Believe the Hype

March 4th, 2014

OK, this gets long. The short version is this: after 24 years of smoking, I'm almost completely over cigarettes. It took less than a week, I haven't taken any hostages, and e-cigarettes work.

Sigelei Zmax

Read on if you want the long form.

I started smoking when I was 17 years old. Back then, it was nothing unusual and it carried little stigma. Smoking was still allowed on airplanes, fast-food restaurants had those little tin ashtrays at every table, and one could smoke in a crowded shopping mall without causing an uproar.

To appropriate an old slogan, we've come a long way, baby. Smoking has been stigmatized and driven to the margins, and rightfully so. Fewer people are taking up smoking, and that's a good thing. We all know about the health risks and mortality rates.

I continued to smoke because I enjoyed it. Nicotine and coffee have been two of the mainstays of my diet for more of my life than not. Then I began to realize I didn't enjoy smoking anymore. It was something I did just to be doing it.

So I tried to quit. The patches don't work. The gum doesn't work. Sheer willpower doesn't work. Short of going off to a deserted island for a few months to sweat it out, options seemed exhausted.

So I decided to try electronic cigarettes. At first, it was those little things resembling cigarettes that they sell at the gas station. They helped to space out intervals between regular cigarettes, but they weren't a solution. I spoke to a couple of people who'd used them to quit, and I realized I was using the wrong hardware.

Like cigarettes, these things are a nicotine delivery system. There are differences, however. The most notable is that they don't include the hundreds of other chemicals and carcinogens that cigarettes do. E-cigs use a battery that powers a coil, which in turn atomizes fluid in a tank and turns it into vapor. The vapor is inhaled, and I get a dose of nicotine, which keeps me from hijacking go-carts at a Shriner's parade.

The second difference is the way in which it's used. When I smoke a cigarette, I take a hard drag and draw the smoke directly into my lungs, where it's quickly absorbed. E-cigarettes are more like cigars. The vapor is drawn into the mouth and allowed to pool for a moment while it's absorbed. Some folks inhale, some don't. You get the dosage either way.

The problem is, the small disposable units use meager batteries and small tanks. As such, they don't generate much vapor. I'd obviously have to step up to something more powerful.

Zmax and Ego/Aspire unit

The unit on the right is an Aspire BDC tank, mounted on an Ego battery. That was the first upgrade. It was a vast improvement, and it reduced my daily cigarette count from 18 or so to 2 within two days.

I can actually make it through a twelve-hour shift at a job which involves keeping people from shooting themselves without a cigarette. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call a win.

It knocks back the nicotine cravings just as much as a cigarette, bu it does feel different. I still get a craving for that slight burn in my throat and lungs from time to time, but even that is passing. The interesting thing is, I enjoy using this. It's nicotine without all the other hundreds of nasty chemicals, and I can smoke in the house without stinking the place up.

The Ego kit ran me about $50 from Vape City. The battery plugs into a little USB dongle for charging. The bottles of fluid, which come in a bewildering array of flavors, run about ten bucks and last about four days.

The silver unit is a Sigelei Zmax, which uses a much larger battery and tank and produces a more robust vapor. Think of it as the difference between a drip coffee maker and a high-end espresso machine.

Apparently, this endeavor is supposed to be cheaper than cigarettes, but I'm not seeing that just yet. Nonetheless, it's freeing me from a two-decade addiction and all the health issues that came with it.

There has been some clamor in the media about potential health issues with e-cigarettes, but it appears to be largely unfounded. The fluid is essentially propylene glycol and nicotine, neither of which are carcinogens and neither of which are harmful in moderate doses. What studies have been done seem to find no issue. A few politicians are grousing about it, but their motives are questionable at best considering the vast good e-cigarettes can do as a smoking cessation tool.

To put it mildly, these things can save lives. I may not be patient zero, but I'm living proof.

  1. SPEMack wrote, running Android Browser on Android 4.0.4

    That is great to hear Erik. Now if only someone would come up with a similar alternative for dip users.

    Comment on March 4, 2014 @ 8:42 am

  2. Erik wrote, running Google Chrome 32.0.1700.107 on Ubuntu Linux

    Actually, there are reports of it working for them as well.

    Comment on March 4, 2014 @ 1:34 pm

  3. Chase wrote, running Mozilla Firefox 27.0 on Windows 7

    Until I knew what it was, it looked like a lightsaber in the photos.

    Comment on March 6, 2014 @ 7:58 pm

  4. Erik wrote, running Google Chrome 32.0.1700.107 on Ubuntu Linux

    Actually, it's a bit like a lightsaber. I can bludgeon my enemies with it, and it gives me the superpower of not taking hostages.

    Changed the Nova out with an OCD tank, and it hits like Palpatine pimp-slapping Samuel Jackson out a window.

    Comment on March 7, 2014 @ 2:30 am

  5. Dave wrote, running Mozilla Firefox 27.0 on Windows NT

    I've been using one for almost 2 years, and yes, they sure do work. I've tried lots of tanks and batteries, some are better than others. Right now I have a Totally Wicked Varivolt connected to a dual-coil CE5-S atomizer drawing at 4.3V on 50/50 PG/VG mix at 16mg nicotine. I mix the flavors myself.

    Be careful, e-cigarettes can get to be as much of a hobby as guns, and almost as expensive. I'm happy with what I have, but until I settled on this I must have dropped enough to buy a nice new piece.

    Comment on March 8, 2014 @ 2:33 pm

  6. Dave wrote, running Mozilla Firefox 27.0 on Windows NT

    Also, I forgot to mention: once you decide on a setup you'll see significant cost savings. Think about it: at 18 cigarettes a day, your previous consumption, you're dropping around $1800 a year. I haven't dropped $1000 total in 2 years (though I'd say I'm pretty close). You should see more money in your pocket soon unless you continue to experiment with equipment, some of which goes for hundreds of dollars and is more a "want" item for hobbyists than a "need" item for smoking replacement users.

    Comment on March 8, 2014 @ 2:55 pm

  7. Erik wrote, running Google Chrome 32.0.1700.107 on Ubuntu Linux

    Right now I have a Totally Wicked Varivolt connected to a dual-coil CE5-S atomizer drawing at 4.3V on 50/50 PG/VG mix at 16mg nicotine.

    Heaven help me…I actually know what all that means now!

    So, now I've got a new Davide tank (the one that takes Aspire coils), and I've got an order from the Vapor Chef. Time to break it in.

    Comment on March 8, 2014 @ 11:59 pm

  8. vape wrote, running Mozilla Firefox 21.0 on Linux

    There are a lot of flavors that are available namely coffee, chocolate,
    mint – in short, just about everything a person could have a taste for.

    Users report that they feel better, have an easier time breathing
    and even have more energy after they quit traditional cigarettes and use
    e-cigarettes. The system itself looks very much like a conventional
    smoking, right down to the tip lighting style up with each inhale that you take.

    Comment on March 11, 2014 @ 3:24 pm

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