As you no doubt know, I’ve been an inveterate puffer for many years – more than three quarters of my life thus far, save a brief three-year period in my twenties when I seemingly possessed the requisite powerful combination of willpower, stamina, emotional security and lack of financial resource to quit – temporarily as it later turned out. As I recall, it took nothing more than the messy aftermath of a failed relationship to send me scuttling back to the welcoming whorls of demon nicotine.
I’ve always been aware that smoking isn’t ‘good’ for me – in terms of bodily health rather than any sense of either spiritual or psychological wellbeing. And I’ve always told myself that I would aim to finally quit around about the same age that my father did, his 50th birthday – he subsequently lasted into his eighties before succumbing to an (unrelated) aneurysm.
With that landmark birthday now on the horizon, I’ve given no small consideration to quitting of late – my determination in this respect somewhat undermined by the fact that I still enjoy the weed and derive some psychological benefit from it.
Having previously tried and failed to give up using nicotine gum, acupuncture etc…, I recently became aware of the electric cigarette.
And so I duly plonked down my money via eBay (the measure of my commitment being £30 plus postage) and took delivery of the SuperSmoker Ultimo, one of a small range of products promising the delivery of nicotine in a manner mimicking that of the ‘traditional’ cigarette, but with a tiny fraction of its deleterious effects, eschewing as it does the forty-two or so other potentially carcinogenic chemicals present in your average gasper.
Also under consideration was the prospect of being able to ‘light up’ and puff away in enclosed public environments – since one’s only exhalation is water vapour, the worst I’d have to contend with would be the unwarranted attentions of self-righteous but topically ignorant non-smokers. Or so I thought.
Here’s the thing – the SuperSmoker (and I’ve no doubt other products of its ilk) does indeed mimic the experience of smoking a real cigarette, and I’ve no doubt that it does, from its cute little replaceable cartridge, deliver the requisite nicotine hit.
But for me, it’s simply not been enough. Invariably self-exiled to the back door at dinner parties and the like, I’ve tried using the Supersmoker as an alternative to cigarettes – but have noticed that my urge to delve into the Camel Lights has not been assuaged in the slightest.
So what’s the problem here? I’m ‘smoking’, I’m taking in nicotine….
Could it be that nicotine isn’t the addictive source of my cigarette craving – leaving aside any psychological reasons, could it be that, for me, the addictive component isn’t nicotine at all, but one of the other various chemical components of the humble tab? Carbon monoxide anyone?
I was at the Edinburgh Book Festival this afternoon for an appearance by Will Self, a reading followed by a thoroughly hilarious impromptu Q&A stand-up session during which he provided better value for money than many plying this trade professionally along the road.
Note the topical title of his most recent tome here….
Anyway, in the aftermath, I dutifully queued up to have my fresh-bought copy signed, and asked him if he was himself a smoker and was aware of electric cigarettes. Turns out he is, and does use one – in conjunction, apparently, with gum, patches and whatever other nicotine delivery mechanisms he can get his hands on – in addition to still smoking yer actual cigarettes, though at a greatly reduced rate (three a day as I recall). Seems like he might be experiencing something similar to myself, in that it can’t be ONLY nicotine that’s being craved.
Nevertheless, following his example, I intend to persevere, cutting down to three a day and restricting myself to the SuperSmoker otherwise.
But after I’ve returned from China and Japan next month.