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A Year of Vaping – Not Smoking. Savings Made, Lessons Learned

Last week I reached the milestone of a year of vaping. That means 12 months since I last bought or smoked a full cigarette. I did have a total of about two puffs on a friend’s Marlboro Light around Christmas, and immediately handed it back purely out of preference. I don’t have a problem standing near people smoking. But it’s not something I ever want to do again. Meanwhile I’m still enjoying vaping as I learn new things about it. And at the same time, I’m reducing my nicotine intake.

A Year of Vaping - Hidden in the Clouds

My main aim was to stop smoking. Mainly for my own health, but also for those around me. And in that respect, vaping has worked perfectly. All impartial studies show the risks to me are greatly reduced. The same is true for family and friends. And there have been big financial savings as well.

To put it into context, I smoked for around 20 years. In that time, the longest I managed to quit smoking was a few months. And then fell right back into it. When I couldn’t vape recently due to potential conflicts with medication, it didn’t cross my mind, and even the lowest level of nicotine lozenges felt really strong…

A Year of Vaping – Savings and Stats:

  • 365 days since my last cigarette.
  • 5,475 cigarettes not smoked (average of 15 per day)
  • £2,737.50 cigarettes not bought (average of £10 per pack)
  • Total cost of vaping so far: Kit (inc 2 tanks) £92. Liquids and coils: £534.98. Total: £626.98.
  • Savings after 12 months: £2119.52
  • Average cost of vaping per month: £44.58. And average cost per day: £1.48
  • At an estimated potential of 10 minutes lower life expectancy per cigarette, I’ve now regained: 912.5 hours. Which is 38 days. Or 5.4 weeks of extra time on the planet.
  • Exercise: I haven’t kept up my exercise regime as well as I could have done, although I can definitely run further more easily. And that’s one of my next areas to focus on. In 12 months, I’ve only managed around 7,170 push ups and squats for various reasons, and I should have been closer to 10,000.

Still, saving more than £2000 by doing something which is actually better for me is pretty impressive. And it’s been completely painless for me. I know some people don’t get on with vaping, or find it more difficult. But I literally started vaping on a Saturday night before Fathers Day 2017 whilst still smoking (and drinking some beers at the pub), and the next day I just kept vaping.

 

A Year of Vaping – Lessons Learned and Effects:

I’ve regained my sense of smell and taste, which is handy for cooking. And life in general.

I don’t feel the cold as much. Which means I save on heating bills and don’t get woken up in the middle of the night with cramp in my feet.

And I also haven’t spent mornings hacking up the remnants of cigarettes from my lung, which means I’m a bit less sluggish.

Aside from remembering to stock up on coils and liquid, the only hassle from vaping is spending time researching and debating the health benefits with people who have only accepted some tabloid headlines. With nicotine as an active ingredient, vaping will never be healthy. But all impartial studies have shown it’s 90-95% healthier in the short to medium term. And the biggest health problem I’ve found is remembering to drink enough water.

Meanwhile I don’t build my own custom coils with exposed connections, so the risk of a battery exploding is roughly the same as for my mobile phone.

And the time spent learning and researching vaping has paid off a little. The vaping community is a pro-active one, and recently the nice people at e-cigarette Direct got in touch. They were kind enough to send me a free Innokin Pocketbox to review, along with with new eliquids to try. The full write-up is on Disposable Media, but essentially it’s a pretty decent vape kit for £25. Less than half of the amount I spent to get started. And while I still prefer my Aspire kit for everyday use, it shows just how quick and easy it is to get started now.

A Year of Vaping - Innokin PocketBox

I’ve found almost everyone in vaping has been really helpful.

That includes the staff at Nicogreen in Rochester, Kent. They got me started and had to deal with my inexperienced questions a fair bit. I’d link to their website, but it seems to be constantly offline at the moment. And since moving back to Peterborough, I’ve spent a lot of time chatting and buying new stuff from Central Vape Shop in the town centre, and the Vape Project in Werrington.

It’s also interesting seeing how engaged most vaping companies are, especially when I share anything on Instagram. All of the vaping companies are quick to pick up on anything posted, and often share mentions of their products.

Over time, I’ve slowly reduced the nicotine levels of the eqliuid I use from 12mg at the start. I went through 9mg and 6mg, and have settled on 3mg which is the lowest level usually available. I honestly can’t say if I’ve vaped so much more on 3mg that the actual levels are similar, but it’s coming down a little now. And partly that’s due to finding lots of really good flavours in the last few months.

And new flavours are great. Over time I realised that not only did smoking cause people to move away from the tobacco smell. But as I got older and had more and more parents as friends and colleagues, I understood why some of them weren’t keen on having their children near someone who smoked. I obviously didn’t smoke indoors, or near anyone when outside. But the smell and after-effects of tobacco linger so long…

By contrast, some of my family actually lean forwards or comment on how nice some of the vaping liquids smell. I’m a big fan of I VG, for example, who seem to always have refreshing fruit flavours. Like Blackberg (blackcurrant and blueberries), Blue Raspberry (raspberry,blueberry and mint), and the sadly discontinued Pineapple Blast (pineapple and menthol). Or Nasty Juice, whose Fat Boy Green Mango liquid is perfect with some craft ale. And I’ve recently discovered Zap Juice and their lychee and lemonade flavour, which is lovely, too.

As with vape kits and batteries, by buying from reputable companies and shops, I know that the products are compliant with the new Tobacco Products Directive laws. Which including testing all eliquids for sale in the UK.

A Year of Vaping - Vape Kit and Juice

And for the last 12 months, there hasn’t been any need to leave the house at midnight just to find a petrol station still open and buy cigarettes. Or spending an hour trying to find a lighter.

 

Will I Ever Smoke Again?

Short answer – No!

Even now, I occasionally get a psychological craving if I’m watching television or a film in which people are constantly smoking. But it lasts a few seconds at most, and vaping relieves that urge immediately. When I can’t vape because I’m stuck inside somewhere, or for other reasons, I’ll stick to some of the nicotine mini-lozenges if I really have to. Or just wait, because my nicotine cravings are much less than they used to be, after moving down eqliquid strengths.

Are there downsides to vaping?

It’s still not healthy to be inhaling nicotine, and vaping a lot can lead to a dry mouth and throat. Neither of which is great, but it does encourage drinking more water as a result.

And you do get people who either complain about you vaping in the open air (I don’t vape indoors around anyone). Or those who insist that having given up smoking, you should now immediately give up vaping. I understand where they’re coming from, but there’s no point in rushing to give up everything and relapsing straight away.

The only other downside to vaping is the constant amount of misinformation, often coming from the tobacco industry and studies they have sometimes covertly funded. And the fact it’s mispreported at face value in the media. 5 minutes checking the provenance and actual details of each study, and you find that there’s no evidence of any major health risk, no equivalence to smoking, and no proof that vaping has encouraged any significant number of people to start using a nicotine product if they didn’t already smoke.

There’s a hashtag on Instagram, #vapingsavedmylife. And while I wouldn’t quite go that far, it’s certainly improved it a hell of a lot, as well as saved me time and money.

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8 Months With Vaping, Not Smoking

It’s just about 8 months since I switched from smoking to vaping. I changed to stop my health declining, to avoid harming those around me, and to be able to lose the smell of old tobacco whereever I went after two decades of Marlboro abuse.

Last time I updated was just after my 40th birthday. Since then a few things have changed. I’ve moved house to be closer to my son, which meant packing up everything I owned and renting a property for the first time in years. It’s also meaned relocating my business, and starting to build up a new client base in Peterborough for the first time since I left about 7 years ago. I’ve got back involved with both Digital People in Peterborough and Peterborough STEM Festival. And most unexpected – I’ve been lucky enough to start a new relationship with a wonderful lady who is understanding, supportive and just all-around lovely. As a bonus, not only do we have similar interests, but we also both run similar businesses, so there’s a good understanding when one or both of us is sat at a laptop at 11.59pm on a Saturday night working on something important.

I’ve also learned and reinforced a few things about vaping.

  • Finding good local shops for advice is always handy. Big thanks to the friendly staff at The Vape Project in Werrington Centre, Peterborough, and the Central Vape Shop in Peterborough city centre.
  • Switching brands means experimenting with new flavours. I’d been using Ultimate for ages, and switching to different brands means that some flavours, like Blackcurrant, just didn’t work at all from a different company. In fact, it was pretty awful. Fortunately, I’ve now discovered a new selection that works – current favourites include Zeus Juice ‘The Black’ blackcurrant and menthol (despite hating menthol flavours usually), Nasty Juice Green Mango, and Dream Mist Peach and Pineapple Coconut Rum….
  • Check before buying and fitting the wrong ohm coils. I wondered why one vape kit seemed utterly clogged and useless before finally spotting I’d bought 1.6 coils, not the usual 1.8 or 0.7. After adjusting the wattage on the kit, they were usable again, if not as nice as the others…
  • Don’t fit an old, loose 1.8 coil you have laying around at the bottom of an old box, because it turns out you probably swapped it out a while ago because it was worn out…
  • Expect that sons and girlfriends will take an increasinly active role in dictating what flavours you are allowed to vape around them – even if you don’t vape near them.
  • And try not to get annoyed at all of the misinformation about vaping. Cancer Research in the UK has been sharing advice about using vaping to quit smoking, and every post gets endless Facebook comments about myths and half-truths. I’m not a doctor or health expert, but I’ve put in substantial time to read as much of the available medical research online etc, and there’s a wide and well supported body of evidence for the benefits when compared to smoking. And nothing that suggests any short or medium term issues unrelated to nicotine – which is the main active ingredient in vaping for obvious reasons.

Incidentally, if any vaping brands etc need any help with marketing, do get in touch. My business website is still TheWayoftheWeb.

8 Months Vaping and Not Smoking

 

 

 

8 Months Vaping Stats:

  • 244 days since my last cigarette
  • 3,660 cigarettes not smoked (average of 15 per day)
  • £1,830 cigarettes not bought (average of £10 per pack of Marlboro)
  • Total cost of vaping so far: Kit (inc 2 tanks) £92. Liquids and coils: £314.98. Total: £406.98.
  • Savings after 8 months: £1,423.02
  • At 10 minutes per cigarette, I’ve now potentially regained: 610 hours of life. Which is 25.41 days. Or 2-3 weeks of potential life expectancy.
  • Exercise: Still not ideal, but by hitting 50 push-ups and squats when I have been committed, I can still just about claim a 30 per day average despite some unrelated injuries. Which is 5,970 push-ups and squats. The aim is to manage somewhere around 75-100 every day in future.
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Vape Update: 101 Inhalations

It’s now 101 days since my last cigarette. And vaping is being backed as part of the annual Stopober campaign. Along with Public Health England, NHS Scotland has also stated that e-cigarettes are less harmful than tobacco, and around 53% of people quitting smoking last October used them. Despite the fact that some newspapers claimed health advisors were at odds, what the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence actually said is that there’s still little evidence relating to long term ecigarette use, but that advice should be offered on them for people wanting to stop smoking.

So basically, there’s still not a huge amount of information on the potential longterm effects of vaping. But all studies into their immediate effects show that they’re much better than smoking. Although obviously it’s safest not to be inhaling anything.

Which all means I’m still chuffed to be happily vaping away on 6mg liquid 101 days after starting out with 12mg and no more Marlboro.

AspireZelos With Nautilus 2 and Eleaf iStick with Nautilus 2

My Aspire Zelos (right) and Eleaf iStick 40W (left), both fitted with Aspire Nautilus 2 tanks

So what are my latest totals?

  • Around 1,515 cigarettes not smoked.
  • And £757.50 cigarettes not bought.
  • Total cost of vaping kit: Kit (inc 2 tanks) £92. Liquids and coils: £162.48. Total: £254.48.
  • Savings now at £503.02
  • At 10 minutes per cigarette, I’ve regained 252.50 hours. Or 10.5 days.
  • And continuing with a little over 40 push-ups and squats to mean I can take an occasional rest day and still average out on target – 1,602 push-ups and 1,602 squats in 55 days.

So far, the only times I’ve had any issues have been learning to make sure the chimney of the e-cigarette coil is dried out with a bit of tissue if there’s too much liquid in it. And the occasional taste of burning when coils are due to be replaced – I think I’ve now replaced each tank twice in over 3 months. Trying a ‘premium’ liquid which I didn’t enjoy did result in burning through the coil a little more quickly, but even so, another pack of coils for £10 or so should last me until after Christmas.

Being healthier and essentially giving myself a £2,000 payrise for minimum hassle seems to have worked out pretty well!

Looking at prices, it’s getting cheaper and cheaper to try vaping. The Aspire Zelos feels like a marginally better piece of kit, but at under £30 for the Eleaf, you can be up and running for under £50 including a tank. Even if you’re stocked up on duty free cigarettes, it’ll still save you cash fairly quickly.

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78 Days of Vape

Bit of an odd number, but I haven’t updated on my vaping/exercise progress in a while. Mainly because I took time away from work and the internet while my son visited. So my push up and squat routine continued, but supplemented by visits to the countryside, and massive ice cream desserts.

So it’s 18 more days since my last cigarette. And it’s now 2 days since switching permanently to 6mg nicotine eliquid from 12mg. I’d mixed the two a bit to try and wean myself down in preparation. And then used the wrong strength liquid for a day out with my son and didn’t really notice. Having spent the weekend at the lower strength, I have vaped more, but not double the amount. Halving the nicotine means I’m probably vaping 3ml per day compared to 2ml usually. And that will probably come down soon.

So the totals to date:

  • 1,170 cigarettes not smoked. (Quite a nice big number to encourage me further)
  • £585 of cigarettes not bought.
  • Total cost of vaping so far: Kit £92. Liquids and coils £124.50. Total £216.50
  • Savings: £368.50.
  • Potentially at 10 minutes per cigarette, 195 hours, or just over 8 days of live regained.
  • Plus I’ve moved up to 30 push-ups and 30 squats every day, which works out at about 730 push-ups and 730 squats over 32 days.

And having bought 60 ml of liquid (6 x 10ml bottles for £24 total), that should last me 2-3 weeks. So no need to spend anything else for a bit. That should take my savings towards £500, since stopping smoking under 3 months ago (Based on buying Marlboro at UK supermarket prices).

I’m hoping some studies on the relative nicotine inhalation/absorption will be released between cigarettes and vaping, and also more detailed information on what conditions were actually set. For instance, the newspapers reported a while ago that vaping was apparently as bad for you as smoking, based on the idea that you got as much nicotine from vaping as smoking. Except it was based on 30 minutes vaping vs 5 minutes smoking, and nowhere seemed to actually have info on which strength liquid was used, what strength cigarettes, what wattage, or the average inhalations per minute etc. As someone who could smoke a Marlboro Red in under 3 minutes, and also only ever vapes for 5-10 minutes at a time, it’s a pretty meaningless bit of information portrayed in a pretty sketchy manner.

The actual scientific reviews all suggest that vaping is much more preferable to smoking as a cessation aid or as an alternative. For instance, the Cochrane Review or e-Cigarettes.

 

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60 Days of Vaping

Another update as I’ve now hit the two month mark since smoking my last cigarette. For the last 60 days, I’ve been happily vaping and I’m not even tempted when standing next to someone smoking tobacco.

Which is nice.

I’m still mainly on 12mg liquid, but have been starting to experiment with 6mg during the day, and it’s slowly becoming normal. At some point I’ll need to just make the switch permanently…

60 Days of Vaping Totals:

  • 900 cigarettes not smoked.
  • £450 of cigarettes not bought.
  • Total cost of vaping so far: Kit £92. Liquids and coils £100.50. Total £192.50.
  • Savings: £257.50
  • Potentially: 150 hours of life, or 6.25 days regained.
  • And I’ve also managed 280+ push-ups and 280+ squats over the last 14 days.

So I’m healthier and £250 better off after two months. I’m pretty happy with that!

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6 Weeks of Vaping

Just a quick check in to keep tracking my vaping progress. Today is the 6 week mark, or 42 days since I last smoked a cigarette.

Which is:

  • 630 cigarettes not smoked.
  • Roughly £315 of cigarettes not bought.
  • Cost of vaping: Initial set up £92. Liquids and coils: £52. Total: £144.
  • Saving: £171.
  • Health cost of smoking averaged at 10 minutes of lifespan means 6,300 minutes more. Or 105 hours. Or 4.4 days. Likely at a higher level of health.
  • And despite my resistance to mid-life Lycra, I’ve started exercising again. Just the 20+ press-ups and squats per day, but it’s noticeably easier in terms of breathlessness than it was. Although my arms and shoulders are as weak as they were before I started the first time before Christmas.
  • Plus my circulation has noticeably improved, particularly in my feet and toes. No more ice cold feet, or waking up in the middle of the night with cramp in my feet.
  • Finally my sense of smell is now like a cross between a superpower and a Bill Hicks sketch
    “Someone is smoking a cigarette 2 miles away”
    “Has someone 3 houses away used manure on their garden?”
    “Is that a dead body?”

And from today I’m going to be trying a lower nicotine level mixture, moving from 12mg of nicotine down to 6mg during the day. Fortunately with my back up Eleaf iStick as well as my Aspire, I can play around and it’s not a big deal if it doesn’t work out yet.

Eleaf-iStick-40W

So there you go. Expect another update when I get to the 2 month mark.

 

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30 Days of Vapes and Hijinks

Yesterday marked 30 days since my last cigarette. And since then, I’ve gone through various stresses related to work and personal matters. And also managed to go on a couple of evenings in the pub. Yet, despite being in the company of various smokers, I haven’t been tempted…

I’m still noticing improvements to smell, taste, lung capacity and energy. I certainly seem to be able to exert myself more without being out of breath. And I’ve started feeling a strange urge to get more exercise. I’ve managed to avoid any worrying temptation to invest in lycra clothing, but I’m not sure how much longer I can hold out…

30 Days of Vapes and Hijinks

So as a smoking replacement/cessation method, vaping has been really working for me. And although it’s still not good for me, I’m happy with all the evidence of the risk reduced to around 90-95% of smoking. The more I think about what would happen if I had to stop vaping overnight, the more it seems likely I would just stop using anything than go back to smoking.

Which is why I’m looking forward to moving down nicotine strengths shortly. In the meantime, here are some quick scores:

  • Approximately 450 cigarettes not smoked.
  • Cost of 450 cigarettes roughly £210.
  • Cost of initial vaping kit, including back up tank: £92.
  • Cost of liquids and coils per month – approx £40.
  • Various estimates of the negative impact of cigarettes would say you lose between 5-14 minutes of life for each one you smoke. Obviously that’s an average based on typical lifespan etc, but taking it as 10 minutes, that’s 4,500 minutes, or 75 hours, per month. Or 37.5 days per year. By the time I’m around 60, that’s more than 2 years worth of potential extra days.
  • If I never stop vaping, and buy a new kit every year for the next 20 years, I’ll save:
    Cost of 20 years smoking: £50,400!
    Cost of 20 years vaping: £11,440.
    Saving: £38,960

Not rigorously scientific, but good encouragement to keep in mind. I’ve also decided that Peach flavour liquid works particularly well to compliment craft IPA, and without doing a side-by-side test, my one hangover appeared to be much less of a problem to deal with.

One other thing I’ve definitely benefitted from is using some of the money I’ve saved on relatively instant gratification (some much-needed new trainers and jeans). While it’s good to have a longterm goal for savings plans (which I also have), when you’re reinforcing a more positive habit, having some fairly quick rewards definitely makes a big difference.

For the record, I currently use:

  • An Aspire Zelos 50W kit with Nautilus 2 Tank.
  • Back-up Nautilus 2 Tank
  • Back-up Eleaf iStick 40W donated by a very nice friend.
  • 12mg eliquid (roughly 20-25ml per week)

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