London’s landscape and it’s peerless public houses changed forever in July 2007. Smoking was banned and drinkers congregated – usually outdoors – under powerful heaters. The musky charm of pubs disappeared as quickly as a magician in a puff of smoke. The Irish gentlemen on the verge of permanent collapse are gone and pubs are now full of healthy cats and wine drinking women. The resulting years have seen smokers dwindle as people prefer to stay in the warm.
And it has seen the rise of the ridiculous e-cigarette.
I was a hearty smoker puffing away on roughly 10 each day. I embraced every nuance of the art and wore my nicotine stained hands like badges of honour; A morning smoke was different to a drunken smoke as a melancholic smoke varied greatly from a post dinner snout…I enjoyed the varieties of getting my fix on with great aplomb.
Sadly I have no vivid memory of my first or last cigarette.
After a rather sporty three day bender, and coughing up all sorts of colours, I sat in a bar watching Fernando Torres’s debut for Chelsea. Coincidentally this was the day that I became a non-smoker. It has, barring a few minor aberrations, stayed that way. Luck, like a rabbit’s foot, shone my way and I was able to quit at the first attempt without any gums, failures, or hypnotists.
My method was to visualise photos of me in the future without a cigarette – definitely not with a ridiculous metallic steam pipe in my jaws!
It is a constant source of humour to see smartly dressed people trotting about town with a basically redundant pipe clamped to their lips. Indeed Hunter.S.Thompson and Peter O’Toole looked rakishly avant-garde with their long cigarette holders, which always incorporated a strong Marlborough. Unfortunately this elongated e-thing has the elegance of weightlifter dancing swan lake. Imagine James Dean with a 15cm plastic pipe dangling from his mouth; more like a rebel with a clue!
I am always impressed with those who put down Sir Francis Drake’s devilish weed and embrace new health benefits. New joys such as waking up at 4am and not feeling as if your chest is being clamped by an anaconda.
What my little mind can’t get around is this; surely when someone has decided that inhaling smoke is a bad idea, why begin sucking in electric vapour?! Why not have a shisha? Why not have a bloody lollipop!
Remembering the smoke filled bars of my halcyon youth, a cigarette permanently dangling from my lip, the tab enhancing my feckless snarl when I strode to the bar. The smoker was a crown prince of the pub with attitude, of which there is none that with these e-snouts; I often wonder whether modern teens covet a clandestine vapour hit like I used to yearn for a stolen smoke behind the bike shed.
I saw one bloke in a less than salubrious bar exhale steam from his nose and feel like the bees knees – I though “what a plonker”. Illness aside, it is sad that children, addicted to computers, will never have the strong feeling of rebellion and danger we all felt. If a 12 year old wants an e-cig they can have one (though I am not truly convinced that e-cigs are healthy).
It racks my conscience that in 20 years time ‘revellers’ at 21st birthdays will sit in their gym sculpted bodies smoking e-cigarettes, drinking beck’s blue (another ridiculous concept!), and shunning any naughty foods – unlikely mustering personality or vim between the lot of them.
Perhaps it is the old romantic that thinks that drinks parties should be hosted by Wing Commanders in blue blazers and fogs of blue smoke. The only boon nowadays is the fact that one’s clothing doesn’t stink of night old smoke. I always felt that one should have bars where everyone smoked and then there would be no rifts or bans.
So in my humble opinion I think we should ban these e-cigarettes mainly due the moronic demeanour that it gives people. I hope that like the mullet in the 80’s these little pipes will be looked at with incredulous eyes in the future.