What's the deal with e-cigarettes anyway? Anecdotes, please!
April 29, 2010 8:20 AM   Subscribe

Despite years of badgering, my mom will not stop smoking cigarettes. I've decided to compromise and buy her an e-cigarette device. Have you made this transition? What were your experiences, and what product(s) did you try?
posted by tybeet to Health & Fitness (24 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Has she expressed interest in the e-cigarette device? As the partner of an ex-smoker, you can buy her whatever you want, but you cannot make her use it.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:32 AM on April 29, 2010 [3 favorites]

What do you mean, "you've decided to compromise?" Your mother is an adult, and you may not like her behavior, but you don't get to control it. What you're saying here is the equivalent of someone saying to you, "I think that you look ugly in that sweater, but since you like it so much, I'm going to compromise and let you wear other sweaters of the same color." This is not your decision to make.

My experience in this situation is that you can't make someone do something they don't want to do, and that she'll quit if and when she wants to. The only thing that "badgering" and buying her replacements she doesn't want will do is harm your relationship and waste your money.
posted by decathecting at 8:37 AM on April 29, 2010 [14 favorites]

I agree with the posters above.

And to answer your question, I've tried e-cigarettes ("Life" brand) and they didn't help one little bit.

But then, nor did hopnosis, nicotine gum, nicotine patches or acupuncture.
posted by aqsakal at 8:42 AM on April 29, 2010

I have a friend who tried the e-cigarette because his girlfriend kept badgering him to quit smoking. He is now smoking cigarettes again. Nothing in the world will work if the person isn't ready to quit (and your mom may never be ready, and that's her decision).
posted by spinto at 8:43 AM on April 29, 2010

My secondhand anecdote is that the only smoker I know who went the e-cigarette route went back to the regular variety after awhile. I've no idea how the costs compare, but the main motivator in her case was that the nicotine delivery is only part of it--a sizable component of the habit is the feel of it, the temperature of the smoke, and all the little ritual behaviors to smoking that get built up over a lifetime habit of it.

It'd probably be cheaper just to light some money on fire as a "compromise" measure, yeah.
posted by Drastic at 8:44 AM on April 29, 2010

Response by poster: I should have mentioned that my mother was intrigued when I explained to her what an e-cigarette was, and she has on and off been trying to quit smoking for as many years as her children have been discussing it with her. So to the knee-jerk responses: no, I am not trying to force anything on anyone, I am trying to provide an alternative that has the interests of everyone involved in mind. And yes, more than just my mother is involved in this because she is my mother.
posted by tybeet at 8:46 AM on April 29, 2010

Oops, sorry tybeet, should've previewed before knee-jerk respondings.

E-cigarettes aren't likely to be any better of a nicotine-replacement system than the gum or patch, and there are some safety concerns with e-cigarettes as well.

As of right now, the most effective ways to quit smoking typically involve a combination of nicotine replacement therapy, medication such as buproprion or Chantix, and some form of group support whether it be a formal stop-smoking group or just the support of friends and family.
posted by kataclysm at 8:52 AM on April 29, 2010

While I am also interested in e-cigarette anecdotes (my fiance and I are going to try to quit next month), I'd have to agree with roomthreeseventeen - you can't make someone quit unless they want to, and "Despite years of badgering" doesn't sound promising. I'm sorry to say, but unless she expresses a desire to quit, buying her a device to assist in that pursuit would probably be a waste of money.
posted by mysterpigg at 8:56 AM on April 29, 2010

Best answer: I'm going to add something to my earlier comment since you said your mom has expressed interest in the e-cigarette. The danger I see with e-cigarettes is that you can "smoke" them in places where you can't smoke cigarettes. A huge part of quitting (speaking from personal experience here) is breaking the habits that go along with nicotine addiction. The friend I mentioned was also my coworker when he tried the e-cigarette, and I remember him sitting in his office and puffing on it all day. I'd worry that it would cause someone to form smoking habits in situations where they weren't accustomed to smoking before and thus make it even harder to quit, ultimately.
posted by spinto at 8:56 AM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: The discussion, by the way, should not involve badgering, ultimatums about QUIT OR ELSE, or weird passive-aggressive gifts of smoking-cessation devices of questionable safety and utility.

Badgering was too-strong a word. All I meant by it was that there are constant reminders and always an atmosphere of concern when smoking or health comes up in conversation. As you may be aware, research has shown that cessation is most likely when smokers are constantly reminded.

As for passive-aggressive gift-giving, you're way off base. Passive-aggression would imply that I am shirking my responsibility somehow, which is not the case at all as there has always been an open discussion surrounding smoking, and I was very clear when discussing e-cigarettes with her what my motivations were: a concern for her health.
posted by tybeet at 9:01 AM on April 29, 2010

Response by poster: The danger I see with e-cigarettes is that you can "smoke" them in places where you can't smoke cigarettes. A huge part of quitting (speaking from personal experience here) is breaking the habits that go along with nicotine addiction.

That is a good point. My "compromise" mentioned in the OP was about finding some way to get her out of inhaling the tars and combustible byproducts. I realize that nicotine is by no means healthy, but that is a good point about frequency of use. If she could "smoke" inside I wonder if that would be worse in the long-run for the habit-breaking...

I appreciate the comments so far. From some of the anecdotes I get the impression that they are not nearly as satisfying either.
posted by tybeet at 9:05 AM on April 29, 2010

If she actually wants to quit, for real, this book will make it happen. I smoked for a decade. Patches, gum, nothing worked. I truly believed it was difficult until I read the book. I smoked an entire pack of cigarettes and read the whole thing in one night, had the last one, and quit.

No withdrawals, no cravings, nothing. It was easy. That's what the cigarette companies don't want your mom to know - that quitting smoking permanently is easy. The best thing they ever did for their bottom line was get people to think that it's hard. Buy that book.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:11 AM on April 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

BE carefull the e-cigarettes can be dangerous. Especially the ones made in china. They can have some nasty chemicals in them that are not even in regular cigarettes.
posted by majortom1981 at 9:40 AM on April 29, 2010

As a child of smokers who begged her parents to quit for years and eventually, as an adult who struggled to quit amidst lecturing from non-smokers, I fully understand your concern and your badgering tendencies. Nonsmokers often don't realize when they're taking the nagging too far and that's understandable too - it's a smelly, expensive, dangerous habit that doesn't seem to have any real benefits.

I have to say this: no smoking cessation device is as satisfying as a cigarette. Not even close. Quitting is a real commitment, a difficult one that hopefully results in the smoker ceasing all smoking activities, so for me, getting over my nicotine cravings was key, hence why smoking cessation solutions like the patch never worked for me, because I was still filling that addiction.

Think about that when exploring quitting options that will work best for your mom. I don't know anybody who has tried the e-cigarettes, but Health Canada aren't fans.
posted by futureisunwritten at 9:40 AM on April 29, 2010

Best answer: I have the Knightstick, (be sure to read the fine print) and I love it. I was able to go 5 days without smoking a real cig. (If you know me, that is a big deal).

The thing about it is that with that particular model, you *do* get a puff of vaporized water that feels like smoke hitting your lungs. It lights up with an LED light that is very similar to the tip of a real cigarette, and the taste of the smoke is similar to a cherry tobacco. It delivers a hit of nicotine. As close to a real puff of of a real cig that I could get.

There is a cartridge that screws onto the white part, looking like the filter. (Each cartidge is the equivalent and lasts about as long as two packs of cigs) The beauty of it is that since it's not lit, it's not smoldering, you don't have to keep puffing it. So, unlike a real cig, you don't spend half the time just puffing it to keep it going.

I have made one of the cartridges last a month or more. Because it's not lit, you only really need a few puffs instead of the whole cigarette. It has saved me money, period.

BUT, as much as I swear by it, I still smoke regular cigarettes, so everyone above who said until she's ready...but you knew that.

In my husbands eyes, it was a waste of money, because I still smoke. In my eyes, it is a wonderful little tool, because whenever I do use it, I get that hit of nicotine that I need without a whole damn smelly, toxic cig.

Some of the downfalls: it is heavy (it's a device, not rolled tobacco in a paper), so if you go into it thinking it's going to be EXACTLY like a cig, you'll be disappointed.

It can be pricey (unless you go into it with knowledge before hand.) You DO NOT have to keep the subscription of having the cartridges sent to you. I got 10 cartridges for 50 bucks, but I am making one cartridge last much longer than what two packs of smokes would have lasted me, which would have been two days, at one pack per day.

I have been hypnotized, used the patch, the gum, everything. I am still a smoker, but I can now go for days on end without having a real cigarette, so I am a big fan of the Knightstick. YMMV.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 9:53 AM on April 29, 2010

Additionally, "smoke" from the device needs to be in quotes, because it is NOT smoke, it is water vapor that looks and behaves exactly like smoke.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 10:02 AM on April 29, 2010

Home page for the Knightstick
posted by Grlnxtdr at 10:12 AM on April 29, 2010

Oh good, I see Optimus Chyme has already linked to Easyway! I was going to ask if you'd bought her a copy.

You may have noticed there's a small but vocal and loyal Unofficial Easyway Mefi Fan Club. I became a member last September, after 20 years of smoking a pack a day, and trying all the other ways to quit.
posted by ErikaB at 10:44 AM on April 29, 2010

Best answer: I assume you have already found this, the biggest e-cig forum online. It is also a bit of an organizational mess if you're trying to find something specific (ie you'll find novel-length experiences all over the place, not in the subsection dedicated to them).

The most popular model (and my preferred one) among the ones that look like cigarettes is known by its generic name of 510 (or Joye510, Joye being the manufacturer) but is often rebranded as the Titan, Yeti, Dura, etc. The second most popular is the KR808-D. I'm not a fan of it, but many are.

I bought my first one about 18 months ago, expecting that it was probably a waste but might be a better cig-substitute for airports than gum/inhalators/etc. When I read about how they were supposedly much healthier (albeit not 100% healthy) I decided I would try to use it as much as I could when I felt like smoking but have a real one if I wanted. I resolved to always puff the ecig for 5-10 minutes when I had the urge to smoke, and then try to forget about it for 5-10 minutes. After that I was free to smoke if I wanted. After about 5 days I wasn't smoking real cigs anymore. A week later I tried a few real ones to see what I was missing and they tasted bad and were unsatisfying. A week later I did so again and they tasted really bad and were unsatisfying. 18 months later I still don't smoke tobacco and have absolutely no urge to do so.

Sounds great, eh? As people have said, the user has to actually want to make a change like that, and consciously decide that the trade-off is worth it. I find them to be about as tasty and satisfying as a light or ultra-light cigarette, about as fiddly as smoking a pipe, and somewhat inconvenient (ordering online versus being available at any store). I found the trade-off to be worth it. Many others have not. Side effects include burps, hiccups, and exceptionally vivid dreams. OTOH, my blood pressure is back down to the low-end of 'normal.'

Do not buy into anything that involves any kind of subscription for refill cartridges. Or (almost) anything that is more than US$50 for a starter-kit (there are some noteworthy exceptions).

Health-concerns that get a lot of play in the media (and above) are often wildly overstated. Anti-tobacco campaigner Michael Siegel (who worked hard to promote indoor smoking bans) has a blog that largely deals with dissecting sensationalist claims about them and outlining the true, minimal risks associated with them. Dr Baron, former chief of staff at UCLA's Santa Monica hospital, is also a fan (but the brand he's discussing is prob very overpriced).

If you have other questions or want a model/supplier recommendation (I've tried several) just MeMail me.
posted by K.P. at 11:49 AM on April 29, 2010

I got my 1st e cigarette on Sat. and I think I will be able to quit. I got a 501 from citnot.com and I really like it. It is fairly light in weight and feels much like smoking a real cigarette. There are a lot of sites that sell them, don't buy one from the mall or from China. There is a forum at http://www.e-cigarette-forum.com/forum/ that has a lot of really good information.
posted by cellar at 1:27 PM on April 29, 2010

The site where I got mine is cignot.com, not citnot. Sorry
posted by cellar at 1:37 PM on April 29, 2010

Best answer: A 510 from cignot.com would have been my recommended first-choice-model and vendor too (plus a 30ml bottle of refill liquid in whatever flavor appeals). Either with the portable charging case or without it. If your mother takes to using it full time instead of cigarettes, she will eventually want the PCC.

She should watch a few demonstration/instructional videos on youtube like the one at cignot's site and notice the inhalation technique--long, slow, and steady instead of quick and strong (as if it were a real cigarette). That's what it takes (and what some people stumble on) to get a big mouthful of vapor.
posted by K.P. at 2:40 PM on April 29, 2010

I almost forgot: manual batteries work best. Automatics are gimmicky and break down too easy.
I'll stop now.
posted by K.P. at 2:53 PM on April 29, 2010

i know people who really like them. that said, i don't know their long-term effects.

nthing everyone's comments above about someone wanting to quit.
posted by sdn at 6:28 PM on April 29, 2010

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