For the past month or so I’ve been smoking e-cigarettes, or electronic cigarettes for the uninitiated. They have proven to be the only effective means of quitting smoking for me, in the sense that I haven’t smoked a “real” cigarette in the time that I’ve been smoking these e-cigarettes, which is a first in my long and woeful history of failed quittings. It’s not really quitting, though, as many have been eager to tell me. Because, now instead of smoking a pack a day of tar-laden, carcinogen-rich real cigarettes, I am constantly mainlining nicotine through these bizarre, metal cylinders. Better? Perhaps. Ideal? Definitely not.

There are quite a few glaring drawbacks to this new lifestyle. One: It is indeed a “lifestyle.” The maintenance of these things involves charging them every so often, having a sufficient amount of “cartridges” to last  a day, and finding bodegas or other vice-purveyors that sell them—or at least know what they are when you inquire about them. Two: You, or rather I, look like an idiot. Often, I get the mouth-agape, flat-out stares from fellow straphangers as I try to smoke my rebuildable dripping atomizers with popular flavors peaceably and discretely on the subway. Subtlety is not likely, though, as a plume of vapor periodically escaping my mouth in a tightly-packed space is bound to draw attention.

On to the real point, then: Are they a viable option for writers, long known as a breed prone to chain-smoking and other death-quickening addictions? Would Hunter S. Thompson have been content to sit in front of his typewriter with a e-cigarette dangling from his mouth instead of one of those enormous, sipping straw-like Virginia Slim-type things? Could he have been convinced to plug his e-cigarette into his USB port and wait five or so hours for the tip of it to turn from red to green and then screw on the cartomizer and then do that all over again five or so hours later? I would say not, as he was nothing if not bullheaded about his proclivities (i.e. guns, excessive boozing, visors, and bucket hats).

Perhaps most importantly, the flaw of the e-cigarette is that it decimates the romantic, devil-may-care lifestyle of the cigarette smoker. There is an inherent contradiction in the health conscious chain-smoker, one which makes me think: what lengths will we go to in order to avoid simply quitting? Would it be best, while in front of the empty page, for us to just start sucking on lollipops or chewing sunflower seeds?

But, objectively, it really is the ideal alternative for a writer. Perhaps e-cigarette companies should consider writers to be a niche demographic, among the most likely to be turned. Never have I known a group of people to be more prone to chain-smoking than writers-at-work, barring perhaps junkies and noir-era detectives. There is a distinct and appreciable palliative effect to smoking while in front of the computer, writing for long stretches. It is difficult to explain what it is doing to the brain that spurs on the creative process, and keeps the wandering mind engaged. It’s likely that some of the nervous energy that is being conveyed into the prose is being tempered by the cigarette, causing a manageable outpouring. It is possible that a writer simply desires something to do with his body besides type during long stretches of doing so. Either way, it is a fact of life that the two are inextricable to some.

So, writers, why not the e-cigarette? You can sit at your computer and smoke with abandon. You can have your back-up e-cigarette constantly charging as you smoke your primary one, as to never be vaporless. You don’t have to worry about getting ashes in the crooks between the keys. You don’t have to worry about your husband or wife complaining about the graveyard of butts surrounding you at your workstation, or, if you must, your “study.” You don’t have to constantly slip outside to light up in order to appease this husband or wife.

You don’t have to die, perhaps, quite as prematurely.