I smoked for eight years, which, when you consider I’m only 27 now is a fairly large chunk of my life. Like plenty of other people, I started because I was around friends who smoked. I wasn’t a drinker (partly because I didn’t like it and partly because I was always the sober driver). It got boring being the one sitting there with a cup of tea or a coke on a night out while everyone else was drinking. Worse when they all went outside for a cigarette and I wanted the social aspect of being in the group more. So, I started smoking when I was 18.
I enjoyed the routine of going outside at house parties, having a cigarette in the car on the way home, all of that. While I never considered myself a “heavy” smoker (I was only getting through around 5 a day) I lived in Australia and tobacco is insanely expensive there, even when you roll your own. And, despite the fact I was legally an adult, I hated hiding it from my mum who I was living with at the time. I knew she wouldn’t approve but it’s hard to cover the smell of cigarette smoke on your clothes and hair when you get home.
I had a job, I was getting paid, but the cost of cigarettes was so high so I tried to cut back a bit. Avoiding smoking while I was at home I managed to reduce my intake to two or three cigarettes a day, except for the times I was out with friends. It was still always a financial burden though and there was always someone asking if they can borrow some tobacco when you’re with them too.
I think more than health reasons to start with, it was just getting to be a habit I didn’t really want anymore. When I was 23 I met someone through my friend group. He didn’t smoke really but would often come out for a cigarette with me. After that I became a bit more aware of how much I was smoking and the fact I didn’t need to keep doing it in order to be social. By that point though, it was an ingrained habit I wasn’t able to just stop.
When I was 24 and had been smoking for six years, I moved to London with my boyfriend (the aforementioned guy who used to smoke with me). I was gob-smacked by how much cheaper cigarettes and tobacco were over here which, unfortunately, meant I went back to smoking as much as I had before. Add to that the stress of settling into a new country, finding a new job and all of that – smoking was a bit of a crutch. Also, my childhood best friend who had also ended up in London a few years before me smoked. So, we used to meet, have a catch up and chain smoke together. It felt more normal again because we were both doing it.
Both of us were reaching a point where we didn’t really want to be smokers anymore, but it’s just one of those things. Your brain makes the association of “I’m out” and then shifts to “I want a cigarette.” My boyfriend wasn’t really smoking much anymore either. The thing that started to change my mind was, unlike in Australia, there were a lot of people vaping in London. I didn’t know anyone else who used a vape but when I was living in Brixton I went into a shop and spoke to the guys in there. I ended up getting the Aspire vape pen and some 6mg juice.
In the beginning, I still had the occasional cigarette, then even those got phased out gradually. When I was with my friend again, she was doing her best to not smoke but one of her friends had cigarettes. I offered her my vape instead and she actually enjoyed it more. A week or two after that night, we got her a vape too and both of us were comfortably leaving smoking in the past. There was the odd occasion my vape ran out of battery, or I just really felt like a cigarette. The times I gave in and borrowed one off someone else I realised how much I’d lost the taste for it.
I’d been off cigarettes for months when I had a little mishap. I dropped my vape and the glass tank cracked and I didn’t have a spare. We’d moved house by this point so my local (original) vape shop wasn’t handy. In the interim I went back to smoking again. The taste was unappealing and I really just did it for the times I felt like I needed the nicotine rush.
It wasn’t until one evening when my fellow ex-smoking friend came over and said “Why don’t you use Stu’s vape?” I did a bit of an internal scream. It hadn’t even occurred to me but months before my boyfriend had got a vape too for the odd occasion he felt like a puff when he was drinking. We cleaned out the tank, put a fresh coil in and I got back on the vape. After that I realised how much of a relief vaping was to have over smoking.
Since then I’ve not had a single cigarette. It took me a few months to get off them completely (and realise I was better off without them) as well as to lose the taste for tobacco. With vaping, the amount of flavours available was amazing to me (and still is). I’ve tried everything from the dessert combinations to fruits and menthols. Weirdly enough, even when I started I avoided the tobacco flavoured liquids. I’ve since dropped my nicotine strength down to a 3mg and have a box mod and Sub Ohm tank I absolutely love. It feels like a long time since I smoked last, I’ve been a vaper for a few years now and honestly as long as I can have my vape I know I’ll never go back to smoking.