My father, grandfather and sisters were smokers when I was growing up. I come from a long line of smokers. I started smoking regularly at age 11. I found myself addicted to smoking pretty quickly. I started smoking not because I thought it would make me cool, but because I thought smoking was something cool to do. I wasn’t cooler because I smoked, but I enjoyed smoking a lot. I smoked whenever the opportunity would arise: before school, after school, when parents were out of the house or when I was sure I would not be disturbed in my bedroom. By age 13 I decided to use dip or chewing tobacco instead as I was less likely to be caught. Also, I liked the flavors and the buzz, and it satisfied my nicotine cravings. I knew of the health risks of both smoking and chewing tobacco, but hell– what did I care? I was just a kid and only old people have health problems because of tobacco, or so I thought. My sisters and some friends pressured me to give up chewing tobacco and after a year I did. Within two days of quitting chewing tobacco I was back to smoking. I needed the nicotine and I liked tobacco. I tried to quit a few times in high school because I was either under pressure to do so or because I was caught and threatened with severe punishment if I did not quit. Under the surface, I still wanted to smoke very much and it drove me crazy trying to quit without being truly self-motivated. I never stayed quit. I would spend all of my lunch money on cigarettes and go without eating lunch at school to keep up my supply of cigarettes. I developed asthma and moderate-to-severe allergies within a few years of starting smoking. At the time, I didn’t make the connection between smoking and these health problems. My doctors nagged me about smoking whenever I’d see them (which was rare). I was also under weight almost all my life and friends and family would tell me that I looked a little sickly most of the time. I met a girl when I was 22 (we are married now) who used to smoke but had stopped by the time I met her. She accepted the fact that I smoked but never liked the fact that I did. She asked me to quit a few times. I tried to quit to satisfy her, but I failed every time. My desire to smoke, my well-established habit, and my nicotine cravings were just too much and socially I was around smokers on a regular basis. I tried the patch and the gum unsuccessfully. Sure they worked temporarily, but they were more expensive. They also only satisfied the nicotine craving but I still wanted to smoke very much. When the supplies ran out, it was back to cigarettes immediately. One of my friends (whose own story would not be so different from my own) started using an electronic cigarette a few years later and the first time I saw him with it, I tried it. I couldn’t believe how closely it resembled smoking– I could taste it, see it, feel it in my hands, feel it in my chest, and it could satisfy my nicotine cravings just as well as cigarettes. My friend told me that there was no substantial evidence that these electronic cigarettes were a health hazard and ample evidence that the components consumed while vaping were generally considered safe aside from the nicotine. Getting nicotine was exactly one of the benefits I was looking for. It also was readily apparent that I’d save a lot of money by switching from expensive cigarettes to inexpensive, durable, and reusable electronic cigarettes. I showed the electronic cigarette to my wife that night and explained to her what’s in them. I decided to buy a starter kit that night (it came with 2 batteries, a personal charging case, and about a month’s supply of liquid). I smoked maybe three more packs of cigarettes before it finally arrived in the mail. I quit smoking the night it arrived and have been vaping happily ever since. This was in 2010. This decision changed my life. The color of my skin has returned to a healthy color of white (no longer looking sickly as before), I’ve put on enough weight to be in a normal weight range, and my asthma has cleared up completely in less than 3 years. I do still have allergies, but they are now controllable with benadryl. I have tried a few cigarettes or a few puffs on a cigarette since I quit and it completely disgusts me now. I feel ill afterwards. I never realized this is how I felt all the time while I was smoking– you get so used to it that it becomes the new normal. My father was also a smoker, and for much longer than me. After he saw my success with electronic cigarettes, he gave them a try. Like me, he loved it immediately. He also has stopped smoking completely and is now vaping. He told me his stamina has improved, he coughs less, and he feels better. His wife has also quit smoking in lieu of electronic cigarettes. One of my coworkers was also a smoker and he and his wife have switched to electronic cigarettes too because they saw how well they work. One of my sisters has also switched. I’m still working on my other sister. 🙂 I am dismayed and saddened when I hear about attempts to ban electronic cigarettes. I love smoking and I am addicted in every sense of the word: I love it, I crave it, and I need it. I am an addict. If I can get the same (or better) smoking experience and nicotine I need in a safe or much safer non-tobacco product, like I can with electronic cigarettes, I’m all for it. If I no longer had access to electronic cigarettes, I am certain that I would once again start smoking tobacco cigarettes and continue being pulled down a path to self-destruction if I couldn’t find a black market source quickly. I hope our country does not have another debacle like the alcohol abolition. Electronic cigarettes have been a blessing to me and my family and I can’t say enough good about them. Even if electronic cigarettes are not 100% risk-free, who can argue in good conscience that it is better to smoke tobacco than electronic cigarettes? We should leave smokers with all means at their disposal, and they should be allowed to choose how to quit smoking in the way they decide is best for themselves.