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So can e-cigarettes help you to stop smoking?
Obviously, I have not carried out a mass randomised trial, and it seems to me that there still has not been such a trial run. One has just reported, see here, but it seems to me that it was flawed in that it did not use e-cigarettes to their full potential.
When the man, or researcher, on the street thinks of e-cigarettes, they think of the cig-a-likes in the newsagent. Those promise to offer good control, which is something researchers look for. However in tests, and in my experience, they are not as useful for giving up smoking.
It is not possible to use an e-cigarette the same as a tobacco cigarette. The technique is different; e-cigarettes are vaped with a longer, less powerful draw. This technique has to be learned.
The rate of nicotine delivery is not well understood. Almost all studies to date have used e-cigarettes that have delivered much less nicotine than the subjects are used to. In the one study that allowed experienced vapers to use their own equipment, nicotine delivery was seen to be comparable to tobacco smoking. See here.
It's Not A Silver Bullet
Ask any ex-smoker; there is only one way to give up smoking. One day you decide that you are now a non-smoker and you will never smoke again. Whatever tools you use to help you, they are only there to help you. The thing that makes you keep away from cigarettes is your own determination. Do not expect e-cigarettes to do the work for you. They wont.
I have tried nicotine gum. It was horrible and didn't help one iota.
I have tried reducing my cigarette use in various ways. The most successful was to extend the time before I had my first cigarette. I got to 7pm, and then the anxiety got to me.
That's my bug-bear. I need to know that I have a stable supply of nicotine. Otherwise I get anxious and then I smoke more. My worst nightmare was to find I had run out of tobacco and the shops were closed.
So in September 2012 I was in Ann Arbor and there was an e-cigarette kiosk in the local mall. They didn't export. Nevertheless I bought an e-cigarette at vast expense1 and sufficient supply of cartridges to last about six months, in fact they lasted over a year. At that point I was only intending to use them between cigarettes, to keep my intake down.
In September 2013, my fiance had had enough and made me promise to give up. At that point I was secure enough in the knowledge that I could get nicotine from the e-cigarette, that I could make the commitment. I was, as of that moment, a non-smoker. I never smoked again — well so far so good, anyway.
I made a conscious decision not to remove the smoking paraphernalia around me. I still have papers, lighter, filters, tobacco. There was a full packet of tobacco on the table behind me until Christmas, I don't know where it went, and now I don't care. I didn't even make a note of the date I quit on and count the days. The point was to remove all possibility of anxiety. There was, however one source of anxiety I had not addressed. I now had only 15 cartridges left and no way to get any more. I needed to either get a new e-cigarette or learn how to refill the one I had.
On a day trip I came across a printer supplies shop that also sold e-cigarettes and eliquid. I bought a bottle and tried refilling the cartridges. It worked, although the taste wasn't great. In browsing You Tube for tutorials on how to do that, I came across such things as clearomisers and MODs. So I did my research and sent off for an EVOD clearomiser, an eGO C-Twist battery and a few different eliquids. I finally had a stable support mechanism. Now I have three batteries, seven clearomisers with another on order and fourteen bottles of different eliquids with more on order. Definitely no anxiety.
My lungs cleared themselves, confusingly in the aftermath of a cold, in a mucus cough that lasted three weeks and worried my fiance. But now the cough is gone. E-cigarettes do cause short term coughing, but only immediately after vaping. Everyone says my complexion is better too.
So now I am a vaper and a non-smoker. Vaping is giving me everything that smoking used to. I'm enjoying investigating everything this new hobby has to offer; instead of a zippo lighter, I've just sent off for a ProTank 2. I can sit in quiet contemplation and enjoy the oral satisfaction of exhaling white plumes, and instead of choosing tobaccos and rolling cigarettes I now choose eliquids and fill tanks.
Every now and then, I still fancy a cigarette. But I don't smoke now, so I can't have one. I just take a puff or two on my e-cigarette and the urge goes away.
I don't know what the future holds. There's a worrying plan to regulate e-cigarettes in 2016, which may make the cig-a-likes the only legal devices. But that's two years away, and I may have given up entirely by then. Right now I am not smoking and I don't worry about it.
Will It Work For You?
I have no idea if e-cigarettes will work for you like they worked for me. All I can say is that it is worth trying. If you want to give it a go, here's what I recommend.