HarleyQuinn recently asked me to tell my vaping story.
I don't think she realized what she was in for.
My wife, Christina, and I were pack-a-day smokers for 23 years. We both picked up the habit as teenagers, like so many other in our generation.
Anyone that’s battled tobacco addiction knows that quitting is a personal experience. No two people cope with their addiction in the exact same way. Some people are able to go cold turkey while others are successful with drug therapies. For us, I was the problem. I don’t have the willpower and determination that my wife does. For me, every day was a struggle.
Whenever I finished a cigarette I’d immediately start thinking about when I’d get my next. For me, every cigarette was like a lifeboat. The thought of going without was like treading water. The thought that I’d just smoked my last cigarette felt like jumping out of that lifeboat and swimming for an unseen shore.
It was bad enough that I felt enslaved to cigarettes, but it was even worse knowing that I was standing in the way of my wife breaking free from them. It left me so hopeless that I didn’t even want to talk about quitting.
On several occasions, we tried quitting cigarettes. We knew that the only way either of us would succeed is if we did it together. Each time, after a few months of anxiety and short tempers Christina would begin to come out the other side with her cravings under control, ready to go on free of tobacco.
I, on the other hand, continued to find an everyday struggle. I’d white-knuckle it through lunch. I’d gain 20 pounds trying to eat away my cravings, just to wake up in the morning wishing for a cigarette. On the last occasion, after six months without smoking, I was still suffering through each day. As with every prior effort, I gave in and returned to smoking. Unfortunately, Christina followed.
Then I heard about vaping. We had seen the cigarette-like devices that were sold at mall kiosks at the time. We’d even given them a shot. But the battery life, flavor, and vapor quality made them a poor substitute, and we were quickly back to the real thing. But I met a friend of mine one day, and he had something completely different. It didn’t look like a cigarette at all; it had a tank on it. The gadget lover in me was immediately intrigued. He let me try it for myself, and I was impressed by the smooth flavor, and the satisfying throat hit I got. It was definitely something different. For the next couple of weeks, I found my thoughts returning to this promising new option.
I finally decided to give it a shot and ordered a starter kit from an online vendor. I told Christina, “I’m not quitting. I just want to try it out.” The last thing I needed was to put that pressure on myself. I had no confidence that this would help me off that lifeboat. I was just hoping this may help stay afloat.
Within a week of getting my first device, I was smoking three or four cigarettes a day. Not because I was forcing myself to cut back, but because I didn’t feel like I needed them. A month later, I was down to one cigarette after lunch. If you’ve ever smoked, you know how important that after lunch cigarette can be.
Eventually, I realized that I didn’t even enjoy that one cigarette a day. I was only smoking it because I was so afraid of cutting loose once and for all.
Two months after getting my starter kit, I threw away my last pack of cigarettes. Christina, understandably cautious, decided she’d wait to see if I was serious before putting herself through it again. But after a few months, she saw the change in me. She quickly joined me in vaping, and putting down the cigarettes for good.
After a year of vaping, we were solid converts to the cause. For us, there was no question of what we’d gained. We began thinking about what we could do to spread the word to those still struggling.
We saw that many people were unwilling to try vaping because they didn’t know where to start. . In our own experience, the learning curve in getting started had been a challenge. Add to that the horror stories about antifreeze and formaldehyde, and many people lacked the support to help them begin the journey.
So we opened the vape shop we wished we’d found starting out. A place where you can get honest, detailed information about vaping. Somewhere that wouldn’t just sell you a device and send you on your way, but would take the time to teach you about it. A place with a simple motto; Vape, Learn, Relax.
In far too many words, that’s our vaping journey and the story of Vapor Café.
Now, for some free advice.
My advice for new vapers
Don't set a "quit date"
Quit dates are an invention of the smoking cessation industry. With nicotine gum, patches, Chantix, etc., you are told to “set a quit date.” The reality is that these programs are not designed to help you quit smoking; they are designed to sell their program. You try to quit, you give up, and you try again.
Setting a quit date doesn’t do anything but make you feel like a failure when you slip. Your loved ones don’t care about what date you smoked your last cigarette. They care that you’re quitting.
Don't pressure yourself.
So many people fail because they set unreasonable expectations. Breaking free from tobacco is a process, not an event. If you are vaping, don’t tell yourself you won’t smoke. Do the opposite. Tell everyone, “I’m going to vape. But if I need a cigarette, I’m going to smoke a cigarette.” If you can separate yourself from the anxiety of quitting you have a much better chance of really quitting.
Make sure you’re getting enough nicotine
There will be plenty of time to cut back on nicotine once you’re done with the smokes. Right now, the most important thing is that you get enough nicotine to handle your cravings.
Later, when you’re not smoking anymore, you’re going to find that the need for nicotine will naturally taper off.
Get the right device
The best device is the one that helps you quit cigarettes. For some, that’s the biggest and the badest cloud machine they can get their hands on. For others, it’s a simple pen style starter kit.
Go to a reputable vape shop (hopefully Vapor Café) and talk to a professional. Tell them where you plan on vaping. Will you be able to vape at work, or only on breaks? Do you plan on vaping in your home, or only outside?
A good vape shop will be able to gather the information to point you in the direction of the right setup.
It’s OK that you’re new. There’s a lot to learn, and it can be intimidating. But this is a welcoming community full of people eager to share their experience. Don’t feel that you’ll be looked down on if you aren’t up on the latest hardware and techniques.
You’re vaping for you and your family. There’s no need to impress anyone.