A teenage girl looks up from her pizza, frowns and pulls a face at her grandmother.The “smoke” from our electronic cigarette has wafted over towards their table.
In Pizza Hut in Kensington, the supper of Sophie Weeks, 13, and her young brother, grandmother and mother has been interrupted. They take furtive glances at the plastic, liquid-nicotine device that emits vapour and is designed to look like the real thing. And, having politely muttered to themselves that it is an e-cigarette.
and not a carcinogenic, they return to their food. We continue puffing on the ecigarette.This, of course, is the smoking ban which came about via a campaign which consisted solely of mostly state-funded career prohibitionists fulfilling a 40 year plan to convince vacant MPs that passive smoke was on the same toxic level as Sarin gas.
More than five years after the smoking in public places ban was introduced, the first real test to its authority has come with the rise of the e-cigarette as an increasingly popular alternative to smoking tobacco.
So successful have they been that the more gullible in society have developed an irrational phobia of anything which is remotely smoke-like (apart from deadly car fumes, of course, which are considered entirely normal and largely safe).
With two e-cigarette companies having advertised on television this month — testing, in the process, the 48-year ban on promoting smoking on television — The Times visited a range of indoor public places to gage the public’s reception.The article promises to be so much fun ... and it is.
“Sir, you can’t smoke in here,” says a well-dressed sales assistant at Ralph Lauren in Covent Garden, Central London.
“It’s an e-cigarette,” we say, blowing smoke all over the menswear.
“Phew, you scared me then,” he says, permitting us to continue.Scared? By what? Did he/she think they would die from a wisp of smoke? Well, it's possible, but more likely the scare was that they could be quite innocently liable to a fine of up to £2,500 for not adequately enforcing the state's 'benevolent' law. If so. the enemy here is not the vaper (or smoker), but the dictatorial sadists who devised such a disgusting regime for private business owners to abide by.
The piece goes on to highlight why anti-smokers are desperately scrambling for junk science to encourage legislators to ban e-cigs. You see, they are beginning to be recognised widely.
At the neighbouring Burberry, an “undercover” female security guard in a beige trench coat explains she’s more concerned about tobacco smoke wafting in from the doorway than e-cigarettes instore. “We have no reason to ban them,” she says.“You do a double take. But as soon as you see it’s an e-cigarette, you don’t bat an eyelid.”Nor should they, whether e-cig or no. But again, it is state scaremongery which has got them darting their eyes around as if a uniformed jobsworth is licking his pencil and preparing to be a smoking Pataweyo. This, despite the much reported figure of 98% compliance by the tobacco control industry as a triumph (as if any fine of that level for any behaviour would result in anything less).
E-cigs also seem to be proving that the general public are generally regarded by authority as pretty stupid.
In the Apple Store, the well-staffed ranks look on, unable to state what the company’s policy is on e-cigarettes. Nor can an assistant at Leicester Square Tube station. “It may be better you go outside in case people misunderstand,” she suggests.OK, that was a cheap shot. They're not stupid for believing that e-cig vapour might be real smoke, because it can look quite realistic. Having said that, since many believe that something which was all prevalent in the lives of baby boomers who have delivered the longest living generation in history - along with the corresponding pensions crisis due to their longevity - is now as dangerous as spending a few minutes in a nuclear reactor, perhaps the cap may fit for quite a few.
At King’s Cross station, where 31 people died 26 years ago after a smoker dropped a lit cigarette on an escalator, commuters watch unmoved.
So, too, at a petrol station in the East End.On the No 13 bus to Aldwych, the driver is more certain. “No smoking anything.” Transport for London’s official position is that e-smokers are permitted.Yes, the humble e-cig also exposes officious little shits who make rules up as they go along.
The driver of a Black Cab said that the official line was not to allow smoking of any sort in the back of the taxi, but most cabbies used their discretion.Hmm, interesting. That explains habits of quite a few queueing drivers at the rank outside Waterloo station (nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more).
E-cigs also snigger and point a an accusatory finger at woeful laziness.
Meanwhile, at City airport, the policy was official. “We don’t allow smoking or them to be smoked anywhere in the building,” a flight assistant said. “People might think they’re the real thing.”Err, they could always invest some time to ascertain what is being 'smoked', couldn't they? You know, spend some time - for the comfort of their paying customers - to clear vapers but tackle anyone who actually does break the terms of the Health Act 2006. Too much like hard work, obviously.
And lastly, won't somebody please think of the chiiildren?
In McDonald’s on High Holborn, Hayden Evans, 12, from Colchester, asks his father whether my smoke will “go into” his Happy Meal.What an incredibly ironic end to the piece, eh? Happy Meals being the next logical step for the same joyless health obsessives who spent years 'denormalising' tobacco, and the same professional bansturbators who are now putting barriers in front of e-cigs to protect their funding from the pharmaceutical industry.
Go e-cigs! You are Andersen's little child made real.