by Anthony Harrison
For a long time, I smoked around 20 cigarettes a day. For three years, that cancerous compulsion guided me each day, staining my teeth, toasting my throat, tanning my fingers and blackening my lungs. I figured I’d probably always smoke like that. Resignation set in.
This past fall, a friend and I were enjoying some smokes on the patio of College Hill Sundries in Greensboro, and a wiry dude in glasses walked up and asked if we’d like to take a survey and receive a free e-cigarette. I thought, “Why not? I like free stuff.” I completed the survey — memory fails me on its questions and content — the guy gave me the merchandise and went on his way.
The e-cigarette in question was a Vuse, marketed by Winston-Salem’s own Reynolds American. I didn’t try it until the next day. It was a little harsh, but it had an interesting, peppery-mocha flavor to it. I started using it more regularly, not even thinking about it.
Also without thought, my cigarette consumption halved almost overnight.
I started feeling better all-around. I didn’t hack up scummy chunks of phlegm. My singing voice regained strength. And I didn’t feel like my esophagus had been flogged every day when I woke up in the morning.
In December, after a long weekend with my cousins and way too many cigarettes, I quit outright — at least for a time. I didn’t smoke a single flake of tobacco for an entire week. I went through the typical withdrawal symptoms — cravings, anxiety, headaches, moodiness, a few extra pounds — but I did have that pen-sized Vuse for when the dreads became unendurable.
Now, I smoke occasionally. But I quashed my fatal compulsion to smoke a pack a day.
Of course, I still use my Vuse. I still enjoy nicotine, you see.
Recently, Eric Ginsburg sent me an article published by NPR about the possible carcinogens in e-cigarettes — specifically, formaldehyde. I acknowledge that using nicotine is never healthy, and it says a lot when my late father repeatedly stated that his only regret in life was smoking. It’s one of quite a few I have.
But, if you’re thinking of quitting, or even cutting back, I’d recommend the Vuse.