I am a former smoker. Some would say that someone in their mid-thirties that’s well beyond 60 pack-years is a very heavy smoker. I smoked for 20 of those years, 3 packs a day. I’d just started seeing a physician that I began to trust (I’d had issues with others in the past, most of them making claims that I was simply obese, and that was the cause of all of my issues. They were correct on some counts, and wrong on several others.), after I insisted that she deal with my chief and secondary complaints (Constant Excruciating Pain, which was causing Severe Depression, leading to Social Anxiety Disorder and a number of General Anxiety Disorders that I was unequipped to cope with properly) before we proceeded with anything else. After she showed intent to put genuine effort into those complaints, I asked her to Do all of the rest of the Doctor stuff you want. I discovered over the course of the next few months that I had a number of issues, leading to her inform me that the other Doctors simply didn’t want to deal with a complicated case. While that’s understandable, it would have helped if they had simply told the truth in the first place, so that I could find a Doctor that was willing to do the work, instead of instilling a general distrust of those in that profession. I found out that I’d been an undiagnosed Diabetic for at least a decade, that my lumbar spine was all but shattered and the discs had all hemorrhaged, that my cervical spine was reversed, that I had multiple types of arthritis (I was unaware there was more than one type), and that it was slowly shredding my spinal cord from some strange thing named Spondylosis. I was on the verge of organ failure in a number of pretty important places (You can’t live without a liver she said. If your kidneys get too much worse you’ll be going to dialysis. You’ve got a 70% chance to have a heart attack or stroke in the next week. Your pancreas has almost completely shut down. Lots of scary conversations), and that the extensive nerve damage from unchecked, undiagnosed diabetes and Spondylosis was the reason I was frequently falling down, leading to dislocated ribs, frequent sprained ankles, a few bumps on the head, that sort of thing. I was then informed that I was the luckiest man on the planet since I didn’t have any signs of lung cancer, yet. All of these things kept piling up the stress, and the only coping strategy I’d developed was to smoke, heavily. After more tests, and new diagnosis after new diagnosis, I was informed that I was to cease tobacco. I was aware of some of the risks, like lung cancer, but was unaware of some of the problems that occur in metabolizing the many chemical additives in commercial cigarettes. She told me that I had a deadline to absolutely cease all tobacco usage within 15 days. I asked her about options and alternatives, and she prescribed some NRT patches and lozenges, along with Chantix. I started the Chantix as directed, and after the 3rd dose I was livid about every small detail. I called her and informed her that Chantix would not be able to help me, and after conveying my experience with her she told me about something that another patient tried and was successful with – electronic cigarettes. We discussed it, and she told me that it wouldn’t hurt to try it as it’s food additives, usually a double alcohol and vegetable glycerin. While long term studies have yet to be performed on this new technology (as it’s new technology) since all of the ingredients are recognized as safe by the FDA it is at least not as harmful as tobacco. I lit my last cigarette 3 minutes before midnight the day of the deadline, and finished with 45 seconds to spare. I then put on a patch and went to bed. The next morning I was more agitated than I’d ever been and reached for my pack of cigarettes. Once I realized that there were none in the house, I put on a new patch, tried a lozenge, and could not stop pacing ready to rip my hair out. I tried another lozenge, and started to panic that I wouldn’t be able to uphold my agreement to cease tobacco use. The panic led to rage, and at that point I just knew I’d fail. I went to the convenience store, and instead of buying regular cigarettes, I decided I’d try one of the disposable electronic ones. The rage left instantly, and the panic was gone before I left the parking lot 10 minutes later. It wasn’t exactly a cigarette, since instead of inhaling right away, you hold the vapor in your mouth for about 30 seconds first, release a bit of the vapor, then inhale a minute quantity. None of that mattered in the least. I stopped coughing up black stuff the following week. The subsequent week I was able to walk a mile and not wheeze and lose my breath. Another week passed and I was walking 5 miles a day, 1 mile in the morning, another at lunch, and finally 3 miles home from the bus stop. When I went in the see the Doctor for my follow-up on smoking cessation and pain management, all of her staff looked at me with a look of confusion. I no longer reeked of a filthy ashtray, and while they recognized my face, name, and appearance, they knew something was different. When I saw the Doctor she said didn’t even need to ask except as a matter of record when I informed her that I had managed to cease tobacco completely on the deadline date. I told her that I tried the patch, I tried the lozenges, and my experiences with that. I told her about being in the convenience store nearly in tears about knowing that I’d failed. I told her I tried that electronic cigarette idea and that it worked. Not gradually but abruptly as the change wasn’t a process but an event. We discussed again the facts that long term exposure studies haven’t been performed, then she read my intake chart. My blood pressure was down to nearly the high range, instead of off the charts. My medications were working more closely to as intended. I was able to hold my hand out flat without a major tremble, another massive step forward. I hadn’t yet coughed up a nasty black mess. We both knew at that point that I was going to be able to work toward a more healthy state of being. This was more than a year ago. Since then we’ve worked together to find more productive coping strategies. We’ve worked together to reduce some stressors, and eliminate others. I’ve gone from being under 40 staring death in the eyes, to having what I feel are some major wins. I haven’t had any desire or cravings for tobacco since. Once my tastes returned to a more normal place, I’m able to cut a large amount of dietary problems without even thinking about it. I’m capable of exercise and do again without thinking about it. More and more healthy behaviors are now automatic. I can’t blame cigarettes for all of my issues. I can say that achieving that goal was a turning point in my life, since before that conversation, and before that decision in the convenience store that day, giving up tobacco would have been entirely out of my reach. I was even advised against quitting smoking when I first saw the Doctor because I was an absolute wreck, and the shock to my system may have been more than I could have handled and survived to tell you about. I started with the disposable in the convenience store, and knew that it was the only way I’d be able to quit. I then went to a local retailer and bought a starter kit for the egoT product from Joytech. I started moving away from the tobacco flavors about a month in, and have reduced from the 3.6% nicotine product down to the 0.6% nicotine product, and from using it nearly 3 or more times per hour to using it less than 6 times per day. My Doctor told me that barring being hit by a bus/train/car or being struck by lightning or eaten by a shark, or getting a concussion in an elevator from a falling coconut while being devoured by hungry piranhas, or some other unfortunate event that I should be able to live to see at least 40 in my current condition, and as we work together, my prognosis can only get better. I may need a wheelchair once I hit 50, but at least I will have lived until then. My goal is to be completely nicotine free within 3 months, and to give all of my electronic cigarette supplies away as starter kits to friends and family members that continue to smoke. I care too much about their overall health and wellness not to provide them with the tool that allowed me to cease tobacco, irrespective of other people’s opinion of this technology. That of course will come with a note to ensure that they seek the advice of a physician before starting any new delivery method of a poison like nicotine, and to request that they undergo the therapeutic usage of the device only under the care and supervision of aforesaid physician. The thing that aggravates me the most about smoking cessation is that I keep seeing these smear campaigns against electronic cigarettes by non-smokers. Quitting is hard enough without having to listen to Rachel Ray ask Who would even want to use something like this?. To answer that question is simple Rachel, no one should consider picking up any smoking cessation tools up for recreation, but the USA is supposed to be a free country. I say supposed to be because idiots like yourself are doing everything in your power to produce more vice and morality laws, which are contraindicated in a truly free society. We have WAY too many of these on the books as it stands, ad most of those on the federal level are unconstitutional. If you’re not sure how that could be, please read the 18th and 21st amendments to the constitution, where they actually made a constitutional prohibition, and not an unlawful set of arbitrary restrictions that are fed into by people like yourself trying to be a sensationalist. It’s people like you that Benjamin Franklin was talking to when he said They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. and it’s unbecoming since it makes you look like a huge fan of Authoritarianism. If these words are too big for you, please feel free to look them up, in a big book called a dictionary which explains what words mean. I have no issues with people choosing not to do something harmful. I do have issues with people like you spreading misinformation and attempting to sway decision makers with biased uneducated opinions and outright false information about something that’s clearly not for you. Rachel Ray, if you’re out there – fuck you for those stupid stunts to get ratings stop acting like a narrow-minded short-sighted bitch. My sentiments are the same for anyone else out there pulling the same sort of shenanigans. These tools are designed to help people with serious health concerns to help themselves, and if you don’t like the idea of them, don’t use them and stop harassing the people who do, unless they’re impeding your immediate liberties, in which case talk with them about it and leave the rest of us alone. Smoking is a very dangerous public health concern that’s nearly impossible to stop without assistance, and the more people that are able to help themselves remedy that malady the better. Next time read the box where it says Warning: This product is an electronic cigarette and should not be used by non-smokers, women who are pregnant or breast feeding, those sensitive to nicotine, or persons with or at risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, or taking medicine or depression or asthma. This product contains nicotine, a highly addictive drug. Please consult a physician before using this product. and leave the decision to want to use something like this to people and their Doctors. You don’t want me spreading false information about your pelvic exams in an attempt to convince people to demand that their legislators attempt to ban them because I don’t think I’d want to use something like that.