Even a serious heart attack could not stop Simon Thurlow from smoking…but vaping did.
IT Security Architect Simon Thurlow, from Swansea, South Wales, explains how vaping changed his life after 30 years of smoking left him needing heart surgery.
On June 6, 2011 (I always remember the date as it is also the D-Day anniversary), I bought and started using my first e-cigarette.
I can’t remember what type of e-cigarette it was but most were pretty rudimentary in those days compared to what we have now. A few months earlier I had found myself in hospital due to a myocardial infarction (basically, two of the main arteries feeding into my heart had become blocked, starving my heart of blood and oxygen).
In hospital I had an operation to clear the blockages and was told in no uncertain terms that my problems had been caused by my previous 30 years smoking habit, which I should quit.
I managed to stay off the cigarettes for a couple of weeks following the operation, but gradually found myself having the odd cigarette here and there and soon found myself fully back in the habit.
Around the same time, I started to read articles about this new thing called e-cigarettes on the internet. Curious about them, and because I wanted to be free of the smoking habit that had put me in hospital, I started researching them and decided to give them a go.
I smoked my last five cigarettes on that June morning and have not had (or wanted) a tobacco cigarette since then. Now I am a vaper, not a smoker and my life is far better for it.
I still have some issues, but not caused by vaping. I have regular check-ups at both my local GP surgery and at the cardiac centre in the local hospital. My current health issue is a leaking valve near to my heart and I do have to undergo an operation to either replace or repair it.
Both my GP and the cardiac consultant are aware that I vape and both are fully supportive as they recognise the considerably reduced risk of vaping when compared to smoking.
During my last check-up, I was wired up and on a treadmill. The nurse in charge of the test said my lung capacity showed that I was clearly a non-smoker. My blood pressure and cholesterol levels are also well within acceptable limits so I am seeing, and feeling, clear benefits to my health.
Quite apart from the obvious health benefits, I actually rather enjoy the whole vaping experience far more than I ever enjoyed cigarettes. It is the sheer variety of flavours that, I feel, has helped to make vaping such a successful phenomenon.
The other thing I enjoy about vaping is the community. Because of the actions of certain members of the public health and political communities, there is very much a sense of ‘us and them’ and it has engendered a camaraderie among vapers that is not seen in many other communities.
Whenever I get together with a group of vapers, whether at the pub or a vape event, you witness that great sense of community and friendship as we all have a common ground and sense of enjoyment.
However, the future of the vaping industry is an interesting query and, in my opinion, very much depends on what happens post-Brexit here in the UK.
If left to evolve naturally, vaping can go a long way in the next five years. You only have to look at the innovations and great strides forward that have already been achieved over the last five years to see that.
Unfortunately, the attitude of the governments (and Public Health) of a great many countries is going to greatly restrict vaping. All is not lost yet. Far from it. There is much, much more to come in the story of vaping.
As a passionate vaper in Swansea, other avid vapers may be aware of how close Welsh Labour got to banning e-cigarettes from enclosed public spaces earlier this year. But it was defeated due to heavy intervention and fighting back by the more vocal of us vapers in Wales.
In conjunction with the (now defunct) Save e-cigs campaign, a group of us spent two years getting ourselves in front of as many Welsh politicians as possible. We spent countless hours travelling around the country to meet with those politicians, armed with all the science to back up our assertions that vaping should be left alone, that it was not something to be feared, but embraced. And it paid off – big time.
The reason that the e-cigarette supporting politicians in the Welsh Assembly were so well informed was due to all the science and research that we had been feeding to them. It was extremely uplifting to see our political supporters standing up in the Assembly and fighting against the proposed ban using the science, facts and figures that we had provided to them.
Yes, it was a close run thing and we did get an element of luck to win that battle. But win it, we did. I like to think that the gusto and stubbornness we showed, the backs-to-the-wall no surrender attitude we displayed, was a major factor why Welsh Labour have shied away from attempting to reintroduce the vaping ban in the new Public Health Wales Bill that is about to start its way through the Assembly.
Quitting smoking does not have be an onerous or difficult decision any more. The easiest and best way to quit smoking is by switching to e-cigarettes. They taste better, are more enjoyable, and can be customised to your taste. All you need to do is find the right nicotine strength and flavour for you. Everyone is different.
Go to a vape store and they will assist you to find the right setup. The more attuned your setup to your own personal tastes, the greater your chances of switching completely to vaping.
If you have tried vaping before and found it was not right for you, try again. The technology has changed and advanced a lot in recent years. Vaping is becoming more and more pleasurable with each new innovation and advance, and you will save yourself a lot of money in comparison to smoking.