Up in Smoke | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

AFP Photo

Smoking kills. Everybody knows this, including hardcore smokers who can’t get through 10 minutes without taking a puff or two.

The question then is, why smoke at all, considering all the damage that it can do to one’s body, from wrinkles to yellow teeth to emphysema and lung cancer?  Not to mention the fact that smoking jacks up laundry expenses, because it takes a lot more soap and fabric softener to get the unpleasant smell out. No wonder smoking in a crowded place never fails to elicit angry glares from dedicated non-smokers. Then there are the ordinances from local governments banning smoking in public places and putting smokers near the level of criminals.

Ask a hundred smokers and you will get a hundred reasons for them continuing to smoke anyway, despite the obvious dangers and inconveniences: It relieves stress, helps us become more creative, is a silent, uncomplaining companion, just can’t enjoy a drink without it, etc.

But mainly, smokers smoke because it makes them feel good to give in to the urge, over and over again. Blame it on the addictive nicotine in every stick.

This is not to say, however, that cigarette smokers don’t want to quit. A good number of them do; it’s just that it’s far easier said than done. Otherwise, smokers would have long become extinct.

Common knowledge dictates that it takes a smoker at least three attempts before he or she finally gives up the dangerous habit. One way to do just that comes courtesy of the electronic cigarettes appearing in department stores and flea markets nationwide.

Selling from a low  P380 to as high as P3,200, the e-cigarettes are supposed to provide smokers a “healthy” alternative to smoking because they do not contain nicotine and other harmful chemicals – just the cigarette “flavor.” Plus, you can still look “cool” because the e-cigarette still looks like a regular stick,  complete with smoke – although odourless – and what looks like a flaming tip, from a small red light. And it does not burn.

According to vendors, an electronic cigarette has “the obvious effect of reducing smoking frequency.” It also does not produce second-hand smoke “and causes no harm to people and to the environment.” And because no lighting is needed, it is not a fire hazard.

The e-cigarette has two main parts: the cigarette body and the flavor cartridge. The body is charged for two to three hours every day. The reserve power is needed not just to power the “flaming tip” but also to heat the inside of the flavor cartridge to produce both smoke and flavor.

The joy of puffing: An electronic cigarette pack comes with a charger, flavor cartridges and other accessories. photo: diytrade.com

A regular e-cigarette pack comes with 10 cartridges, each one providing that alternative cigarette “flavor” that smokers out to reform themselves may be looking for. One can choose from high, medium low or no flavor. Each cartridge is good for about 150 puffs before it has to be replaced, otherwise the user will just be sucking air.

Depending on how often you suck on the e-cigarette, it can go on for at least five hours before the light at the end of the cigarette body starts flickering, indicating that it has to be recharged.

Understanding that some persons may become as addicted to the e-cigarette as the regular cigarette, the Chinese manufacturers made it convenient for people to charge this pseudo-smoke, with the pack containing a regular wall charger, a USB charger and even a phone charger – all in the name of uninterrupted enjoyment of the e-cigarette.

But is it really all that enjoyable to puff on a e-cigarette? The jury is still out on this one.

For entrepreneur Nono de Monteverde, e-cigarettes have been a boon to his health and outlook as these have provided him a “healthy” substitute for the cigarettes that he’s been smoking since his college days at the University of the Philippines.

“E-cigarettes help me quit because they are a good substitute when I feel the urge to smoke,” De Monteverde, 41, says, adding that they at least look like cigarettes so they give him that notion that he is still actually smoking – some joy with no side effects.

Sure, e-cigarettes do not taste the same as the regular cigarettes that he still craves for once in a while, but it’s still better than nothing.

But e-cigarettes had quite the opposite effect on Gerard Jerome C. Dumlao, who says the faint taste   of burning wires in e-cigarettes makes him go back to puffing away on the real thing.

“They are okay once in a while, but they really don’t taste the same. It’s not enough of a substitute for me,” he says.

For him, there really is just one way to go, and that is to quit cold turkey. It’s just a question of when.

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