Thursday, 3 January 2013

Can You Quit Smoking With Electronic Cigarettes? A Real Review From A Real Smoker

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I’m writing this after trying to find some real information about electronic cigarettes online.  What I mostly found were articles with regurgitated product information that did not tell me anything new, or I found myself having to trawl through forums for even the most basic info.  All I wanted was a real account from a smoker who had tried Electronic cigarettes; so here I’m going to recount my experiences.  I am not affiliated with any ecig company and am not making any money for my comments, good or bad.

I’ve been smoking for more years than I’d like to admit, but I quit for about 3yrs when I was very ill with ME; I was literally too ill to smoke.  Stupidly, I started up again, smoking around 5-10 a day, and then managed to quit again.  However, in 2009 I started smoking again after 1 year of quitting and I was smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day; when that became too expensive for me, I switched to rolling tobacco.  I tried giving up several times but I just couldn’t.  In January 2010 I saw the ‘Quit Smoking’ service in Boots and signed up for that.  They gave me patches and inhalators, and I quit for 4 months before starting up again.

This takes me up to now.  The past few months I have had several health problems, including chest infections and problems breathing; smoking is just the stupidest thing in the world to continue doing but they don’t call it an addiction for nothing!

Why I Chose Electronic Cigarettes?

My local supermarket opened a new pharmacy section in November.  The day it opened, there was a guy from Nicolites handing out leaflets about a special offer they had on.  I took a leaflet, but didn’t even look at it.  A week or so later I went in with my prescription to collect my medicines and the Nicolites stand was still in there.  While the pharmacist put together my meds, I agreed to try out the free demonstration, literally to kill some time.  I was shocked by how real it felt.  My partner bought me the rechargeable kit right there on the spot and I got a box of three cartons (cartomizers) free as part of their special offer.  So, it was more of an impulse buy than a researched chose, and chances are if I’d been alone, I may not have bought it straight away but gone home and done some research first.

What Are Electronic Cigarettes?

Since I’m using Nicolites, those are what I’ll be talking about, but there are plenty of other brands on the market.  Some other brands have electronic cigarettes that are made up of three parts.  The one I’m using is made up of two parts as shown in the image below.  
Image Credit
I’m not an expert and if you want a more technologically precise explanation please refer to the manufacturer’s description of the electronic cigarette you’re interested in, but basically, it looks like a cigarette, and when you inhale, even though the tip glows red like a real cigarette, nothing is actually burning, as there is no tobacco.  The battery heats up the liquid nicotine and you inhale the steam that is produced.  It is just vapour, not smoke (so you’re vaping, not smoking).  The starter kit I bought had a rechargeable battery part (the white part), 2 cartomizers (the cigarette butt part) in a high dosage (16mg) and a medium one (11mg) and a USB charger.   All you need to do is to replace the cartomizers when they’re finished and these come in packs of three in varying strengths and flavours and cost about £7.
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How Does An Electronic Cigarette Compare To A Real Cigarette?

Size wise, it’s a little bigger and a little heavier, so it does feel strange at first, but it looks like a real cigarette, and when you inhale it feels like one too.  The taste is not exactly like tobacco, but it is pretty similar and not at all unpleasant.  Personally, I think it is as real as a simulation could be; but at the end of the day it is not exactly like smoking and does take a little getting used to.  I started using the electronic cigarette on Friday 21st December, and at first it was very strange.  I never smoked in the house, as my partner does not smoke and I hate the smell of cigarette smoke, so I kept getting the urge to get up and go roll a cigarette, but I didn’t need to.  The electronic cigarette does not emit any smell, and as it is just vapour, you can smoke it indoors.  Still, you may find yourself getting the urge to flick ash, or any of the other activities associated with smoking that become redundant with electronic cigarettes.

How Do You Know When You’ve Smoked Enough?

This was one of my main concerns before I started vaping; how would I know when I had had enough puffs/pulls?  It really has not been an issue, and to be honest, I think I’m actually ‘smoking’ less than if it was a roll up as I find myself feeling fine after just a few pulls.   I’ve been using the 16mg high cartomizer, and at first it seemed too harsh for my throat, like I was inhaling too much, but I got used to it within a couple of days.

Do You Put On Weight Like When You Give Up Smoking?

I did put on a couple of pounds the first couple of weeks (although to be fair, it was Christmas) and I think this is because I didn’t actually use the electronic cigarette as much as I should have and was picking at food when I felt the craving.  Tomorrow will be 3 weeks since I started, and I am now totally used to the electronic cigarette.  I think this may be me, and I have read accounts in forums of people that have gotten used to it much quicker than me.

How Do You Know When The Cartomizer Needs To Be Changed?  How Long Does A Cartomizer Last?

I’ve found that the electronic cigarette needs to be charged before the cartomizer is finished.  When the cartomizer is almost empty, the amount of vapour emitted begins to lessen and the taste changes.  In almost 3 weeks, I have changed the cartomizer twice, but I didn’t vape as much at first while I was getting used to it, so for my own use, I would say I probably will use one cartomizer a week, but this depends on how much you vape.  One cartomizer is apparently the equivalent of 20 cigarettes, but I have found I get much more use out of mine.  I guess this is down to personal use again.

How Long Does An Electronic Cigarette Take To Charge?

This is the biggest down side for me; it takes 2 to 3 hours for the battery to charge.  When the battery needs to be recharged, the tip of the electronic cigarette will flash a few times when you try to inhale and no vapour will be emitted.  You can buy disposable electronic cigarettes, that cost around £7 and are the equivalent of 40 cigarettes, so you can keep one of these handy to use while your rechargeable one charges, but I have not found this necessary.

Are Electronic Cigarettes Cheaper Than Normal Cigarettes?

This was very important for me as I switched from cigarettes to rolling tobacco in an effort to save money.  I was spending about £30-£35 a week on cigarettes before I switched to tobacco, although that would be more now as the prices have gone up quite a bit in the last year.  I was spending around £10 a week on rolling tobacco (that includes papers and filters).  So let’s compare the three based on 3 weeks’ worth of smoking, as I have been using the electronic cigarette for three weeks now:

Cost of three weeks smoking/vaping:

Cigarettes @ £30-£35 a week = £90-£105
Tobacco @ £10 a week = £30
Electronic cigarettes @ 1 cartomizer a week (they come in packs of 3) = £7 (not including the one-time cost of £20 for the starter kit)

So, for me personally, this has saved me money already, even if I include the cost of the starter kit.  I haven’t actually used 3 cartomizers, in these first three weeks, but I think that is probably how much I will use.

Criticism of Electronic Cigarettes

Even though this was an impulse buy for me, I did research online after that.  I read some criticism online about how they are sold, and that selling them in pharmacies gives them a legitimacy they do not deserve.  Some studies even showed that they’re not as ‘cancer-free’ as they claim to be.  There seems to be a lot of debate, but for me, the most important aspect was that electronic cigarettes are still better for me than cigarettes, and they work better than any inhalators, nicotine gum or patches have done, and I have tried them all.

Have Electronic Cigarettes Made Me An Ex-Smoker?

I’ve been using electronic cigarettes for three weeks, and this is when I would usually be climbing the walls craving a cigarette.  I have not craved a cigarette once.  It does take getting used to, and it is different.  It is an alternative to smoking, and for me it is a great substitute.  My plan is to move from the 16mg high cartomizer, to the 11mg medium one, and then lower still, until I can eventually give up. 

Still have questions about using an electronic cigarette?  Ask below and I’ll try to answer it from my own experience, or please refer to the manufacturers for specific information about their products, or speak to your doctor about the effects an electronic cigarette may have on your health.


  1. “ . . . smoking is just the stupidest thing in the world to continue doing but they don’t call it an addiction for nothing!”—Well, had to agree with this one. Anyway, this article of yours will be very helpful to those who are interested in taking a less hazardous way of satisfying one's nicotine craving.


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