Natalie Haynes: Electronic cigarettes: not dangerous – merely preposterous

 

Share
Related Topics

I don't travel by coach very often these days, because I no longer spend my life on tour. And also because their time-stretching abilities make me nervous: how is it possible to spend 17½ hours going from Glasgow to London? Is it going via Brigadoon? Wouldn't it just be quicker to pack up my belongings in a handkerchief, tie them to a stick and walk? Say, I might become mayor.

But if I were on a bus and I saw unexplained vapour arising from someone's bag, I'm not sure I would have called the police to report a possible crime. I think I would simply have assumed that my fellow passengers required chemical assistance to survive the time-and-space-defying proportions of the journey.

And as it turned out, the passengers on the Megabus which closed the M6 toll road for four hours this week would have been way out of luck if someone had planned to vaporise them. (Even writing this makes me think that the only potential guilty parties are Lex Luthor or the Penguin.) They were left on the bus, on a deserted motorway, fondly believing they had stopped because there was a crash ahead, for 90 minutes. By which time, I would have thought, even Wile E Coyote's Vapormatic Birdicide would probably have done its work.

It was an easy mistake for someone to make, though, given how weird electronic cigarettes are. I understand the theoretical appeal: you get a quasi-cigarette hit, and it's legal (if apparently alarming) to smoke them indoors. Since this summer would have tested the patience of Noah, I can see how that would have its advantages.

Given how hard the manufacturers push them – there was a period when you could barely enter Euston station without passing some loon holding a plastic stick in one hand and a plastic smile on their face, as though standing in the street pretending to smoke wasn't a mortifying development in their personal life plan – I think the reason they haven't taken off is that they look rather silly.

Even the phrase "electronic cigarette" is intrinsically preposterous, like it's hopped from the pages of a cheap sci-fi novel from the 1950s. And if we're going to use something from that genre, I'm holding out for a jetpack: London to Glasgow, eight minutes.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Manager, London

£18000 - £22000 per annum, Benefits: Excellent Uncapped Commission Structure: ...

Sales Executive, London

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Charter Selection: This exciting entertainment comp...

Opportunities for SEN Teachers and Support Staff

£50 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you looking for a new a...

Retail Business Analyst

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Ecommerce/Retail/E...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The Lada became a symbol of Russia’s failure to keep up with Western economies  

Our sanctions will not cripple Russia. It is doing a lot of the dirty work itself

Hamish McRae
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz