Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Everything in life is only for a while - PKD

My name is Lorien. And I am a nicotine addict.

I feel that is how I should start this, as though I am sat in some kind of self-help meeting of similarly addicted and addled adults. Tangling my fingers in my hair and staring at the floor hopelessly. Battling to get through my daily life, carrying my burden around with me like the proverbial monkey.  Flailing about helplessly beneath its weight, sobbing into my pillow at night wondering when the pain and misery is going to end.  Drowning in self-pity at all the friends I have lost along the way, the determination to maintain my habit having driven them all from me. Oh woe and horror is me. BEGONE DEVIL BEGONE!

So let us start again, and properly.
My name is Lorien. I am a vaper.

I do not battle with anything. I am not miserable and I do not mourn the decisions I have made or the habit I maintain. I smoked for 23 years and I loved it (mostly) and I have vaped for 14 months and actually love it even more. And so what? There is something people need to understand. I was not ill as a smoker and I am not ill as a vaper. I CHOSE to smoke and equally I choose to vape. Like any smoker I spent years and years being bullied and cajoled by those in public health. Then feeling they alone were not having enough of an impact they widened their net and ensnared others to expand their crusade;  family were encouraged to join in. A little more stretching saw friends get drawn into the routine of harassment.  Then the final blow, random people in the street, or customers at my workplace feeling, they too, could comment on my lifestyle.  If they did not feel brave enough to comment, they would sigh, tut or sneer.  Welcome to the world of the smoker. State sanctioned bullying that creeps into every aspect of your life.

Here is the thing; most smokers hear all this on an almost daily basis, and do you know what the smoker is doing in their head? Giving the health bully a big fat heartfelt and impassioned finger! And well they might.

I made the switch to an electronic cigarette in November 2012 as, very briefly, it came to light that my 12yr olds best friend thought that smoking was the coolest thing in the world. Now, I will defend an adults right to smoke, but I could not bear the idea of a 12 year old thinking that at his age, it was cool. So I bought an e-cig; what we call a 2nd generation device. It looks something like a fountain pen and I could chop and change the flavours of the refill liquid as I pleased. As it happens, my first flavour was caramel apple pie and I loved it thank you very much. From that first moment in my garden, it worked for me. I preferred the taste, the experience on the inhale and exhale was not so dissimilar that I would not be able to adjust.

That was the day of my last ciggy. Did I wave it goodbye? Did I build a pyre and send it off down the river with ceremonial chanting I am not a smoker I am not a smoker, dancing and general merriment? Balloons and streamers, an announcement on the local radio station? Hire an airplane to write across the sky?  No. I just chucked my baccy in the bin and was done with it. No pressure, no panic and no dreaded Q word. (NB to public health; seriously, stop using that word! It does more harm than good now.)

So if I was so committed a smoker of tobacco, a failed multiple trier of patches and gums, a reader of smoking self-help books, why did it work so well? After all, I did not really expect it to and it was something of a surprise. It is because I realised that I could continue the habit that I enjoyed so much, but this time, it came with a world of delightful and tasty flavours. I could choose how strong I wanted my nicotine, I could customise my experience with different devices, fiddle with the settings so I could have more or less vapour. Tinker with the heat to suit the flavour I was using. Above all, I could do all of these things and be doing significantly less damage to myself and none to those around me.

What is not to like? 

Well, a lot if you are a member of some parts of Public health, or an ex-smoker with the 'I managed to *insert Q word* cold turkey so I, in my superiority, deem you dirty and pathetic and forever beholden to your addiction attitude. Or never smoker politician or the kind of well I don't like it so ALL MUST CEASE AND DESIST person who feels the need to stand in judgement of everyone else.  That is all another matter though and not the purpose of this letter. Though for the record, there are more than 90 studies into the safety of e-cigs and no evidence anywhere on this entire planet that shows our darling teenagers are turning to tobacco after standing within a mile of someone vaping. In fact, why those publicly funded health groups continue to peddle the line ‘but we just don’t knowis quite beyond me. So, those people can sit in their ivory towers proclaiming to all and sundry what we must and must not be doing and how we should be doing it, safe in the knowledge that we all stopped listening a long time ago.

If I had a regret, it was not standing up for myself as a smoker, so I am doing it doubly so now as a vaper. There is nothing wrong with me. I do not need medicating. I am not ill. I am not a scourge on society. We vapers (and smokers) have jobs, families, children and even pets; all the same things that you non-smoking/vaping types do. Can you believe it, pets indeed! 

Nicotine is not the devil incarnate. It does not impair my judgment, make me violent, create a dangerous driver. It has no more a detrimental effect on society than the caffeine in your coffee and significantly less than the alcohol in your glass of red wine. I am not harming anyone at all and if I have to hide away how will any smoker get the chance to ask meWhat on earth is that? A Sonic Screwdriver? or You smoked for 23 years? But you don't look old enough! (Ok, I might have made that last one up).

 Dear Public Health. I tried your patches. I chewed your gum. I sucked on your pathetic tampon inhaler and I watched someone I love suffer at the hands of your smoking pills. Your expensive and well marketed lies did not work and in the end I found something that did. I did it myself, I have paid for it myself with not a drop of tax payer money spent! I do not need your help and I do not think I ever did. Stop acting like a petulant child just because you did not cure me. You have turned into a caricature, the bully in the playground trying to turn all the other kids against me because I did not want to join your bland, boring, joyless, insipid, fat free, sugar free, nicotine free, alcohol free party.

Lots of love, hugs and kisses, someone who already has a Nan.

To everyone else, think of me when you boil the kettle in the morning for that tea or coffee you 'need' to start the day, or settle down in the evening with a glass of your favourite tipple after your hectic day at work or with the kids. Please stop throwing around the word addiction and consider what it really means to those that genuinely suffer with it, whose daily lives are ruled by it. Do not ask me when I am going to give this up, because I might just ask when you are going to give up your caffeine or your glass of wine.

Then, just ponder for a moment how you will feel when the health police are banging on YOUR door.


  1. Fabulous, compelling post Lorien. I've been inspired by your tweets and am so glad you have joined the pro-ecig blogging world.

  2. Nice one Lorien, you have put into eloquent words what so many of us have been trying to say for so long. We all have experienced the bullying of the nanny state and the so called "health" services. Superb entry

  3. Loved you story, we need a book!

  4. Loved this, beautiful writing and straight from the heart. I agree with everything you said. Beki Jane (who can only use a google account here)

  5. Absolutely beautiful piece Lorien. I agree 100% with everything you've written there.

  6. Im a Happy Addict! Life is wonderful as we haven't been corrupted by a smoking ban. We are free to live and enjoy life without guilt. Our bars and restaraunts are full of Normalized people unfettered by de-normalization tactics. My friends and relatives all celebrate their mutual addiction to tobacco products. Its been wonderful seeing the cash registers sing as smokers and non-smokers co-exist in harmony as free americans will do.

    No NRT salesman bothers with us or our community. We get weekend tourism from fellow addicts across the nation enjoying our freedom with us. They are so enjoyed knowing freedom still exists as they take back fond memories of not being guilty for smoking indoors or anywhere. These memories create the desire to fight back and destroy the smoking ban de-normalization agenda across the world. So again I sing Im happy to be an Addict!

  7. Dear Lorien,

    We are public health. Resistance is futile. You will conform, you will use NRT, or you will be added to the wiki... someday.

    (It would be better for us if you blogged anonymously, so we could add you to the dangerous anonymous bloggers section of our wiki. Do consider it.)

  8. A fine post, but utterly wrong. Vaping is shortly to become history. Some form of approved inhaler will take the place of eicgs, And it will be a one size fits all device approved by The Health Dept. Don't think that it won't happen - it will. Everything is set up. The Chief Medical Officer of the UK has spoken. Ecigs are UNAPPROVED - they cannot be allowed to defile the purity of tobacco control.
    There is no way out. The decision has already been made. Or, and it is a big Or, we can all, smokers and non smokers and vapers, become outlaws. Ignore the law - source your requirements as you wish. Remember that it is the Zealots who are the tyrants and not you. Grow your own plants. There is no law against it in the UK. Take a trip to Prague. Fags (and loose tobacco) can be bought for a third of the price in the UK.
    Sorry. The door is closed. There is no profit in outlawed liquids. Your representatives in the EU have condemned you. You are in the same position as smokers, only worse. You have no 'white van man'.
    You have one chance, which is to set up supply routes which circumvent laws. That is your only chance. You cannot operate within the law from now on. Stop being lawful. Become outlaws.

  9. The belief that we will not succeed is furthest from our minds, we are vapers, we are inventive, our minds are not poisoned bt the carcinogenic chemicals in cigarettes which means they are healthier. We will pursue this as passionately as the nay sayers, the ones that would rather see us return to the coffin nails. We are a force, we are active, we are intelligent and we will not surrender!

  10. It's good to have you speaking so eloquently on our behalf, thanks for all your hard work and effort, thank you !
    It's hard to believe that vaping is being attacked by the powers that be while smoking is permitted. This is not beneficial to anyone except those who make money from tobacco and NRT ! It's obvious that NRT is a complete waste of time and resources but because so much has been invested in it they will oppose anything that is preferred by users, 'flogging a dead horse' is the phrase that springs to mind !

    There is a far safer alternative to smoking, there is a far better solution to NRT.

  11. I'm bookmarking this blog (Thanks DP for the link).

    1. or rather I was going to bookmark this blog until I had to jump through not one but two hoops to comment :(

    2. Hi Luna, ignore me...I'm a just a grumpy old git. Brilliant blog btw.

    3. Haha damn you answered before I could correct my typo ;)

  12. Thanks for this fantastic first blog Lorien; says it like it is and I enjoyed it immensely! You should consider releasing it to the press, including ,magazines. It gets the message across in an entertaining way and deserves to be read as widely as possible. Heartfelt thanks, too, for all the hard work you put in for us vapers!

    1. Thank you :)

      Funnily enough, I DID send it to bits of press, but you know how bothered they are by the actual users of these things. That is why I ended up with this blog :)

  13. It's so stupid! They often seem to miss the bigger picture - what's happening with ecigs is such a huge story! Don't give up, I'm sure someone will print and then others may pick it up. Try magazines, too, mens', womens', health, gadgets, financial ....... it applies to them all, the personal angle is something people find easy to identify with and they're always looking for editorial.

  14. I'm 61 years young, been vaping for 18 months. This blog has nearly( I am a bloke) left me in tears. You have stated the situation so clearly, we don't need the control freaks, we can do it all by our selves with no need of excess regulation or do gooders or the likes of PH, PHE, TC etc.... "I think therefore I vape"

  15. Lorien, I strongly agree with your evaluation of the negative effects of the "Q Word" as it applies to smokers and vaping. I would never recommend to someone that they "try to quit smoking by vaping instead." Rather, I would recommend, "You should try vaping sometime. It's interesting and hey, you might even end up doing it more than smoking sometimes!"

    I could see switching over myself at some point, though I would not have expected several years ago that I would say such a thing. I'm quite a "happy smoker" and have been writing and fighting for "Free Choice" and "Smokers Rights" intensely for the past fifteen years and to a lesser extent for a dozen years or more before that. But about two years ago I spent an evening with Carl Phillips and Igor Burstyn (of )at a local Philly pub and Carl gifted me with an NHaler version of an "Ego" (?) -- an rather discreetly-sized and only slightly odd-looking "cartomizer"(?) style e-cig. I was surprised at just how comfortable and fairly pleasant it was to "vape" instead of "smoke," and I could indeed see myself switching over at some point in the future after winning against the "War On Smoking"! :> If I'd approached using the e-cig as a "quitting aid" I sincerely doubt I would have liked it as much or have stuck with giving it as much of a workout as I eventually did. I still *prefer* smoking, but we'll see what the future holds