I started smoking cigarettes on my 18th birthday, December 30th 2008. Growing up in a religious home, I spent my whole life hearing about how “disgusting” cigarettes were and how they would inevitably kill me if I ever tried them. I was also fed the line that “second-hand smoke would kill the loved ones around me”, and that if I tried one then I would be addicted immediately. To me, all of this manifested as a challenge. Upon turning 18, I decided I wanted to exercise my freedom as an adult and give smoking a try. I hated it at first - continuous coughing, the smell, how I felt the next morning - but surely enough my smoking companions around me said I would get use to all of that and I would start to enjoy the stimulating effects more. I bought in.
I continued to smoke daily, and 4 cigarettes a day turned into a half pack, and by 6 months I was up to a pack a day. I continued to deny that they had an addictive choke-hold on me, and that I was choosing to continue to smoke, and that “I didn’t care if they killed me, because I knew I would die of something anyways”.
At this point in my life, I was recovering from a broken back from the year before. My doctor strongly recommended that I stop smoking to help the recovery process along, but I didn’t listen. Due to being in recovery, I was also out of work, living on food stamps and fortunately lucky enough to have a friend who housed me for free. I had a small amount of income coming in from music I was selling online, and 100% of it went towards maintaining this very expensive habit of mine. At the time, I still saw nothing wrong with this scenario.
By the end of my first year smoking - after doing some research - I decided I wanted to try and drop the habit. I first tried weaning down. This worked on some days, but it never lasted. I kept returning to my normal routine when times would get tough. It was my escape from reality; It cast the illusion of me being in control of my life. After a couple months of weaning down not working, I decided to try the “cold turkey” approach. I was very confident that this would work. I had ambition, a no-surrender attitude. The first day was hell, and I compensated for my lack of nicotine by guzzling down several pots of coffee. I felt miserable. By the second day, I was shaky, my head was throbbing, I was more irritable then ever - I remember driving home from a new job I had started, and the withdrawals got so bad that I literally tore my shirt off while screaming profusely….I hulked out. By the third day, I gave up. I decided, “I would only smoke a little”. Within 2 months I was back up to a pack a day - Big Tobacco had me in the palm of their hands.
By this point in time, I just accepted that I was a smoker. I had zero intentions of quitting, and embraced the overall detrimental effects they would have on my life. This sort of attitude also transpired to many other areas of my life, and the level of care and respect I gave towards my body was unspeakable. I just didn’t care.
It wasn’t until a few months later, fall of 2010, that I would realize there was hope. My older brother started working for a vape business, and I was intrigued. I held onto my belief that “I was a smoker” but I was open to trying the product, so my brother set me up with a device and a bottle of juice. Within a month I had kicked the cigg’s to the curb for good! I started vaping with a very high nicotine strength, so the transition was seamless for the most part - no headaches, little to no withdrawals in general. I just started feeling better and better as the days progressed. I threw away my last 3 cigarettes, and haven’t bought a pack since!
In the last four years of vaping, my health has improved dramatically. I can taste, I can smell, I can breath. And while I started vaping with a very high nicotine strength (24mg), I have been able to successfully wean myself down to 0mg nicotine - the addiction had been severed. With cigarettes, I had little no to flexibility in reducing my nicotine intake. It was either I smoke a whole cigarette or I don’t at all. I couldn’t take a puff and set it down for later, and I couldn’t adjust the nicotine strength or any other aspect of the experience. With vaping, it was all in my control, and I was able to seamlessly reduce my intake while avoiding traumatic withdrawal experiences.
VAPING SAVED MY LIFE.