One ex-smokers gateway to a healthier life.
Interviewer: Tell us a little about yourself.
Gavin: Hi, my name’s Gavin, a 58-year-old ex-smoker. I’m the founder and driving force behind Which Vape Ltd.
What is Which Vape Ltd?
An online store specialising in vape starter kits and vape liquids aimed at people who want to quit smoking and are vaping for the first time. Though I do plan to open a bricks-and-mortar store once the pandemic is over and the current lockdowns are a thing of the past. That was my original plan in March 2020 when the first lock-down was imposed on us.
Do you vape?
Yes. I’ve been vaping for about 5 years now. The motivation for starting my own vape company.
How long did you smoke before you started vaping?
I started smoking when I was roughly 14 years old, I started vaping when I was 54 so it would have been about 40 years.
Why did you start smoking at such a young age?
Both of my parents smoked, and most of my friends smoked. There wasn’t the same stigma about smoking back then in the '70s. Little was known about the health risks.
When did you first become aware of the risks that smoking posed?
I suppose it wasn’t until I was in my forties that I first became aware of the effects that smoking was having on my health.
What bought about that awareness?
My son was born when I was 30, as he got older we started to do things together that I used to do when I was younger, like martial arts. I would participate in the classes with him and found that I was struggling with my fitness levels.
Did you consider quitting smoking at that point?
I did. More evidence was available then about the effects of smoking on your health. People were becoming more aware. Having a cigarette after I finished struggling in the gym wasn't exactly the best way to improve my health.
Did you quit?
Yes, and no.
Why, what happened?
I did quit, for about six months if I remember. At that time, the only methods available to people who wanted to quit smoking were vape patches and nicotine gum.
Did they work for you?
Unfortunately no. I found that the patches irritable. They made me itch, I think I had may have had an allergy to them. They also gave me nightmares if I used them at night. The gums never worked as I was never one for chewing gum for any length of time, also I didn’t like the taste.
So you started smoking again?
I did. I found it was a hard habit to break, despite all the warnings.
So when did you consider quitting again?
I guess it was when they first started introducing the bans on smoking. I used to smoke at work, I had an ashtray on my desk in the office. When they linked secondhand smoke, they banned smoking in workplaces. It meant that if you smoked you had to go outside for a cigarette.
How did that affect you?
I never saw it as a problem at first. At the time about half the people in the office smoked. We had what we jokingly called “smoking buddies” whom we would meet up with to go for a cigarette. Often if you needed to talk to someone, you’d go outside for a cigarette.
So it wasn’t an incentive to quit smoking then?
It wasn’t at first, but then the company’s attitude started to change. Especially when as a smoker we were in a minority. The company, like many others, started introducing smoking breaks to limit the amount of time away from your desk. They saw smoking as being unproductive and time-wasting. Smoking was being seen in a more negative light.
Was it at that point that you decided to quit again?
It was. Another unsuccessful attempt.
Why did you fail this time?
Unfortunately, the patches still didn’t work. So I resorted to will-power. I became a so-called “social smoker”.
What’s a social smoker?
A contradiction. Someone who smokes to be social, on social occasions. I couldn’t smoke at work, however, when I would go out with friends in the evening, many of whom smoked, I would have a cigarette or two.
That’s not quitting. How long did that last?
Probably for about a year. As time went by I gradually found myself smoking more and more until I was smoking as much as I used to.
When you did eventually quit smoking, what was the motivation behind that?
The death of my father. He died of cancer and smoking-related illnesses. He’d been sick for some time before he died. Something that he’d tried to hide from everyone.
Did it impact you hard?
Yes. I’d always been close to my father. He’d been a smoker from the age of 13 or younger. He would smoke unfiltered cigarettes, about 20 plus every day his entire life. It wasn’t a surprise to me that it was the smoking that killed him.
So that was the reason you quit smoking?
It was, but not the only reason that I was determined to succeed. It didn’t happen straight away.
How did you eventually quit?
Vaping products were just starting to become available. Crude devices that looked like cigarettes. I’m sure you’ve seen them. The battery was white and resembled the paper of the cigarette and the capsule containing the liquid was coloured to resemble the filter. They would also glow red on the end to mimic the burning tobacco. I suppose the reasoning behind it was that they would feel like a cigarette when you used them. In reality, they were pretty bad.
They didn’t help you quit?
Not really, neither the battery nor the liquid would last an entire day which would mean that at some point it would fail and you’d be craving a cigarette. It was easier to buy a packet of cigarettes than a replacement e-cigarette. However, the early vape pens were just coming onto the market and I found more success using them.
Was that the turning point for you?
Yes. I now had something that I could use that was effective. It was a gateway into vaping. I went from that early starting point to bigger and better vape kits.
Would you encourage people to vape as a way to quit smoking?
That was how I eventually quit. Research today shows that vaping is one of the most successful aids in the fight against smoking with over 3.5 million ex-smokers who now vape.
That’s 3.5 million fewer people who are likely to die of smoking-related illnesses.