First off, I'll start with being candid. Well, more so than normal I guess.
I have no disdain for smoking and even less for smokers. I don't really have a negative attitude towards cigarettes, despite strongly being an advocate of the alternatives (not just vaping).
I still smoke on occasion, maybe once a month or two, because I still like the distinct experience it offers. And a menthol cigarette every now and again opens up my olfactory senses like nothing else, while offering a much more intense psychoactive effect than my normal low concentration vaping liquids. Also going out on the balcony is somehow quite different with a cigarette than it is with my ecig, the latter kinda feels silly since I do it inside most of the time. The behavioural pattern is completely different for me, and I can fall into the smoking thing very much fluidly, it comes naturally to me. Vaping does too, I can easily switch back and forth if I want to do so.. somewhat similar to how some of my nurse friends switch between the sleeping rhythms of night, day and morning shifts.
During my "career" of vaper and in researching addiction I've learned to be much more analytical of my dependencies and related mental states. I'm always trying to build a big picture of whatever addiction is and trying to look at it from as many angles as I can, especially including my own perspective.
Now, last week it just happened that my nicotine reserves ran out. And it takes five working days to order abroad, so basically I had to wait a week to have nicotine liquids again.
First off I took a few days to see if any withdrawal progressed. Took around 8 hours or so for the lack of nicotine to be noticeable, my thoughts felt a bit less crisp and focused. Four days or so forward, the feeling was pretty stable. No major cravings or negative psychological impacts. But I did miss the effects of nicotine, as I value my mind over almost everything else. Bought some lozenges, mildest available.. But even those were physically awful, like a cheese grater in your throat and yet the effect of the nicotine was very underwhelming. I just couldn't handle a whole one.. Maybe next time I'll try patches instead :D
Over the weekend I decided to test out my tolerance for smoking again and sort of risk falling off the wagon (with menthol-black currant camels which actually taste rather good). So I bought a pack on friday morning and fell right back into the 1 per hour regularity I had 1.5 years ago. But something was decidedly different this time around, as I no longer have the second order preference of wanting to want to quit and associated congnitive dissonance.
I smoked intentionally, simply because I wanted to enjoy it.
Later that night I went out to drink, left my pack at home and never even thought about having a smoke at the bar.. I just had my zero nic liquid and dripper with me. Drinking is the one instance where the lack of nicotine is not meaningful, as while drunk my mental faculties are not exactly up to par anyway, so the same feeling of missing the effect doesn't come up.
Saturday and sunday I continued smoking, pack a day as before. Maybe a few less due to also having vaping devices around. Either way, according to the standard metrics (heavy smoking index for example), I was addicted to smoking during the weekend.
Monday I think I had half a lozenge, but felt quite fine. And on tuesday got the nicotine shipment, so business as usual vaping away and no lasting cravings of smoking or withdrawal.
Earlier in this series I noted how perception looks like it shapes the condition of "addiction" significantly and to me this little experiment only reinforces that notion. When I had no competing urges to both use nicotine and stop smoking, the difficulty simply was not there.
What the week taught me is that I'm mentally dependent on nicotine. It's not in any way problematic, but my thought processes work with a different sort of clarity with a small amount of nicotine in my blood stream. Whether or not that is some sort of withdrawal avoidance or the effect of nicotine, I'm not entirely sure (though studies suggest the latter, or maybe a bit of both)..
But I simply do not want to stop either way. If vaping was made impossible, it's more than likely I would go back to smoking.
I'll even rather take the risks than not use nicotine.
I'll choose my cognitive faculties every time.
I trust myself to be enough of a rational actor to make the informed choice myself.
And "addiction" continues it's journey towards absolute vacuousness.