Sucked in by the vape trend

Mil­lions are switch­ing from smok­ing to va­p­ing – obliv­i­ous to the risks – only to find them­selves more hooked than ever. In this brutally hon­est ac­count SU­SAN­NAH CON­STAN­TINE re­veals how dan­ger­ously easy it is to be . . .

Scottish Daily Mail - - Femail Magazine - by Su­san­nah Con­stan­tine

Some peo­ple are so ad­dicted to their phones, they even keep them on the night­stand while they sleep — never more than a mo­ment away.

Well, I’m an ad­dict, too, but it’s not my smart­phone’s com­fort­ing glow I reach for in the mid­dle of the night. It’s my e-cigan­ity rette. I don’t wake up just to take a cou­ple of quick puffs, but it is the last thing I do in the evening, and my wake-up call each morn­ing af­ter brush­ing my teeth. If I need to use the bath­room in the night, I grab it — telling my­self I’m just us­ing its il­lu­mi­nated tip as a torch, so I don’t have to turn the light on and dis­turb my light­sleep­ing hus­band, Sten.

But the truth is I jump at any op­por­tuto in­hale the sweet kick of nico­tine. Dur­ing the day, my e-cig is ei­ther in my hand, a pocket or tucked into my bra, and be­cause it’s al­ways there I con­stantly find my­self un­con­sciously suck­ing it; sneak­ing un­der­cover drags on planes, trains and au­to­mo­biles; va­p­ing in the cin­ema or as I wan­der around shops.

other trig­gers are writ­ing, driv­ing,

talk­ing on the phone and af­ter meals.

My kids used to tell me off, but now they’re so used to it they don’t even no­tice when i, for ex­am­ple, catch a quick one be­fore go­ing into a par­ent­teacher meet­ing, as i did the other day when i went to see my 16-year-old daugh­ter Cece’s French tu­tor.

i didn’t get caught out be­cause i was care­ful to fully ex­hale be­fore en­ter­ing her study, and the vapour is com­pletely odour­less. She did see it in my hand, but in­stead of the shock she would have shown if i’d been hold­ing a real cig­gie, she asked: ‘Are those any good? My fa­ther still smokes 20 a day.’

i use my e-cig far more than i ever smoked cig­a­rettes, be­cause it is deemed more ac­cept­able. When reg­u­lar smok­ers come for sup­per at our home (they are few and far be­tween these days), they po­litely step out­side to smoke. Vapers, how­ever, mer­rily bil­low away at the kitchen ta­ble, my­self in­cluded.

My TWO el­dest chil­dren, Joe, 21, and esme, 18, like most of their friends, are oc­ca­sional so­cial vapers. At first, i was dis­mayed — but then i de­cided to tol­er­ate it on the grounds that there are big­ger things to ward off, like drugs and binge-drink­ing.

That’s why i get away with it — my va­p­ing habit is seen, by and large, as be­nign. Or was. it started with a few ex­perts sound­ing wor­ried about the pos­si­ble ef­fects of fre­quently in­hal­ing any sort of vapour into the lungs. Then strange sto­ries emerged from the U.S. of peo­ple suf­fer­ing res­pi­ra­tory fail­ure, in­fec­tions and longterm lung dis­ease af­ter us­ing e-cig­a­rettes, es­pe­cially those with flavoured oils and cannabis — luck­ily, the lat­ter is not some­thing i’d ever try.

in Amer­ica, the Cen­ters for dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion says 2,172 cases of lung in­jury linked to va­p­ing have been re­ported, while 42 deaths have been con­firmed across 24 states (as of novem­ber 13).

And su­per­mar­ket gi­ant Wal­mart last month an­nounced it would stop sell­ing e-cig­a­rettes al­to­gether. (it will con­tinue to sell ac­tual cig­a­rettes, not to men­tion ri­fles and shot­guns.)

Three U.S. states, mean­while, are su­ing the coun­try’s largest e-cig­a­rette maker for al­legedly try­ing to get chil­dren hooked. And on Tues­day, the American Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion dra­mat­i­cally changed its of­fi­cial stance and called for an im­me­di­ate ban on the sales of all va­p­ing de­vices.

Surely there’s some mis­take, i told my­self. Af­ter all, i’ve never had a sin­gle side-ef­fect, and no longer suf­fer the coughs and fa­tigue that plague smok­ers.

But it’s hard to ig­nore pho­to­graphs of vic­tims ly­ing in hos­pi­tal beds — i couldn’t help think­ing of my own chil­dren when i read the words of 19-year-old ewan Fisher from not­ting­ham, who this month told how he nearly died of lung fail­ure just five months af­ter tak­ing up va­p­ing.

doc­tors said he had a ‘cat­a­strophic res­pi­ra­tory ill­ness’ called hy­per­sen­si­tiv­ity pneu­moni­tis, trig­gered by an al­ler­gic re­ac­tion. Last month, the widow of 57-year-old Terry Miller, from Jar­row in Tyne and Wear, said he’d died from pneu­mo­nia linked to oil in his e-cig­a­rettes.

Sud­denly, va­p­ing has gone from a ‘healthy’ sub­sti­tute for smok­ing to a pub­lic health menace. This month, an in­ter­na­tional team of car­di­ol­o­gists called for a ban as they warned we’re cre­at­ing a gen­er­a­tion of nico­tine ad­dicts who be­lieve their habit is harm­less.

in fact, they claimed, re­search shows the de­vices can dam­age the brain, heart, blood ves­sels and lungs.

The prob­lem is, i am now hope­lessly ad­dicted.

Six years ago, you see, i de­cided to drink my last drink and smoke my final fag. i didn’t smoke so much, maybe five a day, al­though when i drank it was easy to in­hale ten of the blasted things.

each vice en­cour­aged the other, the Si­amese twins of an un­healthy life­style.

Smok­ing my first cig­a­rette at 15 felt im­pos­si­bly cool and tasted dis­gust­ing. it took place at the bus stop near school, and caused enough cough­ing to put smok­ing on hold un­til my 18th birth­day, when a girl­friend gave me a pack of 20 Con­sulates as a present.

From that mo­ment, i was hooked. For decades, i didn’t feel guilty or even con­sider the neg­a­tive health im­pli­ca­tions, es­pe­cially as my dad smoked 20 a day and was fit and strong.

i told my­self, what about all those old stal­warts who you see liv­ing off fags and whisky well into their 90s?

And, i con­fess, i thought i was cool and re­bel­lious, do­ing some­thing just a lit­tle bit for­bid­den.

One early att­tempt to quit was more out of cu­rios­ity than any­thing else — i went for a one-to-one ses­sion with world-renowned hyp­no­tist Allen Carr in 1986. he made me chain-smoke for six hours then ‘hyp­no­tised’ me. Some­thing must have hap­pened be­cause i was con­scious through­out, but re­mem­ber noth­ing.

ThAT night, £200 the poorer for the hyp­no­sis, i went to a party and my boyfriend pro­posed. i turned him down — i was 25, too young and too scared to make that com­mit­ment. As i won­dered whether i had made the worst mis­take of my life, i climbed out of a win­dow and reached for a cig­a­rette. i’d lasted less time than the treat­ment took.

But, by my 50s, i could no longer lie to my­self about the harm caused by smok­ing. My skin looked like it had a coat­ing of dusty ce­ment. i couldn’t run with ease be­cause my lungs burned and i be­gan to no­tice how bad my hair, breath and clothes smelled. i was rapidly turn­ing to ash.

Sten didn’t mind — he smoked once a year on our sum­mer hol­i­day to Greece and he was even, long ago in the nineties, the co-founder of an ironic to­bacco brand called death Cig­a­rettes (slo­gans in­cluded ‘like the grim reaper but cheaper’, and tra­di­tional cig­a­rette

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