My Comment of proposed FDA rules regarding Electronic Cigarettes
My name is Lisa. I am happily writing to offer my support to the vaping (electronic cigarette) industry. I started smoking when I was 11, shameful, I know. I am now coming up on 39 years old & have been smoke free since September, 2010. I smoked 1-2 packs a day for the better part of 26 years.
What drives me to write this is my need for you to understand the struggle I went through. I did not want to smoke. Yet, I was so addicted to it. No matter what, in life, smokes were always there for me, through good times & blissfully through the worst of times.
I did successfully quit once for about 6 months. But with life’s big changes, I ended up picking it back up. That time, I quit with no assistance, but it was very short lived. After that I tried lozenges, patches, gums & determination. I failed each & every time. At one point, I was prescribed some behavior altering drugs for a mood disorder I had, that allegedly have a side effect of quitting smoking (a claim that I thoroughly question the validity of). That did nothing that was helpful.
I became pregnant in 1998. I smoked through the entire pregnancy. What person in their right mind would want to knowingly cause harm to their unborn child? I had every intention of quitting, and I did for 2 weeks, before ending up in the hospital. It seems the damage was already done, and I was urged by the doctor (who swore he would never admit to this) to keep smoking, to cut back but keep smoking. The withdrawals were becoming dangerous for both the baby & myself. So I did. To this day I carry that burden of guilt.
For years after her birth, my daughter would ask me, through big alligator tears if I would please stop smoking. She didn’t want me to die from cancer. I was forced to talk to her about addictions & why I was still smoking. Weak minded fool I was. I tried again & again…and failed. Then in 2009, my husband and I decided that 2010 was the year. We both needed to quit, to save our health & the roughly $10,000/year we were spending on our smoking habit (ya, that is a down payment on a house.)
After doing some quick & not well informed research I found the Blu-cig. We gave them a try. We were both smoke free for one week & were elated that this might just work. He had successfully quit within 4 weeks. Over the course of the next few months, he was on an intense mission to research everything he could find about e-cigarettes. I continued smoking. While dealing with an incomprehensible situation at home with my dementia addled mother, I was starting to realize that I would never be able to quit smoking. I was going to die a cigarette junky, stinky, coughing up bits of lung & wasting away to nothingness. It was a fate I had accepted and made my peace with. What was more terrifying than that, was the prospect of dying alone. How could a man stand by & watch the woman he loves chose to die an ugly, unnecessary death? I was sure that I was going to lose him because I couldn’t quit. Eventually I had accepted that as well. My life was worthless at that point. Did you read that? Did you get it? I had chosen cigarettes over my husband & my life. Welcome to rock bottom.
Over the next 6 months he bought everything he could to put in my hands in hopes that I would take it up and quit smoking. I vaped in the office at home & where I couldn’t smoke. Instead of my 1-2 packs per day, I was down to about 5 cigarettes a day. In August of 2010, he gave one more device. I played around with it for a couple of weeks, then started to forget to smoke. I still had the first smoke of the day with my coffee, but all the other cigarettes stayed in their pack. Another couple of weeks later, I simply used a little self discipline to vape instead of smoke for the first one of the day. Before I knew it, I was smoke free.
The device I was using played a huge roll for me. It satisfied the hand-to-mouth need & it satisfied the one thing that was holding me back. It had to be easier than smoking.
After being smoke free for a few weeks, I started to feel ill. We both jumped back into research to find a reason. Was I being hurt, was I in any danger? No. I was suffering from withdrawals, again. How could I be suffering from withdrawals when I was getting plenty of regulated nicotine from my vapor? Oh yea. There are other things in cigarette smoke besides nicotine, right? I can’t tell you what I was addicted to at that point; cyanide, ammonia, or any of the other numerous carcinogens & toxins. I went through 3 weeks of shakes, weakness and pain, exhaustion and terrible depression.
After I found the confidence to transition completely to vaping & made it through the withdrawals, I realized that my needs for nicotine were changing. I started tasting a peppery sensation in my nose & mouth every time I vaped. Eventually I realized that I didn’t need so much nicotine, so I lowered my nic level in my juice. A few months later, I lowered it again. I am now happily vaping along at half of the nicotine level that I was when I started.
4 months after my transition to vaping, I decided to try a cigarette, just to see if I still needed them. I took one out of the pack. I put it to my lips, lit the other end of it & took a drag. Immediately, I felt the most awful sensation. My lungs tried to vomit (they’re not supposed to do that, you know.) The strong chemical flavor seemed to coat ever surface of my mouth, my hands & face. That was it, not another drag. I snuffed it out, threw it in the garbage & haven’t looked back. I no longer feel the urge to smoke. I no longer crave the smell of burning tobacco & paper. Will I ever pick up smoking again? Nope. I suppose I could if I really, really tried…but why? I’m a non-smoker now!
Now I can easily navigate stairs, run up the hill I live on & carry on as if I never smoked in the first place. My lungs will probably never completely heal after the damage from 26 years of smoking. I’m aware that I still run the risk of getting cancer from smoking, but I know I gave myself the best chance by quitting. I feel good, my skin is healthier, my hair is healthier & most importantly, I no longer feel like such a slug.
Looking back, it was the easiest form of smoking cessation I have ever tried. Transitioning to vaping was the best thing for me, and for many of my friends who took this trip with us. My husband and I lead the way for 5 of our friends who were heavy smokers, and like us, they have all become non-smokers.
Here is a list of my pleas for you to consider in your deliberations:
1) Please do not ban these, they work.
2) Please do not attach so much taxes to the industry that makes it more expensive than smoking. If you really care about the health & wellbeing of our population, keep this industry healthy by making it affordable for those who really need to quit smoking.
3) Please work with CASAA regarding regulation, they know the industry & want to support responsible regulation.
4) Please do not let big tobacco add extra stuff to the juices to increase the addictive properties. These work because the juices are clean & simple. Once you start adding stuff to it, you start creating the cigarette problem all over again, just in a neater package.
5) Please do not propose the “deeming” regulation because it would ban e-cigarettes, and would sharply increase the price and reduce the accessibility of the products, even if e-cigarettes were exempted from the most onerous provisions in Chapter IX.
6) Please remove the inaccurate & misleading text from your website claiming that these devices are likely to cause cancer & that they are not a safe alternative to smoking. We all know this to be untrue. Nicotine does not cause cancer. And these are by far, much safer than smoking.
7) Please do not set maximum or minimum nicotine levels without first understanding the diverse needs of the population. For example: Setting a maximum nicotine level no higher than 12mg will not satiate the needs of someone who is currently using 24mg. Thus making it very difficult for them maintain their quit. Allow us the ability to manage our own dosage, our bodies tell us when we need to raise or lower our nicotine. Conversely, 100mg nicotine is obviously toxic & warnings should be well addressed.
8) Please do ban the sale of these products to minors. There is no reason for a child to be smoking OR vaping.
9) Please do not limit the amount of time one can use a device like an electronic cigarette. We are all different in our needs. Some of us will need these longer than others. Many have quit smoking using electronic cigarettes or personal vaporizers, then quit vaping as well.
10) And lastly, please do not ban flavors. This idea is just absurd. Eating a ton of ice cream is not good for you either, so would you ban flavored ice cream? We all know alcohol is bad for you, so will you ban flavored alcohol… and how about soda for that matter?
I am no doctor, or scientist. I am simply a college educated Mom, wife, daughter, sister, aunt & friend. My data comes purely from my experience & observations of my struggle & that of my friends & family who have transitioned to vaping. I have been vaping for nearly 3 years with no known side effects. My health is much improved. I’m happy to report that I can go for hours and hours (or days if I have a cold or the flu) without my personal vaporizer with no increased agitation or stress. At this point, I have confidence that I too, will someday quit vaping altogether. But I will always keep my gear nearby in case I receive any more unexpected surprises from life. I will not, ever go back to smoking.
If you have any questions or need clarification for anything that I have written here, please do contact me. I am happy to assist in any way I can.
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