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Having noticed quite a few people around me using electronic cigarettes in recent months, I decided to buy one myself on Wednesday morning, simply out of curiosity. Even though I had no intention or expectation of quitting myself, I haven’t been tempted to smoke a real cigarette since, and I’m writing this as someone who’s been smoking for 15 years.

What I bought was some pretty decent kit. £12 buys a SKYCIG box containing the electronic cig (really a microprocessor, inverter, heating coil and LED), three sample cartridges and a USB charger. Obviously much thought went into making it a viable and practical alternative.
A box of five replacement cartridges sells for around £10. Now that’s supposed to be the equivalent to 150 real cigarettes, which costs around £60 (such are the taxes on cigarettes here in the UK). Some relatively heavy smokers would potentially be saving around £100 per week, if SKYCIG does what it says on the tin. Unfortunately it doesn’t quite work like that in practice, since there’s nothing to stop a person depleting an entire cartridge within just a few hours.

My first experience has been positive: It’s the same size as a conventional cigarette, but heavier and therefore slightly awkward to hold at first. When air is drawn through the filter, a heating coil switches on, a blue LED at the tip lights up, and the device produces a vapour giving the sensation (without the scent or aftertaste) of smoking a real cigarette. It took around 30 minutes to fully charge from my laptop during my morning coffee.

After roughly 24 hours of being smoke-free, I’ve noticed everything tastes, smells and looks cleaner (more oxygen reaching the brain). Then it occurred to me how unpleasant conventional cigarettes, which I’ve smoked almost constantly for 15 years, are in comparison.

Would I recommend electronic cigarettes? Yes, and for two reasons: The ways conventional cigarettes damage the human body, the comments from numerous long-term heavy smokers switching to e-cigs, and the piss-poor failure rate of things like prescription inhalers, expensive nicotene patches, self-hypnosis, etc, etc. together make a very strong argument for electronic cigarettes, and the counter-arguments (often agenda-driven and based on amateur research or amateur interpretations of the research) nowhere near convincing.
Maybe there are indeed a couple of presently unknown health risks, but we already know that smokers’ lungs will (as in inevitably) become caked, smokers might (as in 50/50 chance) die from cancer, and smokers will probably (as in reasonably likely) have a brain damaging stroke.