Electronic Cigarettes Saved My Life: A User Story

By Chris Birks

How it All Started

Kids smoking.

Source: Wiki Commons

I suppose my story starts way back in 1960.

I was 12 years old, and smoking, believe it or not, was a way of making yourself more attractive to the girls. It wasn’t frowned upon like it is now – tobacco advertising was everywhere, in fact it was positively encouraged! I can remember one time when my mother was depressed, our doctor advised her to have one of my dad’s ciggies to calm her nerves down!

Anyway I started at about twelve years old, with the other lads behind the bike sheds at school.

It very soon became quite important to me and I used to do three paper rounds, one in the morning and two at night, to finance my addiction. Looking back on it, I must have looked quite a pathetic little kid.

I smoked all my life, starting with Park Drive (you could buy one fag and a match from the corner shop). Moved on to Woodbine, then in around 1964 when I left school I was smoking a new cig on the market called No.6. All my life up to being 60 years old I smoked around 30 a day. Yes, I was a heavy smoker but I loved it.

Trying to Quit

A man holds up a burning cigarette.

I remember about 10 years ago trying to stop using an NHS smoking cessation program.

I used the gum, and for 6 consecutive weeks had to go along to the meeting and have my CO2 levels taken and given encouragement to “keep up the good work”.

After 6 weeks you are on your own, and NRT is very expensive, much more than the cheap knock-off baccy I was using. Anyway, I struggled on for about another week, but I was still dying for a smoke and eventually gave in, and started smoking again.
About a month later I received a beautiful diploma from the NHS congratulating me on being a non-smoker and that I should be so proud of myself. (Idiots)

Christmas 2008: The Heart Attack

Heart operation.

This Christmas, all the family were having a big get-together, and we’d been planning it for weeks.

A couple of days before the event, I was taking the dog for a walk when I got this awful tightness in my chest, along with a searing pain in my left arm. I sat on a wall for a couple of minutes and it subsided, and I felt good again. I didn’t mention it to my wife and went off to work.

It happened again at work, and again the next morning during the dog walk, but again I said nothing to no-one.

Took the dog out on Christmas morning and it happened again, when I returned home the house was full of family, so, not wanting to spoil the occasion, decided to say nothing.

I loved a cigar at Christmastime, and I was chain-smoking them.

The rest of Christmas day went without another incident, and I had quite a bit to drink (as you do) and went to bed about 2am. About 6am I was woken by a bladder that was at bursting point. I swung my legs out of bed, and I swear to god that Mike Tyson hit me with all his strength in the middle of my chest. Now I had to tell my wife!!

It felt as though someone was pumping my left arm full of boiling water and I was struggling to breath, as if I’d got a very heavy weight on my chest.

My wife dialed 999. I could hear what she was saying, and she turned to me and said that an ambulance would be here in less than 5 minutes.

I tried to roll a fag before it arrived (that’s how stupid we can be), but had another attack.

I was rushed to hospital with blue lights flashing, within minutes I was in theatre, where I had two stents fitted. Apparently I was moments from dying.

The operation was a complete success and I will never be able to thank the NHS enough!

Time to Stop

Chris Birks with his electronic cigarette.


Went down the NRT route again, patches first.

This was no good, I was allergic to them.

So I tried the gum again….. Acid indigestion, hiccups, and a bloody awful taste!

Ah, the Inhalator, a great idea if it worked! It didn’t and I got more enjoyment from chewing on it that actually using it the way it is intended.

After suffering three months of sheer hell, I discovered the electronic cigarette, and loved it from day one! I have NEVER craved a cigarette in the three years since I started vaping.

I can walk the dog now first thing in the morning without coughing my lungs up. I simply don’t cough anymore! My sense of taste has returned and I feel great. According to my GP, my lung efficiency has improved, and capacity has increased.

My blood pressure is normal, without drugs for the first time in years. I am now looking forward to retirement, without worrying how I can afford to smoke.

So, YES, Electronic cigarettes have not just changed my life, they have saved it.

Thanks you to Chris Birks for sending us this story!

Disclaimer: The Ashtray Blog makes no claims that the electronic cigarette can aid smoking cessation, and opinions expressed in the interview are those of Chris Birks. The e-cigarette is not a licensed cessation aid, and there are no long-term trials that show that the e-cigarette can aid smoking cessation.

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4 thoughts on “Electronic Cigarettes Saved My Life: A User Story


  2. Great story James, e-cigarettes really are a terrific way to quit smoking in an easy and healthy way. I wish more people would realise this and simply give it a try.

    Still trying to quit smoking with ecigs myself btw :)

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