The Joys Of Modern Life

34. the Nicorette Inhalator

LONG-HAUL IS hell: everyone knows that. The seats designed for ill-nurtured bodies, the low-rent aircon designed to maximally dehydrate while minimally refreshing, the party of six sitting behind you determined to party all the way to Singapore, those puddings made of pink shaving- foam that you can't resist trying, however well you know what the outcome will be.

Now try to imagine what it's like being a smoker in this situation. If you don't smoke, you won't understand, but our habit is important to us, emotionally and physically, and being unable to feed it is like walking on hot coals. Exposed to the terminal boredom of in-flight entertainment, you sweat away the hours, unable to settle and chewing the flesh on your thumb. Your destination stops being somewhere you've looked forward to going to, but becomes the place where you can have a fag. No more. Now I have my little Inhalator, I'm as happy as Larry. While others twitch, I sit there, sucking blissfully on that white plastic stem. Throw your worst at me: Aeroflot to India, Monarch to the Caribbean; I shall face it all with equanimity. The rise of the Inhalator is an example of a glorious moment when something, at least nominally, is invented for one purpose and ends up being used for another, like the sudden understanding of the real function of a Jeffrey Archer novel when the loo paper runs out at your holiday villa.

Maybe it's just about advertising laws, but the Inhalator is sold as an aid for quitting smoking, when everyone knows it is an aid for us sad rebels to indulge our oral fixations under the very noses of those who would control us. Aside from its addictive, pleasurable qualities, the habit has a powerful extra attraction: it gets up the nose of irritating do-gooders. Most smokers, after all, probably only took up the habit in order to annoy someone. In the meantime, as we fight legislation to get it outlawed from public places, the smokers' resolve gets ever stronger. And this little marvel is the newest tool in our arsenal. I love it. I love to sit in a non-smoking environment where steely-eyed matrons wait to pounce and lecture, to open my case, insert the cartridge in its little white holder and suck: at once smoking and not smoking. Gratification for the smoker, apoplexy for the interferer.

A great result all round.

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