I was thirteen years old—in full teenage rebellion mode, skateboard tucked under my left arm, backpack containing books and homework that would never see the light of day. My friend Caine swaggered beside me in his sleeveless GWAR tee and shaggy mullet, obviously the more accomplished vandal. We lived four doors down from each other on the same street in Richmond, VA’s West End. He pulled out his crumpled box of Marlboro reds and lit a half-flattened stick. “Hey, can I get one of those?” I said with a gesturing nod. Caine shot me a querulous look limned by a faint sense of disappointment and said, “You shouldn’t. Don’t do this,” waving his smoke as if it were a dead rat hanging from between his middle and forefinger. I pressed him and he relented. That first puff of poison wasn’t in the least bit enjoyable. The fourth was though. The four hundredth still made me feel like a badass. The four thousandth made me feel nothing. The second millionth or so, after smoking for the past twenty-four years, I’m hoping, is the last.
I have willingly inhaled a noxious mix of chemicals for more than half my life. By my count I have spent approximately $48,048 on 6,864 packs of cigarettes. I could really use that money. I have spent my last ten bucks on smokes so many times I’ve lost count. I have asked complete strangers on the street for (bummed) hundreds of them. I have, hungover and too lazy to go to the store, picked a half-smoked Parliament out of an ashtray and lit it for the last few puffs of death it contained. Family and girlfriends have pleaded with me to quit. There are very few proud moments in the habit, and it makes you smell like shit.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I am offered the opportunity to try out a new(ish) e-cigarette from NJOY for this "stop smoking journal" project for BUST. I’ve tried these types of things before and have never been all that impressed. They’re heavy, plastic, too long, too ‘futuristic’ – I mean, damn, I just want a cigarette. My first impressions were good. It seems they took all the complaints I just listed and delivered a product that mimics the size, weight and flavor a real smoke without the miasma of carcinogens and stink. I was down to see if I could wean myself from the teat of Phillip Morris via NJOY. They just sent me a giant case of them. Each e-cig is the equivalent of two packs. It’s like a million dollars in jail money. You know what? If this sounds sales-ey at all, I don’t give a damn. Because if this works, shit, I’ll get an NJOY tattoo. It’s worth it.
So for the next six weeks I’ll be keeping a journal and posting it here about how this thing actually works. I hope it’ll at least be entertaining, whatever the result. Adventures come easy in NYC and most of mine involve something unhealthy and ridiculous. Thanks to NJOY, I’ll have more room for other debaucheries that aren’t killing me one breath at a time. The first episode goes up tomorrow. Wish me luck.