I’ve been smoking cigarettes since I was 16. If I could go back in time and emphatically tell myself one thing, it would be not to start smoking.
I still remember the first cigarette. One of my best friends in high school and I had a crush on the same guy. Neither of us had a chance, so it was okay. We were friends with him, but he had no interest in anything more with either of us. That’s how crushes work. Besides, in hindsight, it’s quite possible that he might have been gay.
One night, after a school play, or maybe during it, we went out to the parking lot with this guy and got into his enormous boat of a car. All three of us piled in the front seat; I was in the middle. He lit a cigarette and passed it to me. I handed it to my friend. She took a drag, coughed and handed it back to me. I took a puff, coughed and handed it back to him. And so it went.
You don’t get addicted to cigarettes after a few puffs; it takes work to truly become addicted. I put in the effort. I was underage, but there was a bar near the school where I bought them. Not in the bar, because if I was too young to smoke, I was definitely too young to be in a bar, but they had a lobby of sorts–more of a small vestibule really. In that lobby was a cigarette machine that no one manned. That’s where I bought my cigarettes all through high school. They were more expensive from the machine and it only took quarters, but I was still too young to buy them legit.
When I was in high school, smoking was cool. Only the cool kids smoked and to be one of the cool kids, you had to smoke, too. I never cared about being cool, but I was very much into doing things I wasn’t supposed to be doing. Smoking was subversive and exciting, so I became a smoker. Other than several brief periods, the longest of which lasted a year, I’ve been a smoker ever since.
Flash forward to November 2016 when a $2 per pack tax increase on cigarettes was on the ballot. I’ve always said that if they want us to quit, instead of taxing us to death and giving the money to something unrelated, they should subsidize smoking cessation aids. Do you have any idea how much those things are? Here’s a screenshot.
You could argue that, in the long run, it will save you money and it’s about the cost of a carton of cigarettes, to which I would reply that it doesn’t work. I have spent hundreds of dollars on smoking cessation aids to no avail. I have tried them all. For your average working stiff, $60 for a box of gum is a lot of damn money.
As a smoker, I would have voted for a $2 per pack increase if that money went to subsidizing ways to help us quit. As usual, it didn’t, so I didn’t vote for it. Everyone else did though, because people vote for taxes that don’t directly impact them, so it passed. “Fuck the smokers,” the residents of California said, and fuck us they did.
The tax increase took effect on April 1, 2017. The last week of March, I bought a carton of smokes, hopefully my last, and a vaporizer. The plan was to slowly wean myself off the smokes with vaping.
“What the hell is vaping?” those of you who aren’t pot-heads or millennials are probably thinking. Here’s a handy chart:
I walked into a local smoke shop and said, “I’d like to quit smoking and try vaping, but I know fuck all about vaporizers. What do you recommend?” I really did say “fuck all.”
They hooked me up with a vaporizer and some e-liquid. Strangely, the first one I tried is still my favorite:
Last Friday, I had one pack of smokes left. The plan was to start vaping Saturday morning with the one pack in case of emergencies.
Saturday morning, my vaporizer was leaking everywhere so I took it back to the shop. They said they’d take a look at it and asked me if I could come back that afternoon. I was annoyed since it meant I had to smoke and not vape most of the day.
Half a pack of cigarettes later, I went back to the shop and they gave me a new vaporizer since mine was broken–not a very auspicious start to vaping.
Sunday, I had three cigarettes as opposed to my usual 20 or so. On Wednesday night, I smoked my last cigarette and I did not buy more. It has been four entire days since I’ve had a cigarette.
Vaporizing is a world unto itself. There are hundreds of companies out there that you’ve never heard of before that produce e-liquid, batteries, tanks, mods, coils, etc. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around all the math:
If you are using a mechanical mod, with a freshly charged battery you theoretically have 4.2V available to power your coil. If your coil is 0.5Ω, you now have everything you need to determine current, in amps:
I = 4.2V ÷ 0.5Ω (or 4.2/0.5)
I = 8.4A
Ummm…. what? My high school algebra teacher was right: you do use math after high school.
The good news is that there are people to do that for you. You can just buy a kit and circumvent all the math, which is what I did. Still, there is so much to know about this whole vaping thing. Ohms, coils, watts, PG vs. VG, etc. It’s a little overwhelming at first.
If you are trying to quit smoking cigarettes, I highly recommend vaping, even if you’re not into all the math. I have found this site to be an excellent resource for beginners. Unlike my other attempts at quitting smoking, I don’t want to stab anyone–well, not any more than usual. It may be too soon to say this, but I am a non-smoker. I am, however, a vaper.