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christopher vournazos



Tasting your food is a good thing

Or, "The Chronicles of My Adventures in Smoking Cessation" and how it is affecting my voice.

Sure, there are lots of reasons to stop smoking. Your family probably likes to remind you of those reasons every few minutes. You'll save money. You'll be healthy. You'll smell better. You'll get more love and happiness and free candy and blah blah blah.

Those are mighty fine reasons, but I'm both a pretty heavy smoker and a pragmatist, and I don't like exerting a lot of effort to feel miserable, even if it might make me healthier in the long run. The kicker is that I genuinely enjoy the act of smoking. At the same time, though, I have slowly come to the conclusion that a long, hard look at my habit is in order.

While I haven't had any serious health scares caused by my smoking - had a lung scan a while back, all clear - and the only problems I have are the usual Marks of The Smoker:

...it seems like time to quit. Interrupting myself to run outside every little bit, wasting time, wasting money, trying to conceal the habit as much as possible from my kids, not being able to sit next to my wife without Febreezing myself or changing clothes altogether - it has, to put it simply, become a royal pain in the ass.

I also realized the other day that I ain't gettin' any younger here and I don't have time for that kind of nonsense anymore.

As both my wife and my mommy are quick to point out as often as they can fit it in, my livelihood and my living come from my voice. Their logic goes something like this:

  1. Smoking causes oral and throat cancer.
  2. The tongue is in the mouth, the vocal cords in the throat.
  3. Both are required for speaking.
  4. Both will be destroyed and probably need to be removed if cancer is my fate.
  5. Career is done, over, no fortune, no fame, and I'm suddenly just another guy with a face for radio but no voice for it.
  6. Time to get a real job.
Since I am allergic to manual labor, nine-to-fives and using a shared potty, my course is clear.

Late last year, I bought a cheapy electronic cigarette from my usual gas station. It worked for about two days. It was not, however, particularly satisfying. To be more precise, it was a completely tasteless and entirely un-smoking-like piece of modern e-detritus. So, I went back to the Camels. A few weeks later, following a discussion with a teacher at my son's school, I picked up a different model of e-cig, one in a pack-shaped charger container with changeable flavored cartridges. That one worked for about a month, then suddenly wouldn't charge. So, I went back to the Camels.

Last Sunday, I decided to give one of the more substantial ones a try. It works well, has a decent battery, gives decent throat hit and vapor output - very close to the smoking feel we smokers all know and love - and it keeps my head from feeling like its being continually squashed in a bench vice.

That last bit is the important part: no headaches like you'd get going cold turkey, no fighting cravings like you do with chewing gum, no annoyance with the patch, no strange dreams or suicidal thoughts like you get from the pills, and as an added bonus, vaping is mechanically like smoking, so you satisfy your - I hate this term - "oral fixation" and don't feel the need to fill the space by jamming your mouth full of food all day.

On second thought, that's not entirely correct. The real important part is this: even in the first week of vaping and not smoking, my voice gets up to speed quicker. It takes less time to break in each day, my voice quality isn't so dependent on the actual time of day, and I can maintain a given affectation or pitch longer.

My guess on this is that there's a big difference in effect between humidfying your throat by vaping and keeping it dried out by smoking. If that effect is permanent, it's going to be worth the effort just for that.

Being something of a smoking purist, I bought a bottle of the plain tobacco-flavored juice. Since my wife says I need to be more open and adventurous in my life, I decided to push the envelope a little, picking up a bottle of blueberry, as well.

Yes, you can mix your own juices. No, you don't mix the two flavors I have (unless you have a thing for vomit). I haven't yet attempted to concoct my own varieties, but it sounds like fun - maybe feta cheese...

So far, the plain flavor is my favorite; it's kind of like a nice pipe tobacco. The blueberry has turned out to be very good, as well, but leaves a little bit of a... well, blueberry aftertaste that I don't want all the time. Maybe that one's just for desert and evenings, while the plain flavor is the workday ticket.

The bottom line is it seems to be working. I'm surprised.

Pleasantly so. :)

If you've got a stop-smoking story, I'd love to hear and share it - email chris@chrisvo.co.