Update: July 26, 2012: I’ve been leaning on my crutch like a motherfucker during a trip to Las Vegas. But I haven’t touched the real thing or drank, which is progress.
I’ve been using electronic cigarettes lately. Why, you ask? Let me try to explain.
When I’m in the mood to feel sorry for myself because I can’t do things I’m addicted to, I’ll throw up my hands and ask myself, “What else is there if I can’t drink, smoke, eat flour and sugar and all that other shit?” I’m particularly prone to getting this way when life pushes me outside my comfort zone.
Life of late has been very good, but it’s also been very fast and exhausting. One big event after the next, lots of mileage on the car plus all the typical pressures we all experience as parents and spouses. A few weeks ago, I started feeling the pressure to the point where I seriously considered resuming the smoking habit.
Why would I do something so stupid, especially after all the trouble I got into with my wife the last time I was busted?
A question like that ignores the most fundamental truth about addictive behavior: When the urge builds up, it becomes a relentless, physical ache. At that point, the brain’s wiring gets all coiled and tangled, and it tightens until you find a way to untangle it. In moments like that, consequences don’t compute.
But as I get older, I refuse to give in so easily. Especially with the smoking, because as bad habits go, it’s probably the worst. That said, the most recent urges got so bad that I turned to e-cigs.
Here’s how they work:
- The white part that looks like tobacco rolled in white paper is actually a battery.
- The “flavor cartridge” looks like a filter and is filled with water and flavoring (tobacco, cherry, coffee, chocolate, etc.). You can purchase them with various amounts of nicotine, from the full amount found in a cigarette down to nothing. I’m using them with no nicotine.
- When you drag off it and inhale, it feels just like smoking, only you’re inhaling water vapor. No smoke, no tar, no cancer-causing carcinogens. And no odor or ashes.
- The batteries recharge when you screw ‘em onto a charger that plugs into the USB port of your laptop, car charger or plug adapter.
- Each “filter” lasts for about 200 puffs, roughly the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes.
Costs vary. I bought the standard starter kit for $75, which included two batteries, a charger and a couple boxes of cartridges, which seem to be lasting me a long time. I was never a pack-a-day smoker. In fact, I was probably a five-a-day smoker at my worst, which probably has you pack-a-day addicts laughing your heads off. Thing is, I had to have those five. Anyway, my cartridge refills should last a long while.
The hope is that once I’ve inhaled vapor sans nicotine for a while, I will grow bored with it and stop. That’s always been the good thing with me and smoking. When I start back up, I get bored after a while and stop. And that’s with the nicotine.
When I’m done with this experiment, I’ll probably keep one battery in a drawer and give away the other along with what’s left of the cartridges.
Wish me luck, and stay tuned for updates.
For those who want to try it as an alternative to cigarettes, there are a lot of places to find them. Most gas stations with mini marts sell the disposable kind, and most malls have them for sale at kiosks along the main walkways. Online, there are tons of options. Here’s a pretty good list of different brands.