Saturday, 4 June 2016
As I sit writing this current blog entry, we are two days away from the 6th June. To most people in the world the 6th June holds a special significance because it is the day that, 72 years ago, thousands of brave Allied Soldiers stormed the beaches of Normandy and began the process of freeing Europe from the tyranny of the Nazi jackboot that had dominated the continent for four years. In fact, one of my Grandfathers participated in the invasion. He survived, but many of his comrades-in-arms did not. Like many others of his generation, he never spoke of the horrors he went through or the constant danger he was in. As a matter of fact, it was only some years after he died in the 1990's that I discovered just what he had done when I finally caught sight of the numerous medals of bravery he had received and which I had never known about until after he was no longer with us. So, like many people across the world, I will remember the pain and suffering that day represents, and pause to think about what he and thousands others like him went through to preserve the liberties that we all take for granted.
However, the 6th June also holds another special significance to me.
The 6th June 2011 was the last time I smoked a tobacco cigarette, because that was the day I bought my very first electronic cigarette. I still remember that I had 6 cigarettes on me as I made my way into town on that day. I had heard about e-Cigarettes through the internet and my interest had been piqued. I wanted to give up smoking and so had scratched around until I found somewhere local that stocked them. I was going to give them a try. I had previously tried quitting cold turkey, through nicotine gum, through the spray and also through the ridiculous 'tampon tube' devices. None of them worked. If I am honest, I didn't think an e-cigarette would work either, but I was prepared to give them a try. So, I travelled into Town, smoking the 6 cigarettes I still had, hoping that they would be the last cigarettes I would ever smoke. They were !!
Today, I stand just two days away from the FIFTH anniversary of being smoke-free. What a journey it has been. From the very first moment I vaped on a (menthol) e-cigarette with 24mg of nicotine, feeling the satisfactory throat-hit that all smokers would recognise, I felt for the very first time that this could be the device that would work. This would be the device that would allow me to finally kick an almost 25 year smoking habit.
A lot has happened in the 5 years since I became smoke-free. I still have every single device I have ever owned. I still have every single tank and RDA I have ever bought. Some of them are positively museum pieces now. The way the technology has advanced over those 5 years has been incredible. The advancement of technology is the reason why I now only use eLiquids with just 3mg of nicotine. I'm still convinced I can probably vape nicotine-free eLiquid if I so choose. In fact, I am considering mixing my next eLiquid batch as nicotine-free just to see how I get along with it.
The ANTZ will consider me an anecdote. But I am not. I am living proof of the potential of e-Cigarettes to create a smoke-free Britain. I am not even unique. There are thousands of other vapers all across the length and breadth of the UK (and beyond) who all have a similar story to mine. Some are not as far along in their vaping journey, whilst others are far more experienced vapers than I am. But they are ALL a testament to the enormous benefit that e-Cigarettes provide to society. We Vapers are a rising chorus whose numbers are swelling on a daily basis. We are an irresistable force that is slowly but surely proving all of the doubters wrong.
So what of those doubters ?
It's fair to say that those doubters were far more numerous 5 years ago than they are today. Those doubters are the reason why I have been so active in political circles over the last few years. I have met politicians, health professionals, social scientists, bigots in the pub and the plain ignorant. You name them, I have probably had a debate (or argument in some cases) with them all. A naturally quiet and shy person by nature, I have spent the last 5 years gobbing off to anyone who will listen (and to those that won't) about why they are wrong about e-Cigarettes. Every time that has happened, I have got better and better at presenting my side of the argument. I know the science, I know who to quote. I can turn every single one of the ANTZ arguments around without having to think too hard about it. That's because the evidence in FAVOUR of e-Cigarettes is far more compelling than the arguments against. That's because I have learnt and listened. But most of all, my own personal experience has PROVED that e-Cigarettes are the public health benefit that I loudly proclaim them to be.
So, on Monday 6th June, I will raise a glass in thanks and a prayer of remembrance (even though I am not religious) for those thousands of brave Allied Soldiers who never came home to their loved ones, and for those that did.
But also, on Monday 6th June, I will raise a glass to Hon Lik - the inventor of the modern e-Cigarette - and to vapers of the world everywhere who continue to prove the doubters wrong. Of course, I will also have a nice long vape and chuck out some ridiculously massive clouds in celebration.
I AM FIVE YEARS SMOKE-FREE AND IT IS ALL THANKS TO THE e-CIGARETTE