How I Quit Smoking (With Some Help From The Little Blue Mustache Light At The Tip Of My E-Cig)

This wasn't my plan at all, BTW. But wow, did it work.

How To Stop Smoking Cigarettes By Using An Embarrassing E-Cigarette Instead

Each year, some 1.3 million people successfully figure out how to quit smoking. Of those 20 to 40 percent are able to quit and stay cigarette-free for at least one year, and most are not successful on their first try. In fact, according to Heathline, "The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests [that it takes] 8 to 11 attempts. The American Cancer Society believes 8 to 10. The Australian Cancer Council is less optimistic with 12 to 14 attempts."


When I started smoking in graduate school, I wasn't doing it to look cool, but because I needed a reason to step away from my computer every once in a while, even if only for ten minutes at a time.

At the rate I was going before I started smoking, the odds of me turning into a pile of actual cookie dough before I got my degree were looking pretty high, and in the warped mind of a person with serious issues about food, smoking, to me, seemed like a great alternative to consuming all of the calories I was consuming at my desk to instead stretch my legs and take a walk outside. To smoke.


Yeah, that wasn't particularly bright. I get it.


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I would quit sometimes, albeit right in line with the statistics mentioned above, not so successfully.

The problem was that I simply loved smoking. Plus, I come from a family full of people with addiction issues, so while people passing me on the street may have seen yet another woman heading home from the gym knocking back smoke after smoke like a monster in lycra, I felt as though I fulfilling my genetic destiny. 

I think my anxiety was also at least partially responsible for why I kept smoking for as long as I did. If you're at a crowded party or hanging with your friends at a bar and your anxiety kicks in, you can't stand up and say, "Hey, listen. I'm going to go stand outside by myself for 5 to 10 minutes, because the reality of being human is a little too much for me right now." At least, not without seeming like you're one step away from hospitalization. 


I'm a self-defined high-functioning weirdo, and it's felt much easier to get a break from social scenes when you have a tobacco/nicotine addiction. No one questions you when you step outside for a few to light one up. 

There's also a secret that only the smokers among us know: the party is always better outside.

Sure, you might be freezing your bum off while your still-full beer is being emptied inside by some over-eager barback, but that doesn't matter, because among the small crowds of smokers you find yourself making friends and having important heart-to-hearts — or at least, that's what I managed to convince myself when I was looking for one more reason to never, ever give up on my beloved cancer sticks. 


RELATED: Smoking Changes Your DNA For Up To 30 Years, Study Finds



Magically, I was finally able to quit smoking six years later following the onset of the D-Canoe Revolution, aka When Vaping Became A Thing.

A couple in Brooklyn (god help me) was selling electronic cigarettes that were black and printed with a houndstooth pattern on them. You could get them in flavors like "vanilla cinnamon" and "English breakfast," plus, when you took a drag, the tip of the e-cig lit up with a blue mustache.

At first I thought this discovery was a real boon! Something I could nervously put in my mouth (oral fixation much) without potentially killing myself? And it was cute? Sign me up! 

I'll be honest. I also totally adored the fact that I could, for the first time in my life, smoke in my bed WHILE eating AND reading OR watching TV. For a person who savors indolent hedonism above all other things, it was basically heaven on earth. 


In fact, I thought I'd be on the e-cigarettes forever! The research I did (meaning none at all) led me to believe that their were no negative health consequences to be had from vaping.

(This turned out to be totally untrue. Just FYI). 

And with an e-cig in hand, I figured I could still go outside to get my ten minutes away from the maddening throngs whenever I ventured out in public. That was until I actually tried it for the first time and realized that I basically had to quit smoking or risk being perceived as the Queen of the All D-Canoes.


Here's what happened.

I was at some cute and expensive bar in Manhattan, which meant it was already too cool for me to be there. It was a friend's birthday, and this was one of those friends with whom I have not one mutual friend in common. 

When I got there she was lovely and welcoming and so were her people, but I could only shake someone's hand and yell, "I write about sex for a living!" so many times before wanting to hide under a rock.

Since there were no rocks inside, I went outside with my fake hipster cigarette, i.e., vape pen at the ready, and proceeded to puff little vanilla clouds into the atmosphere, the ridiculous blue mustache glowing brightly with each and every inhalation. 


A hot guy stumbled outside and patted his pockets, looking for cigarettes. When he didn't find any, he turned to me. 

"Hey can I bum one?" he asked.

The thought that I might have to explain this nightmare of a hipster cigarette to another person had not occurred to me. 

"Oh," I said. "I don't have any. This isn't real." 

Yeah, that was not an ideal response, even if the gentleman in question was sober, and this gentleman was not. 

"Not real?! What does that mean? I see the smoke!" 

I had expected confusion, perhaps, but not aggression. I quickly sucked in on the e-cig and pointed to the glowing blue mustache.

"See," I said, pointing at it. "It's lame. Electronic. For Hipsters." 


The guy's scowl vanished and instead he laughed and said, "Then why aren't you just smoking it inside?" 

Called out! As both a fake smoker and a fake person. A person incapable of interacting in a typical fashion with others. 

I went to put out my smoke, remembered that this was an impossible thing to do, and went back inside. 


From that day forward, I have not had another cigarette.

I tell myself that I can have one per year, but because I'm anxious, whenever I'm about to have that "one," I'm always stop and think, "Man, do I really want this to be the ONLY smoke I have this year?" 

Thus, another year passes without me actually ever having used my comped annual cigarette. 


I have been smoke free for many years now, and to this day I like to credit it all to that funky blue mustache-shaped light at the end of my long-gone e-cigarette.

May the sheer and utter embarrassment of one help you or someone you know to do the same.


RELATED: How I Gave Up My Pack-A-Day Smoking Habit (And Reclaimed My Life)


Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cat, Batman. She hosts the love and dating advice show, Becca After Dark on YourTango's Facebook Page every Tuesday and Thursday at 10:15 pm Eastern. For more of her work, check out her Tumblr.