Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Electrofag - the future?

In today's budget, Osborne the Younger didn't blast the smokers, drinkers or drivers. That was a pleasant surprise but it is not, as many news sources are claiming, a 'win' for those groups. Duty didn't go down in any of those cases. We just didn't get another kicking this time. Not really a win, more like one of those days when you turn up for school and the class psycho is off sick. A temporary reprieve.

It's a welcome change, all the same.

Smoking and drinking and driving are all costs that will increase in the future because they can all be blamed for something. As we all know, any problem can be solved by moving money around: if you're a street thug or a child batterer, you can be solved by moving money towards you. If you're a smoker, drinker, driver, chubby or a bit too salty for Righteous tastes, you can be solved by moving money away from you. It all depends on whether the Righteous think they can turn you into a dependent pet. So it's actually comforting to know I'm in several of the non-approved groups. Pity it's so damn expensive.

As Dick Puddlecote notes, there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth after this Budget but for once, it'll be the antismokers and antidrinkers queueing up at the dentist's for re-enamelling. I hope they like the prices. Teeth cost an arm and a leg these days and I'm a bit short. Did you know gold ones can be cheaper than realistic white ones? It's almost worth getting into a fight... But I digress.

I have no idea what a pack of readymades costs these days but I bet you won't get many packs of 20 selling at under a fiver. As for rolling tobacco, it was about £10 for a two-ounce pack before I met Man with a Van. Two ounces could last me up to five days, so let's call that roughly £2 a day, at about 20 a day equivalent (depends how thick or thin you roll 'em).

So readymades currently cost, at shop prices, £75 for 15 packets (there's a reason I chose 15, you'll see in a minute). The equivalent for rollies would be roughly £30 - fifteen days at £2 per day. Man with a Van can cut those prices, of course, but he doesn't have fixed premises and none of his customers will reveal his van to strangers.

So let's say you are on readymades. This is already an extraordinarily good deal. As long as you can get along with it - not every smoker can. Even so, if you are on a pack a day, you risk the cost of just nine days' worth of smoking and if you decide it's not for you, there's eBay. Most Electrofag prices are along similar lines, and even if you do as I do and only use Electrofag when it's too cold and wet to go outside, it does seriously cut the costs.

If you're on rollups the cost difference takes longer to show, but it does show and the cost difference (for a roughly 75/25 mix of tobacco/Electrofag over the year) keeps on separating in favour of Electrofag. The best part is, you can have a sly puff inside even where it's frowned on, and there's no telltale smoke to give you away.

I have been puffing on Electrofag since last August and it has not weaned me off real tobacco. It's not quite the same but it's developing. It has nicotine, it has the leaning-back and blowing-smoke-rings part perfectly simulated but somehow it's not quite exactly right yet. But it's early days, really.

I don't really want to smoke tar. But I want to smoke. I love that relaxation of a whisky, a smoke, watching the smoke curl away, blowing rings while my thoughts ramble into something that might be coherent one day. Or not. It really doesn't matter. The rambling thoughts, the smoke, the whisky, are relaxation. I don't want to think hard while relaxing. Thinking hard is what I do for a living. I never play thought-requiring computer games, I play Doom and Quake and Sudoku, things that require hardly any thought at all, because relaxation is supposed to be not-work. Otherwise it would be like a railway track-layer relaxing by building a model railway sleeper by sleeper.

There is something about the actual burning that Electrofag hasn't yet captured. Perhaps if it was activated by some kind of remote that looked like a lighter, or even if we had a little torch with a simulated flame to pretend to light it. Or maybe if it stopped at a predetermined time to signal 'the end of the smoke' which it currently doesn't. If it then had to be reactivated by the remote, it would feel more like lighting another one and we'd know where we were. But that kind of research is for others to follow.

As it is, apart from massive cost savings, Electrofag has the following advantages.

No ash, no ashtrays required, no danger of being pounced on by the uninformed in uniform for littering when you put out the butt before binning it, no stale-ashtray smell in the mornings.

No fire risk, these things run on USB so they have less than five volts in them. The USB passthrough one has a 1.5 volt rechargeable battery in it. The normal batteries have both contacts at one end so you could make them explode, if you feel you have too many fingers. I have a film (not digital) Canon EOS camera that has similarly dangerous batteries, more so because the contacts are exposed. So that's not a good argument against. If you want to explode a battery, the Canon ones are far easier.

No smell. Nobody can claim second-hand or third-hand smoke because there is no residual smell at all. It just fades away on the air.

No particulates. Nicotine and propylene glycol can harm nobody at cigarette concentrations, real or electric, not even the smoker. It's the particulates that carry the risk and that risk depends directly on how much of the particulates you inhale. So even if you use Electrofag to reduce tobacco intake rather than replace it, you're cutting your particulates. Of course, if you routinely hang around lorry and bus-laden streets and/or spend much time on railway platforms, forget the particulates. Your intake is not measurably different from that of a non-smoker in the same situation anyway. The same is true of carbon monoxide which is why those street-testers weren't allowed to have any controls.

Then there's the surreal. Banana flavoured smoking. Coffee flavour. Absinthe flavour. All kinds of flavours. You can get zero-nicotine Electrofag loadings so nonsmokers can try smoking a roast chicken too. I mean, I thought liquorice papers combined with menthol filters was the height of weird for smoking but Electrofag goes into a level of weird that even Douglas Adams would have marvelled at.

My Electrofag is a Titan, black with a blue light (no link because I'm still pissed off at them for siding with ASH. That's like the termites telling the anteater where the ants live and believing he won't come back for them later). So I get a lot of double-takes because people think I'm chewing a pen until the 'smoke' comes out. Some Electrofags look like real cigarettes and light up red. That could be a lot of fun. Imagine being told to put it away by an irate drone, and watching their face as you drop what appears to be a lit cigarette into your pocket...

Then again, the blue light makes it clear to bar staff that I'm not really smoking. It is useful in that respect. They don't have to come over and check, as they would with a lifelike Electrofag. Blue or green lights are a useful option.

Electrofag has some way to go before it is a total replacement for tobacco but really, it's far more likely to succeed than patches or gum. It looks like smoking. It almost feels like smoking. Almost. Something is still missing but I can't quite put my finger on it.

But then, Electrofag has only existed for a few years and was invented in response to the smoking ban in something of a hurry. It has a future and it's a scary future for ASH and the Dreadful Arnott.

Nicotine-free versions are not illegal to give to any nonsmoker or to any child who can inhale and there will never be a legitimate argument to do so. You cannot levy duty on nicotine-free products either. Electrofag scares the crap out of ASH because it could make 'smoking' cool again.

That's all the reason I need to support it.

If the nonsmokers are 'smoking', then we are needles in a haystack.

Sharp ones.


Angry Exile said...

"Nobody can claim second-hand or third-hand smoke because there is no residual smell at all. It just fades away on the air."

Mate, so does smoke after a couple or three feet. Having quit a couple of years ago that's my comfort zone for when someone is having a fag, and really it's plenty. Not only that but 99% of the time it's also about right for 'personal space' anyway. However, it's not remotely enough for the healthist anti-smoking Strength Through Joy brigade and never will be. They'd much rather you were somewhere on the far side of the sun and would probably want to banish you to the moon even for Electrofag. You like nicotine and they will carry on hating you for it regardless of how you choose to take it, the only exception being gum and patches for the purposes of giving up and becoming like them.

Incidentally, the worst thing about giving up smoking? It's that the fucking zealots occasionally assume that you've become one of them.

PT Barnum said...

All true, everything you say. But where are we on the proposed redesignation of electrofags as therapeutic nicotine devices requiring medical licencing? 23rd June was the date originally mentioned. Which is...now.

Anonymous said...

I think that the Righteous may be a little frightened with the implications of Electrofag at present. The implications are these:

Firstly, you can replace real ciggies with something harmless and cheap. Bang goes the quitting smoking industry, and poof goes the revenue from tobacco duty.

Secondly, nobody ever said that electrofags only had to have nicotine in them. Pretty soon someone will have the bright idea of selling electrofag refills with synthetic cannabinoids in them; synthetics which fit the cannabinoid receptors and make people high, but are several times more bio-active than natural cannabis is. Opiates, synthetic and natural are also possible drugs for electrofag use, as are cocaine-like drugs. Really, pretty much any drug that is bio-active in small quantities and will dissolve in electrofag juice is a possible target for administering via this route.

Thirdly, the moment that commercial biomedical companies cotton on that electrofags are a useful way for patients to self-administer, say, painkillers or thereputic drugs then the Righteous are going to be in a complete pickle. They won't be able to ban electrofags at all then, and the prevalence of the devices is going to go through the roof when the first narcotic drug refills come onto the market.

Really, this is a lose-lose situation for the Righteous and the delicious irony is that it is their obsessive hounding of cigarette users that has brought this about.

Giolla said...

As a non-smoker I'm rather a convert to the elctrofag. I went for the no-nicotine coffee stuff, then added more coffee essential oil as it wasn't strong enough. Gives me something to do when standing outside with my smokey mates - though I do seem to be picking up a bit of a habit of vaping for the way to take a pause when doing stuff.

More fun though is the number of smokers who've had a go and noted urls and gone of to get one - to smoke in pubs and the like.

Oh and as someone that quite likes to cuase a bit of chaos they are great fun to use under no-smoking signs (I went for a black body with the red glow).

As observed above the next step is seeing what else can be put in them to make them more fun. I'm having a think on that with a few more club orientated friends - of course once that's popular there'll be an instant call to ban them

junican said...

I bought a 'screwdriver' e fag. Cost quite a lot (about £70), but the design looks nothing like a fag - a silvery metal thing shaped..well.. like a screwdriver. I did not want an ecig which looked like a fag (if there is any such thing - I do not know). What I wanted was my nicotine 'fix' when I having a pint in the pub and having a think. I reasoned that if it did not look like a fag, then publicans would have no reason to object.

I kept it by me at home for two or three days, having a drag from time to time. It is now in my bedside table drawer where it has been for some 6 months. Perhaps I am chicken, but until I was satisfied that the ecig provided me with what I want, there really was not much point in prematurely bringing it to the attention of bar staff and publicans. To complicate things, Monarch Airlines made a particular point of banning ecigs on their aircraft. (I have no problem with that since the aircraft are theirs and they can do what they want, which is what we smokers want to happen in pubs. As an interesting aside, however, it would be a very interesting point to investigate as to whether or not Monarch have any right to ban ecigs. One might reasonably argue that in ‘public places’ what is not forbidden by law is permitted by law. Is that not an interesting thought? Although I think that there is a logical fault in my argument, which is that, although publicans are not allowed to permit smoking in their pubs because pubs are public places, they still have the right to ban whatever. That is, this law has changed publicans’ ‘common law’ rights only in respect of smoking. Nevertheless, there is something not quite right about the whole situation.)

Talking about ‘not quite right’ brings me to ecigs. As you said, there is something not quite right. In the three days or so that I tried it, I tried to analyse in my mind what was different. I do not think that the fact that it was a machine affected me, or that I had to press a button in order to activate it, or anything actually physical about the machine.

Now..Ie been smoking since I was 19. I was in the airforce and we had subsidised fags. In my time, I have smoked Sobrani Virginia, cheroots, cigars, More, Players Full Strength, Capstan, etc. Although they were all different, they all had something in common, and that is a certain harshness in the mouth. This harshness may come from the actual smoke particulates – I do not know. But I did notice the absence of this harshness in the ‘smoke’ of the ecig. The ‘smoke’ from the ecig was so smooth that one could hardly ‘feel’ it. But, I must also make the point that I do not inhale. By that I mean that I do not breathe the smoke into my lungs. I merely draw the smoke into my mouth, push it up through my nose, and blow it out in a nice cloud.

The other thing that I noticed was that there is a specific taste in the ecig smoke. It could be banana, apple, whatever. What I know is that I do not want that. If I was really pressed to say what I really, really want, I would have to say that I want the feeling of warm, burnt leaf in my mouth and nose. In a small way, it is akin to the smoke of a bonfire.

Next year, I will almost certainly be going on a cruise where my grand-daughter will be married. I understand that this boat is an American owned boat and that smoking thereon is ‘difficult’, although I understand that the boat has smoking areas. In those circumstances, I can see the ecig coming into its own. The taste might not be quite right, but I can hardly see my wife and I being forced to ‘walk the plank’. We shall see.

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