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May 12, 2017

More Than Half of E-Cig Users in the UK Have Fully (Finally) Kicked the Cigarette Habit

Quick, let's outlaw this technology before it saves more lives.

Half of users are still "dual-users" who use the e-cig sometimes (probably when they can't smoke a cigarette) and cigarettes sometimes.

But half have simply quit cigarettes and other smoked tobacco.

Ann McNeill, professor of tobacco addiction at King’s College London, said: "This year's Ash survey finds that around 1.5 million vapers are ex-smokers, for the first time a larger number than those who continue to smoke.

"This is encouraging news as we know that vapers who continue to smoke continue to be exposed to cancer-causing substances.

"The message for the 1.3 million vapers who still smoke is that they need to go further and switch completely."

Meanwhile, the US government is continuing to attempt to "regulate" e-cigs to make it harder for people to make and sell them.

I am hoping Trump will do something about this, though I realize this is probably not a huge issue for most.

Let me do a quick post for anyone thinking about quitting smoking, and/or trying vaping:

First of all, Do It. Honestly, you don't even know the side-benefits you're going to get from quitting smoking.

Second, read the book I've mentioned a lot, The Easy Way to Quit Smoking by Allen Carr. It's fantastic. Nicotine is addictive, but it's a weak addictive substance. After three or four days of going without nicotine, you're no longer addicted.

At least not physically.

However, the act of smoking is powerfully habituating, which means the main addiction hook of smoking is psychological.

Vaping is a very, very easy way to get over your nicotine addiction: You just don't get over it. You just keep dosing with nicotine. You continue taking in nicotine through your lungs. So the minor physical addiction of nicotine isn't even an issue.

However, the psychological/habit aspect of smoking is the killer. That's the one you have to deal with.

Allen Carr's book will fix that. He doesn't talk about the health consequences of smoking, because, he reasons, smokers have heard that all before, and further, thinking about the health consequences of smoking will make smokers agitated and that in turn will just make them have a cigarette.

So he avoids that, and all the "think of your children" type guilt too, which will also prompt you to do exactly what you shouldn't do (light another one up).

Instead, he talks about the nature of addiction, describing it (more or less correctly) as a mimetic, altered-brain-chemicals-seeking-to-perpetuate-their-own-existence parasite in yourself, a parasite that encourages you to intake things that feed it at the expense of your own body and brain.

Just as a baby in the womb suggests that pregnant women have sardines and Orange juice or other oddball food combinations -- the baby sending signals that "I need Vitamin C and omega 3 fats" -- this baby, which is a bad and ugly baby, tells you "I need nicotine, some hot tar scalding my throat and lungs, and a dash of poisonous carbon monoxide."

He shifts your mode of thinking from "I am giving up something I value (smoking)" to "I am affirmatively gaining (GAINZZZing?) things of greater value," like, for example -- an hour or ninety minutes of free time during the day when you are not under compulsion to have a cigarette or make plans to have an excuse to go outside to have a cigarette.

His thesis is stupid -- he says "Willpower quitting" won't work because Willpower is a limited resource that really can only be deployed a certain amount of time before it's depleted. So, he reasons, the only way to quit smoking is to not want to smoke in the first place.

And as stupid as that sounds -- yeah, he actually manages it. I've seen it said that his book has a "near cultish" following, and I count myself in the cult.

You will need to read that book to cure your psychological addiction, even if you supply yourself with nicotine through vaping, because, damnit, your brain (under the influence of the parasite infecting it) will constantly tell you lies like "Well, this e-cig is fine, I guess, but it just doesn't pack the brain-stimulating wallop of a cigarette, so let me have just have a couple of cigarettes, then I'll go back to vaping, swearsies."

I went through that. I swear to you that if you go to vaping without fixing the psychological aspect of cigarette addiction (or habituation, whichever), your brain will constantly invent lies to convince you that the nicotine in the e-cig is somehow chemically dissimilar to the nicotine in a cigarette so you rilly rilly neeeeed that cigarette.

It's dumb. And yet, you'll believe it. The only substance you get from smoking which has an effect on your brain that you get from a cigarette that you don't get from the e-cig is carbon monoxide, a poison that bonds more strongly with red blood cells than oxygen. This may be what gives you that "cigarette high" or buzz if you have too many -- which would then just be your brain not getting enough oxygen, because your blood cells are carrying less usable oxygen in favor of the unusable poison carbon monoxide.

Anyway, read that book.

Here are my favorite e-cigs:

1) The Blu E-cig. Easiest one to get-- they have them in every 7-11.

It has a fairly high dose of nicotine, which may make it a good initial substitute for heavy smokers.

The downsides are that they don't last long -- a day or maybe two if you're a light smoker. And also, the nicotine they supply seems to diminish fairly rapidly after the first use -- the first few puffs on one of these ware wonderful and strong, but a day later and (if there's even juice left in it) they're serving up some weak tea.

Also, they're expensive -- 8 to 12 bucks a pop, for something that may not even get a very heavy smoker through a full day.

Still -- very much worth it anyway, as both a sound first-try experiment and for an emergency back-up. Sometimes my permanent (non-disposable) e-cig runs out of juice (either nicotine juice or battery juice) when I'm out, and it's good to know, Hey, just pop on over to 7-Eleven and pick up one of these and I'm fine.

But really something you're probably going to want to transition away from, just due to the costs.

And you kind of feel like an asshole buying six of these at a time (which I have).

By the way, the Cherry flavor is awesome and I've never found any juice that beats it for flavor. I know all smokers will go to the "Classic Tobacco" flavor first, reasoning, not unreasonably, that if you're going to swap one for the other then you should make the swapped-in replacement as close to the replaced thing as possible, but I'm not sure that's accurate -- the e-cig won't taste "just like a cigarette" even if it is cigarette-flavored anyway, so it might be a good idea to try something that doesn't compete to taste "just like a cigarette."

Know what I mean? I don't like Domino's because it doesn't taste like "real pizza" to me. But I like Chicago-style deep dish pizza a lot -- that also doesn't taste like "real pizza," but because it's in a different category altogether, I don't compare it to real pizza. I take it for what it is, and I compare it against other deep dish pizzas.

But start with the Classic Tobacco if you like. But give Cherry a test run later on, once you're off cigarettes for a week or so. You'll quickly find that once you stop smoking, the "taste of a real cigarette" is not nearly as appealing to you as it once was.

2) The best non- disposable e-cig for a starter -- or even for an experienced vaper -- is the Joytech eGo AIO.

First benefit: It's dead simple. A lot of the more complicated "mods" (I think that's short for "modifiable" but I have no idea) are off-putting for n00bs because it seems like you have to watch YouTube videos to get the settings just right.

There's a thing called the Tyranny of Choices -- you get paralyzed by having too many choices and you wind up not being able to choose.

The Joytech eGo aio avoids that by not giving you all the widgets and dials to set your wattage at X and your resistance at Y and your vapor temperature at Z degrees (Farenheit or Celsius -- your choice!).

It's got two modes: "On" and "Off." And the "On" mode is just fine for me. Never felt like adjusting it. It's built with settings that will please most right out of the box.

You do have to watch a YouTube video for instructions -- you wake it up from sleep mode by pushing the button fast five times, you have to change the atomizer every week or two (the atomizer is where bits of liquid are brought, via wicks, into close near-contact with the heat-generating metal coils, which heats the liquid into a vapor; the atomizers wear out), and so on, but it's really a very simple thing.

Second benefit: It's cheap. The starter set is $20 and some online vendors sell it for $17.

The good thing about this is that when you drop it and break it -- and that kind of thing is going to happen -- who cares? It was $20.

Now, if you drop a $120 mod and that breaks -- now you're pissed off.

But drop an $18 one? Eh. One can imagine worst tragedies.

Drawbacks: I wouldn't say it's easy to break -- the thing is, because it's so light, it hits the ground with less force than much-heavier mods. So it can be dropped and actually come away undamaged better than many of the more expensive "mods."

But sometimes the build quality isn't great -- I've had ones always leaking juice out, which is bad.

Also, sometimes -- usually when it hasn't been used in a while and has been left lying on its side, instead of standing upright -- it "spits." That means that hot liquid is being spat out of the top of it, rather than being fully vaporized.

The "spit" feels uncomforably hot in your mouth, but it doesn't burn you. (I have wondered, however -- what if this thing spits hot juice into my eye?)

This is annoying, and I guess it could be slightly dangerous, but if the thing starts "spitting," just hold the button down and direct it away from your face or anything you like and just let the thing burn off the liquid that's flooded the engine, so to speak.

Then it'll be back to working form.

This just happens sometimes. Like I said, it's an annoyance that just has to be dealt with, not a deal-breaker.

I'd buy two or three of these, because sometimes you may have to charge one when you want to vape. Yes, you can just charge it from your computer or any other portable battery (like you use to charge a phone on the go), and yes, it just takes that standard port (standard to everyone except Apple), and yes, you actually can use it while it's charging (so long as it has some minimum threshold of charge in it), so you don't need two, but, like I said, this thing is going to be in your hand a lot and you will drop it from time to time so you'll want a back-up. And it's just $20. You don't want to be caught, especially when you're trying to quit smoking, without a nicotine substitution device handy. The temptation to just get a pack of cigarettes will be present.

One little design flaw is that this thing is built as an almost perfect cylinder (except for a small button on the side to push when you want to take a puff). This means it rolls -- and can roll off a restaurant table, for example.

And if you set it upright, well, obviously it can easily get knocked over. And then roll.

I'd suggest Joytech make this thing so it has one side that's flat so the damn thing won't roll if I set it on its side on a table.

Those two will serve you well enough when you start vaping. Later on you may be tempted to buy a more expensive "mod," but honestly, I have a more expensive mod and I use it alongside the Joytech. And I don't really think the expensive one is too much better than the $20 Joytech. Except for the spitting, and rolling.

One last thing: If you try to go halvsies -- using a real cigarette sometimes, and an e-cig at other times -- you'll wind up coughing when you use the e-cig, and you'll probably blame the e-cig.

Not so.

Whenever you're taking hot gas into the back of your throat, your throat is going to react. You may no longer react when you smoke cigarettes -- but only because your throat has been acclimated to the exact "throat hit" a cigarette gives you. Basically, it's mostly turned off the coughing response to smoking a cigarette because the coughing response has been activated so much it's "dead."

But when you take in a slightly different throat hit, as from an e-cig, that specific throat hit your throat hasn't necessarily gotten used to, and it will trigger the cough.

Don't blame the e-cig! Don't use that as a reason to throw it aside and go back to smooth, healthy cigarettes.

It's just that you're hitting your throat with a stimulus it has not acclimated to. And if you juggle between the cigarette and the e-cig, you'll find you may cough whenever you switch from one to the other.

How do you fix that? Well, the same way you taught your throat not to cough when you smoke a cigarette: you just do it for a couple of days until your throat decides this is a stimulus it can get used to and doesn't need to cough over.

Switching between the two will cause more coughing, and delay the acclimation process.

I even notice the switch-causes-a-cough when I switch between my Joytech and my mod.

It's normal and not a big deal. Definitely not as bad for you as smoking a real cigarette, even if, at first, you find yourself coughing more with the e-cig. It'll pass.

Update: This video says the Joytech only leaks if you leave it on its side or upside down.

That may be true, and I'll look into trying to keep it upright, but it's a fairly common thing to just drop the thing on the bed (or let it sit in your versatile, dashing, and Totally Not Gay J Crew Messenger bag) and it'll be on its side in that situation.

Basically the thing wants to lay on its side, which makes the statement "It only leaks on its side" a bit less than it seems.

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posted by Ace at 06:50 PM

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