My switch to electronic cigarettes

thumb e-cigWEBNon-smokers used to ask me if my fingertips were burned.

"Nope," I'd say, "they're nicotine stains."

Enter the annoying lectures from them that smoking would kill me one day. Not this again, I thought to myself. 

Even though I'd reply with a snide remark like, "Thanks, Mom (or Dad)," I knew they were right. Lung cancer is in my family history. 

But nicotine isn't an easy addiction to give up. Being greeted every morning with phlegm in my lungs didn't make me stop.

I've been a pack-a-day smoker for more than eight years. I've had three unsuccessful quitting attempts and have burned enough money to buy a brand new car. The good news is I'm starting to think that those days are gone for sure this time.

I wanted to give the electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) a try for about a year, but was waiting for the right time.

So with having a small respite from work recently, I placed an order online for an e-cigarette kit and some e-juice, or e-liquid, which contains nicotine but is puffed through the electronic cigarette with only a vapour – and no actual smoke – being emitted. e-juiceE-juice contains nicotine but is puffed through the cigarette with only a vapour being emitted and no smoke.

Photo by: Shane Flug.

I started using it immediately. After opening the package and having that first puff of vapour, it felt different compared to going cold turkey or using the gum. After the first few days, it didn't feel like I was missing anything because the sensation of smoking was still there and I still got my fix.

I'm proud to report that I didn't touch tobacco for the first three weeks after my e-cigarette arrived in the beginning of September. However, I did temporarily relapse when I ran out of e-juice and was waiting for more. I couldn't take it anymore while waiting for my next supply to arrive.

But the one positive that came out of my slip was that they tasted terrible and it became a struggle to finish all the way to the butt.

Feeling better

Alberta Health Services says that it generally takes two weeks to three months after quitting smoking for the lungs to regain their efficiency. I'm already feeling I can breathe much easier.

Tightness in the chest during physical activity is still there but not as bad as before. And yes, the morning coughing is gone.

This all sounds swell but propylene glycol, one ingredient in e-juice, can irritate people's respiratory tracts (throats), according to the propylene glycol's Material Safety Data Sheet. I feel dryness in my throat sometimes.

Ultimately, using an e-cigarette doesn't change the fact that I'm still a nicotine addict. My motive for switching was harm reduction.e-cigWEBElectronic cigarettes aren't the end of my smoking habit and the negative health effects it brings, but rather a means of harm reduction.

Photo by: Christine Ramos. 

Although e-juice is not approved by Health Canada, after doing my own consumer research, I have faith that just a handful of vapourized chemicals in the e-cigarette have got to be less harmful than the 4,000 that are combusted in tobacco cigarettes, with about 70 of them being carcinogenic, according to Health Canada.

Am I just switching to a lesser evil? Sure.

Am I still playing with fire in regards to my own health? Absolutely.

Because these things are relatively new, I'm entering uncharted territory in terms of what the long-term effects of using these may be.

But with snuffing out tobacco and switching to the e-cigarette, my body is starting to tell me that I might have a smaller chance now of getting burned. 

The regulatory status of e-juice 

Because e-juice contains nicotine, Health Canada forbids it to be sold here without proper establishment licensing.

Health Canada spokesperson Gary Holub said in an email that while his agency has no problems with the non-nicotine forms of e-cigarettes, those with nicotine or "with health claims" can't be sold in Canada because the products have not "received the necessary market authorization from Health Canada."

"These products are subject to the Food and Drugs Act," he said.

E-juice with nicotine requires market authorization as a drug, he says, whereas e-cigarettes without nicotine aren't subject under the act and don't need authorization from the public body to be sold in Canada.

But of both types he said: "To date, no sponsor has demonstrated the safety, quality and efficacy of an e-cigarette product to Health Canada. In the absence of scientific evidence, Health Canada doesn't recommend the use of electronic cigarettes."

He also cited concern of nicotine-poisoning risks if e-juice is spilled on the skin during cartridge refilling.

Kat, a member of an online e-cigarette vendor (that sells nicotine e-juice) who would not share her last name because of Health Canada currently taking a "very aggressive stand" against such vendors, said the idea for a store came after she said she had seen a lot of success stories with her own family who successfully quit smoking with the e-cigarette.

Kat worries that if a vendor such as hers was to be unable to continue selling e-juice with nicotine, people being cut off from the product could potentially "relapse" and go back to tobacco smoking.

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m. aubichon 31.12.2013 13:08  
vapour had saved me   Hi i been smoking cigs now for 30 years last few years smoking heavy over a pack a day i bought a eco vap kit and upgraded to a kaguer mini 2 to vap with and after first week i had really stressful week dad in hospital etc to make long story short i lite a real smoke and after a few drags i put it out i did not like the taste and grabbed my vapur and never looked back, i still cant believe that im not smoking, as i have tried so many times to quit, i am trying to get my wife to use it as i know that she would quit just like me going on over two weeks now and i feel 5 years younger cause i can breath again only after two weeks, Canada is a great country and i luv it but get off your buts and make this legal.  
   
       
Tim 02.02.2013 10:20  
E-CIG ENDED MY 30YR SMOKING HABIT- GOODBYE CIGARETTES FOREVER-   I smoked for 30 yrs, 1 to 2 packs a day. I tried quiting several times with no luck. The last thing my wife and I tried to quit smoking was " CHAMPIX ". I remind you, This is what HEALTH CANADA passed as a quit smoking product.
Using this so called quit smoking product gave my wife and I thoughts of suicide even thoughts of killing each other or someone else. After being on CHAMPIX for nines days we quit it. They say to keep smoking the first week of taking CHAMPIX, Then quit smoking on the 8th day. My wife and I smoked the whole nine days, Even CHAMPIX could not help us to quit smoking. If anything CHAMPIX could turn a person into a killer. My dad told us about the electric cigarette, About 6 months later we bought a e-cig kit and have not look back. My wife and I are now non smokers thanks to the person who invented the electric cigarette. HAPPY VAPING EVERYBODY.
 
   
       
Nick 03.11.2012 09:05  
Vaping   As usual, our government needs some time to find a solution to make money at something before they allow it. My e-cig has given me my lungs back. End of story.  
   
       
Annie 01.04.2012 04:01  
Personal vapors   I was a faithful (albeit unhealthy) pack a day smoker for 30 years. I had tried to quit, unsuccessfully, on at least 3 occasions. A U.S. friend suggested I try the e-cig.I had never heard of this device. Some research and an online order got me started on this amazing journey. I have been vaping since the arrival of my first kit and I have never smoked a cigarette since and don't miss them! Yes, I am now just a nicotine addict rather than a smelly, poor nicotine addict. The wheezing in my chest is gone completely. I don't have sinus problems. Physical exercise is not a problem. I will trade the "unknown" factors of vaping to the very well known side effects of tobacco smoking any day! I am very thankful that the ECTA (Electronic Cigarette Trade Association) is working on setting up their own guidelines and regulations, based on the successful Brit mode, which will surpass anything Health Canada had in mind. It's the only way to go - self regulation.  
   
       
Elaine Keller 31.03.2012 03:20  
Three years of health improvements   I switched on March 27, 2009. During the years since I switched, my peak-flow meter reading went from 300 up to 450. My LDL dropped from 141 to 92, and HDL stayed high (65). Gone are the morning cough, the wheezing that kept me awake at night, and the embarrassing coughing jags triggered by laughing. You can find hundreds of stories like mine here: http://www.e-cigarette-forum.com/forum/e-cigarette-success-stories/

I'm one of the folks who suffers from severe cognitive impairments when I try to stop using nicotine. By prohibiting liquids containing nicotine, Health Canada is preventing tobacco smoking cessation for folks like me. HC should stop and consider the fact that their "protection" is triggering lung disease and cancer among the continuing smokers who can't quit.

TIP: When switching from smoker to vapor, be sure to drink plenty of fluids or chew gum to keep your throat moistened.
 
   
       
G. Holder 30.03.2012 10:37  
eCigarettes   I was a die hard smoker for 40 years and unfortunately it took a toll on my health and my Dr. was always on my case to quit. I couldn't imagine not smoking. Ever! Then I found ecigs and for the past year haven't looked back. I vape juice with nicotine because I still need my nic fix. As the article states, there are just a few ingredients in the e-juice - vegetable glycerine, propylene glycol, flavouring and nicotine v's the concoction of harmful properties in tobacco.
Since quitting, I can breath again, I don't have that morning cough and best of all my blood pressure has gone down significantly. My Dr. is thrilled!
Time for Health Canada to get out of the pockets of big Pharma companies who make those useless quit smoking aids, and un-ban e-juice. It has been a foolproof way for this long term smoker to quit and it has also worked for several friends that I've introduced to this method.
Vape on and stay healthy!
 
   
       
Tobacco Outlet 15.01.2012 09:12  
non-nicotine e-cigs also work for some   since carrying e-cigs for the last year at Tobacco Outlet, our experience has been that about half of the customers who buy the (non-nicotine version of) e-cigs are able to quit or cut down significantly... others seem to really need the nicotine. It is as if there are two habits that the smoker is working against, and for some the physical habit is more important and others it is chemical.

Our e-cig customers all seem to agree with the article though, despite a lack of research to confirm anything it does seem that people feel healthy after using it for a few days.
 
   
       

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