Money and smoking

If you live in the UK or any other idiot-controlled country where smoking is the main source of government hate and revenue, any saving is a good thing.

Currently it is impossible to buy a pack of 20 cigarettes for less than £8 in the UK. Rolling baccy is slightly less eyewatering but still a sting. Any chance I have to go elsewhere in the EU, I load up. It’s just common sense. Of course, after Brexit they’ll limit us again but while we are in this silly customs union we might as well make the best of it.

I have been playing around with the IQOS and the microfags for some time now and yes,  I know all about the turncoat Philip Morris and all the reasons why I should stick with real fags from real fag-sellers and I don’t care about the politics. This is about the contents of my bank account which have never been large and never will be.

A pack of real smokes is £8. A pack of microfags is £7. Plus, I have already taken £60 in Amazon vouchers from the IQOS survey thing which has more than covered the initial cost of the device plus 100 microfags. I am encouraged to persevere with this thing.

I have tried the amber (full strength) and the turquoise (girlie menthol) microfags. The amber ones are pretty good. The menthol don’t seem very mentholated, it’s there but it’s a hint not a blast. I can get the cleaning sticks from Amazon using the vouchers so they are technically free. You need those, the thing does need a cleanout once in a while or it tastes like smoking dried weasel poo.  I used the vouchers for a lot of other things too, including whisky. I have not yet tried the yellow (apparently ‘smooth’) but I just ordered some. I will report on them when I get them.

(UPDATE) I now have the yellow ones. They are indeed milder than the amber. Not bad if you prefer a smoother, less intense smoke but I’ll stick with the amber ones. They suit me best. Along with real ones of course but cost alone is going to force a switch here.)

Okay okay, you want to tell me how Philip Morris are sell-outs. Find me one vape company that does not repeat theTobacco Control mantra of ‘smoking is eeeevil. Tobacco companies are eeevil. Buy from us instead’ and maybe I’ll listen. This is a tobacco company doing business, that’s all it is. Tobacco in a different form. Trying to get through the current round of Prohibition. I don’t blame them for trying to stay in business.

Anyway, if they were really trying to appease tobacco control they should have talked to the (sensible) vapers first because appeasement never works. Those filthy Puritans hate anything that looks like fun, including IQOS. Especially IQOS because it uses real tobacco.

I like it. I don’t care who invented it or where it originated. I’ve used it more often, and for longer, than any Electrofag I’ve ever tried. And now that it’s reached a pound a pack (often more) cheaper than smoking, I’ll use it more often. I’ll still need real ones for driving because the IQOS can’t just dangle from your lips when both hands are busy but at home, it’s a useful thing.

Tell me I shouldn’t support this thing. I don’t care. Tell me I should go totally to vaping. I’ve tried quite a few Electrofags and they are a lot of fun but it just doesn’t stick. It doesn’t work for me. I don’t care. IQOS has persisted longer than any Electrofag I tried and I think that’s because it really does taste like tobacco. The one flavour Electrofag never quite got right.

The price differential is going to increase. The IQOS microfags might go down in price with more uptake, they might not. But I will state with absolute certainty that tobacco prices are going to keep climbing fast. Getting into alternatives is vital for my wallet.

Sure, every time I go to Denmark I will come back with a bag full of Vikings or Skjold. Maybe a tub of Home Roll or similar (about £30 for 280g). I will be resuming tobacco planting in the near future. I will continue to ‘cut’ tubing baccy and rolling baccy (also a lot cheaper outside the UK) with low strength pipe tobacco.

But the price saving on IQOS is now at a level that looks significant, and it works as a substitute for the real thing for me. I’ll be using it more and more in the future.

Well yes, principles are important but the long and short of it is – IQOS is cutting down my spend on heavily taxed tobacco in a way no Electrofag has yet managed. I don’t have health problems, the biggest issue for me at the moment is cost. When I first tried IQOS, which was a matter of weeks ago, the price difference per pack of 20 was pennies. It’s already £1 and it’s going to get a lot bigger. I’m sticking with it.

And if that makes you think of me as a traitor to smoking, a sell-out to The Man or some kind of hybrid smoker-vaper monstrosity, I don’t care.

I do what works for me. I do not do what other people tell me to do. No matter who is doing the telling. Never have and never will.

If that comes as a shock you really haven’t been reading this blog for very long, have you?

HNB and free money

I just loaded a £50 Amazon voucher onto my account. And Amazon sell whisky…

I’m tempted to buy a low end one for under £14 just to cock a snook at the Spiteful Nannying Puritans and their minimum pricing, but I’ll probably get some of the good stuff instead.

Incidentally, I found a new one in Aldi. Castle and Crag, priced exactly at the minimum £14. It’s not a malt (I’d be delighted to find one at that price!) but it’s a single-grain whisky. Not a blend. A bit like Haig, but it’s not Haig. It’s actually pretty good. I’d buy it again.

Anyway, this free money, well not totally free, I had to do stuff for it, came via IQOS. Yes, I still use it, not exclusively but it’s outlasted every Electrofag I ever tried. About once a week they send a questionnaire asking how much you use it, do you use real smokes too, do you use Electrofags as well, how do you like it, what are the downsides and so on. I fill them in, and thereby accumulated points which I ignored for a while – but it seems they build up pretty fast. I remember my father collecting the points cards inside cigarette packets. This seems similar, it’s good to see the past coming full circle.

I don’t think they are allowed to let you redeem the points for their products which is a shame. I’m going to need more cleaning sticks soon and will need some more microfags to stick in the end. If I could have tried the yellow ones for free that would have been great. Alas, it is not to be.

Instead you can redeem the points for a range of vouchers. The Amazon one is likely to be the most useful for me so I went for that one. I’ve now loaded it onto the account and will browse for interesting bottle-shaped things.

I got the IQOS on a deal which was around £50 for the device and 100 microfags. I have amber (proper man strength) and turquoise (menthol) ones gradually declining here. I think I’d use it a lot more if the price of 20 microfags wasn’t the same as 20 real ones, but hey ho. At least they sell me the things. And getting this voucher technically makes the original purchase free anyway.

I did try to get a Blu electrofag but they didn’t believe I was over 18 and insisted I send a picture of my driving licence or passport to prove it. I’ve had a driving licence since 1977 and have voted in every election since 1978 but they can’t find me on the driver database or electoral roll, they said.

Well I’m not comfortable with sending my passport or driving licence over the internet so I cancelled. There will be no review of Blu here, it might be great but it seems I will never know. I see it in shops but… nah. I’ll skip that one.

It was a weird experience. I’ve bought pipe and cigarette tobacco, cigars etc. online for years. Also whisky and all kinds of Electrofags and juices and even been sent a few to review. And yet all of a sudden I have to prove my (somewhat gammony-advanced) age. I can skip one product. There are plenty more to choose from.

Still, for me, I think IQOS has a better chance of sticking than any Electrofag I’ve tried so far. I like Electrofag. It’s a great gadget. I like how I can ‘smoke’ weird flavours like absinthe and roast chicken and coffee. But… it doesn’t really feel like the real thing for me. It’s an ‘as well as’ not an ‘instead of’.

IQOS could almost become an ‘instead of’. The biggest stumbling block is the price. If the microfags were half the price of real ones I’d use it almost exclusively.

‘Almost’, because there is no way to smoke it while driving. You need a free hand to hold the device or the microfag will drop out of the end. Also, outdoors, how much smoke you produce is not an issue. I don’t see me having a beer outside on a warm summer evening without some real burning tobacco involved.

If we actually get a summer this year, I’m going to revive my pipes.