Until quite recently there would, at some point of this brief creation, have been a ribbon of smoke curling up from the ashtray on my desk at home.

Not today. Instead, there is an occasional puff of nicotine-bearing vapour at each pause on the keyboard. My Marlboro habit – the despair of family and friends for more years than I care to consider – is, for the moment at least, on hold.

I'm smoking an electronic fag. It does not perfectly reproduce the real experience, of course – not least when the “lit” end is blue rather than red.

But, who knows? It may turn out to be a blessing for someone long convinced that some of life's most basic chores would be impossible without the relief of a cigarette break.

The value of the e-cigarette is apparent enough. For a start it is far cheaper. The calculation is that one recharged “e” is the equivalent of 15 cigarettes – and mine comes at £2 a time: a saving of more than £3 a packet.

One pitfall is that you can easily forget to put the thing down. A regular cigarette burns for about 10 minutes, but you can suck on its substitute for half an hour; you can shoot up to the equivalent of about 80 a day.

When the attachable “cartomiser” is spent, the blue light (where there used to be a red glow) starts to flash. It wouldn't have worked for Humphrey Bogart, but times change.

James Lawton is Chief Sports Writer