Electrofag isn't smoking, but then again it is. It's nicotine and something that looks and feels like smoking. Yet it's not smoking. It's not an easy thing to articulate but here goes anyway.
I don't see Electrofag as a 'smoking cessation device' although if you wanted to kick the smoking but feel lost without the habit, it's the only alternative that stands any chance of working. Patches will only work if you stick one over each eye so you can't find your tobacco. Gum will only work if you use it to stuff the end of your lighter so you can't light your cigarettes. As smoking cessation mechanisms they are useless. They will never work. They were never meant to.
Electrofag wasn't intended as a smoking cessation device. It came about as a result of the smoking ban, a way to 'smoke' indoors legally. Nothing is burning in Electrofag, there is no smoke at all, only steam. No combustion products for the terminally terrified to worry about. No smell to shred the delicate nostrils of the professionally offended. Nobody's hair or clothes ever need to be dipped in disinfectant as a result of Electrofag.
If anyone wants to claim harm from nicotine, go and talk to those who sell it in gum and patches. Are they really allowed to deliberately poison people like that? If anyone wants to claim harm from second-hand steam, I'm afraid I'm just going to laugh at you. There is nothing even remotely harmful in Electrofag.
That might be why it's not 'smoking'. As Frank Davis has mentioned in the past, there could well be an element of the same 'risk' that makes mountain climbing and car racing so attractive to some. I hadn't thought of it that way. I know it's not good for me but the risks are overblown. Look at the responses any smoking post gets.
'Smoking causes cancer' is not true. Smoking might increase the risk of some types of cancer but it's not automatic. Few smokers get it. I will accept that more smokers than non-smokers, proportionally, get lung problems but as I said, I know it's not good for me. Neither is crossing the street. I am aware of the increased risk and I accept it.
'All smokers get some level of chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder'. Patently untrue. I have no respiratory problems. I know nobody with COPD. Never have. And I've met a lot of smokers.
These often come from health professionals who have not realised something important. The nature of their profession is that the only smokers they see are the sick ones. The only non-smokers they see are the sick ones too. They never see the non-sick smokers so on their limited sample set, the statement 'all smokers are sick' appears to be true. It is far from true. The medical profession has also been suckered in to the patches-and-gum story. It's surprising how many of them have never even heard of Electrofag.
I have two Electrofags here and if you haven't tried them, it's not the same but it's a pretty good approximation of smoking. Some pubs allow them indoors, some don't. I don't know what the current situation is since I don't visit pubs now. Not even when the weather is nice. There's no point trying to enjoy a smoke and a pint in a beer garden when some raddled harridan is pretending to cough, twenty yards away upwind. I've had enough of that.
I see Electrofag as another form of smoking. The main reason for smoking is to get that nicotine buzz, which is pretty much the same as a caffeine high and works in much the same way, in fact. There is more to it though. It's not just the nicotine. It's the smoke rings and the action of smoking too. Just as you would never accept a caffeine pill instead of a nice hot espresso, you can't sit back and relax with a pint and a patch. That is never going to work. It was never intended to, it was always a money-making scam.
There are many forms of tobacco. I once spent a fortnight in Yugoslavia before the trouble started there. It was a long time before the trouble, so it wasn't anything I said, before anyone gets any ideas. The local tobacco was very different to anything I'd had in the UK but I'd grown accustomed to it by the time I left. I was much more accustomed to the price, which was wonderfully low at that time. I brought some back with me but when it ran out I couldn't find anything similar on the UK market. I settled for another flavour.
Tastes change. I've been on readymades in the past but decided I preferred the taste of rollups. I prefer Amber Leaf to Drum and find Golden Virginia pretty good too. Once in a while I'll smoke a cigar, usually at Christmas and on National No Smoking Day, and sometimes in between. Not just any old cigar, I particularly like the Henri Winterman's brand. Tobaccos are all different and smokers have different preferences. Some like Capstan, some like Silk Cut, and neither of those smokers would be happy with the other brand.
Smoking is not a generic thing. It's a wide range of tastes. I once smoked a pipe and enjoyed it but found it too much trouble to keep it up. Some people smoke pipes exclusively and have no interest in cigarettes at all.
Electrofag isn't a replacement for smoking. It's another form of smoking. For me, it's 'as well as'. For others, it's 'instead of'. I'm guessing here, but it seems to me that for those who really like to smoke but are sick to death of ashtrays and mess and topping up lighters and nagging spouses, Electrofag was just what they were waiting for.
Even Electrofag is not a generic description. Take a look at the variety available from UK sellers. Here's a US site with a range of different Electrofags too. They come with different amounts of nicotine, like real cigarettes, and unlike real cigarettes they also come with no nicotine at all. They come in a massive range of flavours, from tobacco and cigar to coffee and strawberry. Some Electrosmokers will be smoking apple-flavoured steam with no nicotine in it at all. Others will be smoking high strength Virginia flavour. Just like smokers, Electrosmokers are not one homogenous group. Just like tobacco smokers, they each prefer a different blend with a particular flavour. At the moment I prefer high strength tobacco with menthol in Electrofag and menthol tips in my roll-ups. My menthol fad comes and goes and I'll switch to non-menthol and back again as the mood takes me. Once in a while, I'll load up Electrofag with coffee or absinthe or roast chicken flavour for a laugh but those are not going to be regulars. They are a bit of fun.
This is why the pharmaceutical products will never work. They are aimed at some nebulous homogenate that the antismokers call 'nicotine addicts'. A condition that does not exist. Every ex-smoker I know who wanted to stop smoking has just stopped. No cold turkey. No withdrawal symptoms. They just decided they weren't enjoying it any more and stopped.
I know several who tried the patches and all of them are smoking again. Why did they 'fail'? They didn't fail. They tried to stop because they were ordered to, not because they wanted to. The 'successes' are those who stopped because they just didn't want to do it any more. No other reason will ever work. When you try to force someone to stop doing something they enjoy, they want to do it all the more. That approach will always fail. The few who gave up 'with the help of NRT' would have done so without the NRT.
Consider - if we are addicted to nicotine, how can the provision of nicotine through another medium wean us off an addiction to nicotine? The nicotine, the supposed addictive substance, is still there. So how can a 'nicotine addict' find that they can discard the patches easily when they couldn't do that with tobacco? When you apply logic to any antismoking propaganda, it always falls apart.
Naturally, the pharmers don't want us to stop smoking and they don't want us switching to a completely safe form of nicotine either. They want us to use their patches and gum, then take up smoking again so they can sell us more patches and gum. That is all they want. It's all ASH wants too. If we all stopped, or all switched to Electrofag, ASH would be out of work. They need us to keep smoking so they can continue to whine and bleat and lie about us.
Does the government know? I think so. They want that tobacco duty and they'd be worried about their cash flow if the pharmers' patches and gum worked. The government get the taxes from the pharmers when they sell the patches, and at the same time they know the patches will make barely a dent in their tobacco revenue. The pharmers make money, the tobacco companies make money, ASH gets free money and the government rakes in its cut. It's a very merry money-go-round.
Elecrofag is a spanner in the cogs of this money generating machine. It's not made of tobacco so it doesn't pay duty. It cannot claim to be a smoking cessation device, wasn't intended to be one, and yet paradoxically it is the single most successful smoking-reduction and smoking-cessation device ever invented.
Electrofag is not under pharmer control. They make no money from it. It does not attract duty. The government makes no money from it other than business taxes and VAT. Nothing like the duty they rake in from smokers who haven't met a Man with a Van yet. ASH make no money from it and the idea that second-hand steam could be harmful is beyond laughable. Even the prim and proper cannot complain because there is no smoke, therefore no smoke residue and no smell at all. This device, invented in response to the forcing of smokers outdoors, is the single most effective way for those who want to smoke, but who want to leave tobacco behind, to do so. For those of us who want to stay with tobacco, Electrofag is merely another way to smoke, one that can be enjoyed inside when it's raining.
The thing is, this little gadget risks derailing the money-go-round. Reduced tobacco company profits and reduced pharmer income means less tax going to the Coagulation. It means less duty going there too. If it catches on it will do a lot of harm to the cosy little money generator that these people have built around smokers - but it will do no harm to anyone's health.
But then it is not about health and never was.
There is nothing harmful in Electrofag, it isn't the same as smoking but some people prefer it. Some don't like it at all and some, like me, have added it to the smoking arsenal without shedding the real thing.
So what can the pharmers, the tobacco barons and the grasping mitts of the Cleggeron Coagulation do to save their money-go-round? What can ASH do to preserve their control-by-denormalisation superiority complex?
Why, ban it, of course.
We can still have real tobacco. We can still suffer the jibes and taunts from those vile putrescences that consider themselves Righteous and Superior. We can still shiver in the cold outside the pubs. We can still be treated like dirt. Oh, we can have real tobacco even though the 'harm' claims have long since made it out to be more dangerous than keeping plutonium in your fridge. That's fine. We can have that.
We can still have the patches and gum even though ASH's claim that nicotine is deadly means that any doctor prescribing such things, and any shop selling them, should be arrested for attempted murder. The gum is fine even though it presents a far bigger risk to the cheeeldren than any pack of cigarettes. You'd spot a five year old smoking from a long way off. Would you look twice at a five year old chewing gum? We can still have the expensive therapy that works just as well as it was designed to - ie, no better than the rate at which smokers just stop anyway. We can still have those.
The one thing with the real potential to eventually replace tobacco consumption altogether? The one thing that lets smokers smoke without any risk at all, real or imagined, to themselves or others?
No. We can't have that.
Well, not until Man with a Van starts stocking it. Which will happen 21 days after the ban is announced. Besides, it's not hard to grow tobacco. It's not hard to extract nicotine from the leaves because it's water soluble. Purifying it is another matter but a coarse extract should work. Scary? Well, if we can't have the professionally produced stuff we'll just have to make our own.
I bet that Electrofag supplier who cosied up to ASH is feeling pretty bloody stupid about now. Although I'm sure I'll still hear some Electrosmokers doing a CAMRA and calling 'Don't ban us, ban them filthy real-smokers instead'. Don't be silly. The real-smokers produce far too much revenue for tobacco ever to be banned, and they can be milked by the pharmers while being spat on by ASH at the same time. The real-smokers provide all sorts of excuses for the mess of the NHS and can be blamed for just about anything that ever goes wrong in the world. They won't ban tobacco. They'll ban anything that interferes with the money they make from selling it and then demonising it. Especially something as successful as Electrofag.
Real-smokers are not your enemy, Electrosmokers. We aren't doing the banning here.
They ultimately want to ban us all. Smokers of anything. Drinkers too. The overweight. Drivers. The list gets bigger by the day.
If we fight amongst ourselves it just makes their job easier. I am both smoker and Electrosmoker. I like both means of smoking. Fundamentalist smokers will call me a sell-out, fundamentalist Electrosmokers will call me a filthy smoker. I'm in the middle, not through some Prince Jugears-like messianic delusion but because I do what the hell I like with my life and at the moment, I like both smoking and Electrosmoking and can, and will, do both. They are not the same. If they were I'd choose one or the other. I choose both, just as I choose to like both tea and coffee, beer and lager, whisky and brandy. Liking one does not preclude liking the other.
We don't have to be enemies just because the Righteous find it advantageous to make it so. Divide and conquer has always been at the heart of their methods. Smokers and Electrosmokers are not natural enemies because banning one does not help the other in any way. Banning one group, in fact, weakens the case for the existence of the other. We are not different species.
We're just different kinds of smokers.
The Righteous hate us all.