If you want to suffer the most monumental hangover possible, go out drinking with scientists. Especially nutritionists and dietary experts. Their claim that alcohol is bad for you is based on their personal experience and those units? Well, they weren't intended to be 'alcohol units per day'. They were meant to be 'bottles per day' but whoever wrote the report was plastered.
I met up with an old friend in the pub first. I haven't seen him in a long time and haven't been in that pub for about twenty years. I pushed open the door to the lounge bar to be greeted by tables, tablecloths and a bunch of folk having a curry. It's a restaurant!
The public bar, on the other hand, is exactly the same as it was twenty years ago, and probably for fifty years before that. With one exception. No ashtrays. Even some of the drunks were the same. Some of them would be listed as 'fixtures' if the pub were sold.
No smoking shelter, but it was a fine night. The pub has no beer garden so we can't take drinks outside. That kills the smoke/drink combination and that'll be why the lounge bar is a curry house now. On the plus side, they also serve food in the public bar so we were able to have a pakora with our drinks, rather than having to wander along to the pakora shop afterwards, as in the old days.
The old friend is the same age as me and a non-smoker. He is now on pills for all sorts of things and has had cameras rammed up his jacksi by aliens, sorry, doctors. All those tales of alien abductions and anal probes are real, you know, but they weren't aliens. They are a special SWAT version of the NHS. Watch out for their saucer-shaped mobile botty-prodding labs! Did you know they record the event on film? I wonder if they have parties where they get drunk and then get the botty videos out.
There is no longer any difficulty striking up conversations with smokers because we're all bundled outside now. A certain spontaneous camaraderie has developed because of this ban and if anything, it has become easier to start up conversations on politics. We're suffering the effects directly and reminded of it every time we feel like lighting up.
The barman wasn't too keen on the realistic-looking NJoy Electrofag but he was reluctantly okay with the black Titan. In the event, it was a fine night and we weren't there long anyway so I didn't strain his nerves. With the real thing enjoyable on a warm evening, it seemed churlish to press the barman's patience. He's been introduced to the concept now so if I, or anyone, asks again he'll be prepared.
I did discuss both with the smokers outside. They preferred the realistic look, and the fact that the NJoy is lighter than the Titan came out too. There are good points to both, which I'll cover in more detail when I've compared them for a couple of days.
One thing I noticed with the NJoy is that the well-loaded cartridge shows no sign of losing its puffability even after a lot of passing-around last night. The only downside is that the first puff on a new cartridge is very strong indeed. You get a real wallop with the first go but it settles quickly and I'll know to expect it with the second one. The first one today tasted funny but that's because I'd wiped it with an alcohol swab (no idea what germs it might have picked up while being passed around) and didn't wait long enough. The Titan cartridge was worn out and I have a supply of those so I just put on a new one.
I don't know if it's possible to refill the cartridges, they are not designed to be refilled but when I have an empty one I won't be able to resist trying. They aren't prohibitively expensive. £8.99 for five, equivalent in total to around 150 cigarettes, works out about the same as paying £1.20 for a pack of 20 readymades. But I'm going to try refilling anyway because meddling with things is what I do.
Parts are not interchangeable between the two brands so I can't try a hybrid. That was a little surprising. I hadn't considered that there might be more than one manufacturer for such specialised batteries.
After 'a certain number' of beers we made our way to the after-meeting party where the bar consisted of a man in a tent with a box of bottles and a tub of ice. Primitive but serviceable. Millers and Budweiser were on sale at three quid a bottle, or there was Glenlivet at two pounds a shot. No contest.
There aren't many smokers among scientists these days but there are still some, and an upcoming bunch of new students who smoke too. So there was interest in the Electrofag there too. Again, the preference was for the realistic one, but then the unrealistic one was recognised as being more likely to pass the scrutiny of bar staff who were too busy to check.
I caused absolute horror in some by pointing out that a zero-nicotine one produces nothing but flavoured steam and was perfectly safe for non-smokers to use. There seems to be a perception, even among educated people, that you can become addicted to nicotine just by thinking about it. You cannot become addicted to nicotine by 'smoking' an Electrofag that contains no nicotine. It will not make you 'like cigarettes' because real smoke is different. So no, it won't start children on real smoking even if they were issued with an Electrofag at birth. The worst it can do is flush out your sinuses.
It's no different to a non-drinker having a glass of grape juice masquerading as wine. I can't remember the name of that stuff now but it's available. What's the point of it? Well, if you don't drink and your friends are having wine, you can have a glass of something that looks and tastes rather like wine but has no alcohol in it. So you can socialise.
In the same way, you can socialise with your smoking friends using a zero-nicotine Electrofag and you're not really smoking at all. You have a steam generator that looks like a cigarette. Giolla (in the comments here) does just that and it has not turned him into a smoker. Just like the alcohol-free 'wine', it's a means of joining in with your friends without abandoning your principles or worrying about your health.
Even if it developed into a habit, so what? There's no nicotine in there. No tar. No particulates. None of the scary chemicals that are apparently present in litre quantities in every particle of real smoke. Not even carbon monoxide,because nothing is burning. You cannot become addicted to flavoured steam so if it becomes a habit, it's a harmless one.
Antismokers will be incensed at the suggestion. They will accuse me of 'promoting smoking' and I am. In a sense. I'm promoting the act of smoking rather than the tobacco products. They won't like it, not one bit, but they can't ask for compromise. We asked them for a compromise on the smoking ban, and they wouldn't even let us set up a smoking club with all non-smokers excluded. No indoor smoking at all remains their goal and they will extend it to my own home if they can. So scream and wail, antismokers, call me names, accuse me of whatever you want. You made me your enemy. I didn't ask for the job but I'll do it to the best of my ability.
Electrofag is not the same as smoking. If it was, I'd have ditched the leaves and gone on to this cleaner, cheaper way of smoking at once. So a non-smoker who inhales flavoured steam is not going to like smoking a real cigarette.
Once in a while, someone might decide they like smoking and take it up and those antismokers will come back here and scream 'See! See what you did?' and I'll tell you now, you can sit and watch me not care. Smoking is a personal choice. I am no more responsible for someone else's choices than anyone else is for mine. If you want me to feel guilty, ask yourself how much guilt you feel over smokers being persecuted and even attacked while out in the cold and dark, where you sent us? That's how much guilt you can expect from me if I ever start someone smoking.
Nicotine-free Electrofag is not a route into smoking any more than Quorn is a route into hamburgers or the alcohol-free 'wine' is a route into lying flat in the gutter. If you come at smoking from the angle of a nicotine-free Electrofag you are doing exactly the same as a teetotaler buying non-wine to drink while their friends drink wine, or a vegetarian buying something vegetarian that looks like sausages so they can join in the barbecue. If someone subsequently takes up smoking, which is very different, that's their choice.
If you want to blame me, go ahead. You've already blamed me for every health issue anyone ever gets anyway. What's one more?
This is a war and we smokers have lost ground time and time again. We have now reached the end of the retreat and have nowhere to go. The enemy are, quite literally, at our front doors now and there is no more time for discussion and futile attempts at compromise. We are fighting a Dalek-style 'exterminate' mentality and we really need to wake up and realise that. They are not going to compromise, they are not going to listen and they are not going to stop.
Every nonsmoker who buys a nicotine-free Electrofag is perfectly safe unless ASH manage to 'prove' that steam is addictive and I fully expect them to try. We inflict no casualties, not even imagined ones, this way. This fightback harms nobody.
What it can do is to make the sight of smoking normal again. Even if the pub is filled only with zero-nicotine and standard Electrosmokers and we tobacco puffers still have to go outside, it's a start.
Soon enough, those Electrosmokers will start to question why we have to go outside at all.
Also, the more business Electrofag gets, the more research will go into making it exactly like smoking and I'm all for that. It will not kill the tobacco industry. Where do you think they get the nicotine? All those nicotine-extracted leaves could be used to fire a 'green' power station too.
Oh, and if you are trying to stop smoking but can't, you are not addicted to nicotine. Most of the ex-smokers I know just stopped because they decided they weren't enjoying it any more. As one of them said; 'giving up smoking is easy - just stop putting cigarettes in your mouth and lighting them'. Another, a lifelong pipe smoker, simply said one day 'I don't want to do it any more' and that was that. No withdrawal, no cold turkey. No addiction.
Everyone I know who tried patches and gum has gone back to smoking. I know nobody who managed to stop using those things. It's not the nicotine. It's the smoking. Nicotine at smoking levels is harmless. Nicotine in concentrated form is toxic. So are most vitamins and essential trace elements. Don't fall for the 'nicotine is harmful' crap - it's the tars and particulates that carry the risk, not the nicotine and even they are only a risk if you smoke a lot. Otherwise you're inhaling more nasty chemicals on any busy high street than you'll ever get from active smoking. Passive smoking is a con. Passive Electrosmoking is beyond silly. Second hand steam?
Electrofag makers are not allowed to claim that their products will help you stop smoking because the antismoker groups don't make any money out of them. They'll never be allowed to claim it because you don't stop smoking, you just switch to a different way of smoking. If you are trying to stop and failing, it's because you like smoking. If you really want to get off the tobacco for any reason, financial, health, nagging spouse - try an Electrofag.
Which one? Well, I'll be comparing Titan and NJoy products this week. I must declare a bias in that the Titan makers have employed the CAMRA defence - 'don't ban us, ban the filthy smokers instead' - and I no longer link to them until such time as they publicly recant. Also, the NJoy was kindly donated by the manufacturers so I will attempt to not let this difference colour my judgement. You should be aware that it is there, all the same, in the interests of scientific impartiality.
There are differences. Big ones are already evident. Comparison on looks isn't fair because both types are available in forms that look like real cigarettes and in forms that don't. Comparison on weight - the NJoy is noticeably lighter but still too heavy to have dangling from your mouth like a real one, although it could be done with practice. On associated gadgetry, the Titan has much more at the moment but then the Titan has a USB charger as an optional extra. The NJoy has the USB charger as standard with a mains USB adapter. That's a better option for computer-tied smokers.
There are a lot of differences to cover and this post is already huge. I'll have to look at differences one by one.
Both have zero nicotine options so nonsmokers, take your pick.
Reticent? Well, vegetarians can have meatless sausages and teetotallers can have alcohol-free beer and wine and dieters can have fat-free versions of most things so why can't you have smokeless smoking?
You have to be over 18 to buy an Electrofag. Even the nicotine-free one. That's your only restriction.