Confession: I’m a Dual User (Why I Still Smoke)

I’m a dual user, and that’s OK.

Dear fellow vapers, I must confess that, while typing those very words, I’ve just lit one up. I’ve inhaled its awful smoke, deep inside my lungs, enjoying the coarse feeling of burning asphalt on my larynx. Ah, you damn analogues…

You see, as I’ve already admitted in the title, I’m a dual user. Yes, I’m vaping, and writing about it, and trying to poke all smokers around me to turn to vaping. “It’s a lifesaver”, I say, and I truly believe it. “You won’t smell like an ashtray anymore” I tell them, although they can, probably, tell that I, still, smell like one. With strawberries, chocolate and vanilla on top.

I got into vaping close to two years ago. I’d be a daddy. I felt I had to quit. Not for me. You know. Anyway, I bought me an eLeaf iStick with an Aspire Atlantis clearomizer, quite a killer combo as a “starter kit” back then, not expecting much from it.

I’ve been writing tech tutorials for most of my adult life, can set up a PC  from scratch while blindfolded, am “the guy who knows them computers” for all friends who don’t know if they’re rocking Windows 10 or OS/2 WARP. And there I was, spending half an hour on the phone with some B&M dude on the other end of the line cursing his luck, while trying to explain to me how to unscrew the atomizer and install a coil. And prime it. Always remember to prime it.

It would better be worth it, I thought, while trying to understand how the heck this whole contraption worked. So, the juice went in this glassy bit, the tank, with an atomizer core, a coil, made from wrapped metal and cotton around it. The cotton got wet from the juice in the tank, the battery, in the lower bit, “the mod”, provided electricity… a-ha, the coil heated up, the juice evaporated… Simple! I pressed fire and inhaled.

Two hours later I had already refilled the Atlantis twice. That’s 6ml’s of juice. Of 18mg juice. While sub-ohming. Most people would tell you you’d puke if you tried that. I ended up loving it.

After just one month of vaping, I decided I’d really get into it. I already loved the experience but was reading about better mods, better atomizers, better… stuff. And among this “better stuff” was DIY. Do-it-yourself juice. You could buy flavorings on their own, Propylene Glycol, Vegetable Glycerin, some “Nicotine Base” and mix them together by yourself. The result would – or could – be not just as good as “store juice”, but even better, since you could customize the taste however you imagined. Wanted some cucumber to go with that melon-chocolate-shrimp mix you just made? Add some drops of cucumber flavoring in your flavoring and, hey, who are we to judge?

Thus, I placed an order for a Sigelei 150W TC, a bunch of flavorings and some RTAs – ‘cause rebuilding was also one of the “better stuffs”, plus I’m a cheapskate and it’s cheaper than buying pre-made coils. And Kanthal. 10 meters would be more than enough, according to what most knowledgeable vape-people said online. I believed them. I spent it all in one night.

Then, I decided I needed more flavorings. And a single-battery backup for my iStick. And, some time later, a backup for the two-battery Sigelei. And after those, a mod that supported “proper TC with SS”, since none of the mods I had did. And… And… And there I went, down the rabbit hole.

And that’s when I re-started smoking.

It wasn’t because vaping failed. It wasn’t a bad experience – quite the opposite. It was… me. That’s the way I am.

You see, whenever I get excited about something new, as in really, really excited, I dive into it and don’t come to the surface until I feel I’m confident “I know enough”. Vaping took a hold of me and didn’t let me go for a time-frame ranging between three to six months. During this time I realized I wasn’t smoking, didn’t crave cigarettes, didn’t miss the feeling. Vaping was enough.

Many people feel the same, every day, with something completely different: games. As in, PC and console games. You know how when you get a new game, especially if you’ve followed its development and had high hopes about it, you’re excited when you first boot it up but gradually you lose interest? It happens even with the best of them. At some point, the player realizes how the “mechanics” of the game work, and he starts “playing mechanically” himself. Any challenge is lost. All that’s left is artwork and story. Same for me and vaping.

As my “knowledge bar” increased and my character progressed in vaping, my interest level in it gradually dropped. It didn’t help at all that I pushed myself too hard to drop the nicotine level in my juice. From sub-ohming 18mg I found myself vaping 3mg at 1Ohm. And occasionally light one up.

It’s not that I stopped liking vaping. It just started feeling too complicated and less fulfilling, at the exact same time. And I was to blame.

For months I didn’t understand my hubris, trying to reach the grail of fully quitting without yet being worthy of the prize. And then I saw others, online, who used to vape for years, talking about how they love their JUUL – or some other kind of “simple All-In-One device”. People returning to a less cloudy Mouth-to-lung style of vaping. Devices appearing in the market to cater to their wants and needs. More single-coil Rebuildable Dripping Atomizers with easier ways of installation.

The fact that I just lit another one up doesn’t mean that you will too. We learn by failing. I failed. That doesn’t mean you’ll fail as well. Learn by my mistakes. Don’t rush it. Don’t say “I’ll quit smoking with this” and throw the pack away. Get into it gradually. Don’t ever push yourself to do something just because “it’s better” if you’re already happy with what you’ve got. Don’t force yourself to vape a juice you bought ‘cause you liked the label but ended up hating. Don’t buy ultra-complex gear “’cause it’s the best” if all you want is to press a button and get your nicotine fix. There’s a reason KISS is a mantra in tech: Keep It Simple, Stupid!

All of the above could probably be summed in a tl;dr, for the Reddit crowd, of “don’t turn vaping into a chore”. It doesn’t have to be.

As for me? I’m semi-rebooting. After trying a Derringer or creating your own Power Curve so your non-TC coil keeps an absolutely steady temperature the way you like to vape, there’s no going back to simple All-In-Ones and pre-made coils. But, at the same time, I’m “simplifying my system”. Gone are the days I’d wash and re-wash plastic bottles to keep costs down. 10 of them cost 2 bucks. I don’t and won’t ever try to “save that coil” by tweaking and re-tweaking it for half an hour “until it glows right”. I’ll rip it off and make a new one in one minute.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll manage to smoke one less.

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