I have a friend, “Richard”, who is one of the few people I know who smoke. Richard’s girlfriend quit months ago, he’s not allowed to smoke inside at home, and sometimes when he is outside for a quick puff, the bare stone porch of their house doesn’t protect him from Hobart’s freezing winter rain. The heat of the wood stove doesn’t reach outside, the dog can’t hold up his side of the conversation and even though there is plenty of light and a table to rest his Bundy & Cola on… well, it’s a little unfriendly out there.
Three weeks ago, Richard discovered the e-Cigarette, or vapeing. I’ll let him tell you about it in his words:
“The first thing I have to say is it is heaps cheaper than ciggies. I was going through two and a half packs a week, or about $70.00. The starter kit costs $99 and lasts for three months. So the saving was pretty much immediate. After three days on the e-cigarettes, I started feeling heaps better, my lungs were clearer, and my sense of taste got better. I also started waking up without the taste of camel-shit in my mouth.”
“Thanks for that image, Richard.” I tell him.
“No wuckers,* Sare. Did I tell you that it is pure nicotine, rather than the four thousand-odd chemicals that you get from a cigarette?”
He pauses to take a puff from the black metal and clear plastic stick in his hand. We are standing in the foyer of the house, inside the front door. He blows at me and the smell is like someone took a match to a vanilla bean. Within five seconds, even that smell is gone, along with all trace of the vapour.
“So, did you wanna know how to get ahold of the kit?”
I nod. I don’t smoke, but this idea is too good to leave on the shelf.
“Some bloke from school told me about it. [He means the primary school that our children go to.] I’ll get you the email address of the guy.”
It’s pouring outside, and blowing a gale. The reason we are here is because it was too rough to even stand upright on the boat today, and Richard is the sort of friend to take in refugees in need. He throws another log on the wood heater as he walks past and picks up his netbook from the floor near the couch, where he has been stretched out, drinking Bundy & Cola, watching TV and surfing the web. He rummages around in his email client and reads out the address.
‘He calls himself Sir Vape-a-lot. The email is firstname.lastname@example.org.’
I’m glad he spelled it out, until now, I had been thinking he was saying ‘vapour-lot’ which doesn’t make half as much sense, now that I think about it.
“Do you wanna see the stuff that came with the kit?”
He chugs some of the Bundy & Cola and heads for the recesses of the house. I tether my iPad to my phone to get internet access and type in the url: www.vapealot.com. It’s a guess that this will work, and sure enough, the information on the website is identical to the sheaf of papers that Richard hands me a minute later.
“If you want to get hold of the starter kit, you need to email him.” Richard tells me, folding back down onto the couch. He cracks open another can.
I’m sure there are other places on the web that supply this kit, but why not support a small businessman.
By now, Richard is engrossed in the movie again, and I read the brochure he gave me. I wonder how nicotine on its own affects your health. What if this product could reduce the enormous burden that smoking puts on the public health system? But when it comes down to it, health benefits don’t make it attractive (after all, the health benefits of giving up are understood by every adult and child in Australia, especially now the new packaging shows graphic pictures that nobody should have to see before breakfast). What makes vapeing attractive are the cost savings, the cool flavours, the lack of camel-in-the-morning-mouth and the fact that you can do it inside, in the warm, with your friends (even the ones who don’t smoke anymore).
* This is short for ‘no wucking furries’. If you can’t work out what that means, then I’m not going to explain it to you; this is a PG13 blog.