A local LGBT leader and a former candidate for the North Carolina Senate...
Breaking the habit, sort of: Finding a compromise I can live with
Updated: May 24, 2012 at 3:36 pm
I love to smoke. The whole ritual of smoking a cigarette has always been incredible to me. From packing a fresh pack of cigarettes and peeling away the cellophane to sparking the lighter and taking that first glorious inhale; for years there really has been nothing better to me. Smoking has been a part of my daily routine for over a decade and one I literally thought I would take to the grave.
Sure I know all of the negative side effects of smoking and I still choose to do it daily. Frankly, I always get annoyed when people take the time to tell me that smoking is bad for my health. Anyone with an ounce of common sense should not need to be told that lighting something on fire near your face and inhaling the smoke from it is a bad idea for your health. We all have vices and they all have consequences. Like everyone else, I considered the consequences and chose to roll the dice.
Despite all of the many reasons I love smoking, I will admit there is plenty that I don’t like. The fact that my clothes, my home and my vehicle always smell like smoke isn’t a problem so long as you are a smoker and hang out with people who smoke, but for anyone with a sense of smell it can be overpowering. Ashtrays are always annoying to keep cleaned out and there is always the risk of collateral damage when a cigarette rolls out of the ashtray and onto the coffee table (or into the floorboard of your truck while driving). Not to mention the fabulous breath most smokers wake up with no matter how much you brush your teeth and rinse. Seriously, if you don’t know what I am talking about, be grateful!
With all of that said, I want to say that I am so proud of me right now! Actually, I am proud of my boyfriend, my roommate and myself. All three of us have recently done something that I honestly never thought I would be able to do. We all decided to give up smoking, well sort of. Smoking in the traditional sense at least.
For a while I have seen e-cigarettes being sold in gas stations and I never once gave them a second glance. Surely the taste would be inferior or it wouldn’t have the oomph! I was looking for. Being the tobacco purist that I thought I was, I simply had no interest in trying them.
I came home two weeks ago to find my boyfriend using one of these clunky disposable e-cigarettes and was surprised to hear him speaking so favorably of them. Our mutual love of smoking is one of the many little reasons I adore him. We had both talked about quitting smoking for our health when we first started dating, but neither of us really wanted to so we had not made much progress. I decided that the next day when my current pack of cigarettes ran out I would get one myself and see if I could go all day without a real smoke.
I didn’t even wait for my pack to run out before I went to the store and picked up a menthol e-cigarette of my own. It kind of felt like sucking on a hi-lighter because of the awkward size of the device, but it completely did the trick. Not once the entire day did I consider going for one of my real cigarettes tucked away in the center console of my truck. When I got home that night I found that my roommate also decided to join in on the e-cigarette experience.
After trying out the disposables for a few days, we all ended up purchasing real e-cigarettes that recharge and resemble a more traditional cigarette in size and weight. Despite a sizeable initial investment, the opportunity for financial savings alone in the long run is reason enough for me to never look back. Not to mention, I can now enjoy many of the aspects I love about smoking and not have to deal with some of the less attractive sides of being a smoker.
Sure, I am still taking in nicotine, but I am not ingesting smoke, tar and the carcinogens found in traditional cigarettes. The smoke I blow out now is a water vapor, so it doesn’t offend anyone around me nor does it produce some of the harms caused by second-hand smoke, although you will get some funny looks the first time you exhale in a restaurant or bar.
I just wanted to share this experience to my fellow smokers out there, not to tell you what to do or that you should quit. If you are like me that would just make you smoke twice as much! I have found a way to have my cake and eat it too, so to speak, and wanted to share this alternative. Having smoked roughly a pack a day for 10 years I have made the switch and I don’t plan on looking back! : :
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About the author: O'Neale Atkinson is a former editor of QNotes, serving in the position from Jan. 23, 2012 to June 15, 2012. His first issue as editor was published on Feb. 4, 2012. His last issue was published June 23, 2012. O'Neale currently serves as operations manager of the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte.