By Marty Jones
I couldn’t breathe.
It was the day after Father’s Day and I woke with each partial breath causing me to cough uncontrollably. The desire to cough outweighed the need for air. Pain burned my lungs. My chest felt like it were in an invisible vice.
That will be two years ago June 16. During my smoking years I caustically referred to myself as a professional smoker. I smoked for sixteen years, and an average week for me consisted of four cartons — more if it were a stressful week. My addiction was worse than any other smoker I knew. Working from home offered more chances to chain smoke than what most people had.
I knew smoking was killing me.
Mowing the lawn winded me, definitely not typical of a 33 year-old in good health besides being a smoker. I’d tried to stop smoking cigarettes many times before. I tried going cold turkey five times. I tried nicotine patches, gum, and the convenience store e cigarettes like Blu, Premium, and Krave; nothing worked.
By coincidence, fate, or an intervention by the vaping gods, I learned of vaping through brother-in-law. We had a Father’s Day cookout and he’d stopped smoking a month prior. He invited me to take a trip to a local vape shop, Precious Vapes, in my hometown of Madison, Tennessee.
I wasn’t impressed because I figured this was the same as what I was buying at the convenience store. When he offered me to take a vape off of his spinner mod, I shrugged and decided why not?
I admitted it tasted better and felt more natural than what I’d experienced with the pseudo-cigarette vapes. I also expected that to be the end of it. Yet, that morning I realized how tobacco was slowly killing me in a way that I could no longer ignore.
That morning, after the ache inducing cough subsided, I went back to Precious Vapes. Since I was the only customer in the store I was forward with Steve. I expected sales hype, but instead found someone who understood what I’d experienced.
Steve set me up with a 900maH spinner, the KangerTech Micro Pro-tank III, and a bottle of 24mg e juice. My last cigarette ever was lit three hours after that. Unexpectedly, I found that vaping caused me to actually taste the cigarette for the first time in years. When I would try to smoke, it was like licking a stale ashtray.
My initial concern when I could no longer tolerate the taste of a cigarette anymore was “am I switching one addiction for another?” I pushed that idea concern aside and I continued down the road that finally took me away from cigarettes.
Suddenly, I noticed that 24mg was too strong. I began to go lower, until 6mg became my standard before the end of my first year.
Then the concern I’d pushed aside returned to haunt me. After being prisoner of tobacco for so long I had to know the truth. At the first of the year I put down my mods expecting withdrawals similar — if not identical — to cigarettes. To my surprise I only missed the taste. Now three days shy of four whole months without vaping nicotine, I purchased a bottle of 3mg. It wasn’t because of craving nicotine, but because I missed one of my favorite flavors that didn’t taste right without the nicotine.
Now as I sit here and close this with my mod in hand, I finally understand what the phrase, “Vape for life” means to me.
It means mowing the lawn without being winded.
It means being able to hike two miles to the mechanic to pick up your car.
It means nature trails, renaissance festivals, extended shopping trips, and different conventions.
It means vaping fits your life, instead of making you a prisoner to death.