Off the Beat with Louis Otero: Smoking

By Louis Otero

To be honest, I love cigarettes. I just hate what they do to my body. Still, I’ve yet to find any substitute that’s as relaxing as smoking. Smoking is a vice for sure, but it’s effective. However the worst part of being addicted to cigarettes isn’t what it does to you, but how it affects those around you. The smell follows you around, and to non-smokers it’s the most offensive odor in the known universe. That same smell can also follow others around, and the smoke begins to affect their health too.

The habit took its toll. I was a 19-year-old with a violent smokers cough that made me sound like I was 70 and violently ill. When my girlfriend finally asked me to quit smoking, I had to at least try. Granted, it took a lot of convincing on her part. So, I started with the basics. I chewed gum. I wore a nicotine patch. It’s not that these were ineffective methods; they actually did a great job of soothing my nicotine cravings. Still, I missed the smoke. It only took about 3 months for me to start up again.

Recently, as I was reaching my breaking point, I stumbled into a store called Clouds in Greenwich, CT. Clouds was a bizarre shop. The first thing you see when you enter is a bar with several menus laid out at each of the sheets. These menus may look like the kind you’d find at a fancy restaurant but there’s no food to be found. Instead they offer a wide variety of e-liquid, the oil that is burned to produce vapor. The man working behind the ‘bar’ at Clouds explained to me that they’re a specialty store that sells vaping equipment. Here’s the thing, because of its association with the frat culture, I couldn’t stand vaping. Still, I was desperate because every time I had to admit that I was smoking again, it became more and more difficult. So I gave vaping a shot.

The embarrassment of using the large chrome device never quite wore off, but it did help with my cravings. It had one caveat, however, in that I was vaping twice as much as I ever smoked. Sure, the effects on my health were minimal compared to the cigarettes, but I literally never stopped vaping. All I did was trade one addiction for another. It became a bigger vice than the cigarettes. There was no end; I could sit on my bed and fuel anxiety-ridden study sessions with small amounts of nicotine without smoking up my apartment. I didn’t get a wake-up call until the glass tank on my vape pen shattered, sending glass and hot oil all over my room. Now, I find myself in a bizarre in-between with my addiction. I still crave cigarettes. Every time I smell the smoke it makes me want to go buy a pack. I just can’t ever bring myself to do it. If you’re looking to quit, buy a nicotine patch, because vaping isn’t going to cut it.

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