13 June, 2013

Zombie fags rise from the dead

Melbourne Herald Sun, Thursday June 13, 2013

  There has been a fashion flurry of vampires and werewolves in the popular media in recent times. But what I had not realised is that quietly, but rapidly, our marketing world has been invaded by a crowd of glowing zombies.
  Now, with announcements by some of the world's biggest companies, these zombies may be about to burst back onto our advertising screens. Yes, it's amazing. The cigarette is alive and smoking and back from the dead.
  Smoking seemed to have the stake through its heart over the past three decades. Not dead but ever in decline as its dwindling slaves huddled in lanes and doorways, holding packs with pictures of grotesque diseases. Meanwhile "Big Tobacco" was cut down by million-dollar lawsuits around the world. How could even the biggest businesses survive such attacks?
  But, particularly in the past year, tobacco companies have started to look very seriously at the once-gimmicky "electronic cigarettes". Originally produced by small start-up companies as smoking substitutes - like patches and chewing gum - a growing number of smokers began to transfer their addiction.
  In the United States, Lorillard bought the biggest electronic cigarette company, BluCigs, for some $135 million in 2012. They now claim 40 per cent of the US e-cigarette market.
  In Britain, Imperial Tobacco is the world's fourth-largest tobacco baron. Its chief executive, Alison Cooper, also threw its hat in the ring, stating in February that “We’re looking at opportunities and we’re actively developing in that area at the moment”.
  British American Tobacco established a company called Nicoventures in 2011 to research e-cigarettes, while R.J. Reynolds, the second-largest tobacco company in the US, launched its own brand, Vuse, a “digital vapour cigarette.”
  Next month it will begin marketing in Colorado - the first state in a planned national roll-out. This is where the advertising comes back, in print, TV and direct mail. Being Colorado, will they put a cowboy on a horse, with a cigarette in his mouth? Sounds familiar.
  There are plenty of people, especially amongst the developers and manufacturers, hailing e-cigarettes as a way to manage the nicotine habit without the dangerous tar and carcinogens. Advocates claim that it tastes and gives all the satisfaction of a cigarette without the downside.
  The cigarette itself is roughly 60 per cent battery, a small container of nicotine or other liquid, a heated atomiser pump. All within a cigarette-sized tube. Put it to your lips and draw: the liquid is vaporised and heated, forms a smoky mist which you suck in and then blow out in a plume just like Bette Davis used to do.
  Some doctors and researchers believe it is safe - certainly considerably safer than normal cigarettes. The TGA and AMA are not so sure.
  The Australian Government is not about to give the green light until their therapeutic goods credentials have been established, and that has not happened yet.
  However, perhaps if you use them not to stop smoking, but as a different way to smoke with no medical intention, does that make them permissible? While the regulators and health authorities ponder the question, the retailers are hopping in quick.
  The tobacco chain Cignall reports doing brisk business with a range of e-cigarettes. A number of different starter kits are available, they price around $10 per unit - which gives you the equivalent of 40 cigarettes.
  Supporters claim to have reduced their smoking bills to a quarter of what they paid, and with no complaints from spouses or co-workers about ash, smell and soggy butts.
  Will cigarettes return in their plastic disguise? Well it's not easy to keep a zombie dead.

1 comment:

Chris Brewer said...

I tried these a couple of years ago - mainly so I could "smoke" in places like restaurants, airports and on planes.
In South Africa (don't know about other countries) they banned them on planes (but the idiots who run this country will ban anything they possibly can - they're just about to ban booze advertising and are cutting down on drinking hours/venues etc.)
Then the airports banned them (although we still have smoking lounges). Surprisingly at Heathrow, several times, I found myself a quiet corner and puffed away without any complaints.
I gave up on them because, frankly, they weren't particularly good. And if you accidentally get a drop of nicotine on your tongue it's the worst imaginable taste. Vile!
And so I stopped fags altogether (after more than 50 years).
I don't feel any better for it, other than the morning cough has gone and I have a lot more cash in my pocket.
I justify my cessation of smoking as something you have to do as you get older. For example I can't eat pork crackling anymore because it breaks my teeth. I don't snow ski anymore because my knees will break. I can still walk on the mountains but can't 'boulder hop' anymore because my balance is fucked. I hardly even get excited when I see those gorgeous, near naked, young girls walking past.
All in all it's a bastard getting old.
Chris Brewer, Cape Town