Air on, bretheren: Why vaping is the way to go

I was walking down the street in Seattle last week when I saw a man approaching, his hand raised near his mouth and the glint of a small silver tube from which he was inhaling. Moments later I witnessed a distinctly familiar cloud appear and just as quickly dissipate. He wasn’t smoking, but was in fact “vaping.”  I quickly reached into my pocket, grabbed my own “vape” and took a puff. Passing each other, he gave me a nod and whispered “Air on brother, air on.”

What initially came about on the market as an alternative to smoking analog cigarettes has quicklyflourished, even producing its own underground culture. And people can be witnessed using these alternative nicotine delivery systems more and more commonly.

But is this “alternative market” not just another scheme for companies to sell you a nicotine fix? The answer, for the most part, is yes.  The heavily advertised “Blu” and “Njoy” brands of these “electronic cigarettes” you see on TV and on display at smoke shops and gas stations, are indeed another way of milking your wallet under the guise of being a healthy alternative to an otherwise frowned upon habit.

The basic guts of one of these devices include an atomizer, or heating element, that when activated vaporizes a liquid mixture, referred to as “e-juice”, of propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, nicotine extract and simple candy flavoring. Breathing the vapor in, you absorb the nicotine then exhale a non-residual vapor. This mixture is the same as what is used in a fog machine, but with the addition of the nicotine extract and candy flavoring to add a customized taste.

The health benefits of vaping versus smoking analogs are clear and the data well published. A single analog will contain over 4000 individual chemicals, at least 43 of which are known to be cancer causing. E-juice has only two “chemicals,” both well researched, neither of which are cancer causing nor do they pose a threat to one’s health in any way.

Health concerns aside, the financial burden of nicotine addiction can be downright absurd. On average, you’ll pay $8 for a pack of “Marlboro Reds” in the greater Seattle area. A pack-a-day smoker will in a year spend almost $3000 on cigarettes, or just about $56 per week. The “Blu” and “Njoy” electronic cigarettes aren’t substantially better in price, and despite being advertised as long-lasting, don’t survive any longer than a pack of cigarettes in the hands of a regular smoker. More often than not, they die midlife due to the atomizer burning out, leaving the user with no recourse other than to buy a new one.

What’s really disgusting is how these brands are coercing you into paying more for the health benefits of not smoking analogs, if anything people should be able to pay less, but that’d make too much sense and wouldn’t turn a profit.

Two years ago I was supporting a 2-pack-a-day habit, my income was strained, and my health was becoming questionable. At the request of family and friends, I turned to vaping. I jumped through all the hoops, tried all the brands, and then found myself discovering small internet forums devoted to “vaping”. It was here I found I’d fallen victim to the same scheme with the “Blu” and “Njoy” as I had when I was smoking analogs. I then discovered Provape. The sticker-shock just about turned me off without even a second glance, but then I discovered the rave reviews emerging for brands gas stations simply won’t stock.  Joytech, Provape and Ego are just a few of the leading names.  These units are the true “vaper’s friend.” Having just bought a brand new set up from a top of the line maker, a “variable voltage unit,” extra atomizers, a couple extra batteries with charger, and enough e-juice to last a year or more, cost me just short of $250. With another $50 tucked away should it be needed, I’ll have my nicotine fix well into the start of 2014, and for only a tenth of the cost of the pack-a-day habit.

Brands like “Blu” and “Njoy” rely on smokers not wanting to spend a large chunk of their budget at once, and through that means, simply pull the old switch-a-roo, transitioning you from one dependency to another under the guise of healthier living, whilst failing to address the financial burden of nicotine addiction. Don’t fall prey to this trap. Do both your wallet and your lungs a favor and break free of these companies whose priority is scheming you out of thousands of dollars. Vape responsibly. Air on brother, air on.