Dick Puddlecote has been in Warsaw at a tobacco harm reduction conference, the Global Forum on Nicotine. Apart from featuring the inventor of the e-cigarette, Hon Lik, it also had a must-watch video of Dr Attila Danko, a clinical doctor from Australia, and an enthusiastic supporter of vaping.

I must say that I’m about as likely to be found at a Tobacco Harm Reduction conference as I am at a Tobacco Control conference. Because basically I no longer believe that tobacco is particularly harmful. Or if it is, it’s no more harmful that alcohol, sugar, salt, fat, or any of the rest of the things we’re now told are “The New Tobacco” that’s killing us. I think we’re living in a time of panic, a time of pandemonium, seeing monsters everywhere where there are none at all.

I’ve got an e-cigarette. In fact, I’ve got two. But I haven’t got one because I’m trying to stop smoking (I’m not). I’ve got one because for a while it looked like I could use e-cigs where I couldn’t smoke. And also because a few years back, when suffering from a dose of flu which smoking exacerbated, I found that vaping didn’t. So my e-cigs are really back-up devices. I prefer smoking the real thing.

But something Danko said in his talk was that vaping was a pleasant and enjoyable way for smokers to stop smoking, and this was what the antismoking zealots hated about it. These puritans want people to suffer. They can’t tolerate the idea of people moving from one habit they enjoy to another habit they enjoy. People must learn to stop enjoying anything.

And that prompted the thought that maybe one day there would be a new smoking experience which was even better than smoking. And I suppose that, in my view, vaping isn’t it. But Jredheadgirl recently wrote about a new “heat-not-burn vaporizer” (similar to shisha?).

“All the e-cigs on the market are basically using the same chemistry–nicotine in its pure form,” Bowen said. “If you look at cigarettes, what you find are nicotine salts: nicotine complexed with organic acid to form a salt. This was a huge discovery.”

Those salts, Bowen said, deliver nicotine in a vastly different way than the vaporization of liquid nicotine. From there, the company went to work reverse engineering the naturally forming nicotine salts from tobacco leaves to use in their electronic cigarette product.

Anyway, with all these new products coming out, it’s quite likely that some of them might provide a great new experience, like cigarettes once did in the time of pipes and cigars. Or like the amplified electric music created the rock’n’roll music of the past 50 years. In fact, there might be any number of smoking devices, just like there are any number of genres of electric music.

Which would be kinda fun, because it would mean that the end result of the War on Smoking will not be the end of smoking, but the emergence of countless new and interesting and enjoyable ways of smoking, in any number of surprising new ways. To the Tobacco Controllers, it’ll be like the mythical Hydra which breathed poisonous fumes, and grew two new heads every time one got cut off. Every time they ban something, a new device will emerge to replace it. In the end they’ll be calling for bans on anyone putting anything in their mouth and sucking it (unless it’s been made by Big Pharma).

Tobacco Control may simply end up multiplying the number of different ways of smoking. And some of the products may not contain any tobacco or nicotine, and so not be ttobacco products in any shape or form. TC may now be trying to stop a tidal wave of innovation that their prohibitions have triggered.

Anyway, I think I could be won over by a new technology. Many years ago, on a visit to Egypt, I tried a roadside cafe water pipe, and loved the cool, rich smoke it produced. Over the years, I’ve gradually moved away from the stronger tobaccos to the milder ones. If some new e-cigarette could replicate a water pipe, and go one better, I might become a convert.

Until then, I’m going to remain something like those classical music fans who don’t really like all these screaming electric guitars and drums, but want the full orchestra (and choir) that comes with a classical cigar or pipe or cigarette.


About Frank Davis

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11 Responses to Hydra

  1. Rose says:

    In the end they’ll be calling for bans on anyone putting anything in their mouth and sucking it (unless it’s been made by Big Pharma)

    “E-cigarettes set to be banned in enclosed public spaces in Wales as soon as next year”

    Exhaling smoke or steam and looking happy is no longer allowed in public places.

    Could beaches be the next place where smoking is banned? One Welsh council is looking at banning cigarettes on one of its prized assets


    Sitting on a rock staring contemplatively out to sea whilst smoking can no longer be tolerated.
    Smokers ( and vapers? ) if they must be seen at all, are required to look as miserable as possible at all times.

    “..Gilmore explains that people choosing to stand outside to smoke, shivering in the cold, demonstrates that tobacco is a “drug of addiction”

    “De-normalization, as one researcher described it, is the use of rules to put societal pressure on “those who fail to aspire to a specific preferred image of the future self.”
    With outdoor smoking, the argument is no longer that the smoke physically harms bystanders. It’s that seeing people smoke is corrupting.
    De-normalizing it means shunning smoking from public view.”

    I’ve lost patience with all the feeble excuses used to justify anti-tobacco policy to the general public.

    • beobrigitte says:

      Rose, it was all over the BBC news – apparently the e-cig is a “starter-drug” according to the weird Welsh health minister.

      Well, I have cancelled the booking for Llandudno and gave the owner the reason:
      I am a smoker and find myself as a PAYING (!!!!!) customer kicked out the front door. Now you intend to do the same to vapers (I vape where I am -as an ADULT who is treated like a child and doesn’t like it – already am treated as a leper) I see no reason for paying for 6 people to stay at your hotel.
      Please do let me know, when you do provide COMFORTABLE smoking rooms and no longer view vaping as a threat.

      We ALL CAN do something – we are adults!

  2. wobbler2012 says:

    I’m a 100% vaper (ex smoker of 26 years) and I have to say with this current 3rd generation device I’m using (the ones the EU are banning next May with TPD article 20 unless it is overturned) I enjoy more than I actually enjoyed smoking, and I enjoyed smoking A LOT.

    And I’m not one of those ex-smoking bellends, smoke, vape do what the f**k you like. I’m very pro-choice and anti nanny state.

  3. jaxthefirst says:

    Despite my objection to the ex-smoker-turned-vaping-anti-smoker brigade (your good self excepted, Wobbler!), I’m watching this technology with some interest, too. Like you, Frank, I’ve tried a couple of e-cigarettes in the past, for exactly the same reasons, but, alas, I’ve found that with the current technology – and ironically, given that I took to smoking real cigarettes like the proverbial duck to water at the advanced starting-age of almost 30 – I simply can’t do it! Trying to inhale vapour makes me heave and cough till I’m blue in the face. I guess I’m just not cut out to inhale water in any form (one of the reasons why I’m such a truly lousy swimmer, perhaps!). True, the ones I tried were some years back and the technology might have moved on since then, but it seems that the best e-cigarettes these days are those huge long ones that look like felt-tip pens that have caught fire, and I have to say that I’d simply be too embarrassed to use one of those in public – they really do look like a giving-up-smoking gadget rather than something designed to give a relaxing and pleasurable experience. For starters, they take a whole hand to hold, and secondly, I’ve never, ever seen anyone do anything more than slip one surreptitiously out of their pocket, and take a couple of guilty (and desperate-looking) puffs, before stuffing it quickly back into their pocket again, looking nervously around them like an alkie who’s just taken a surreptitious swig from his hip-flask. And lastly, there’s none of the “beginning/middle/end” to vaping that is such a satisfying part of the whole real smoking experience.

    The e-cigs I’ve tried were the cigarette lookalike kind which, going by the trend for the “big” variety, I suspect aren’t the best, because they certainly don’t seem to be as popular. They had the advantage of looking like a cigarette, but they were so heavy! They were like smoking a cigarette with a lead weight in the middle of it – they even had to be “held” in place when taking a puff, which made it feel very unnatural and cumbersome – a bit like having to hold your glasses up to your eyes if you wanted to read something, rather than just putting them on and then reading without having to concentrate on keeping your specs in place.

    But yes, as the technology improves, and provided they can come up with something which mimics smoking much more closely than just producing lookalike “smoke” and being operated by puffing on (and there the similarity ends), including making the whole gadget a hell of a lot lighter, and with some form of adjustable timer on it, I might consider trying another one. But as far as I can see, that kind of technology is a long way off at the moment.

    • nisakiman says:

      I have what’s known as a ‘2nd generation’ e-cig (the ‘felt-tip pen’ ones), which isn’t too bad, and I understand that the ‘3rd gen’ e-cigs are better still. But you’re right – they are heavy, and the 3rd gen are like carting a small brick around with you. I use my e-cig only occasionally, and don’t take it out with me normally. To be honest, I’d feel like a bit of a berk using it in public, I think. But then, I live in a place where I can smoke almost anywhere anyway, so I don’t really have any motivation to adopt it on a more regular basis. And yes, it makes me cough like buggery too when I first use it, although I do find that passes after a while when I adjust to the vapour.

      My computer whizzkid uses a 3rd gen brick, and he tends to be a bit anal about it, rabbiting on about watts and ohms that he can adjust to refine his vaping experience. It rather goes over my head. I don’t really want to have to learn how to adjust the various electrical output settings available, I just want to have a smoke.

      Yes, I still prefer the real thing.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Yes, and they completely occupy the hand that holds them. Unlike cigarettes which can be parked between lips or two fingers. E-cig manufacturers seem to want to outdo each other in producing equipment that looks more suitable as a macho motorcycle engine accessory than something to smoke.

  4. beobrigitte says:

    But something Danko said in his talk was that vaping was a pleasant and enjoyable way for smokers to stop smoking, and this was what the antismoking zealots hated about it. These puritans want people to suffer. They can’t tolerate the idea of people moving from one habit they enjoy to another habit they enjoy. People must learn to stop enjoying anything.

    The most annoying thing for the anti-smoking brigade is that “vaping-looks-like-smoking” – and their fear of leading an independent ADULT life begins to increase drastically. They throw their dummy out the pram and kick their legs – and make a lot of noise. They ARE out to HURT until they get their way.
    And our governments are the (in my view incompetent) parents who just give in…..

    Tobacco Control may simply end up multiplying the number of different ways of smoking. And some of the products may not contain any tobacco or nicotine, and so not be tobacco products in any shape or form. TC may now be trying to stop a tidal wave of innovation that their prohibitions have triggered.
    It is by now quite normal that any desperate (badly designed) “remedy” HAS serious side effects.
    Tobacco Control lacks a lot – humanity is Nr. 1. People are far more innovative than Tobacco Control gives them credit for.

    I tried an e-cig out of politeness when visiting a non-smoking friend. She will provide me with an ashtray (she visited me recently and her gift to me were tobacco and an designer ashtray!) but I do know that she is not keen on the smell of stale smoke in her home.
    By now I have a good e-cig and mix my own e-liquid (I often do forget to add nicotine…..) and have recently been given a huge stash of 12mg “USA Flavour” e-liquid. I really do like the taste, but it’s a PG mix. So I add a litttle VG as I’m not fuzzed about the amount of nicotine; it’s the taste and amount of “steam” I can see which provides me with a comfort feeling.
    I refuse to buy tobacco in countries in which I am being kicked out if I wish to smoke. It is high time to follow Helmut Schmidt’s example (HUGE stash build up!) as well as stash of e-liquid for when the time comes when Tobacco Control needs to whisper in prospective governments’; medics’; university directors’ etc. etc. etc. ears that an increase of tobacco tax WILL pay to shut up disgruntled people.

    I do believe that the REAL vapers have understood by now what they are facing. I’ll back them anytime!

  5. irocyr says:

    This makes me angry. Both Nisaki and Jax say e-cigs make them cough when they use them. They do the same to me and I have tried cigalikes, 2nd and even 3rd generation e-cigs. The 3rd generation was my son’s and he had to hold it up for me (I’m only exaggerating a little) LOL . A few hundred dollars later I sitll can’t find neither the proper voltage nor the proper e-juice to 1) not make me cough 2) be satisfying and enjoyable. But I started out saying that I was angry. What makes me angry is that after I asked several vendors and even vapers, they seemed surprised that e-cigs made me cough as if I were an exception. Some opined that it was perhaps that I was allergic to propylene glycol and I should try a higher percentage of glycerine instead, some have said that the strength of the nicotine is what did it. Others didn’t know. I have followed all their recommendations. They ALL make me cough. Obviously I am not the exception since 2 people in the same forum say the same thing. Why was I being passed off as the exception when obviously there must have been plenty of other people who inquired about the same thing ? I thought vaping vendors were an example of honesty and integrity and all they want to do is help smokers. Yeah right. *Cough Cough*.

    So I have about 4 different e-cigs, a bag full of plastic atomizers, and about 10 different bottles of juice lying around that I have no intention of consuming because they make me cough while conventional ones don’t, even after over 45 years of heavy smoking. The problem is that even when I decide to use them in places I can’t smoke, I have to subject myself to a 5 minute coughing fit before continuing the puffing.

    • beobrigitte says:

      I must say I’m the odd one out – I do not have to cough with either, my cigarettes nor the e-cig I use. With the e-cig, in order to get the full flavour I do, when I first use it, puff until the top end feels ‘warm’, whereas I take a drag of my cigarette and inhale it straight away.

      Ironically, it was an e-cig vendor who ‘warned’ me that I might be coughing when taking the first drag of an e-cig but pointed out that this will subside when I let the e-cig ‘warm up’ first.

      I surely do prefer THE REAL thing but I do begrudge to give this government extra money to further persecute me and make my life miserable. I use my e-cig to stretch the tobacco I buy in countries where ashtrays are provided for me in comfortable settings INDOORS!

    • Frank Davis says:

      I don’t cough using my e-cigs either. In fact, they’re easier on my throat than my usual roll-ups, which is why I used it when I had a bout of flu a few years back.

  6. Rose says:

    Royal College of Physicians – Press Release Sept 2008
    End tobacco smoking by 2025

    Smoked tobacco: Make smoking and smoked tobacco products as unappealing, unattractive, unaffordable and unavailable as possible, as quickly as possible.

    Existing medicinal nicotine products: To make this product group as available and attractive to smokers as possible, and to encourage smokers to switch as completely as possible to use of medicinal nicotine instead of smoking:”

    New medicinal nicotine products: Encourage development and marketing of new medicinal nicotine products that are more acceptable and satisfying alternatives to smoking than current products:

    Encourage development of products that deliver doses of nicotine as quickly as cigarettes
    Remove unnecessary restrictions and regulations that currently inhibit development of new, more effective cigarette substitutes
    Make these products widely available to smokers at competitive prices

    I’ll bet they weren’t thinking of e-cigarettes when they issued that.

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