Saturday, 26 September 2015

My new vaporiser makes me look like a drug fiend - but it'll cut the cost of my nicotine habit by three-quarters!

Whenever TV News does an item about vaping (the agreed term for smoking e-cigarettes) it tends to show stock footage of desperate young people crammed together in some dimly-lit basement, producing vast billows of smoke by puffing away furiously at exotic, multicoloured items of drug paraphernalia. It looks like a seedy, darkly glamorous, distinctly dangerous activity. I always presumed this was in order to make vapers look as much like crack addicts as possible. Unwilling to play into the hands of nanny state health nazis, I've refused to try anything that looks like it comes from a head shop, preferring to stick to e-cigarettes designed to look like actual cigarettes. No longer.

One of the guests at a dinner party we attended last week was an old friend who is possibly the most committed smoker I've ever encountered - he is the only person I've ever seen smoking a cigarette while simultaneously chewing nicotine gum (for all I know, he may also have been wearing a nicotine patch at the time). Some of my friends - and relatives - have heroically given up nicotine altogether: no cigarettes or cigars or patches or gum or e-cigarettes. I salute the will power of these cold turkey heroes, because I couldn't do it - I no longer use tobacco, but I've always relied on Nicorette gum, and, in addition, I've been vaping for the past 18 months. I gave up nicotine gum about six weeks ago after chewing the damned stuff for 14 years, and have been relying solely on e-cigarettes since then. The only problem is that the sheer number of disposable filters I've been getting through makes it a very expensive form of nicotine-replacement therapy - not as pricey as fags, mind you, but still pricey.

When I got out my cigarette-impersonating e-cig after dinner, my friend produced a rather ridiculous-
looking contraption with a large battery sticking out of the side and some suspicious-looking brown liquid in a glass filter at the end. After some badinage, I inspected the item, and decided I'd stick with my current brand. But when I visited my local newsagent the other day in order to buy disposable replacement filters (i.e. the bit with the nicotine in it), they'd run out. Seeing the panic in my eyes, the newsagent pointed to another brand of vaporiser on the counter - Infinity Mist -  which looked slightly less bizarre than the ones featured in news reports and far less weird than my friend's. I bought it, plus four little plastic bottles of differently-flavoured brown liquid supposed to taste like tobacco brands (I started with Lambert). It's fiddly, and I got sticky crud on my hands as I filled the glass vial, and the battery didn't work, so I had to go back and get it replaced - but it's brilliant! The vapour doesn't taste in the least like any cigarette I've ever smoked, but it's not repellent, the amount of smoke it produces is sensational and a £2.50 plastic bottle of the hard stuff lasts forever - it's Day Four, I've been sucking away like a maniac, and I still haven't finished it (actually, I'm getting impatient, because I want to try the bottle marked "Benson 24", for old times' sake).

It felt a bit alien to start with, and you have to fiddle about with a button to switch the battery on and off,  you have to keep the same button pressed down in order to vape,  I can't figure out how not to get sticky fingers when refilling it, and it looks distinctly breakable - but, unlike the cigarette mimic brands, you can tell when you need to refill, the bite at the back of the throat is stronger, you get to sample a wide variety of flavours (though I doubt I'll be trying watermelon or tutti frutti any time soon), and, as far as I can tell, it'll save me several hundred pounds a year.

So a big thank-you to my old friend and to my newsagent (a laid-back Asian with sleepy, gentle eyes) for showing me the way. But if vaping turns out to be as dangerous as smoking, I will be suing both of you, because, after all, you made me do it.


  1. Very interesting! I find it all too telling that there is such a vociferous lobby trying to get vaping banned, without evidence that it it is any worse for you than, say, vegetarianism. Clearly, what they really object to is people enjoying themselves.

    Which is no surprise, of course. The Left and Puritanism have always had a curious intimacy.

    Just recently I remarked on the latest toll of runners who have dropped dead at these ridiculous spectacles where a few thousand unfit people take part in a half-marathon or whatever they call these public spectacles of self-flagellation.

    Such deaths are always greeted with black armbands and sombre voices by news media, as if the fools who died had been mown down while saving children from a burning orphanage, instead of due to over-exertion while in pursuit of an endorphin high.

    When, on the other hand, a probably similar proportion of teenagers die from having taken ecstasy, it is a cue for moral outrage. But what, precisely, is the difference? Both have died while taking a risk to get high.

    Happy vaping, old chap!

    1. Thank you, GCooper. As it's practically the only vice left to me, I intend to thoroughly enjoy it.

      Playing devil's advocate, I'd say the difference between ecstasy and exercise is that there are no circumstances in which the former could possibly do you any good, whereas sensible exercise obviously can. "Sensible" is the key word, though - I agree with you about unfit oldsters exhausting themselves in the interests of signalling their virtue (it's no accident, I suspect, that organised "fun runs" are so often ostensibly undertaken for charitable purposes - I mean, just how insanely good can a single person possibly be?). I once had an obsessive fitness freak working for me for about a year. Although he was only in his late twenties, the bugger was constantly ill with sprains, strains, and a bewildering variety of viruses. And yet he persisted with his debilitating exercise routines - a true addict if ever I met one.

      Left-wing puritanism - indeed. Interesting that Corbyn's new shadow farming spokeswoman once suggested that meat-eaters should be treated like smokers. I recently read a book about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome written by a British GP who said there was no point in trying to treat vegetarians for CFS, as they were essentially destroying their own immune systems, and that we should all eat as much meat, fish, eggs and salt as possible. That cheered me up.

  2. I truly believe that running, the current fad of so many, is positively injurious to health, unlike more gentle exercise such as walking or swimming. Two acquaintances of mine (and it's no coincidence that they are the most fanatical runners I know) have suffered repeated injuries and one was forced to undergo an early hip replacement - attributed directly to his running by the surgeon who performed the operation.

    Virtue signalling is, as you say, clearly a part of the craze and I'm convinced that endorphin addiction is another - and I have some experience here as I managed to get mildly addicted myself for a couple of years during which I cycled like a fiend, every day.

    There's an awful lot of sanctimonious twaddle in the 'health' craze from virtuous foodies (read some of the comments on the Mail Online when they publish today's food scare) and fitness freaks.

    I have a hunch that if someone performed a careful statistical analysis, they might find that the superfit tend to have shorter life expectancies than average. That is just based on obituaries of sportsmen, who often seem to croak relatively early in life.