I do it at least 4 times a day. More if I am out for a drink or with friends. If I am desperate enough, I will ask a stranger. I used to joke that my boyfriend was Nat Sherman.
I have been around cigarettes all of my life. My father is a smoker, I had friends who smoked in middle school, and it was my freshman year of high school when I had my first cigarette. Fast forward through college, countless (and stressful) semesters, internships and jobs, on top of having lived in a city where someone is smoking every 5 feet: Cigarettes have taken their toll on me.
Over time, many of my friends have quit smoking. Aside being from Virginia, the land of tobacco, while paying New York City prices (shoot me), everyone around me seemed to be quitting, many with ease. Friends would tell me of how they’ve only had a few this week, or that the last time they had a cigarette they were completely disguisted. How had they done it?
Many will tell you that it is all will power, mind over matter, but I’m sure you’re already tired of this sentence. Instead of thinking about why you cannot quit smoking, think about what can help you quit instead. For me, it is not the nicotine that keeps me hooked but the act of smoking itself. I knew a patch or nicotine gum would never ease my craving—I needed something that still allowed me to smoke without the continuous impact on my health.
I have tried a variety or e-cigarettes from friends and it was always a Goldilocks effect: This one tasted too strong, this one pulled too hard, I don’t even know how to charge the cartridge on this one. There was always something that steered me away from e-cigarettes.
But don’t go reaching for your pack just yet. I decided to commit and try an e-cigarette for a full week. Just telling people I was trying this made them raise their eyebrows in a surprised, approving way. It was a nice reaction for once, instead of hearing the record of “I really wish you would just quit” on repeat.
So I decided to try Bedford Slims. The Brooklyn bred vapourette brand has an overall appeal: The cartridges, color coded to help identify flavor, are some of the most pleasing I have tried, while the packaging and e-cigarette design itself cater to not only tastemakers but also to the simplicity one seeks with a product.
E-cigarettes essentially provide nicotine through water vapor, with the nicotine being contained in a liquid found in the filter/cartridge. The mustached products arrived in neat little boxes, including: An e-cigarette battery with a flavor cartridge already included, USB charger, additional battery and a pack of additional cartridges.
I decided to try out a few of the cartridge flavors they offer. Menthol is a flavor that I love and feel like is hit or miss with e-cigarettes. This menthol was not overwhelming and had a smooth finish. As a menthol smoker, it did not disappoint. My eyes grew wide when I saw that there was a clove cartridge. Cloves remind me of rebellious high school years, fall leaves and crackling fireplaces.
The deep, spicy taste was a little strong for me, but it was a good alternative to a real clove. I did miss the sweet, lingering aftertaste though. Ah, cloves…The dark roast was the most surprising, like smoking a sweet cup of coffee. That may sound odd and totally not appealing, but with the little bit of caffeine added, it was an interesting touch.
As for the vapourette as a whole, it feels lighter than others I have tried. The slim stainless steel battery took some getting used to, but that is a physical aspect any transitioning smoker will feel. I charged a battery straight out of the packaging and it took about 52 minutes for it to reach a full charge (with red/green light indicators on the charger), but it then lasted me 2-3 days without another charge. As for the cartridges, one should last the equivilent of about 300 puffs, roughly one pack of regular cigarettes.
Through my excitement of trying the e-cigarette, I found myself smoking more often just because I could. With that, I did go through one cartridge faster than I anticipated (one within 3 days) but I also had to consider the time spent smoking, the length of each drag, and so on.
The first week of trying Bedford Slims, I decided to really commit myself. I left my cigarettes at home every day, but I found myself still carrying a lighter.
The other thing with my smoking habits is that it is a routine, but also not. I have 2 on my drive to work, 2 on my drive home from work, and cigarettes scattered throughout a night of being out. When I am home for the night I do not smoke for the sake of my parents not knowing I smoke (my mother has coyly told me to not smoke in her car, given me a dirty look, walked away and has not said a thing about smoking to me since that one and only time).
So that is another thing, I’m a secret smoker (in a sense). So in using the vapourette, I found myself being able to smoke in my house and in my room because I am not left with the taste or odor of a traditional cigarette. That is a selling point many companies use, but until you experience it for yourself I don’t think you can understand the degree of how much those factors alone can change your smoking choice, or a non-smoker’s choice to be around a loved one who does.
No longer did I have to mask the smell of smoke with perfume or copious amounts of hand sanitizer or Febreeze. Huzzah!
After the first few days, I did not find myself craving a real cigarette. Even while sitting in the smoking section of my favorite bar or around friends who smoke, I still chose my e-cigarette over the real deal. One thing that I did not exercise in public though was smoking it wherever I pleased. It still confuses me when someone smokes an e-cigarette in an inside setting that doesn’t seem appropriate. A bar or restuarant? Sure, if they allow it.
But in the middle of shopping in a store or in a crowded place where someone is bound to voice their opposing opinion, real cigarette or not? Why go through that trouble? It is one thing to smoke an e-cigarette to benefit yourself and those around you, but doing it blatantly and exhaling like a dragon just makes you look like a jerk.
Although e-cigarettes are not FDA regulated, the folks at Bedford Slims have taken it upon themselves to research and request studies that other companies have not. Who would think that one day we would go from cowboys hand rolling cigarettes (remember Lucky Luke?) to smoking electronic cigarettes.
I am not saying that electronic cigarettes are the end-all solution for every smoker, but it has been the only product that has inclined me to actively work towards quitting.
I am proud to say that I did not have a real cigarette for a whole week.
That may not seem like much, but it is a baby step towards more. I have had regular cigarettes since then, but not as much. For now I actively switch between the two, smoking less real cigarettes as time has gone by, hopefully making the transition to quitting a bit more bearable.
With New Year’s Eve upon us, will you just declare that you will quit for the 5th year in a row again? Or will you find something that will help you towards that goal instead?
Maybe incorporating a word to guide you through the new year will help support further goals in 2014.
Images via Kim Bui / via Bedford Slims.
Kim Bui is a freelance artist & designer from Norfolk, Va. She is a recent graduate of Pace University trying her hand at a little bit of everything; illustration, art direction & nail art. She has a passion for print design and finding the perfect pen. @Sincerelykimbui