Opinion: Vaping has helped me quit smoking for 30 years. Then I had a stroke.


Bush is a freelance writer. He lives in South Park.

I was able to quit smoking for good on February 2, 2015. It was the hardest fight of my life. I had tried quitting several times before, and even kept them out of my mouth for six months at one point. This was accomplished using a mixture of nicotine patches, gum, and regular visits to an acupuncturist, who placed four or five tiny needles in each ear while I was lying in his office trying not to think. when I could turn it back on (usually before I reach the parking lot).

What ultimately sealed the deal for me was gross personal economy – I just couldn’t afford to keep my habit of two packs a day (30 years). I couldn’t have been successful without relying heavily enough on a variety of vaping devices. I started with ubiquitous e-cigarettes and chose to go “cold turkey,” which turned out to be pretty brutal. The first two weeks were sheer torture, but somehow I refrained from turning on.

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Of course, I was replacing one addictive habit with another, but I chose not to see the obvious irony. Over the next six months, I wholeheartedly embraced vaping culture – investing in a series of increasingly complex (and expensive) delivery systems. I remember taking a three and a half hour flight to Houston and practically scaling the walls of the fuselage until I could get out of the terminal and make up for lost vaping time.

But at least I didn’t smoke. Over the months, becoming an ex-smoker started to become more permanent and even natural for the first time in decades. I didn’t think too often about the long term side effects of the huge modular vape system I took wherever I went.

Six months after going from a long term addiction to cigarettes to vaping, I had a stroke and ended up in the hospital. After my release I couldn’t wait to get back to my new addiction, but something happened on my first night at home. I started to have chest pain. I remember one of my doctors saying something like strokes and heart attacks kiss cousins. Since vaping is a relatively new phenomenon, there is little empirical evidence on the long-term health consequences of vaping. As I lay in my bed staring at the ceiling with my heart pounding violently, I got scared. Really scared.

Somehow I was able to fall asleep … and miraculously, I was lucky enough to wake up. Having known this reprieve, I knew I had to make a serious decision about my new addiction and the sudden proof of my death about to burst through my chest.

The ordeal I went through six months earlier after giving up a 30-year nicotine habit weighed heavily on my mind as I watched at least $ 100 of vaping paraphernalia that was never further than ‘at hand. But I also knew at this point that I had to quit, so I gave all the tanks, mods, and other props to a friend and settled in for a tough episode of takedowns.

To my surprise, quitting was much less dramatic and uncomfortable – at least compared to those miserable weeks of quitting smoking. I felt a little rotten for a day or two, but the chest pain eased and I was able to sleep without wondering if I should program 911 on speed dial.

So this is my story. I don’t think I could have beaten my smoking habit without the vaping stopgap. For me, it was the right decision. I haven’t felt the urge to smoke or vape in six years, and it feels like a win. A substantial one at that.

I don’t quite understand how young people have become so consumed by the vaping phenomenon, especially people who have never smoked cigarettes to begin with. As with any habit that introduces a foreign substance into our body, there will be a flute player to pay, ultimately. In the 1960s, data regarding lung cancer and emphysema inspired drastic changes in the American public. Hopefully a similar revival is coming.

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