It sounds rather chilling a name, but if you know me, it fits. My wife calls me The Vapist. Considering where I was a year ago, I kinda like this moniker.
We were planning a trip in our new car. Travelling around Oregon for three days, pampering ourselves and stepping into new adventures, we were to be alone together. But I was a smoker. Again. And Stacey was angry with me, for good reason. I had hidden it as long as I could. When I was busted, it caused numerous arguments. I had lied to her in an effort to conceal the fact I was smoking again.
My addiction to nicotine has had a stranglehold on me since I was a teenager. Sure, I’ve stopped smoking several times. The last time, for five years. I had a few “cheaters” here and there, but then life’s stress was my excuse to start full-bore again. I am hopelessly addicted to one of the most horrid drugs available.
Of course, I wanted to quit. But the methods I had tried terrified me. Nicotine gum: yuck and fail. The patch? Limited success. Cold turkey? I still get shivers just thinking about it, and I have great respect for those who succeeded with this method. A doctor prescribed an anti-depressant, to which I experienced extreme and dangerous side effects. The prospect of quitting again had me in a state of panic. Then I had a discussion with a friend at work about vaping, and it truly gave me hope. He turned me on to his friend’s vape shop. With our vacation just a week away, I went to visit Rose City Vapesters. I explained my situation and how I’ve always wanted to be a non-smoker. They explained how it works, let me try it, and we spent over an hour discussing the benefits. It amazed me to find such an elegant solution to my smoking habit! My first vaping solution was packed with 22mg of nicotine to negate the powerful urge to smoke a cigarette. The funny thing is, I frantically smoked a cigarette outside the shop before going inside. I didn’t know what to expect, and I wanted to make sure I got a good shot of my drug before having to stow the smokes away. After I emerged from the shop with my new vape, I didn’t have the urge to light up.
Arriving home with my new purchase, I vaped for Stacey so she could see the difference. No more sneaking away for a smoke, I explained. The end product is almost entirely pleasant-smelling water vapor, which dissipates in seconds. No lingering smoky smell, just a pleasant whiff of the flavor I had chosen. While understandably skeptical, Stacey admitted she didn’t mind if I vaped in the house, or in the car. We took off for our trip a few days later, and I left cigarettes behind. I was a bit nervous about it, but I was more concerned that we enjoy our trip without the nasty sticks getting in the way. They stink, you know, and Stacey hates when I stink. It was truly a relief to find an acceptable compromise.
Our trip was a grand success. After only a week, my senses of smell and taste slowly began to come back. My lungs cleared, and I could breathe easier. The morning hack-a-pack was gone, and the gaping wound in our relationship began to heal.
The first few weeks, I alternated between smoking and vaping. I quickly found the taste of a cigarette highly distasteful. Then it became disgusting, and I threw my remaining smokes away. It was a month before I tried another, and by then my body no longer “needed” them. The next one, six weeks later, tasted so terrible I had to rinse my mouth to rid myself of the taste. In addition, I had come to hate the smell of smoke.
Nine Months Later…
Today I consider myself a non-smoker. Unfortunately, the general public, the government, and my employer do not. Even though tests show possible amounts of formaldehyde as a by-product, it’s only under high voltage settings this occurs. Otherwise, tests have indicated there are virtually no harmful chemicals present in vapor exhalation! (See for yourself… one study outlined at http://www.projectvape.com/what-is-vaping/second-hand-vapor/)
The problem is, there are some studies out there which put vaping in a bad light. Their methodology, however, is flawed. If you vape at a consistently high voltage, not only does the vape taste horrible, but it burns out the coil, which is the part of the device which turns the fluid into vapor. Anybody who has vaped on a bad coil will tell you they will immediately change the coil when their vape has a burned taste. Most people vape at a much lower level than that at which these tests were performed.
What I exhale is almost entirely water vapor. I’ve read several studies on vaping which state there are no toxic chemicals released into the air. There might be a residual amount of nicotine, but it’s minimal, especially if you’re vaping at a nicotine level as low as I am. I’ve dropped my nicotine from 22mg nine months ago, all the way down to 8mg today. When you consider there are 4-5,000 chemicals in a traditional cigarette as opposed to four ingredients in a vape, even a kindergartner can do the math.
I’m more than a little pissed that I’m still considered a “smoker”. When I vape, I don’t even want to be near someone who is smoking a cigarette. I can smell the smoke in traffic as I drive my bus, even when the smoker is driving several car-lengths away from me. The onus is on smokers to give up this horrible habit; it’s highly frowned-upon these days. When I began smoking in the 1970s, about 4.5 of every 10 people were smokers. Our employer has been pushing smokers away from our building to where we’re out on the city streets. There are no longer smoking shelters near our building, and we’re cited if caught smoking or vaping anywhere on our bus transportation district’s many properties. I’ll be surprised if smoking isn’t banned entirely in the next decade.
But hey… I’m not a smoker. Nor are the many people who have turned to vaping as a healthy nicotine-delivery system. Sure, I hope to be nicotine-free someday. In the meantime, I resent being treated as if I’m still spewing harmful chemicals into the atmosphere. When I’m outside vaping, I’m exhaling water vapor. The day you can prove it is dangerous to my fellow humans to do this, we’re all in trouble. You’re more likely to breathe in considerably more toxic chemicals driving in traffic, or walking down a city street, than you are from my vaping exhalation.
The next time you see somebody “vaping”, no need to change your path or hold your breath. Chances are, the aroma of the vapor, if you smell it at all, smells a lot better than the bus you’re about to board.
Copyright 2015 by Patrick B. Coomer. Photos courtesy of Celest Elmer.