*Cough* *Splutter* *Cough*
My usual wake up routine for a number of years. The ever familiar dry throat and taste that surely the brushing of teeth and swilling of mouthwash should have killed off last night. Yes, my friends, I was (and still am whilst drunk) a heavy smoker.
When I took my first drag of a cigarette around the age of 15 or so I didn’t realise I’d get to the stage where I was heading out in near blizzard conditions to get a sweet hit of nicotine. 10 years later and I’m giving up almost every Monday and relapsing by Friday. I used to be around 20 a day and now probably max out at 2 or 3 (again unless drunk). Was it rebellion? Was it peer pressure? Was it a need to fit in? most likely all 3 after a decade it’s nothing more than a regret.
I know I’m sounding like some grizzled old veteran and it’s not like I worked in an office in the 50s where I would have been through my first 20 pack before lunch but honestly, I still feel the effects.
So a few years ago I tried to make a change. A close friend of mine was puffing away on this electronic stick and producing what looked close enough to smoke to my intoxicated eyes. An e-cig, a vape mod whatever you want to call them I thought they were reserved for celebrities and weed smokers.
“Are they actually any good?” I asked bemused at the sci-fi technology in the palm of my associate’s hand.
“It’s alright, haven’t touched one of those things in a few months” He answered gesturing towards my cigarette.
“Mind if I have a go?”
It was somewhat reminiscent of my 15-year-old self at that house party when I tried my first cigarette. Instantly I coughed and questioned how that was at all pleasurable but the next morning I woke up with the same thoughts of ‘maybe I should give that a go sometime’ and so I headed down to the local e-cig store and became the proud owner of my first ever Vape Mod.
I’m not going to lie, at first, it was just an excuse not to have to go outside in the cold. This was great I could suspend my cravings for a bit and not have to pause the film I was watching or the intense game of Fifa I was enthralled in.
Slowly much like how that one cigarette at a party turned into 20+ a day I started to slowly vape more and more and smoke less. I had a few blips along the way due to some extenuating circumstances but each day I’m feeling closer and closer to my last ever cigarette.
It’s great, I’d tried giving up before and hadn’t come anywhere near, yet this miracle little device meant I wasn’t waking up in coughing fits and could actually exercise without feeling like I was coughing up a lung.
So why the hell do vapes get such a bad name?
Every ex-smoker I’ve talked to who now vapes says similar things “It’s not the same as smoking but it’s helping me quit” or if you’re in conversation with our writer Sif it’s more along the lines of “It sucks in comparison but it makes me not want to hit people in the face so that’s a good thing”. With studies suggesting that vaping is significantly safer than smoking tobacco even the NHS has gotten on board with it.
Yeah sure, it’s not the same in taste or experience but at the moment it’s the closest thing we’ve got and choosing a slightly less satisfying thing is probably a bit better than heart disease and lung cancer, I can’t imagine they’re that fun.
I have another theory though and it’s going to sound childish but vaping isn’t ‘cool’. Smoking isn’t ‘cool’ but we’ve had the best part of a century of mainstream culture and films telling us it is. Marlboro Cigarettes were all based around the Marlboro Man, the height of masculinity. The cover of Pulp Fiction features Uma Thurman’s character seductively smoking, hell, even Bond used to smoke. I doubt films would have the same effect if the character suddenly pulled out a 200W Cloudchaser vape mod with strawberry cinnamon liquid. There’s something about the self-destructive quality of smoking that just for some reason makes it so desirable.
I’m going to throw it out there, I’m not 100% sure I’ve seen a film where one of the main characters is vaping? (Please comment if you have as I’d be really interested in seeing it) What’s it suppose to represent? Oh, he/she is stressed but also health conscious…edgy. You may as well have the grizzled cop head to a smoothie bar at the end of a long shift instead of asking the barmen to leave the bottle of unlabelled scotch as he tries to find the missing piece of the cases’ puzzle.
Studies show that most people who smoke started at an age when it’s increasingly hard to get their hands on anything else legally. It’s at this age that you’re constantly telling your parents they don’t get you and that this isn’t ‘just a phase’. It’s rebellion in it’s purest form even if by the end of the day the jokes on you.
I mean vaping is met with internet MEMEry (not a word…yet) constantly. The title of this piece is in itself a meme “We get it, you vape” It’s held in the same regard as being vegan, like those who vape or chose not to eat animals are trying to prove something. Sure, if you’re constantly ramming it down people throats that they’re disgusting for smoking or eating meat and you’re somehow better for not doing so, then in my personal opinion, you’re an incredibly frustrating bore.
Leonardo Di Caprio tried his best to bring vaping into the mainstream, turning up to events vape mod in hand and he was also lambasted by that lovely thing we call social media. I’ve seen a few American talk-shows where the host drags on a celeb guest vape and the audience all laugh like he’s just thrown a pie in their face. Honestly, maybe I’m just not getting the joke.
At the end of the day, it’s still a relatively new technology with the first patent only being filed in 1963 by a man named Herbert A. Gilbert. Things representing modern-day vapes were only invented in 2003 by Hon Lik and have only become readily available and popular in the past decade. It’s going to take some work to change centuries of human behaviour but at the end of the day, it’s got to be a personal decision.
I’m not going to victimise people who decide to smoke or continue to do so, as I myself still occasionally smoke here and there. I’m also not going to take the piss out of people who’re trying to change it as if it works for them it works.
I know some people will probably get to the end of this article and be like “We get it, you vape”