THE E-CIG AND I – October 2009


By Mildred Boyd


no-fumarWhen my daughters and my doctor started discussing the advisability of my trying an e-cigarette, I, having never heard of such a thing, looked at them in utter confusion. What they were describing sounded straight out of science fiction and far too good to be true. Either they were playing a cruel joke or they had lost their collective minds. Or had some genius actually invented a device that would allow me to give up tobacco yet still enjoy all the pleasures of smoking?

A little research on the web (just type in “e-cig”) proved that, judging from the number on the market, many people had! None use tobacco, produce tars or carcinogens or emit smoke, first or second hand.

They usually consist of a slim, rechargeable battery and a converter unit which holds the cartridge containing moisture, flavorings and varying amounts of nicotine. Cartridges are available in menthol, vanilla and (ugh!) several fruit flavors. Together, converter and cartridge make up the holder, complete with mouthpiece. Starter kits also include a charger for the batteries. Some have a pocket version much the size and shape of a cigarette pack for travelers.

Air movement through the device activates a heater which vaporizes the flavored liquid in the cartridge. Ideally, when one draws on the e-cig, and only then, the tip glows red and vapor emerges, pr   oducing the illusion of a lighted cigarette.

My first model looks very much like the fat cigarette in a long holder flourished by movie stars of the twenties and thirties. Newer versions are slimmer and look so much the real thing that you are advised to choose any color but white. Otherwise, you’ll probably find yourself thrown out of non-smoking areas on your ear every time you take a puff.

Admittedly, I was still skeptical. I have smoked for 72 of my 88 years. Could kicking so entrenched a habit be that easy? No way! Then I took that first puff and, amazingly, I haven’t missed tobacco at all. Neither do I miss smelly, overflowing ashtrays, small holes burned in clothes, carpets, furniture (and sometimes in me) nor a house and wardrobe smelling strongly of stale tobacco smoke. Nor am I at all unhappy not to pay the outrageous prices due to sin-taxes imposed on tobacco products.

Furthermore, I am no longer the pariah I was. I can enjoy my e-cigarette in all the forbidden places. Or so they promise. I have not yet had the nerve to put it to the acid test of shopping malls, airplanes and restaurants filled with militant non-smokers.

A few caveats:

1. The FDA has, so far, refused to approve e-cigarettes.

2. A few countries have banned them entirely because some tested brands show trace amounts of harmful chemicals, so check before you buy.

3. Some are poorly designed and easily broken. Again, check carefully.

4. Don’t expect miracles. E-cigs may not work for everyone.

As for me, I am perfectly content to be a non-smoker!

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