it? Yes I did. Did I smoke it like a cigarette? No I didn’t.

A fair number of thoughts were racing through my head as I puffed away on the cigar. What did it mean for me? Was I going to go back to cigarettes? What if I enjoy this too much? You know, that kind of thing. The very thoughts that most former smokers have in their heads when they relapse. So how many cigars did I have? Four. Between about 11AM and 1AM the following morning. I was offered cigarettes during the course of the day, but I always turned them down. Even had a few chances to explain my chosen device for the day (Sigelei 20W tube mod with the Kayfun Lite tank as my primary, and the DNA40 and SubTank for later).

Would I spark up a cigar again? Probably, I enjoy the taste even though I don’t inhale, and I do love the smell of cigar (and pipe) smoke. I didn’t have any cravings for normal cigarettes at all during the day, I just vaped as normal where I was allowed to (vaping was annoyingly prohibited inside sadly) and drank an awful lot of ale.

If you’ve read my story, you’ll know that I went through some pretty tough times which may have been a cause for an increase in my smoking habit to a ridiculous daily amount of cigarettes, which had a damn near immediate effect on how I felt, and why I decided to make relatively minor to my daily life to make a conscious effort to cut down the number of cigarettes I smoked.

The little diversion at my best friends wedding was just that, a brief sojourn into a variation of my old habit but it did place the seeds of doubt in my head which have only recently started to bud. If the shenanigans in the media the last twelve months, the “cancer causing chemicals” and all that rubbish had been going around a year ago (or had I noticed them a year ago), I probably wouldn’t have gone anywhere near an e-cigarette.

With what I have learned over the last year, I can thankfully and gleefully say to tobacco and cigarettes….

So Over You