I am a curious smoker. By this I mean I only smoke when other people are smoking … and offering. I can't remember the last time I bought a packet of cigarettes, but I know that the pack of 20 cost less than two quid. I gather that they are now considerably more expensive – by the sighs and groan from my television crew whenever I ponce one off them. It's the boredom that makes me smoke. Filming a television show is very much like being in a far-less-glamorous version of the Rolling Stones – "24 years of hanging around and one year of actual playing", as Charlie Watts so elegantly put it.
There is a lot of down time, and that's when I find myself smoking. So, to ease the burden on other people's bank balances and my health, I decided to give e-cigarettes a go.
I spotted a "trainer pack" at the counter of my local petrol station. Once home I opened it up and tried to sort out how the thing worked. This particular brand needed to be assembled … something that always puts me off anything. There were three flavoured tips and a base unit that, when screwed together, looked like a slightly large cigarette. To charge it I had a USB to plug it into my computer. It was all slightly ridiculous.
I started puffing away and the end lit up an off-putting blue. The hit was quite pleasant – supposedly my nicotine fix without added cancer. As with a normal cigarette I blew out smoke … but it wasn't smoke. It looked like smoke but didn't smell of anything and didn't even bother my wife (a rare thing, trust me). What was this magic stick? What devilish ingredients made it work? I have no idea, but it does the job and could very well be the future. The USB thing is ridiculous and I was soon "turned on to" an American brand that is more normal-sized, has an orange light at the end, and is disposable after the equivalent of 20 fags. These are so realistic that most people don't notice that they are fake. I took one with me to my kids' end of year ball for moral support. It was here that I stumbled upon some e-problems.
Halfway through the meal I slipped out of the marquee to join other parents smoking outside. I started puffing away with the best of them. Unlike mine however, their smokes had a finite end. Their traditional cigarettes came to a natural conclusion and they went back into the marquee. I, however, had the eternal smoke and continued puffing away until I realised that I was now with my third group of smokers and I was still going.
Someone finally noticed that I was smoking the future and everyone wanted a go. My e-cig was passed around about 20 parents. When it was finally returned to me I might have avoided cancer but my syphilis risk had just greatly increased. Someone else then pointed out that I didn't actually need to be outside as I could e-smoke inside.
I wandered back into the marquee and hit the vodka ice luge. I have seen the future, but they've not quite sorted the rules out yet.