I started smoking in 1968 at the age of 13. I tried to quit several times over the years, but never lost the nagging urge to start again. Nicotine gum helped some, but it upset my stomach, and it never helped me feel remotely normal. I lost my mother, father, father-in-law and several friends and relatives to smoking-related illnesses, but this never seemed to deter me – I had come to the conclusion that I was a smoker, and that was that. I’d never had any notable health issues from smoking, but in late 2008 my state mandated fire-safe cigarettes, and several months later I developed a persistent cough and congestion. Perhaps this was a coincidence, but I will never be sure. I still didn’t really want to quit smoking, but knew that something had to change. In the fall of 2009, a friend showed me an electronic cigar he had bought. I’d never heard of such a thing, but found it intriguing, though I never cared much for cigars. This prompted me to do some research to see if there was an equivalent for a cigarette. I found a wealth of information, and decided to order a kit. As soon as I tried it, I was convinced that it just might work. I decided to use the e-cigarette and to only have a real one when I felt I absolutely needed it, which was only a few times a day. On the 5th day, I never got around to lighting up, and I have not had a cigarette since November 10, 2009. About 3 months after I switched to the e-cigarette, I decided to try a real cigarette, just to see if I was really done with them. I couldn’t finish 2 puffs – it was beyond disgusting. This was nothing short of a miracle to me, as in the past, that first drag was always the best thing since sliced bread, and it would draw me back in immediately. As e-cigarettes have become more popular, they have stirred up a great deal of controversy. Many so-called experts claim to not know if they are safe, or what is in them, or refuse to acknowledge that e-cigarettes might have enormous potential to get smokers to quit inhaling smoke. I don’t claim to be an expert, but here’s what I do know after 3 1/2 years of using them: – The e-cigarette enabled me to quit smoking when nothing else I’d tried worked – The e-cigarette made me find tobacco cigarettes completely unappealing – My persistent cough and congestion disappeared quickly after switching to the e-cigarette – I soon regained my senses of smell and taste after switching to the e-cigarette. I can now tell if a smoker has been in the elevator within the last 15 minutes, and it stinks. On the other hand, my garden smells amazing in the summer now. – I had been plagued by migraine headaches for about 7 years, and they disappeared soon after switching to the e-cigarette – My dentist and periodontist have been very pleased with the improvements in my teeth and gums – I have more energy and stamina now – I often take 85 stairs up to my office rather than using the elevator, and now find it much easier to do yard work, snow shoveling, etc. – I sleep better, and am not all clogged up anymore when I wake up – I smell better – Friends and colleagues tell me I look better – I have had 2 relatively minor colds in the past 3.5 years – no other illnesses – I was able to tailor the nicotine strength to my needs, and now have cut it by 75% from where I started. This flexibility was an important key to me, as it finally put me in control. – The only negative side-effect I encountered was dryness in the mouth and throat, which I solved by drinking more water. These are facts, not conjecture or theory or propaganda. The other thing I know is that my story is far from unusual – I have seen it repeated thousands of times. My only regret about the e-cigarette is that I did not discover it earlier. It has changed my life profoundly, and perhaps saved it. I can only speculate about the motives of those who are so vehemently opposed or closed-minded to the e-cigarette, but the only conclusion I can draw is that greed is what must be driving them. Smokers were in a box, an easy target for regressive taxation, unsuccessful but profitable lather-rinse-repeat smoking cessation methods, and medications for related illnesses. I believe that the e-cigarette has created an escape hole in that box, and these people don’t like it one bit.