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.

 

The In-Between

Not smoking and not Electrofag. The Gateway to Vaping, the Gadget with Baccy, exists and I have one.

I’ve looked at these before but was put off by the price. The special offer (also available in white but be quick, it’s a limited time offer) was enough to persuade me to give it a go. It arrived yesterday and I’ve used 17 of the microfags supplied already.

Most of what I was going to say has already been well covered from a vaper perspective. This is from a smoker perspective. The technical details are the same so there’s no point me repeating them.

Let’s open the box…

Lots of gadgetry and some unidentifiable weird things. I was forced to break with tradition and actually read the instructions.

(UPDATE: I hadn’t realised that some folk haven’t seen that charger plug [UK type] before. It’s a fold down thing. You have to slide up the earth pin for it to fit a UK socket. It’s not immediately obvious, it just looks like so many other plug variants we get here that need an adaptor.)

First thing I noticed was that it seemed counter-intuitive. You put the microfag in one end and the microfag filter is where you get your ‘smoke’. So it’s like a cigarette holder but in reverse. The weird things turned out to be cleaning devices. Like any other contraption, it needs regular cleaning to work at its best. Well that’s reasonable.

Which reminds me, my car must be due for its annual wash soon. Then again, the recent torrential rain did a decent job.

I charged up the case, which didn’t take very long, about 20 minutes or so, inserted the electrofagalike and waited for it to charge. Took roughly 5 minutes. The instructions say the case can charge the smoky thing at least 20 times on one charging of the case. Well, 17 microfags in and it’s still at 75% charge so I’m guessing it’ll last a while yet.

Oh I’m not kidding about the microfags…

They are Fifth Element microfags, as you’ll see later. You can’t light these to smoke them, the tobacco is packed way too tight in the end and it’s about 75% filter. They only work with the IQOS smoky thing.

So anyway, I fired one up and gave it a go. First impression, it wasn’t quite like smoking. There was a wisp of ‘smoke’ (contrast with the cumulo-nimbus generators some vapers use) but it actually did taste like smoking. The one thing vaping never got right for me was the tobacco taste. All the other flavours, even roast chicken flavour, they have spot on but they never really got tobacco flavour right.

This is actual tobacco. The taste is right. The thing is, it’s not burning. There’s no ash to build up as you type and then drop onto your keyboard. If you drop the gadget, it won’t burn into your carpet. All good so far.

The smoke is warm but not as hot as a burning cigarette and it leaves that ‘I’ve just smoked’ feeling in your mouth. I have the menthol ones and yeah, they work. Not right away. I’d say it took me about five tries to get the hang of it. I was trying to puff like a real one and that’s too fast for it. You need to take it slow.

Not too slow. This, unlike the Electrofags I’ve tried, has an end point. The vaper review I linked to puts it from a vaper, ex-smoker perspective. Vapers can take a puff or two and put it away. Smokers are stuck with a lit cigarette until it’s either done or they get fed up and put it out. Smokers are used to a defined length of time for a smoke.

So, the device’s programming to stop after 6 minutes or 14 puffs means it ends like a real one. A smoker trying an Electrofag for the first time is likely to puff away until the battery runs out – which could be hours. This thing stops when it’s done.

Another point from the other review – you have to wait a few seconds for this to heat up. Insert the microfag and press the button until the light starts flashing. When it stops flashing you are ready to go. Don’t press the button again, that will turn it off. For a smoker, these are the few seconds of digging out your lighter and lighting the thing. Vapers are used to just pressing the button and getting instant-on responses. I’d say this will work better for smokers than for vapers – and since so many vapers are now as anti-tobacco as the people who hate them too, they won’t try it anyway.

The spent microfag sometimes has a discolouration in the middle but look at the filter. The filter is still clean. There’s nothing like the darkening you get on a real smoke’s filter! Really, there’s not much of the bad stuff, if any, coming through when you use this thing.

And another thing. You ‘smoke’ at the filter end and then discard the whole microfag. No mouthpiece to worry about contamination. They are as single-use as real cigarettes. Smokers concerned about the hygiene aspects of sucking on the same mouthpiece over and over (I know there are some) will appreciate that.

The used tobacco end. It is tempting to think there is re-usable tobacco in there. No, there isn’t. The scorched part was in direct contact with the heater but it’s all been heated. There’s nothing reusable left. And there wasn’t much to begin with…

Well of course I took it apart. Would you have expected anything less? I wanted to know if I could make my own microfags. Sadly, at the moment, it’s ‘no’. I could make the baccy plug from homegrown but the paper tube isn’t just a cut-down of a tubing tube. It’s lined with some kind of foil and I doubt it’s kitchen foil. However, if this thing proves popular, there will be a market for empty tubes and the means to fill them. Bull Brand are no doubt already working on it.

Why would I consider making my own? As I said at the start, I was put off getting one of these by the startup price – and also the running price. At £7 for 20 microfags it’s really not much cheaper than smoking real ones. However, if they can keep that price constant while tobacco controllers push up real-smoke prices then the differential will become more attractive. At the moment though, it won’t attract smokers who are trying to switch for cost reasons. Which is a shame because that’s a really big chunk of the market.

It’s really only going to attract two types of smoker. Those who are trying to switch for health reasons and those who just love gadgets. Especially when the gadget is half price.

Verdict: I really like this thing. I have tried a few Electrofags and liked them but really only enjoyed them with the weird flavours. They could never replace smoking for me, they don’t have the tobacco flavour right. This IQOS is an in-between and I could well imagine smokers using this as a stepping stone to vaping. I will never believe vapers will use it to switch to smoking but the hysterical smokophobes will no doubt believe it. I might even be the one to prime their hysteria. Just to watch the antismoker vapers squeal. Some of us don’t care about money… 😉

It has not replaced real smoking for me but then it has only been two days. I have smoked far fewer real ones in those two days and this has the potential to almost replace real ones for me. Almost, mainly because I could not use it while driving long distances. You can’t set this up while driving and you can’t use it in the car because you can’t let go of it in use. If you let it dangle from your lips, the microfag slips out of the machine and the machine lands on the floor. At home, no problem. It won’t burn anything. It won’t burn anything in the car either but trying to find where it’s rolled to at 70 mph on a motorway is out of the question.

You also can’t flick a glowing butt out of the window at tailgaters. It always makes them pull back. ‘The road is mine’ and ‘the air is mine’ turns out to be the same mindset.Throwing a dead microfag at them won’t have the same effect.

There is also the final nail in the coffin  – I really like smoking. I like the blue haze and the burning smell. This device gets close but does not quite replicate it. It can, however, replace some of my daily smoking with something that carries less risk. As the cost of smoking continues to escalate the price differential could get much bigger. That would encourage me to use this more. As it is, I think it will be in use daily because it’s far closer to smoking than any Electrofag.

It won’t make me drift all the way to vaping, but it’s likely to for some. The only thing that would do that for me would be if vaping got the tobacco flavour just right. I’ll vape the weird flavours for fun but it won’t be full time unless I can vape something that tastes like the real thing.

The IQOS does taste like the real thing. A little muted maybe but the taste is right.

If the price differential between this and real cigarettes was greater I might go for it. As it is, it’ll almost certainly cut down my intake of real cigarettes although it won’t replace them entirely.

If it does, I’ll need LED-powered fake cigarette buts to throw at tailgaters.

I could probably make those.

 

(UPDATE 14th March: I’m still using it but also still smoking. It hasn’t defeated the real ones and might never do. It has, however, reduced my intake of the real ones which is only a marginal cost saving at the moment. I don’t feel any different yet, maybe I’m too damn healthy for it to show a difference. I’ll see if it does anything healthy to me in a week or so.)

Knackered, but news of a new type of Electrofag

It pissed down all day yesterday. Since the concrete area outside slopes towards the house, the water from that and all the roof drains into a trough outside the door and combined with the melting snow, there is now an inch of water in the utility room. I have given up trying to mop it. I’ll get the wet vac out today.

It’s not the first time but it’s the worst one so far. Fortunately the washing machine and dryer are already up on blocks after last time. The drain all this water goes into isn’t blocked, it all goes away quickly once the rain stops, it’s just that the one little drain can’t cope. I’m going to do some redirecting on those drainpipes if I ever see good weather. Fixing the rest is the landlord’s problem.

CreateSpace has been down so I still don’t have final figures for sales for last quarter. They aren’t likely to be much but I have to keep this accurate. The taxman will insist.

It has been a crap week or so. All the wood store got damp because the easterly wind blew right into the barn where it’s stored so it took a lot of snow and now rain. Local Shop was out of logs, they only had coal. Okay. My burner has a grate so it can deal with coal.

Smokeless coal is smokeless because you can’t light the damn stuff. Why do I need smokeless anyway? There’s nobody around to moan about it. It’s all that was left in the shop and now I know why. Today I’ll start by lighting a charcoal bed for it. I have a bag of charcoal for the Barbecue that Never Happened last year.

I need to cut a channel in concrete (or persuade the landlord to do it) to let the excess water wander off into the garden. Any tips?

Bah. I am shattered and seriously pissed off.

But there is one bright thing. I have invested in a new type of Electrofag. One that uses real tobacco. It should arrive in a couple of days.

I was put off by the expense of heat-not-burn, I admit. It’s no cheaper than buying real ones but hey, they want to sell me the machine and 100 ‘heets’ (tobacco tubes) for under £50, I’ll risk it. 100 is equivalent to five packs of cigarettes which in the UK is tapping hard on the door of £40 anyway for the lowest priced ones. And it’s a gadget. A new gadget. There will be a review.

I will also investigate whether it’s currently possible to make your own refills. If not, it soon will be. Probably far easier than making your own e-juice too.

Vaping is fun. I like to ‘smoke’ a brandy, then a roast chicken, then apple pie and then a coffee and an absinthe. Public Health should be promoting this because the calorie count for that whole meal is zero. Unfortunately they have proved themselves to be clinically insane so they never will.

Still, vaping has not taken me away from smoking. It’s just not the same. It’s fun but something is missing. Maybe HnB is that missing link. We shall see.

Today the sun is out. Maybe, finally, that damn snow will finish melting and we can get back to something approaching normality here..

Please sir, can I have a business?

The confectionery industry is preparing for the next phase of the anti-sugar Puritan onslaught. What a waste of time and money.

They have keeled over on the sugar tax rubbish and are now trying to get ready for a ban on advertising. They are doing this by throwing money at packaging so their brand will be recognised when (not, as the article optimistically says. ‘if’) advertising of anything containing sugar is banned.

Total, complete, utter, waste of time and money. The Template is in action here. Once advertising is banned it’ll be plain packaging next. All that brand recognition is wasted money. There will be no brand. Sweets will be sold in olive green packs with the sweet name in 10 point Times New Roman and with pictures of Bella Emberg’s somewhat rounded figure, Shane MacGowan’s teeth, and heart attack victim actors taking up at least half the pack. Why spend money on a brand that will be forgotten in less than one generation? Confectionery companies, you are, basically, fucked. And you brought it on yourselves.

You could have taken the BrewDog approach. You could have responded as Buckfast (Glasgee’s Finest) did when told they were irresponsible for mixing alcohol and caffeine in their tonic wine (basically, ‘see you pal, you’re gettin’ it, so y’are, and meanwhile fuck off’). No, you did the Oliver Twist (it’s not a dance, you uneducated morons of modern youth, it’s a book from the old days of actual books they used to teach us in schools in the times when education made you smarter rather than compliant) .

You confectionery companies stood in your rags and held up your bowl and said ‘Please, Mr. Unelected Gobshite, can we have a business?’

Unelected Gobshite said no. And you rolled over to get your tummies tickled. ‘Sad’ is far too small a word. You think of yourselves as powerful businessmen but honestly, inside that expensive tailored suit, is there anything at all? Is it just full of smug money-love? Is there not a trace of the courage and conviction of the entrepreneurs of old? It seems not. Empty suits. Stuffed with cash soon to be sucked away by the Puritans you pander to.

The flipside of course is the silly Left argument that business controls government. Really? These cowering piles of weasel shit can’t stand up to stomping self-important arseholes, never mind actually-elected lawmakers. When Government ministers cave to these simpering woodlice then we had better think long and hard at the next election. Maybe next time we should elect someone a bit further up the food chain. Perhaps a wasp would be a good option.

 

You know, I don’t really have a dog in this fight. To paraphrase the old rhyme:

First they came for the smokers,
and I’m a smoker,
and nobody spoke out when they came for me and they still don’t,
so frankly, bollocks to the rest of you.

You face a future where every shop front is olive drab green with warnings and graphic made up gore all over it. Even fruit has sugar in it so that will be sprayed drab too. You think they are going to stop with sweets? You are honestly pitiful if you believe that.

Did you think they would stop with booze?

Did you think they would stop with tobacco?

Did you vapers think you had got away? Oh your attempts to ally with the haters was so funny. We still-smokers are still laughing at that and a few of you are still doing it. Keeps us entertained.

It never stops and never will.

Because when they came for me and nobody spoke out for me, when they came for my smoking and drinking and food choices, you Puritan-lovers supported it all. Because of you, it will not stop. You did this. Revel in it. Enjoy hating me and dehumanising me. I’ve grown used to it. You’re on the list too. How will you deal with it? It’s easy but I’m not telling you. Remember, I was the first line of the rhyme. You bastards in the end lines are on your own.

When they come for you, don’t you dare ask me to speak out for you. I will not.

You can only stop it by stopping it all. Leave one thing for them to latch on to and it all starts again. Defund all of it. ALL of it, or learn to live in an olive drab world where you live exactly as directed.

Let’s play a game.

Live in a world where some people do things you personally don’t like, but you can avoid those people who do those things, or live in a world where there is no choice at all and everything, including things you like, are banned. A world of diversity or a world of grey conformity.

Make your choice.

Your time is short.

Normality approaches

It’s been a hell of a start to the year. First grandchild, father reaches 80, another grand niece imminent (they know it’s to be a girl and they will all get train sets), and much more. Finally things seem to be settling down a bit.

I was supposed to get Lee Bidgood’s book finished in January but it didn’t happen. January was a bit of a blur, full of things I didn’t expect as well as things I did expect. Hopefully February will see it in print. It’s a damn good one.

Meanwhile in the real world, more and more political corruption is coming to light and those who didn’t win elections are still acting as though they did. Those who were never elected to anything still act as if they actually matter. The only change is that it’s all getting worse and fast.

We now have the spectacle of antismoking groups focusing on vaping and pretending it’s a problem that more and more people vape instead of smoking. It’s all ‘for the cheeeldren’ as usual.

Australia still bans the only successful quit-smoking method ever invented. Why? Is it because everything is upside down there? Has the Christmas-in-summer thing broken their minds? They have so many deadly creatures on land, sea and lurking in the dunny that smoking is nothing to worry about really. Can that be the reason? But they still push the patches and gum and Champix and still demonise smokers as harbingers of the Six Hundred and Sixty-Sixth Hand Smoke of Satan, all riding white supremacist racist pale horses with a bit of yellow staining around the hooves.

Australia pushes the stop-smoking methods that don’t work while banning the only one that’s been a success. They are not alone in this.

None of those methods were ever intended to work. The patches only work if you stick one over each eye so you can’t find your fags. The gum only works if it leaves such an awful taste in your mouth that you don’t want to put anything else in there at all. The pills only work because they make smokers kill themselves and the antismokers add them to the ‘stopped smoking’ list. Antismokers don’t want those things to actually have any marked effect on the amount of tax being sucked out of a legal product.

They are really pissed at ‘heat not burn’ gadgets. I looked at them but they are expensive so haven’t tried one. The antis are really upset at those because they are made by tobacco companies. Well, this is harm reduction being practiced by the tobacco companies – but that sort of spoils the illusion that all tobacco companies have one central head office in the deepest pit of Hell and that Satan laughs every time we light one up.

Satan hates smokers. We turn up asking for a light and he can’t pretend he doesn’t have one.

I bought another Electrofag recently. I’ve already mentioned it in the previous post. You can get a basic setup for less than the ludicrously inflated price of a pack of cigarettes in the UK. USB charger, battery, clearomiser and one bottle of vape juice will set you back £6.99 in a lot of the pound shops. There is no (legal) pack of cigarettes cheaper than about £7.50 in the UK. Vaping has not yet taken over from smoking for me but the prices mean it’s damn well worth a try.

You are advised to replace the clearomiser every few weeks. Replacements cost £1. A tiny bottle of juice costs £1. For those wanting to stop because of price, your initial setup is less than one pack of cigarettes and your weekly spend thereafter is way less than a fiver. That’s a hell of a lot cheaper than trying to do it with patches and gum and it has a success rate that leaves those methods in the dust. Yet the antis are outraged that the NHS even considers saving a fortune by prescribing these instead of Big Pharma’s overpriced useless junk.

If, like me, vaping doesn’t stop you smoking, you have risked less than one pack of cigarettes to try it. If it helps you cut down a bit you’ll save money. Switch to vaping for one day and it’s paid for itself!

So why do the antismokers have such a big problem with it?

Money.

If everyone switched to vaping, the tax take would plummet and the tax-funded antismokers would have no more reason to exist. When the problem is solved, the problem solvers have no more reason to be there.

It’s like UKIP. Their principal reason for existence was to get us out of the EU. That is now happening – it would happen faster if we had a Prime Monster with a bit of brain power but that’s a separate post – so it’s no surprise that UKIP are down in the polls. They’ve done what they set out to do.

However, the many antismoking groups, and those parasitic on the NHS for lifestyle control, depend on there being smokers to harass. They depend on there being fat people and Iceland shoppers and burger eaters and salt lovers and those who take two sugars in their tea. If everyone was slim and fit and Aryan, as they want (sound familiar?) the problems are all solved and they have no more reason to exist.

I think every smoker should switch to vaping for a week, maybe a month. We can all go back to smoking after that. By then, the Dreadful Arnott and her gang of Puritan zealots should have been totally defunded.

Or at least, we could grow our own or buy them in the EU – we are still in that monstrosity so let’s take advantage. Nip over to Denmark where a pack of Vikings or Skjold is under £4 in the corner shops. Don’t waste your time in duty free, you’re in the EU so it isn’t cheap in there. Get a month’s supply (it’ll probably cover the cost of the trip) and buy no fags in the UK for that month.

Watch the taxman panic. Watch the antismoking funds disappear. Watch them flounder around when the smoking taxes fall to zero. I’d predict that by the end of the month there’ll be no antismoking groups and no smoking ban. No need for them if nobody is buying cigarettes, right?

You’d see government actively encouraging smoking. They need us even though they hate us.

If you prefer rolling baccy or tubing, those are half the price on most of the continent too. A 180g pack of tubing baccy (makes about 360 cigarettes) costs well under £40 in Denmark. Corner shop prices. 18 packs of 20 for roughly £2 a pack. If you smoke a pack a day you just saved £95 on the UK prices over 18 days. Buy two and in just over a month you saved £190. Your plane ticket is paid for. You can get the tubes in Poundland at £1 for 200, and the tubing machine (Bull Brand) is also £1.

Can we organise this? It would be a killing blow for the antismokers. No tobacco tax for a month. We don’t all need to go overseas. Some will try vaping and like it enough to use it for a month – perhaps for good. Some are already getting theirs in the pub car park. It’s just us mugs paying UK tax that need to organise.

No tobacco tax for a month and the antismokers will be wiped out. Government will be on its knees. The NHS will be broken to the point where it has to shed the lifestyle parasites and get back to what it’s supposed to do.

Come on. Let’s do it.