#NotBlowingSmoke: Brandee's Story

September 21, 2016

#NotBlowingSmoke: Brandee's Story

I literally picked up my first cigarette when I was eight years old. Our neighbour, a bleached blonde with permanently red lips who I thought was oh-so-glamorous, dropped her cigarette with a third of it left. As she tottered down the stairs on her high heels I rushed over and snatched it up.

I choked on that first one but it felt much more grown-up than the Popeye and chocolate Camel cigarettes I had practiced on previously and I was determined to stick with it. By age ten I was stealing cigarettes from my parents and grandparents regularly, and by twelve I was buying my own with money I’d earned.

My friends, children like me, did not smoke. I hid in the back alley or biked off to a secluded spot in a park to smoke by myself. Being socially isolated for my habit did nothing to deter me.

The pressure and constant judgment did get to me years later, as an adult, and I began to pick up smoking cessation products in an effort to quit. The gum was next to useless for me. The patch was lovely (even with the allergic skin reaction), but only at stage one when the dosage was highest and as soon as it was time to level down I’d be back on the cigarettes. An inhaler worked off and on, between which I would always end up smoking.

Still, I was coughing and choking and didn’t have the same physical endurance I’d once had- even though I was young- and I was determined to quit. I once made it several months cold turkey on sheer will.

Shane started vaping first. I thought it sounded, and looked, ridiculous. By this time I had tried so many things that it all seemed like a sham, regardless of the fact that as soon as he started vaping, he put down the smokes. I continued to smoke. He picked up a starter kit for me, “in case I changed my mind.”

Long story short, he became more sensitive to smoke after he quit and I became more sensitive to being the only person in the house hacking away and smelling like an old fart. It’s less glaring when there’re two of you. I picked up the Innokin.

Initially I both vaped and smoked (albeit outdoors). Gradually, I vaped more frequently than I smoked until I finally put down the cigarettes for good. I started at 18 mg of nicotine, the recommended dose for the amount I was smoking. About a year and a half later I am down to 3 mg.

My goal is to get to zero and eventually quit altogether but honestly, I don’t care how long that takes. I spent a couple of decades trying to quit cigarettes completely unsuccessfully so a slow road to quitting nicotine without so many of the harmful effects is hardly a concern.

These days the house (and my clothing) smell fresh, my muscles give out before my lungs do, I no longer suffer any of the standard issues associated with smoking: coughing, wheezing, chronic bronchitis, poor circulation- all issues I’d come to accept as normal for me. Add to that the knowledge that the longer I stay away from smoking, the greater the reversal in physical damage I’ve caused myself over the years. Of course I’m a vaping advocate. How could I not be?





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