Having been a smoker of cigarettes, pipes and occasionally, cigars for over 40 years, I was a little dismayed when the surgeon told me that I had to give up smoking if I wanted the broken bones in my wrist to knit.
Apparently, the effect of smoking on bone healing is that oxygen flow is limited as there is a lot of other muck in the blood, notably carbon monoxide and oxygen is needed for the bone to heal. This is a layman’s grasp of the situation.
Knowing that I would almost certainly suffer arthritis in my wrist if the bone did not heal properly, I agreed and the surgeon said he could fit me in within the week.
As soon as I got home, I searched the Internet for e-cigarettes and decided on a particular brand, only because their liquid nicotine extract is made in the UK and ordered all the gadgetry needed to smoke without smoking, so to speak.
The parcel duly arrived and I put away my tin of rolling tobacco, filters, papers etc and started up this new toy, expecting very little in the way of satisfaction.
I was ready for cold turkey – but it never happened.
I was admitted to hospital and the operation to repair my scaphoid was carried out, including a small bone graft and the insertion of a screw to hold all the bits together.
When I came round, I was gasping for a fag and remembered the e-fag in my bag.
I took myself for a little walk down the corridor of the hospital, gadget in mouth. The particular one that I chose glows blue when drawn upon, so it cannot be mistaken for a “proper” cigarette – and no one challenged me.
That was last November. I have been experimenting with the e-cigarette, using different strengths and flavours of nicotine extract.
As luck would have it, within a week of my being discharged from hospital, my mother was admitted with a blood clot on her lung.
Now, Mum has been smoking for about 70 years and was not about to give up for anything or anyone. Except of course, in hospital, she was not allowed to smoke.
When she was discharged, she was gasping for a smoke and I gave her an e-cig.
She did not believe that it could replace the pleasure she got from a real cigarette, but soon found that it was, in fact, better!
So, we have both been using these gizmos since before Christmas and Mum has not missed her cigarettes.
As an experiment, I have had the odd real cigarette but can honestly say that I did not enjoy them.
I have opted to refill my own e-cigs, and that is a bit fiddly, especially with a plaster cast on my hand. I could have bought ready-filled tips, but I was not only looking to give up smoking, but to save as much money as possible.
So, every other evening, I sit with a bottle of nicotine mixture, a syringe, a paperclip and some tissue, and fill the used tips. In fact, it takes only about five minutes. Everything is provided by the e-cig company, including surgical rubber gloves to protect the hands against the nicotine concentrate, which, I understand, can be dangerous if it comes into contact with the skin for a prolonged period.
So, what is an e-cigarette?
The one I use comes in three parts, the rechargeable battery, an atomiser and the tip, which contains the nicotine extract.
The battery can be charged in the USB port of a computer, in a car’s cigar lighter, or, at extra cost, from the mains. Mum and I both have three batteries, so when a battery is discharged, another two are always available, as long as I remember to put them on charge.
Either way, compare that to our monthly cost of traditional tobacco products, about £220.
So, in conclusion, the e-cigarette gives me as much of a kick as an ordinary cigarette. I am not inhaling carbon monoxide (as I am not burning anything) or the other added chemicals that I would get from a “real” cigarette. There is no smoke, so an e-cig can be smoked in places where smoking is prohibited. And I am saving a bucketful of money.