Thursday, April 26, 2012

Smoking Sucks

Here I go again.
So back on May 2, 2011 I talked about my smoking, and how I planned to quit in a post called "Smoking is a Bitch!".  I wanted to quit before school started and instead of going cold turkey, I tried backing off a little each day.

Well.. by the beginning of June I wasn't updating nearly as much (as I wasn't making much progress), and by the end of June I gave the last comment as "Hopefully I'll be able to report (tomorrow) that I've been without a cig for 24 hours."

Well.. I never reported back as that never happened.   I did try most of the summer to keep on reducing my smokes, but it was around that point that I rehurt my back at work.  Dealing with my back hurting so much and so often spurred me back on to smoke more.  When school started, I was smoking regularly again, although I did stay down to one pack a day throughout the semester.

After school ended, I... well I wanted to quit, but just didn't get around to even trying.  When I wasn't readying myself for my licensing exam, I was trying to NOT think about it.  My smoking increased up to 1 and a half packs a day.

One of the big pushes I had to quit smoking was that 'several' local hospitals were not hiring smokers.  Well it seems that information was exagerated.   The hospital in town (where I do honestly want to work) does hire smokers.  And so long as you don't smoke on their campus, or come in to work smelling of cigarettes, they don't ask.  If you do smell like cigarettes, you go through the disciplinary process that can lead to firing.

There is two hospitals that will not hire smokers.  One also doesn't hire graduate nurses, so I can't get a job there anyway.  The other is a fine hospital that I would like to work at.. but its only one.  So it seems that I CAN smoke and get a job.  So most of the winter, I was figuring that once I get a job, I could get into a job and then get onto some chemical assistance.  I could afford both cigarettes AND the patch, or even go see a doc and get on Chantix, which I've heard mixed results about (it either works brilliantly or fails miserably).

Now, one thing that has kept me from trying most chemical assistance (patch, gum, eCigs) is the cost.  I can barely afford my smoking as is, and they are all just about as expensive as smoking.  So if I buy them and they don't work I will also be buying the cigarettes.  It would still be hard to quit with the patch or the gum as they would only be dealing with the nicotine addiction, and not every other aspect of smoking.  The deep breathing, the feel of a cig in my hand, the feeling of the smoke in my mouth, the feeling of the smoke going down, and then breathing it out.... in other words I had very little hope of them working.

And what I knew of electronic cigarettes was that it was 'close' to feeling like smoke, but not really.  It felt kind of like a cigarette in your hand, but not really.   In other words it did deal with the nicotine addiction, but only felt as though you were acting like smoking. They were also problematic.  It took a lot of batteries or charging of internal batteries, you had to drip in 'Nicotine Juice' (I swear to God, that's the industry term for the nicotine infused distilled water... Nicotine Juice) and that could be very messy.  And that overall it was till more expensive than smoking.

It seems that eCigarettes have come a long way.  My brother went out this morning and got a eCigarette system from 'Green Smoke'.  The eCig comes in two parts.  The battery is the thickness of a normal cigarette (maybe just a touch thicker).  It feels very similar to the paper on the end of a regular cigarette (it even has the textured lines that a cigarette has).  The 'cartomizer' (the piece that has the nicotine cartridge, and atomization chamber) looks like the filter on a cigarette.

The amount of vapor that these eCigs make is pretty extreme.  Taking a puff on one is a lot like taking a puff on a real cigarette.  You get the feeling of it in your mouth, a little burn as it goes down your throat, and the feeling of blowing out smoke (you can even see the vapor and it looks a lot like cigarette smoke).  Even the tip of the eCig 'burns' (it glows red).

I thought about it, and did some research on it.  It seems to do this regularly (help or even fully eliminate cigarettes) you need two of the batteries.  They take hours to charge, so unless you want to stop doing it (or move to cigarettes while it charges) you need two to stay active.

It's hard to measure how expensive it will be.  Not everyone smokes the same.  If you breath in deeper, it will use up the nicotine faster.  So they advertise the 'cartomizers' as being the equivalent of about 1 or 2 packs depending on use.  But even at the low end they are less expensive than regular cigarettes (at least upper brands like the Camels I smoke).

Entry cost (for this pack, at this local store) is $60.  The price includes two batteries (one in a '100' size and one in a regular size) a USB charger (yes, my computer is smoking/recharging right now), and a home charger.  This store also throws in 5 cartomizers that normally cost $15.

But the advantages are pretty good.  Testing out my brother's eCig, I got a very satisfying smoking feel from it.  It doesn't get hot so I can keep this in my pocket if I so desired.  I don't have to smoke an entire cigarette... I can take a few puffs, and put it right away.  I can smoke and drive with it and not worry about the wind putting it out, or blowing the cherry off..  It doesn't burn, so there are no ashes to mess up everything, and there is no smoke to stink up everything.  And with no burning end, I don't have to worry about a bit dropping off and burning a hole in my shirt (its happened).

And the disadvantages?  Well, its heavier than a cigarette.  By quite a lot.  When I smoke, I normally clamp the cigarette in between my lips while in inhale.  That is... difficult with this eCig.  It doesn't taste lime 'my' brand.  It does taste like a cigarette... but just not a full flavor Camel.  It has a slightly more 'chemical' taste... almost like cheap maple syrup.  And something that surprised me.... yes I can put it down after 4 or 5 puffs. But there is no natural 'stopping' point.  At the end of a cigarette, I'm done.  Even if I want more, I don't think it's worth lighting up another cigarette.  But there is nothing to indicate I'm 'done' with an eCig.  Remember the cartomizer is equivalentto a whole pack of cigarettes.

But after weighting all that out... I decided to get one.  Yes, the money hurts, and it was meant to buy the new Stephen King book, as well as get some gas in my car, but I was excited and wanted to give it a try.

And in use... I'm really very impressed.  With all the advantages and disadvantages one thing stood out to me above all the rest:  I had a cigarette before walking into the store to buy this system.  I didn't have another one for 8 hours.  And honestly I didn't 'need' that.  I could tamp down my desire by taking a puff or two of m eCig.  It just happened to have the half pack of Camels around and wanted one.  If they aren't around, I don't imagine getting to the point of driving down to the convenience store and buying a pack.

Now I won't say that I'm 'quitting' this time.  But technically I am.  I am no longer a smoker... I'm a 'vaporer'.  It will certainly help me get and keep a job at the local hospital, and maybe I can use it one day to reduce my nicotine addiction or even help me eliminate it!


  1. I wish you the best of luck in quitting, Caitlyn. I know it can be difficult, and I'm sure you are well versed in the evils of smoking, so I'll spare you my spiel and just wish you luck!

  2. Chantix is a derivative of an anti-psychotic that blocks the nicotine receptors in your body. It can have some pretty devestating mental side effects like severe depression and if i remember right, hallucinations.

    A contractor I worked with had a lot of progress with an e-cig. One benefit to them is you can gradually water down the amount of nicotine and eventually just use it to satisfy the muscle memory part and not actually have any nicotine in your system.

    I was lucky that I could quit cold turkey, I still have cravings after a year, and I've fallen off the wagon a few times, but it can be done if you're determined. I chew a lot of gum and have a lot of good hiding places for the bodies. ; )

    Good Luck