Iva, thanks for sharing your frank admission. Sorry for my own lengthy account in response, but maybe it could be another option for you, though I would never wish to discourage you from stopping, if you are determined, I wish you all power.

I too am a nicotine addict of 40+ years, quitting several times, but for the last six, I have been content with it, even happy with it. That is since I changed from smoking to vaping.

I originally started vaping after it became obvious smoking was killing me. I couldn’t even climb a half flight of stairs without becoming breathless. I was even getting breathless just sitting down, and even lying in bed trying to sleep. I was also getting some pretty impressive heart tremors, which in turn lead to panic attacks and even more breathlessness. If I wasn’t actually dying, I certainly felt like I was. And I stunk.

At first I just vaped a little, to try to cut down the cigarrettes. It worked. For the first few months or so, I was happy with that. I started to notice my breathlessness was getting a little less. Also my sense of smell, and taste sharpened a little. So I stopped smoking completely and carried on vaping. I remember the first few days having some minor pangs for smoke, but it was nothing compared to what I’d felt when I gave up smoking going cold turkey before, for a different six years on the longest run.

In their earliest forms, electronic cigarettes were just that. Plastic imitations of cigarettes, that didn’t taste much like cigarettes, and damned unreliable, even coming in disposable forms just like real cigarettes. You had to be really determined and quite technically inclined to get on with them. I started to buy them in bulk from China, which helped a bit.

The hardware improved over the next couple of years, moving away from any attempt to mimic cigarettes, but rather towards fashion items, sold in high street shops. People who never even smoked were starting to vape just because they liked the image. They usually went for fruit flavoured liquids with zero nicotine.

I preferred tobacco flavoured liquid via discreet pocket sized vape, with as much nicotine as my throat could bear, to reproduce the effect and ritual of dragging on a strong cigarette, or even a cigar, as I occasionally liked when I used to smoke. I found by experiment the optimum liquid strength for me was 24mg nicotine. Any more than this gave me a croaky throat.

Then the UK government brought in laws to regulate, and set a maximum of 18mg nicotine strength on liquid sold for consumption in UK. I believe this was in cahoots with the electronic hardware vendors in the UK, who realised they could sell bigger, more powerful lumps of hardware which boosted the amount of liquid vapourised per gasp, so as to keep satisfying the nicotine demand of addicts with lower strength liquid. It is not unusual now to see vaping hardware costing £30o and upwards in specialist vape shops.

My own preferred vaping hardware is slightly shorter, and slightly fatter than a pen. It is beautifully designed and manufactured, goes most of a day without needing refilled, more than a day between charges, lasts well over a year, and costs about £30 pounds from Amazon. I usually keep at least two on the go, as ocassionally the glass liquid resorvoir can break when accidentally dropped.

I also found it is still possible to buy unflavoured 24 mg liquid wholesale, I guess from China. It is crystal clear, with a hint of nicotine smell, sold as “Mixer” liquid, for retailers to dilute to legal strengths for sale to consumers. But for me it is just perfect to vape as is with my preferred smaller hardware. I even prefer the taste of unflavoured now, and besides, flavouring is just another chemical which adds unnecessary toxicity. Last year, I bought my first litre of that. It lasted a whole year. It cost £38 pounds. I just bought another one a few weeks ago, same price. It never goes off, I guess because the nicotine soon kills any bacteria.

Now I have no sign of any breathing or heart impairment at all. I exercise regularly, having taken up Cuban salsa about four years ago, dancing all day some days, cycling occasionally to work four miles, running up six flights or more stairs, occasional swimming, 30 press-ups most days, comparing favourably to even the fittest folks of my age.

So now I live with the nicotine addiction, happily. Maybe it will still kill me early, who knows. Time will tell.

Meantime I am enjoying it, and life.

Solarpunk

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