EXAMINER PUBLICATIONS – NOVEMBER 4, 2009
By Rich Trzupek
Bad news for Cook County, the State of Illinois and every other taxing body who depend on exorbitant cigarette taxes for funding: you’ll not be getting another dime of your humble correspondent’s hard earned money. You’ll have to find another sucker.
It’s not that I quit the habit after thirty years, not exactly anyway. Rather, I switched to e-cigarettes, which are not only a whole lot healthier than the “light it up” variety of smokes, which are now SO 2008. E-smokes are also much less expensive and entirely free of sin taxes.
If you are not familiar with e-cigs, a brief explanation is in order. They are basically a nicotine delivery system, designed to look and act like a “real” cigarette, but without the tar, carbon monoxide and other nasties, and without any second-hand smoke.
Cartridges, containing nicotine, water and – if you choose – a flavor (like menthol, chocolate, etc.) screw on to a battery. In the version I use, the cartridge looks like a filter on a traditional cigarette, while the battery looks like the body of a cigarette. The battery heats the contents of the cartridge when one takes a drag and one gets a puff of water and nicotine that is amazingly close to (if not exactly the same as) the real deal. Plus, they take care of that whole oral-satisfaction thing, as well as that smoker’s need to keep your hands busy.
I got mine on line from esmoke.net and no, I have not (yet) been compensated for this endorsement. They sell a two-stage system, with the nicotine and atomizer in one cartridge. (The battery is the second stage). Other companies sell three-stage systems, with one cartridge for the nicotine and another housing the atomizer. Some say that the atomizer in three stage systems clog pretty quickly, thus I went to the esmoke.net variety.
Charging the battery is pretty simple. I got a charger that plugs into a USB port, so my lap top spends some time looking like its having an e-smoke for a little while every day. There are also car chargers, and other systems as well, I’m sure.
E-smokes may not be enough to get every smoker to switch, but I’ll wager that it works for a lot of them. They have been a hit at work, with just about every smoker in the office switching over. It’s not quite the same experience as burning tobacco, but it’s close enough. Switching over, whenever I got the urge for a “real” smoke, a couple of drags on the e-cig took the edge off.
There’s no odor with the e-cigs, which my long-suffering bride truly appreciates. The “smoke” you exhale is essentially a water-vapor/nicotine mist that disappears in about 1.5 seconds.
Now if you’re a smoker, I’ll offer a couple of tips. One, you’ll probably want to take a lighter pull on an e-cig than you’re used to. If you take a hard drag, you’ll get a pretty heavy nicotine hit. You’ll also want to take less puffs at a time. A smoker usually takes ten to fifteen drags on a traditional cigarette. I find myself doing about five to seven drags in a row on an e-cigarette.
Because there is nothing to burn-out, only a cartridge to expend, you define the length of each e-smoking session. For me, a cartridge will last a couple of days. As a calibration point, I smoked about a pack a day of the old-fashioned cigs.
Now here’s the really good part. At e-smoke.net, a five pack of cartridges costs $14.00. So, in addition to not filling your lungs with tar and other goo, you save a butt-load of money. For me, a five pack pretty much replaces a carton of old-fashioned coffin nails that would have cost me more than three times as much.
One final bit of advice for my smoking friends out there, if try making the switch, try it with a smoking buddy (and we all have them). The first few days take a little bit of will-power – but just a little, not a lot – as you retrain your body. Having a buddy to support you, and who is also counting on you to stick with the plan, helps.
A healthier life style, saving money and keeping money out of the hands of the government? Wheeee! That’s a “threefer” I can live with.