Freedom from smoking — JUUL is cool!
“I liked cigarettes because they were gross and terrible for me — a way of confronting everyday stresses in a manner that seemed suitably destructive and illogical. The JUUL, despite all the teenage Instagram feeds I’ve seen, feels clinical, sensible, virtuous.”
— from an article in The New Yorker
I have been freed from the evil weed. No, not the demon weed that causes reefer madness — that’s marijuana — but tobacco.
I started smoking e-cigarettes as a dumb teenager, trying to be part of the ‘in’ crowd. I kept smoking, pretty much right through until a few months ago.
I couldn’t quit. I’m an anxious, nervous type and I found solace in smoking. Nicotine woke me up and calmed me down. And for a generally shy guy, smoking was also always a very social thing to do, at work and at play.
But I always knew it was killing me. Not to mention being disgusting.
I recall moving out of a small apartment once in Brandon, MB, — a place that had seen a fair bit of socializing, to say the least — and when I pulled down my artwork from the walls, the stains from smoke and tar and all the other crap in the cigarette smoke was just bloody gross. It looked like a crime scene.
And the victim was my health.
I hated the way cigarette smoking smelled on my clothes and when I moved into smoke-free apartments in Yellowknife, I really hated having a butt on my balcony and even bought a very expensive air filtration unit.
I also noticed on the streets of this city an abnormal amount of discarded cigarette filters. Perhaps this is indicative of the high number of smokers in the North; maybe it’s just that we are messy and don’t consider those small bits of cellulose acetate fibre to be litter. But they are. They don’t just go away.
I bought a small ashtray for my truck after I noticed I was discarding my butts out my window.
For a mining town, perhaps that’s expected. Rough and tumble people who think ashtrays are for pussies.
But as a burgeoning destination location for tourists, it’s a detriment.
But I digress.
My doctors always warned me of the damage I was doing to myself. I have some circulation issues and smoking wasn’t helping. I have been (touch wood) lucky so far not to have developed any breathing issues, but I hope I haven’t dropped any ticking time bombs in those little air sacks.
Now this isn’t a story about going cold turkey. Nope, I’m too much of a chicken for that.
For a year or two, I was looking into vaping as a way to get away from tobacco.
But the mechanisms and culture around vaping seemed complicated and odd, respectively. And nicotine vape juices weren’t widely available in Canada when I was checking into it.
Then I heard of a new compact version of vaping that was taking the market by storm. And the number one supplier of this technology? JUUL.
So now I can ingest nicotine salts without the hundreds of other poisons in tobacco. Quietly, discreetly. No smell, no smoke, no evil looks.
These JUUL salts are delivered via an automatic temperature control system. It gives me a satisfying inhale, with a good ‘throat hit’ similar to what I had with cigarettes.
I can vape discreetly in places I wouldn’t have dreamt of smoking in, such as workplaces and airports. I can JUUL in bar washrooms, in taxis and in pretty much any public place I choose to. As long I’m discreet with my vapour exhaling.
Sure I’m inhaling a few new ingredients that haven’t been tested for decades, but I feel healthier and (touching wood again) don’t have any breathing problems.
An article in The New Yorker on the JUUL phenomenon notes:
“There are typically around six hundred ingredients in cigarettes. Juul’s e-cigarette liquid contains only five: glycerol, propylene glycol, nicotine, benzoic acid, and food-grade flavouring. Glycerol is a sweet liquid that has been used in antifreeze, giving rise to the urban legend that e-cigarettes contain antifreeze. But it is also used in toothpaste. Propylene glycol is used in asthma nebulizers. Benzoic acid is a common food preservative.”
As I read in that informative New Yorker piece — and verified it through other sources — JUUL pods don’t contain diacetyl, a compound that many vape companies use in their e-liquid and also detected in cigaret smoke. It’s been linked to “popcorn lung,” a disturbing sounding illness.
Now the nicotine is still squeezing my tiny little blood vessels and aggravating my circulation problems, but I do plan to move to the lowest level of nicotine JUUL pods. I started at 5% — quite high for any e-cig — am now at 3% and will soon move to 1%. One per cent is a level I think I can deal with for a while.
My cats are happier now that I’m JUULing as well.
A few years ago, I noticed my older feline was wheezing a bit. She like to sit very close to me.
I asked her veterinarian about the wheezing. She checked her lungs, found nothing obviously wrong. Then the cat doc asked me if I smoked.
“You know, cats can get asthma,” she said. “And cigarette smoke can trigger asthmatic symptoms.”
The air filter unit helped. But I continued to smoke.
I did try an early e-cigarette for a short time, but it was nicotine free and had a less-convenient charging method.
I can charge my JUUL through any USB outlet — on my laptop, in my truck or through my external power unit for my phone. I order pods — they come in $20 four-packs, each pod equals roughly one pack of cigarettes — right from JUUL in Toronto and I need to sign for them when they arrive to prove I’m older than 18. The battery/charger unit costs about $40.
I can also buy pods in convenience stores in Yellowknife, but the selection isn’t as wide, especially for the lower doses of nicotine.
These popular smoking cessation devices — and I do consider the JUUL to be one, but much more effective that the patch or nicotine gum — could be the final nail in the coffin of Big Tobacco. And that’s a good thing.
Tobacco should be reserved for sacred ceremonies and as a lovely tone of leather.
I just hope government doesn’t start taxing the crap out of vaping, or regulating it to death.
But as revenues from tobacco taxes drop as more people transfer to e-cigs, I have no doubt in my mind that governments will step in and start to tax the things.
Government just can’t help jumping on the backs of he populace and sticking its stinking hands in our pockets.
But that’s a gripe for another day.
Time for a relaxing pull on my JUUL.
An excerpt from The Promise of Vaping and the Rise of JUUL by Jia Tolentino in The New Yorker, May 7, 2018:
On the first warm Friday in New York this year, I went to an outdoor bar in Brooklyn and found two of my friends balancing their drinks on a planter.
One of them, Erin, had always vowed that she’d stop smoking before she was “thirty, dead, or pregnant, whichever comes first.”
She had beaten her deadline with the JUUL, which may as well be surgically attached to her body.
“I have a present for you,” I said.
We sat down at a picnic table as the blue sky deepened and the lights on the patio started to glow. I took out my JUUL and stared at Erin’s hand—she was holding hers like a joystick. “Is that your JUUL grip?” I asked.
“It’s my subway JUUL grip,” she said, miming how she JUULs on the train: bringing a fist to her mouth, as if to stifle a cough. “Tell me a situation and I’ll show you how I JUUL.”
She ran through vaping at the movie theatre (blowing vapour down her shirt), vaping in the waiting room at the doctor’s office (tiny sips, tiny exhalations), getting a last vape in before Pilates (one big pull), sneaking a vape at a restaurant if she’s had too much to drink (nodding and talking while trying to swallow the vapour), and vaping on a plane (exhaling into her shoulder).
“Only when the plane lands, though,” she said. “My JUUL-free time is plane rides and sleeping. And, actually, even with sleeping, since I’m always watching TV in bed.”
“You fall asleep with your JUUL under your pillow,” my other friend said.