The View from Mudsock Heights: A New Electronic Twist to an Age-Old Addiction

By Dennis Powell | Posted at 12:16 AM

It’s been a month, so I suppose there’s a chance it will hold: after several decades, I’ve quit smoking. Indeed, the last time I’d gone this long without a cigarette I was probably 16 years old. There is nothing that would delight me more than to be able to tell you that it has been an heroic struggle, unless maybe it would be to say that I feel oh-so-much better. Neither of those things would be true, though.

In fact, I hadn’t planned on quitting smoking at all. It just happened.

The whole thing began when I was at a local shop that deals in tobacco products. A prominent display offered “electronic cigarettes.” What were those?

Turns out, they’re the new vice for the digital age.

Looking like a regular filtered cigarette, they comprise a white part — that’s the battery — and a tan (or green, for menthol) part, which contains the good stuff.

When one draws air through the “e-cigarette,” a small switch inside tells a tiny heating element to get hot, vaporizing a mixture of water, glycerine or something similar, and a small amount of nicotine. This vapor then is inhaled, as if smoking a cigarette. Much, perhaps most, of the vapor remains to be exhaled, so it’s a serviceable imitation of smoking — without any smoke.

After awhile, the battery goes dead and must be recharged; likewise, the little cartridge containing the consumable product runs out and must be replaced. Spares are necessary.
The cartridges can be had containing varying amounts of nicotine, so that those who would like to quit entirely can taper down. Some companies even offer cartridges that contain flavor but no nicotine, for persons who keep the habit after the addiction is gone. (Companies, too, offer different flavors: vanilla, coffee, chocolate, and so on. This seems ridiculous when thinking of cigarettes and their inherent smoky taste, but there is no smoke here.)

I did research the whole “e-cigarette” phenomenon before I gave it a try. There seems little doubt that it is less harmful to a person than smoking is, but that’s not at all to say that it’s harmless. All of the companies I’ve seen that market the product say that it is not for nonsmokers, and I agree with that.

Additionally, I’ve discovered that there are “reviews” of various brands that one can read online. Some of these “reviews” suspiciously contain discount codes from at least one manufacturer, with the codes differing from reviewer to reviewer, and that leads me to suppose that the reviewer has a financial interest in the product’s success.

The “e-cigarette” is cheaper , after the initial cost ($50 to $100 or so) is spread out — refills, which cost about $3 apiece, are approximately the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes. When one goes empty, there is either a fairly unpleasant scorched taste or no taste at all.

It surprised me, but after switching to the new electronic device I have had not the slightest desire to smoke a cigarette. No nicotine fits, of course, and no particular trouble from the change in habits.

To be sure, there is a change in habits. The ashtray is obviated, as is the lighter. The mechanics of drawing from an electronic cigarette are slightly different from smoking a cigarette. They do take a little getting used to. For instance, one knows when one has finished a cigarette; it’s weird trying to figure out the number of electronic puffs that equal a cigarette.

But the benefits are tangible. The new gadget produces neither smoke nor other odor. The house doesn’t smell smoky anymore. My clothes don’t, either. Nor do I.
I’m still experimenting with the thing. I’ve learned that when it becomes difficult to draw, unscrewing the “filter” a quarter turn makes things easier. I’ve also gotten a version which has no battery — instead, it has a wire that plugs into the USB port on my computer and gets power that way while transforming my appearance to that of some strange science-fiction character, drawing sustenance from the machine before me. It would be easy to convince someone gullible that the vapors are actually coming from inside the computer.

The imagination provides plenty of fanciful notions, too, about the “e-cigarette.” It efficiently delivers nicotine. How nice it would be to have cartridges that contain, say, Hall’s Mentholyptus to ease sore throats and coughs. The system might be good for the delivery of drugs — no, I mean the legal kind — because it would get them into the system quickly. The technology alone looks to have some potential.

That’s for someone else to develop and for me and thee to marvel over. For now, I find the electronic cigarette to be a useful alternative to smoking, an alternative that does not eliminate the dangers but that seems to lessen them.

Which no doubt means that someone will launch a campaign against them, and regulators will get involved, and the prices will go up, and it will be ruined.

Maybe I’ll get weaned off entirely by then.

Dennis E. Powell is crackpot-at-large to Open for Business. Powell was an award-winning reporter in New York and elsewhere before moving to Ohio and becoming a full-time crackpot. You can reach him at

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Re: The View from Mudsock Heights: A New Electronic Twist to an Age-Old Addiction


Congratulations on quitting smoking. I tried an E Cigarette on December 6, 2009 and have not smoked since; I was a two pack a day smoker for 40 years. I too started with a similar type of E Cigarette that I bought at a mall kiosk. After I discovered the Electronic Cigarette Form (ECF), I upgraded to a more reliable E Cigarette with much longer battery life and refillable cartridges. You can cut your costs and improve your satisfaction by upgrading. The ECF is a great place for information.

BTW, the FDA is trying to classify E Cigarettes as a Drug Delivery Device (effectively banning them); there is an active court case. You can read about that on the ECF as well.


Posted by Bob - Aug 06, 2010 | 1:50 AM

Re: The View from Mudsock Heights: A New Electronic Twist to an Age-Old Addiction

Congratulations! You have joined the ranks of those whose health has been saved by Tobacco Harm Reduction. It seems to be a well-kept secret that nearly all of “tobacco-related disease” is caused by the delivery mechanism of smoke. Smokeless products such as low-nitrosamine Swedish snus and the electronic cigarette do not subject the user's lungs and cardiovascular system to tar, carbon monoxide, particulates, and the 4,000 or so chemical compounds created by the process of combustion. Research has shown that the risk of disease among Swedish men who use snus is reduced by up to 99%. We expect the same type of results from switching to electronic cigarettes, for the same reason. Indeed, 90% of those who have switched report improved health. To learn more, visit the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association:

Posted by Elaine Keller - Aug 06, 2010 | 8:33 AM

Re: The View from Mudsock Heights: A New Electronic Twist to an Age-Old Addiction

It takes a long time to find a good device and liquid or whatever works best for you, but once you do, wow. These devices really are marvelous. I agree, to a non-smoker, they are strange and ridiculous, but to a smoker they are worth the look, especially if you are thinking about quitting.

I have converted 2 of my friends, my nephew and my sister to these devices from about a pack a day within the span of 8 months. Accordingly, none of us have given any of our money to big tobacco, uncle sam, nor any of the thousands of organizations that survive on uncle sam's teet. Although i haven't saved very much money due to purchasing many different devices i have changed where that money flows from big government and big tobacco, to the little guy.

A while back, Amazon and Ebay and maybe others agreed not to carry e-cigarettes on their website. Because of this, many small individual websites have sprouted that sell these.

Thanks for the article. Best of luck on your new path.

Posted by Shawn - Aug 06, 2010 | 8:57 AM

Re: The View from Mudsock Heights: A New Electronic Twist to an Age-Old Addiction

Welcome to vaping, Dennis; Treece warned us you were around  ;)

Definitely go to This wonderful device has been clinging to life for some time now, despite fierce opposition from many of the organizations purportedly doing it for “the public health”.

Posted by Diana - Aug 06, 2010 | 7:17 PM

Re: The View from Mudsock Heights: A New Electronic Twist to an Age-Old Addiction

Yes, Electronic Cigarette is healthy for you, and will help you stop smoking.
Kimree, a Electronic Cigarette manufacturer, can offer E-Cigarette and OEM. Sale number: 0086-755-83218756
Our newest Products in this url:

Posted by Electronic Cigarette Manufacturer - Aug 06, 2010 | 10:41 PM

Re: The View from Mudsock Heights: A New Electronic Twist to an Age-Old Addiction

I'd advise against ordering from Kimree… They have an “FDA Certificate of Registration”, which means exactly nothing. The FDA is very much fighting against e-cigs, so if e-cigs had been approved of anything by the FDA, there would be much fanfare and rejoicing in the vaping community.

Posted by Diana - Aug 07, 2010 | 9:37 AM