At the age of 85 many smokers would probably shrug their shoulders when told that stopping smoking would be a benefit to them. Many smokers who reach that age have been smoking, in one form or another, for decades and feel it is too late to stop.

As a smoker of 69 years, one man, after being diagnosed with borderline chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in 2010 decided to at least try to minimise the number of cigarettes he smoked. Over the course of two years, Terry Walker reduced his cigarette smoking from 10 per day to just 2.

Unfortunately for Terry, this reduction didn’t help with the wheeziness he felt, nor did it help with his sleeping problems. Terry had, through various media and internet sources, discovered e-cigarettes.

After trying one brand which didn’t seem suitable, Terry searched for other options from the limited number available in 2012, many of which he also found unsuitable. As luck would have it, Terry discovered a vaping review site which lead him to a vendor in Scotland that offered a wide variety of flavours and nicotine strengths.

Upon starting with this brand, he had stopped using tobacco inside a week. Something he found relatively easy, despite describing himself as a “hardened smoker”.

As a smoker, Terry was partial to the stronger variety of cigarettes, particularly those from the US, so he opted for a high strength nicotine e-liquid - 22mg/ml. Terry found his choice much better than the initial products he tried, although he did find it somewhat harsh.

Trying again, Terry settled for - what was to become a “de-facto” entry level nicotine strength - 18mg/ml. Curious about the e-liquid, and being a retired R&D scientist, Terry asked the vendor for their Quality Assurance procedures, which the vendor happily provided - complete with independent analytical results of the e-liquid.

Reassured by the vendor, and the independent results, Terry decided to stay with the product he had chosen with an eye to becoming his own guinea pig. Being a retired researcher with no access to laboratory facilities, Terry arranged for annual lung function tests at his local health practice.

In 2012, his lung function was 50% of normal, by 2014 it had increased to 80% of normal. A fact that his own GP was surprised with. In 2015, the reading was 82%, and by 2016 it had improved to 88%, where it has now stabilised. Not only does Terry have an improvement in lung function - backed up by his own medical records and annual test, he is also able to enjoy swimming and dancing - both activities suffered when he smoked (he can now swim a full length underwater, and no longer suffers from breathlessness when dancing).

The wheeziness had gone, allowing improved sleep and although being 85, I feel much healthier and regularly swim a length underwater. I can also dance for longer without suffering loss of breath. This demonstrates the body’s remarkable recuperative capabilities in only 5 years despite abuse over 69 years!

Having felt his own benefits, several of his friends have also made the switch from tobacco to e-cigarettes. In Terry’s own words:

There can be no doubt that for those of us cannot, or choose not to live without our daily nicotine fix, and wish to enjoy the tactile and psychological elements associated with smoking, e-cigarettes are a much safer alternative, being orders of magnitude less dangerous to our health than inhaling the products of combustion arising from smoking tobacco.

Despite having 69 years of abuse, these improvements demonstrate IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO STOP SMOKING TOBACCO.

(image credit Terry Walker)