It’s hard to quit smoking. Really hard. “Cutting back” never works, Nicorette is absurdly expensive, and going cold turkey can be a recipe for a nervous breakdown. So when I saw a flashing ad for something called “Blu Cigs” online, I was intrigued. I went to the Web site and discovered a device that could only be too good to be true.

Some scientists and inventors, wizards of modern technology all, have created the Electronic Cigarette, a cigarette-shaped, battery-operated nicotine vaporizer. Inhale, and only four things enter your lungs: Water vapor, nicotine, flavoring and propylene glycol (more commonly known as “the shit that comes out of smoke machines”). While nicotine and propylene glycol aren’t good for people, neither has been shown to be especially harmful; moreover, the vapor does not contain any of the 10,000 carcinogens or tar found in normal cigarettes. The Web site does caution that the e-cigarette should not be used as a smoking cessation device, but the language used makes it sound more like a legal obligation than a legitimate point.

So, I bought one. $60 got me 2 batteries, 2 atomizers (the things that make the cartridges turn into smoke), a wall charger, a USB charger, the Blu Pack (a portable charger and case that looks like a pack of cigarettes). It also came with 25 nicotine cartridges, in 5 flavors: Classic Tobacco, and the stupidly-named Vivid Vanilla, Cherry Crush, Magnificent Menthol and Java Jolt. Refill cartridges are sold for a buck each, in packs of 25. I charged my battery, screwed in the atomizer, popped on a flavor cartridge and began my Blu adventure.

At first, it seemed like kind of a shitty adventure. A little blue light lights up every time you drag on the cigarette, accompanied by a soft hiss as air mixes with the contents of the cartridge in the atomizer. The experience doesn’t feel quite like smoking. The vapor, unlike smoke, is cool and difficult to feel except for an occasional harshness in the back of your throat.

Also, since each cartridge equates to roughly seven cigarettes, there is no real way to know when one has finished a cigarette.

This became a problem on my second day, when I smoked 6 cartridges, then vomited a gallon of yellow goo (after which I instantly felt better). Holding myself to 2 cartridges a day, at most, has prevented a repeat of this, but it was still really gross.

The longer I used the e-cigarette, the more I found to like. For one, you can smoke anywhere; indoors, in the library and supposedly on airplanes (although after the break’s attempted terrorist attack, you’d probably get your ass kicked if someone saw smoke rising from your seat on an airplane). Because the vapor isn’t naturally flavored, the flavors are not offensive; the smoke tastes more like hookah smoke than flavored cigarettes, and the vanilla and menthol flavors are both great (unfortunately, Classic Tobacco tastes like raisins).

As an experiment, I took my Blu out in French class, knowing by way of many bummed cigarettes that my professor was also a smoker. He stopped class, walked over and asked to try it. This is a common reaction. While a glowy blue electronic cigarette may seem kind of stupid, people are generally fascinated and tend to withhold judgement; smoking a fake cigarette may be lame, but it’s probably cooler than dying.

That’s the thing: It works, kinda. I kept smoking real cigarettes for a while after I got the Blu, but stopped as I got more used to it. It does a pretty good job of satisfying my nicotine cravings, as well as the habit of having a smoke. It’s not really the same, but it gets the job done.

If you’re not a smoker, there’s no reason in hell you should buy an electronic cigarette. If you are, there probably also isn’t. But if you actually want to quit, it just might help. And if it doesn’t, there’s a 30-day money back guarantee. So step right up, and smoke the future.