In this lifelong, non-televised drama that is my fascinating relationship with tobacco, there’s a new player in town. Well, newish – the “e-cigarette”.It’s there, it has won its place but so far is failing to relate to the surrounding cast or inspire the viewers (me). Whilst I’ve given it time to mature and find its way in this irrational micro world of my own creation, maybe the guarantee of nomination for worst supporting actor is rooted in its name: E-cigarette – it just doesn’t nail every circumstance like “fag” manages to so effortlessly and elegantly. It’s too many syllables, as well as being uncomfortably a victim of the clichéd modernisation of anything either old or shit – the “e” prefix.

Whilst the verb “vaping” has caught on, for me, it still fails to satisfy. I don’t think it’s due to its hipster leanings, though for some that might hurt – it just doesn’t capture the deathly magic I associate with a drug fix. The dark prospect of inhaling vapour never drew anyone into a drug habit, did it?

The above are weak reasons for me to not engage with this theoretical fantasy of healthy, cheap smoking. After all, in my mind, I know so well that time is running out before my relentless smoking invokes the medical horror show that we have all observed as a risk, but a remote one that will only happen once I start to look like a granddad. The observed risk is humorously disregarded, universally by all smokers, until the point it becomes really unfunny.

Whilst I romance willingly and tirelessly with this extra dimension that nicotine affords my life, I have in fairness attempted not to do it anymore at quite a committed rate. If I calculate that I am 42 and probably “give up” about 10 times each year, that’s roughly 420 unsuccessful quests – a fact about which I am intensely proud. Whilst I can do it, the two weeks or so of life without seemingly any purpose or joy whatsoever simply isn’t surmountable. Given all the above, vaping is the solution – the solution without even compromise. It doesn’t even cost me four fucking thousand pounds each month. Even if that didn’t convince me, surely the arcane array of flavour options, and all of the web browsing joy that brings about, ought to really win the day?

Not really. I have one. In fact, I have two. My most recent purchase – I’m sure it’s not unintentionally proportioned per a generous dildo, but the fact is, it is. I didn’t want ostentatiously large, neither did I want something that could be interpreted as a horribly heavy handed lever into sexual conversation with unknown women. My only objective was to procure a high-class device that didn’t leak.

I’m modest enough to think that not all product shortcomings are aimed at me, or that someone at the manufacturing stage has been tasked with doctoring anything with a destination of me, but I seem to be the only person I know that suffers the problem of leakage. Sometimes not just a little either. Smoking while driving is one of life’s supreme pleasures, not so much when your hands, clothes and steering wheel are coated in thick oil and I’ve forgotten to refresh my supply of McDonald’s napkins. There is nothing you can do but succumb to a greasy journey, piloted by someone delirious with the effects of nicotine poisoning. That dose through the skin really is effective, isn’t it? Jesus Christ.

To allow room for the positive, I do arrive at where I’m going smelling highly appealing. Few people are not charmed by the sweet odour of freshly deep fried doughnuts and Tennessee whisky.
Whilst the above is a downside, it would be disingenuous of me to not point out that I overcome more significant obstacles in pursuit of smoking fags. Ashtrays represent the tobacco equivalent of leakage I suppose, though I find people’s disgust, and their labelling of them as “filthy” and “nasty”, as slightly perplexing. As I will oft point out to non-ashtray fans – an ashtray is probably the most bacteria free spectacle you are likely to observe in this world. I do find that most of these folk are anti-bacterial obsessives and the defeat in their sparkling, healthy eyes is a pleasure to observe when I roll out the “900 degrees centigrade really does make anti-bacterial household products appear pretty impotent” line. (Yes, a feeling of superiority is valid even if it is a horribly misdirected illusion).

No, the fact is, I can put both hands around my thunderously potent e-cigarette and draw 15 cubic metres of vapour, you know, to the point where I can’t even see my children for 5 minutes or so, with a surrounding audience which is like, “whoa and OMG” but does it satisfy my need to endanger myself? No, it doesn’t. It’s not killing me, what’s the point?

We, humans, are gloriously perverse. Long may it be so…

James Nixon

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