I started smoking at age 21, when my employer would only grant break times to smoking employees. What started as occasional use quickly became an addiction that lasted 17 years. I tried several times to quit smoking, using every method and FDA approved NRT available.
I tried to quit “Cold Turkey”, but that wasn’t sustainable. I returned to smoking within the week I made each attempt. Nicotine gum made my body tremble and shake uncontrollably, even at the lowest mg/dosage. Nicotine patches and sublingual tablets gave me nausea and severe migraines, and led to me missing work and endangered my employment. Chantix decreased the amount of cigarettes I smoked each day, but also increased my depression, and I started having suicidal thoughts and hallucinations while taking it.
Each failed attempt made me feel more and more helpless. In December 2016, my grandmother (a former smoker) was dying from her lung cancer in the hospital, and I was outside in the parking lot smoking a cigarette. I began to resent myself, and I despised my addiction. But I still could not quit.
That’s when a friend introduced me to vaping. She and her husband had been using vapes for a couple weeks and we’re successful in their attempt to quit smoking. I was skeptical; nothing had worked for me in the past and this couldn’t be any different. She let me try her vape and I liked it, and I decided to buy my own in hopes that I would at least cut back on how much I smoked. (At that point, I was smoking 2.5 packs per day.)
My local vape shop was very helpful. I had no idea what I was doing, and they walked me through selecting a setup and juice, how to use and store them safely, and how to maintain and charge my device. They answered all my questions and alleviated my concerns about what ingredients were in the juice products. Like many of their other customers, I did not want to use tobacco or menthol ejuice flavors that were similar to the taste of the cigarettes I was addicted to. I did not want to feel unsatisfied and start to have cravings. I left with a device and a strawberry waffle ejuice, feeling well informed and hopeful.
The first three days I used my vape, I drastically reduced the amount of cigarettes I smoked. I didn’t expect to have this much success so quickly! And on day four, I couldn’t even light up one cigarette. I realized I couldn’t stand the taste or smell of cigarettes anymore, and before I knew it, I had gone a month without smoking!
January 7, 2017 was the last day I smoked a cigarette. Although I have switched devices and flavors many times throughout my journey, that practice has been essential in keeping me from returning to smoking cigarettes. Rotating flavors keeps me from becoming disinterested and also eliminates my cravings. I have also been successful in decreasing my nicotine consumption, lowered my nicotine dependence, and have maintained a cigarette free lifestyle while I work to beat my smoking habits (i.e.: after eating, while driving, while among current smokers, etc).
My success inspired my loved ones to make the switch. My husband tried vaping three weeks after I did. He vaped tobacco flavors, but still had cravings and had a few cigarettes when around other smokers. When he tried a blue raspberry candy flavor, he found he no longer craved cigarettes and was finally able to resist smoking cigarettes. My parents started vaping too. It took them trying a few different devices each before they found one that worked. Mom uses a tropical fruit flavor and Dad uses peanut butter and jelly, and, for the first time in their lives, they now live cigarette free. Vaping freed us from our smoking addictions. Having access to a variety of device and flavor options was crucial to my family’s success.
Although continued, long term use is a safer alternative to traditional smoking, I do intend on quitting vaping when I am ready and able to do so. My plan is to wean myself down to zero milligrams of nicotine and use the puff counter on my device to track my usage. This goal is dependent upon my continued access to flavors as well as new vaping technologies. (For example: I recently learned about the Puff Counter feature and which devices offer it.) If it becomes increasingly difficult to gain PMTA approval for new vaping technologies, users will miss out on new innovations that can potentially better assist them with quitting vaping. Also, limiting the variety of vaping products may not be sustainable for our local vape shops to continue operating and, as an unintended consequence, force us to seek products from unsafe and unknowledgeable sources. While I am not opposed to regulation, it must be done properly and fairly, and allow adults to safely and consistently access a variety of eliquid flavors and hardware products.