Skycig launch a major ad campaign this week
Walking up to Brighton station the last couple of mornings, I’ve noticed that Skycig, whose tagline, tellingly, is “freedom to smoke”, are now advertising on phone boxes and billboards across my home city. “Hello Brighton. Have you tried Skycig?”, the hoardings blythely inquire.
Well, Skycig, since you asked, the answer is “no”. As a committed mod/tank using vaper of two and a half years I will admit to the cardinal sin of having given one or two of the more recent cig-a-likes a go – purely for scientific purposes, you understand – but having tried E-Lites and more recently, the NJoy, I see little point in giving yet another brand a try, since they are all much of an unsatisfactory muchness.
The sudden surge in cig-a-like advertising got me to thinking – if the writing really is on the wall for ecigs, then the companies like Skycig are either already looking at medical licensing deals, or they figure they have nothing to lose by increasing their customer base before the shutters come down on their businesses in 2016. But given the huge advertising outlay involved, the former is far, far more likely.
On the face of it, it seems odd that while opponents of the ecig fear that vaping will somehow ‘normalise’ smoking, the very ecigs that look most like their deadly tobacco counterparts are the ones most likely to win out if the MHRA have their way in less than three year’s time.
However, if you look at what we suspect is the long-term strategy regarding the regulation of ecigs, it’s not that much of a paradox after all. In fact, it is purely in the interest of the legislators and big manufacturers alike, that the only post-regulation ecigs look as much like cancer sticks as possible – and here’s why:
The ecig, in all its glorious variety, has thrown a massive curveball in the direction of the anti-smoking lobby. Since July 2007, when the UK introduced a ban on smoking in public places, it has become almost unthinkable that people were ever allowed to smoke indoors in the first place. So far so good for the anti-smoking camp.
Enter the ecig a year or so later. At that point the ecig was so niche that it wasn’t really an issue for pubs, restaurants and other public venues, since so few people even knew what ecigs were, let alone having actually used one. But over the last couple of years, the humble ecig has become such a mainstream method of recreational nicotine delivery, that they simply cannot be ignored. This poses a huge problem for those who, rightly or wrongly, have claimed the smoking ban to be a great success. Suddenly, just as everyone has got used to smoke-free environments, along comes a product that allows people to do something that looks like smoking but isn’t, and there is no law against them doing it in all the places in which smoking is prohibited.
Since the very notion of accepting the huge health benefits of ecigs and forming sensible legislation by which public premises may allow vaping on a discretionary basis is too horrible a perceived backslide to contemplate, the anti-smoking lobby wants smokers and vapers lumped into the same category so we can all be turfed outside, whether we are doing anyone any harm or not.
Look at it from their point-of-view: having successfully eliminated smoking from all public places, including public transport, it must really rile the anti-smoking lobby that the law simply hasn’t responded swiftly enough to the meteoric rise of the ecig. People are puffing away on trains, in pubs and in restaurants across the UK, for all the world looking like they are smoking. It must be a terrible blow.
Moving forward, if ecigs continue to grow in popularity – and there is not a shred of evidence to say they won’t – we will find ourselves in a situation resembling the height of smoking in the UK, when millions of people would chuff away whenever and wherever they liked. For the anti-smoking puritan, such a scenario is too dreadful to even imagine, even if the smoke isn’t actually smoke and nobody is doing anyone any harm, either to themselves or to those around them. Even the sensible idea of providing vaping areas in public places, or vaping carriages on trains, for example, would look far too much like a massive step backward, so long term, whether you vape or whether you smoke, outside is where you will be getting your nicotine fix.
Key to this long term push to keep vaping out of public places is the difficulty in being able to instantly assess whether someone is a smoker or a vaper. Now if, like me, you favour a fairly hefty mod with a tank, then nobody in their right mind will be confused about whether I am smoking real cigarette or not, since a Vamo/ViVi Nova combo bears about as much resemblance to a cigarette as it does to a leg of lamb.
However, if the only device you are able to get your hands on legally is a cunningly disguised cig-a-like, you will look for all the world, to smoker and non-smoker alike, as if you are something that you are not, ie. a smoker. And that is exactly where the anti-smoking lobby want you. If the only thing that distinguishes your ‘cigarette’ from a real one is that it is battery powered, then you have no place inside and huddle in the cold with your tobacco smoking cousins you must.
This is the perfect compromise for the anti-smoking crowd and the tobacco companies alike. Vapers will be denied any device that does not resemble a cigarette, and if any of you have had a go on an NJoy or a Vype with their super realistic ash effect ends, paper wrapping and squashy ‘filters’, you’ll know that they look so close to the real thing that even smokers are fooled. This will keep us all in the category of ‘smoker’ – we will simply be regular smokers or e-smokers, but smokers we will be.
And that, my vaping friends, is why cig-a-likes are being pushed and why in the next couple of years, you will inceasingly find that your vaping will be done at home, or on a succession of draughty doorsteps, where inevitably you will end up passively smoking someone else’s filthy growler. So much for public health.