smokin’ in the boys’ room – brownsville station

It’s getting harder and harder to vape. The latest battle? Railway station platforms. Which is ludicrous. How many railway stations in the UK can you think of that you wouldn’t describe as draughty? Yeah, thought not.

The whole point of electronic cigarettes is avoiding the roughly two hundred toxins in a burning cigarette, as well as the smell. For years, smokers have been treated like stinking lepers, people have suggested denying them medical support at the end of their lives since their illness is ‘self inflicted’. In the same way an abused child who grows up to be an alcoholic can be said to have brought about their own illness.

At the age of fifteen, I was deliberately addicted to nicotine by multinational cheroot vendors. I’d absorbed from the adverts on TV, in magazines and in the cinema, that if I could find sufficient manliness to start smoking, I’d be cooler, healthier, more sporty and irresistible to women. So I had my first fag, given to me by a young lady of my acquaintance in a post coital moment. So far so good.

Six years later, I tried to stop and couldn’t. In fact, it took me until shortly before my fortieth birthday to stop – and for the next thirteen years, I had the occasional relapse, often going years without a fag and one of my relapses lasting about three years.

So in 2013, I started vaping. It’s cheaper, doesn’t set off my asthma and the biggest health problem is, having to stand outside of pubs with the smokers, getting their second hand smoke – at no cost to myself, however.

I was in St Andrews Square bus station in Edinburgh recently and was told to stop vaping by a member of staff as e-cigs set off the smoke detectors, apparently. Which, if that’s the case, means their smoke detectors don’t work and Edinburgh’s heading for its very own King’s Cross disaster. Or maybe they could restrict access to people who breathe. It’s these bastards with their exhalations that are putting all the rest of us burns-victims-to-be at risk.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve tended to gravitate to the pubs where the vaping’s allowed. Cowdenbeath and Cumnock seem pretty accepting of the vaping drinker. I’ve even discovered a couple of boozers in Edinburgh – near the station – where vaping’s tolerated.That said, the last time i visited one particular hostelry, i was asked if i minded “blowing it downwards”. The previous week, it seems, some aggressive – vaper or vapers – had managed to set off the sprinkler system, causing several hundred pounds worth of damage.

Generally speaking, if I’m on licensed premises, I’m reading – or tapping away at my tablet, my lips trying to keep up with the words writing themselves in my head. Being able to nicotine up is civilised and, from all the science, seems not to be doing me – or anyone else – any harm.

According to Robert Anton Wilson, the final stage in any civilisation is one where everything not compulsory is forbidden. Bureaucracy in its purest form. Let’s just think about that for a moment, shall we?


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