I am staring at myself in the mirror, taking my very first drag of a cigarette ever. I look like a man who fought every man I ever thought about fighting, slept with every woman I ever thought about sleeping with, got a free song from every jukebox I thought about punching. There is smoke dragoning out of my mouth, a flame at the end of my cig—or, more accurately, vapor that’s designed to look like smoke, a red LED light that’s designed to look like a flame, a long metal tube with a cell phone-style battery inside that’s designed to look like a cigarette. I am cooler than a guy smoking a cigarette. I am a guy smoking a gadget. And until my wife shows me how to actually inhale my electronic cigarette into my lungs, which causes me to cough and tear, I look very, very cool.
Other people nearly as cool as me are smoking e-cigs too: Britney Spears, Jeremy Piven, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Moss, Paris Hilton, and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Katherine Heigl puffed on one while watching The Book of Mormon on Broadway. Charlie Sheen plans to start his own brand of e-cigs, the NicoSheen. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of Americans who have smoked an e-cig more than quadrupled, from 0.6 percent of the population in 2009 to 2.7 percent in 2010. That’s more than 8 million people.