Smoking was such a big part of my life that it was holding me back and I didn’t even know it until after I had quit and could look back objectively.
Like most smokers, I started when I was a stupid teenager. By the time I was in my mid-twenties, I was up to almost a pack a day and had a persistent smokers cough. By thirty, the first 20 minutes of my day was spent hacking up chunks of brown tar into the sink.
The effects and the stigma got worse, the cost kept going up, and it was nearly impossible to find smoking-friendly rooms and rental cars when traveling. I didn’t realize until it was too late that the last smoke I had to calm the nerves before a big interview probably cost me the job because everyone else in the room could smell the stench that I was immune to.
The Cost of Smoking
Smoking was a burden. And the COST! I was spending close to $3,500 a year on toxic tobacco. Going back to when I started, I had spent almost $70,000! SEVENTY THOUSAND dollars on worthless, toxic, disgusting tobacco. That money could have been spent on many vacations, a nicer car, a huge start on retirement savings. Or in the leaner years it would have meant better food, a nicer neighborhood to live in, etc. That’s a new Porsche Boxster. But I spent it on smoking.
All of that, as much as it is, and as crazy as it now seems that I did it for that long with such a willful ignorance of the consequences – is nothing compared to what it has done to me physically and will mean to the length and quality of my life.
I have no doubt just pissed away years of my short life so I could suck on a cigarette and pay for the privilege.
It’s that simple and that horrible. If you’re still smoking, read that sentence again. Then read it out loud. It applies to you.
I knew it had to stop. When I tried to imagine life without that smoke in my hand, it scared me because I couldn’t imagine giving up my security blanket, my ritual. I have a short temper on the best of days and the thought of going without smoking seemed like it might not be pleasant for anyone in my blast radius. Mostly, I hated making those pathetic, loser excuses.
Smoking kills half of all smokers. It was like playing Russian Roulette with the gun half loaded. Sucker odds. Something had to be done.
My girlfriend was also a smoker and had bought a few disposables without nicotine at the convenience store to try out. I tried it. The puff was weak and there was no nicotine – so no bite, but I thought that if I could find something more powerful with some nicotine, it might be the assist I had been praying for.
So I went to the Flea Market.
I found the booth that looked like the least shady option to help me make a major, life-altering decision concerning my health. I asked a few questions, got a few useless answers, then bought a small unit and some liquid. The bottle had the flavour written on it in marker.
I went out to the parking lot and read the useless Chinese instructions. I looked it over, figured out the basic components and how it would probably work, filled it, and tried it out. Not bad. 12mg of nicotine in cherry flavour tasted good and was almost the same as my smokes in terms of performance. I started with a small Joyetech eRoll, which look like a cigarette and went back into a small case to charge between uses. He tried to sell me on a bigger unit, but at first all I could think was that they looked like C-3PO’s junk, if he had junk – and I was not sucking on that in public. I was self-conscious enough already, as I had yet to see anybody using one.
I got used to it that day. I went between the vape and the smoke. I thought hell, let’s see what happens. It can’t be worse than what I’m doing now.
The following day – January 14, 2014, was the last day I was a smoker.
I sat down and took one puff from my DuMaurier Distinct regular, then one from the cherry-flavoured 12mg vape. Back to the cigarette, then the vape again. And again. And again. Every puff from the cigarette made me cough and spit up phlegm. The vape was smooth and tastier. No cough, no phlegm, no wheeze, no runny nose. I put out the cigarette halfway through. I gave my last pack an enthusiastic middle finger. I was never going to smoke again. And to this day – two and a half years later, I have not touched a cigarette.
The following weekend I went back to the flea market and bought a more powerful unit. It looked like R2-D2’s junk. But I wasn’t smoking, so I didn’t care. It took months to get really comfortable, as I got tons of bad info and had to figure everything out myself, but I’m a geek so I stuck with it.
My girlfriend also quit that weekend, but she tried to continue with the nicotine-free disposables. For the sake of our relationship, I made her get a unit with some nicotine fairly quickly. But neither of us has had a smoke since, so a few speedbumps don’t matter.
We also started putting our smoke money in a jar and when we needed vape stuff, we’d take a bit out. It built up fast.
In less than 4 months, we had saved enough to spend a week diving in Cozumel. That was the first time I had been diving as a non-smoker and I could not believe the difference in my lung capacity and function. I went from using up my air in 45 minutes to getting and hour and ten minutes per tank!! Subsequent dives on more recent trips have shown even more improvement in my lung function.
I had quit a 22-year habit in 1 day.
I had saved enough in 4 months to pay for a vacation. And I had my diving log as proof that I was seeing massive physical improvement. But I had only seen these miraculous gizmos sold in the dumpiest of places by people with questionable motives, knowledge, and products.
When I found the first wave of brick and mortar shops (B&Ms) I was happy to have options outside the flea markets, but I was also frequently disappointed and in some cases disgusted by what I saw. Most of them were essentially flea market operations that had rented a retail space. A few had created nice spaces but had terrible service. A few had decent service, but limited knowledge and product. A few were clearly just opportunists waiting for the next sucker to line their pockets. None of them were welcoming to women or seniors, and the biggest of them were so concerned with catering to hardcore enthusiasts that they alienated the average person who just wanted to quit smoking.
That’s not to say I didn’t find any good. I just didn’t find enough, or didn’t find it all in one spot. I saw that there was a real need for a retail space that specialized in education and products that appealed to the average smoker looking for help to quit or replace smoking. And that’s how The Digital Smoker was born.
It’s been over 2 years now that we’ve been helping people quit.
We have over 2,000 customers who have quit smoking with our help and thousands more that rely on us to provide safe, clean, reliable products, expert advice, and troubleshooting services.
We teach and help. We answer any question. We offer after-hours support. We donate to those who can’t buy. Our only focus is getting and keeping people away from cigarettes. And that’s why people come back and bring their friends.
I used to be a smoker. But had I not been a smoker, our customers might still be smokers. So I’ll forgive myself for the years of stupidity and excuses because it led to an opportunity to help people make a huge, long-lasting difference in their lives. And that feels really, really good. Like a breath of fresh air.