The antismokers no doubt pictured me with a rolled-up ciggie in one hand and a lighter in the other, watching the second hand of the clock approach seven p.m. tonight.
Actually, I missed the time. I was busy. First nicotine was at 8:30 when I realised the finish line had passed.
The first thing I did was try Electrofag with and without nicotine. There is a difference in the taste. It's hard to describe; the nicotine has a sort of bitter undertaste. Not a powerful taste but a detectable one. Not unpleasant but not overtly pleasant either. I actually prefer the taste of the zero-nicotine cartridges but that could be simply because I've had a week to get used to them. I'll have to try another comparison after some time back on the tobacco.
It's worth noting that the nicotine you get from Electrofag, like the nicotine in patches and gum, isn't the same as the oxidised (burned) nicotine you get from real smoking. If there is one way in which Electrofag could be improved, it would be to replace the raw nicotine with the oxidation products of combusted nicotine. Maybe also some of the flavoured combustion products of leaves, without the particulates and the obviously dangerous ones, of course. Any trace of benzene in there and ASH will be jumping for joy. In fact, under the current smoking ban, if Electrofag delivered all of the combustion products of tobacco, including particulates, it would still be legal to smoke indoors (until ASH noticed and directed their gormless puppets in government to stop it). No matter what comes out of Electrofag, even if it was phenol and sulphuric acid (Don't. Seriously), it's not burning and therefore not covered by the ban. Now, where does cannabis stand on that, I wonder?
Okay, so what happened during this non-smoking exercise? Keep in mind that all of it is subjective and nonscientific because I was both subject and experimenter and there were no controls.
Here goes -
Real physical effects:
Fatigue. For the first few days I felt tired. I expected that. Removal of a stimulant would be expected to have that effect. The confounding factor is that I knew I had removed what I believe to be a stimulant and I expected to feel tired. I can't rule out that the fatigue was entirely or partially psychosomatic.
Cough. The little cilia in my lungs woke up, said 'Look at the mess in here' and started shovelling. Were my lungs coated in soot? Hardly. I coughed for maybe three days and was cleared by the end of the fourth and when you consider we are talking about a few decades' worth of unswept pipes, that wasn't bad. Of course, those cilia are not paralysed permanently in any smoker. They wake up in the night and whisk the crap up to the back of your throat where it's swallowed. The coal-miner's lung simply doesn't happen - unless you're a coal miner. When you stop, the lung cilia are awake all day too and they really give the place a good clearout. It doesn't take long.
Consider, antismokers: If smoker's lungs looked even half as bad as your propaganda pictures, do you really imagine they'd be transplanted into anyone?
Deyellowfication. The yellow patches on my fingers vanished. A trivial effect but there were so few, I thought I'd mention it.
I missed smoking. Electrofag was okay but I've always regarded it as an add-on, not a replacement. I experienced no frenzied panic attacks, no spiders climbing the walls, no little yellow devil on my shoulder saying 'go on, you know you want to'. No fidgeting, no inexplicable rage, nothing. I missed smoking the same way I miss gardening in the winter months - I enjoy doing it but there are times when I can't.
There were no 'cold turkey' effects at all. None. Nothing even close to the effects a heroin user would describe. In fact, nothing like the symptoms a compulsive gambler or shopper would describe - 'addictions' with no external chemical agent at all.
So there is no addiction. Naturally, this little test proves nothing but it might give someone with the funding and resources an idea. I wondered if this could be tested using tobacco and I think it might be possible.
Nicotine is water soluble so it should be possible to extract pretty much all of it from a batch of tobacco. I don't have the machinery to test whether the resulting tobacco is nicotine-free, but someone does.
So you could take a batch of tobacco, extract all the nicotine from half of it, dry it back to the same water content as the untreated baccy and then set up a trial. One group gets the normal baccy, the other group gets the nicotine-extracted baccy and both groups are told to take care because it's strong stuff. Getting that mesage into them will reinforce the mental image of a high dose of what they think they are addicted to.
It would be interesting to see how many of the nicotine-free group notice, how many complain that it doesn't feel like there's any nicotine and how many complain it's too strong.
Of course, you couldn't entrust this work to the likes of ASH. It would be too easy to over-extract the test batch and end up with something tasteless and insipid, or even unsmokeable. They do have a vested interest in the nicotine addiction story and NRT, after all. If ASH announce they plan to try this, I predict they will find an absolute nicotine addiction by buggering up the test batch so that nobody can smoke it.
An even easier test would be to provide Electrofag users with zero-nicotine cartridges and see if they notice. There is a difference in taste but that should be possible to mask, or maybe reproduce with a flavouring. If the absence of nicotine isn't noticed than it's not a chemical addiction.
In the end, did it work? For me, yes. As I said at the start, it proves nothing to anyone else.
If it gets a few people thinking about how they've been conned both by tobacco companies and the Patch Men into believing themselves addicted, then it has served its purpose.
I saved the cigar until the end of this post. The last time I stopped and restarted, many years ago, the first hit was like high grade skunk so I've eased myself back in with a few rollies first. I find cigars are best enjoyed outside on a still evening, when the blue haze hangs in the air and the midges flee. It's a still night outside but it's below freezing. Therefore it's indoor smog time.
I have a knife handy, to cut my way out of the room afterwards.
Normal ranting will now resume.