I started smoking when I was 12. I wanted to be part of the crowd that had shunned me in elementary school, so when one of the girls asked me if I smoked, I said yes. Even though I had never thought about or had the opportunity to smoke before that day, I went behind the school and puffed away. It wasn’t long before I was hooked. I smoked almost continuously for the next 18 years. I stopped for 8 weeks in boot camp with the US Navy. I started up again as soon as I had access to a store. I stopped during both of my pregnancies, only to start up again very shortly after my children were born. During those times I never stopped craving cigarettes. It was extremely difficult to refrain during my pregnancies. Only because of a family member lost to SIDS was I able to convince myself not to smoke. Between my two children’s births my husband and I decided to quit smoking. I tried to cut back by only purchasing single cigarettes at a time, until I was buying a handful at a time. I realised I needed to try something else. So I tried the nicotine patch. This thing never even calmed the cravings at all. I might as well have been wearing a bandaid, so I gave up. My husband had tried using chewing tobacco to quit, and had really just switched to that instead. About 3 years ago I decided to give it another go. Dumb as it sounds it was hearing about the news of Phil Harris’s death that got me thinking about it. So I started looking into my options. I realised that smoking is a two part addiction. The hand to mouth action and the nicotine. I decided that cutting out one of those might work. So I bought some herbal cigarettes. I’m not sure what’s in them, corn silk or something. I had a modicum of success with this method. I managed to go a couple of days. They just weren’t satisfying that itch. That’s when I found electronic cigarettes. I did a lot of research on electronic cigarettes before I bought one. I was really interested to learn about why cigarettes are so deadly. When you burn something, it creates carcinogens. With electronic cigarettes, nothing burns. I had been afraid to admit up to now, how much I really enjoyed smoking. It was a ritual, yes, but also something that relaxed me. I loved watching the smoke. And here in front of me it seemed there was a way to keep smoking, in a sense, and at least reduce my risk of getting cancer from it. No extra chemicals, no chance of setting anything on fire, no more judgemental looks from my family when they catch a whiff of stale smoke. I bought a starter kit, and started vapeing away. I didn’t quit cigarettes immediately. It was probably a month before I was off cigarettes completely. That is still miles ahead of anything else I had tried previously. My husband became convinced that if it had worked for me it might work for him too. He had switched back to cigarettes in an attempt to quit chewing. I set him up with a kit and he worked his nicotine levels down until he could quit using it all together. He is still smoke free after a year and a half. I decided to continue using my electronic cigarettes for the long term. I enjoy it as much as I did cigarettes, if not more so, because I don’t feel guilty using it. Now I am no fool. I know that when something looks too good to be true, it probably is. I don’t pretend that these things are perfectly safe in the long run. Although, the more research that is done, the better they are looking. The point for me is that I enjoy nicotine as much as I enjoy caffeine, and the action of smoking plays into the whole thing. I don’t know what the long term effects of these things is going to show me. I do know that cigarettes were a death sentence. I have seen some changes in my body since making the switch. I have more energy now. I don’t wake up with headaches on a daily basis any more. I recently visited Washington DC and was able to keep up with my Dad’s 6 mph walking pace through the whole city. I do feel like I have more control over this habit than I did with cigarettes. I couldn’t change the amount of nicotine in them to wean myself off of them, and I couldn’t decide what additional chemicals were in them. I make my own nicotine fluid now. I have control over how much nicotine is in it, and what other things I add to it. I can decide to lower my nicotine levels and work my way off of them when/if I choose to do so. There are no mystery ingredients (What exactly is the Fire Safety Chemical they started adding to cigarettes a few years back?). I think that more, long term, studies are needed from independent sources. For me, I feel like they have at least lengthened my life, if not saved it completely.