Having so far successfully given up the demon drink when all around me said I would die if I tried without expensive medical assistance, I have decided to give up smoking as well. This shall be my New Year’s Resolution for 2014. As far as alcohol is concerned, I am dry. Now I want to go into the New Year clean. If my lungs weren’t a few more fags short of emphysema I am sure you would hear them cheering. As it is all they can manage is a gurgling sigh of relief. When I gave up the whisky, I still had an undrunk case of the bloody stuff. It is still sitting there next to the fridge. Now, as I take the first step towards giving up smoking, I realize I still have five unsmoked packets (about a day and a half’s consumption) on my desk. I am sure I will be able to finish the packet I am on and kill one more before fireworks light up my bit of sky.Just as I knew I would never be able to give up whisky without the help of a non-alcoholic substitute, I also know that I will never be able to shake off the urge to smoke without a little help. I really wanted to give up before the New Year but at such short notice, would the help I needed arrive in time? That help arrived at 1800hrs this evening, hand carried by Marcia from the DHL office in town. The package was sent to me in response to my plea for help by a good friend of mine in UK. The package contained a CE4 EGO Kit. Now I know what many of you are thinking, especially those who know me well; the last thing an arrogant sod like Hippo needs is a kit to boost his ego and I would agree with you whole heartedly. These egos, however, are E Cigarettes.
I have been after a decent electronic cigarette for ages. A while back another friend of mine said he would get me one from Botswana. I waited patiently for his return only to discover that the electronic cigarettes he had brought me, two of them, were not refillable with the e liquid contained in the two bottles of the stuff he had also brought me. I had the e liquid but nothing to use it in.For those of you who don’t know what an e cigarette is I will explain. It is basically a nicotine delivery device. The trouble with tobacco is that it contains nicotine which is, by all accounts, more addictive than Class A drugs. Cigarette manufacturers figured this out decades ago so adulterated the tobacco in their cigarettes by adding more nicotine. For many years, insurance companies did not consider cigar smokers as smokers as the tobacco was pure and normally savoured in the mouth, not inhaled. If nicotine was the only thing cigarettes contained, it would not be a problem, well, nowhere near as big a problem, but tobacco also releases various other toxic substances and gases such as tar, carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide and other volatile carcinogenic compounds. I inhale all this muck into my lungs every time I smoke but even though I know I am killing myself slowly and inexorably, I can’t stop because after so many years, body and mind are virtually hard wired to depend on nicotine. An e cigarette will deliver similar doses of nicotine without all the other components contained within tobacco smoke. The difference between it and other nicotine delivery devices such as chewing gum and patches, is that an e cigarette replicates the act of smoking and, as I argued when about to give up alcohol, cigarette smoking is as much habit and environment as addiction. In order to get a dose of nicotine the user has to draw on the e cigarette and is rewarded with what to all intents and purposes looks and tastes like cigarette smoke but is actually only water vapour laced with nicotine. The vapour exhaled is pure water so is inoffensive. An e cigarette, therefore, addresses both the addiction and the habit without the evils associated with tobacco. I shan’t bore you with the technical details save to say an e cigarette consists of a USB rechargeable power source, a reservoir for the e liquid and a coil that heats up every time the cigarette is drawn, vapourising the e liquid to produce the ‘smoke’.
Bizarrely, the manufacturers of e cigarettes are not allowed to market their products as nicotine delivery devices and it is completely verboten for them to suggest e cigarettes might help normal smokers give up. To do so would reclassify their unregulated recreational device as a medical device requiring years of expensive testing and trials before it could be legally sold. Tobacco lobbyists wanted e cigarettes to go the same way as nicotine chewing gum. When nicotine gum was first released, it could only be obtained on prescription. The lobbyists even managed to get their ‘concerns’ about easy access to e cigarettes as far as the European Parliament which for a while looked as though it would cave in to pressure and declare e cigarettes a medical device subject to the usual constraints. Fortunately, the proposal failed. If anyone doubts the cynicism of politicians and their susceptibility to lobbyist pressure please be aware that two years after the link between smoking and cancer was medically proven, the British Cabinet, under PM Eden, on three occasions in 1956 discussed the causal link between smoking and cancer and what to do about it. I think I can best summarize those meetings by describing the first as: Oh my God! Cigarettes are killing people, we must let the public know! The second meeting as: But we derive loads of tax revenue from tobacco! And the third as: ‘It’s not really medical evidence, it’s just statistics, let’s do nothing.Given that I have waited a long time to get my hands on one, I was reluctant to bugger it up so I did what I normally never bother to do, I read the instructions. I wanted to start ‘vaping’ as e cigarette smokers call their habit, right away, so I needed to know how to fill the reservoir and how to screw all the components together. I have to admit, this e cigarette appears very well made. It is about the size and weight of an expensive fountain pen. Mine is in black and chrome so even looks like an expensive fountain pen. I was a little bit surprised it did not come with a clip as do all pens so that it could be stored safely in a suit jacket or shirt pocket when not in use. I haven’t even tried the damn thing yet and already I am suggesting improvements. I think my new EGO and my old one will get on well together.
Then I got to the bit about charging the battery before first use. I had to wait five hours. Five hours! I checked the time, 18.45!So, my dear friends, I will just make it by fifteen minutes. I will enter the New Year not as a smoker, but as a vaper.
I know some of you are already a year ahead but I wish all of you the very best of health, prosperity and happiness for 2014. I love you ALL dahlings!