So irony it’s rusting

  • 3

So irony it’s rusting

I read lots of stuff. From academic papers to the sort of shiny thriller that airport bookstalls specialise in, if it contains words I’m usually willing to give it a shot. Sometimes I read to gain knowledge, sometimes for pleasure and sometimes because it’s a reliable way to pass the time on long journeys. Usually I find reading to be extremely enjoyable and relaxing. Just occasionally, however, I read something that’s so stunningly, balls-out stupid that the words reach out into my head and flip the big red switch marked “Rage”. So, with that, let’s meet Jacqueline Lee of the University of California, Riverside.

Apart from the fact that she likes to write opinion pieces for The Highlander, UC Riverside’s student journal, I know very little about Jacqueline Lee. That doesn’t matter though, because there’s one thing I do know which made me instantly lose any interest in finding out more – she’s a fucking moron.

That may sound harsh, but I think I can justify it pretty easily. All the evidence you need is in a piece Lee wrote for today’s edition of The Highlander, in which she amply demonstrates her ignorance, arrogance and utter lack of reading comprehension. The topic of the article – I use the term loosely – is vaping and marijuana, and while I’m no expert on the weed side of things her pronouncements on vaping are among the most stupid things I’ve ever read.

Even her initial description of vaping is about as wrong as it’s possible to be. Apparently it’s a way “to get their nicotine fix instead of from cigarettes via nicotine-infused oils like peanut oil.” What? Yes, the ignorant – and many linguistically-challenged Chinese vendors – often call e-liquid oil. But peanut oil? She’s just made that up, hasn’t she? Pulled it, warm and steaming, straight out of her arse. She has invented it. She has lied, simply because she was too stupid, lazy or both to do any proper research.

And it just gets worse from there. Thermal degradation – which, according to Lee, is “the ability to alter the temperature of the heated natural oil” – apparently causes coil malfunctions, which then lead to explosions. Again this is complete invention. We all know why e-cigarettes occasionally explode, and it has bugger all to do with the tank being full of hot peanut oil. Lee is inventing hazards out of nowhere, then trying to pass it off as fact by mentioning papers which she doesn’t bother to link (probably because they don’t say what she claims they do).

Because she hasn’t made the effort to find out that e-liquid is not oil, Lee then starts wittering about how the “suggested oil temperature” is similar to what’s considered a dangerous smoke point when cooking. It’s very true that if you overheat oil when cooking you can end up inhaling dangerous breakdown products. Lee says the same can happen when you’re vaping, which of course isn’t true because it’s not oil, you fucking moron.

Finally, and unforgivably, she says this:

This demonstrates that vaping could potentially be just as bad for lungs as cigarettes are — especially considering that cigarettes are not as likely to randomly explode.

With this bollocks, Lee crosses the line between pathetic imbecile and malignant piece of shit. She’s basically encouraging people to keep smoking. I have no idea what UC Riverside will think of this, seeing as their reputation is built on being a research university; surely they won’t be too happy that their student magazine is printing dishonest shite that’s completely untouched by research of any kind. Expecially given the massive irony of the piece’s title:

On the lack of medical research for e-cigarettes and marijuana

Anyway, I have no idea if Jacqueline Lee will ever see this post, but if you are reading it, Jacqueline, you’re a despicable piece of shit. Stop writing; the internet doesn’t need your useless, misleading bollocks.


  • 105

It’s been great, mech mods, but it’s time to say goodbye

A couple of years ago you’d rarely see me without one of my FastTech Nemesis clones in my hand. Mech mods were basically all I used; none of the regulated devices on the market at the time could deliver the power I liked or handle the coils I was building. My first mech was a K-100, one of those odd little telescopic things that cost hardly anything but nevertheless worked surprisingly well. Then I bought my first Nemesis clone, and soon I had three of them. I thought they were great, and I would have been lost without them. So would many others; mech mods played an important role in the development of vaping, showing that it was possible to do a lot better than the wispy clouds that emerged from the early cigalikes.

But now it’s time for them to fade into the sunset. There is no place for mech mods any more, and I’d be much happier if they all disappeared from the shelves tomorrow.

If you read my blogs regularly you’ll know that I am not, in general, a fan of restricting consumer choices. In an ideal world I’d much rather leave people to make their own decisions instead of being coerced into making the officially approved one – you know, what public health usually refer to as “supporting healthier choices” when they really mean punishing choices they don’t like. I don’t regret buying any of my mech mods and, although I haven’t used one since early 2015, I remember them fondly. Sadly, because this is not an ideal world, they’ve now become a massive liability.

Safety is relative

Mech mods are not, in the big scheme of things, dangerous. You’re far less likely to be injured by your mech mod than you are by your car, bread knife or Galaxy Note 7. Unfortunately the media don’t care about traffic accidents, kitchen utensils or phones. They do care about e-cigarettes. And that means every time a mech mod goes badly wrong it’s going to get global press coverage. Even more unfortunately, while mechs are safer than many objects we cheerfully surround ourselves with on a daily basis they’re a lot less safe than any other variety of e-cig – and those with hybrid connectors are the least safe of all.

In expert hands a mech is pretty safe. If you understand battery safety, follow sensible precautions when building coils and keep in mind that Ohm’s Law is a law not a guideline, the chances of a battery explosion are minimal. The problem is that if you don’t know what you’re doing it becomes a lot easier to screw up, overload your battery and send it into thermal runaway – and, while I know some of you are going to hate me for saying this, if you’re running sub-0.1Ω builds on a mech you don’t know what you’re doing. That sort of setup is just tiny fractions of an ohm away from a hard short and, no matter how careful you think you’re being, it’s going to put immense stress on your battery. The problem is that, if you push the battery past its limits, the average mech mod is a uniquely unfortunate shape. It’s basically a metal tube with screw-in end caps, and with a battery venting inside it something – probably the bottom end cap – is almost certainly going to fail. When that happens a very large volume of hot gas will rush out of the opening, Ohm’s Law is replaced by Newton’s, and the tube becomes a rocket. That sucks for the user, because more likely than not it’s a rocket that’s pointing right at his face.

No responsible vaper is going to deny that using a mech mod with an ultra-low resistance build carries a degree of risk. What benefits does the vaper get in return for this risk? Zero. Absolutely nothing. A mech can do nothing that a modern regulated mod can’t. Mech mods became popular because their lack of circuits let them bypass the serious power limits that held back early electronic cigarettes; at a time when a top of the line variable power mod wouldn’t fire below 1Ω and had a maximum power output of 12W, mechs were the only game in town for serious vapers. But now they’re simply outclassed. Vape shops are full of affordable mods that will fire at 0.05Ω and put out 100W – and they’ll do that all day with basically zero chance of blowing up. They have an extensive range of built-in safety features that intercept any danger before the battery starts cooking, and they also deliver a more consistent vape.

A dangerous fashion

Unfortunately, mechs remain fashionable among a small minority of vapers. Vaping was invented as an alternative to smoking and that’s still how most of us see it; almost all the vapers I know fall into that category and I can’t think of a single one who still regularly uses a mech. We’ve all enthusiastically adopted the new generation of powerful regulated mods, because as well as being infinitely safer they’re also just better in every conceivable way. Mainstream vapers are not at risk of blowing themselves up, unless they do stupid stuff like carry loose batteries in their pocket – and if anyone insists on doing that then I, for one, am happy to let Darwin claim another slightly charred victim.

No, the problem is the people who vape so they can blow clouds or do tricks. If somebody just wants to see how much liquid they can waste, or suck vapour into their own ears, that’s fine; I’m a libertarian and have no interest in stopping them. I only wish they didn’t tend to be such immature dicks – and I especially wish that an obsession with mech mods wasn’t a major part of their dickishness. For example I’ve just watched a video by a certain well-known vaper who demonstrated his 0.09Ω build on a mech, and this cretin has admirers. There are people out there who watch all his videos and take his advice. Do not take his advice. He is a clown, and no matter how expert he sounds, the builds he is demonstrating are not safe.

I have no idea why these vapers still like mechs so much. There seems to be a myth that they deliver “raw power”, but power is not steak. It doesn’t come in well done, medium rare and raw. It’s just power, and a mech can’t deliver anywhere close to as much as a modern regulated mod can. The YouTube idiot’s 0.09Ω build, pushing a top of the line battery right to its safe discharge limit, would result in around 75 watts of power at the coil. My Wismec RX200 will punch out over three times that in perfect safety, and you can pick one up from FastTech for $40.

If idiots want to blow themselves up I don’t particularly care. The world is not short of idiots, so the occasional self-immolation of one is no great loss. What I do care about is that their immaturity and dangerous antics are threatening to bring down even harsher regulations on the rest of us. There was a news story two days ago about an Andrew Hall of Pocatello, Idaho, who managed to blow out nine of his own teeth with – you guessed it – a mech mod. Images of its blackened wreckage show that it was a hybrid, and there are unconfirmed reports that he was running a 0.06Ω build on it. There is no 18650 battery on the market that can safely handle the sort of stress a build like that imposes, so if you build this low an explosion is basically just a matter of time. Maybe you think your extreme build is an exception because you know what you’re doing. Trust me; no you don’t. I’m sure the luckless Mr Hall will insist that he knew what he was doing, but clearly he didn’t because he blew his fucking teeth out.

Obviously we can say that this is not a problem with e-cigs; it’s a problem with people who mess with things they don’t understand. Unfortunately that’s irrelevant. The media don’t know that this is only an issue with obsolete technology; I watched a news report about Andrew Hall that used an image of an eVic VTC – a regulated, safe mod – as the backdrop. The audience don’t know it either. And our loyal friends and allies in public health either don’t know it, or they know it but they don’t care. To them it’s just another excuse to demonise e-cigarettes and the people who use them.

Tough decisions

At this point so many idiots have blown themselves up, and generated so much bad publicity in the process, that if governments around the world decided to ban mech mods I wouldn’t raise more than a token protest. But that’s not going to happen. What might happen is that they ban all mods, because they can’t or won’t make a distinction between the safe modern ones and the potentially dangerous old junk. And that – the risk of known hazards with obsolete devices being used as an excuse for another crackdown – is why I now wish that mech mods would just quietly disappear.

So what’s to be done? What I’d like to be done is for manufacturers to realise that mech mods are a solution to a problem that just doesn’t exist any more, and to stop making them. I’d like vendors to realise that the small margin they make on some overpriced tube isn’t worth said tube’s potential to blow up a toddler and get the whole industry shut down. But, right now, I don’t think that’s very realistic. So instead I’m going to ask brick and mortar vendors to be very, very careful about who they sell mechs to. If someone comes in looking for their first e-cig and wants to buy a mech, don’t sell them one. Explain to them that regulated mods are a superior, and safer, alternative. If they insist, don’t give in; better to lose one sale than your business. In fact, any time somebody asks for a mech ask them why they want it. If the answer is “To chuck some sick cloudz,” tell them no. A regulated mod is better for that, too.

If they can convince you that a mech might be right for them – and I can’t honestly think of any reason why it might be, but never mind – quiz them on their electrical knowledge to make sure they can use it safely. If they say, “What’s Ohm’s Law?” don’t sell them the mod. If they don’t buy an appropriate battery along with it, or physically show you a suitable one they already own, don’t sell them the mod. I know this is hard advice for a small business to follow; I make my living by selling things too, and it’s painful to turn a customer away, but it is unconscionable to put a mech mod in the hands of someone who doesn’t know how to use it.

As for online vendors, please just stop selling the damn things. You can’t vet the buyers and it simply isn’t worth the risk. Despite the growing scientific consensus that vaping really is a safer alternative to smoking, the regulatory threats against us just keep growing. Handing our opponents the ammunition to shoot us down with is bad enough; every time you sell a mech mod, you’re potentially handing them a grenade.


  • 0
ecigs

And more nice liquids

I’ve been writing some stuff today about switching to vaping at New Year, instead of making yet another resolution to quit smoking that you just know will be broken by the second of January. Along the way I got to thinking about my own switch, which seems like quite a while ago now. In fact it was quite a while ago – just short of four years. When I bought my first e-cigarette I knew almost nothing about them except that they were safer than smoking (and it’s amazing how many people still won’t accept that little fact), and I had absolutely no idea about the variety of equipment and flavours that existed even then.

Anyway, I walked away from my local vape shop with an eGo-C kit and a bottle of liquid that claimed to be Marlboro flavoured. It wasn’t, of course – cigarette flavours never taste anything like the originals – but it did the job. It  didn’t do it spectacularly, though, so pretty soon I looked at upgrading. That’s when I got my first mod and started experimenting with flavours. I now have a small collection of box mods with various things to sit on top of them . At the moment I’m mostly using a pair of Limitless tank atties – an original RDTA and a Classic Edition, which is a larger version of the new Gold – but I have assorted conventional tanks and a couple of drippers as well. I also have a reasonable assortment of liquid to feed it all with. My all-day vape is a DIY vanilla pipe tobacco, because I’m a penniless freelance writer and DIY liquid is cheap. However I do get my hands on some classier juice sometimes, and that’s what I reach for when I want to sit back and really enjoy myself.

Well, that was a slightly long-winded introduction. What I planned to say is that someone gave me a tankful of liquid the other day, and it’s really rather nice. It’s Cola & Gummy, by Cosmic Fog, so you’ll probably be able to guess that it’s a sweet flavour. Specifically, it’s those chewy cola bottles with the fizzy sugary sprinkles on them. Not only is the flavour spot on – Cosmic Fog have even captured the fizzy sensation, too. I have no idea how they do that, but it’s definitely there. Cosmic Fog are a California-based mixer and that’s usually a good sign; the state’s government might be anti-vaping, but its citizens have embraced the hobby with enthusiasm and it has a world-class industry making high end liquids. This is one of the nicest I’ve tried, and the branding is classy too.

I’d never tried Cosmic Fog liquids before, and I have to say I was really impressed with this. So much so that I’ve splashed out and ordered a couple of bottles as an end of year present to myself. It’ll probably be a few days before they arrive, because thanks to the current exchange rate it was cheaper to order them from a UK shop than a German one, but never mind. There are quite a few Cosmic Fog UK dealers, but in the end I settled on Vapelux, because I’ve heard good things about them. They also sell the Limitless tanks, which is a big plus as far as I’m concerned.

So for now I’m going to enjoy the rest of my Cola & Gummy, while I wait for a fresh supply to turn up. My postman better be ready for another week of stalking.


  • 6

Steam Potion – What e-liquid SHOULD be like

Not that long ago I had a bit of a rant about some of the dumb branding that’s prevalent in the e-liquid industry. I’m sick of seeing bottles that violate intellectual property law, or feature the sort of cartoon characters that play into the hands of nanny statists and their incessant bleats about targeting children. E-liquid is an adult product and should be branded as one. Which is why I was so pleased when a full set of Steam Potion liquids landed in my letter box a few weeks ago.

Steam Potion is a new liquid company, specialising in fruity dessert juices. They have five flavours so far, but I’ll come back to that. First, I’d just like to compliment them on their branding. Their labels are understated, almost retro, and in my opinion extremely classy. As the name suggests they’ve gone for a steam train motif, which carries over into the names of their liquids. I think that gives them a very nice up-market touch; steam locomotives symbolise a golden age of rail travel, when a train was a sophisticated and elegant way to get around.

Anyway, here are what their bottles look like:

steam potion e-liquid

You’ll notice that I’ve put a pretty heavy dent in four of them, but not the fifth. I’ll explain in a minute, I promise. Anyway, these are low-nicotine dessert liquids, and those who know me will be aware that I usually go with high-nicotine pipe tobacco flavours. So why am I vaping what’s almost the polar opposite of what I normally prefer? Well, that’s simple – they’re awesome.

In the interests of full disclosure and all that boring stuff, I was sent these liquids as thanks for writing some product descriptions. That led to quite an amusing conversation in itself, when the boss at Steam Potion asked me what nicotine strength I usually use. “24mg,” I replied, “But 18mg is fine if that’s your strongest.”

For a moment, all was silence.

“Uh, what sort of gear do you use?” he asked, obviously wondering why he’d had the bad luck to track down the only maniac in the world who’s still using an eGo-C.

I picked up my trusty mod from the desk and lovingly stroked its battered steel flanks. “A Uwell Crown on an RX200,” I said.

The silence came back. It hung around a bit longer this time.

“I can send you some 6mg,” he said finally. “By the way, is your throat made of asbestos or something?”

Anyway, the liquids were a gift, for which I’d like to say a big thank you to Steam Potion, but I did offer to write something about them. “If you do, be honest,” I was told. “Say what you really think.” So I will, probably to nobody’s great surprise, and the first thing I’m going to say is that I wish these were available in a higher strength – even a TPD-friendly 18mg/ml would be great. Alternatively, if Steam Potion sold flavour concentrates I’d happily buy those and mix my own, because the contents of my freezer are definitely not TPD-friendly.

rx200 wotofo ice cubed

I like these flavours so much I bought a dripper just to use with them

Still, I’m a realist. We have to take life as it is, not as it would be in a world with more nicotine, so 6mg it was. To give the liquids a fair chance I decided to try them in a dripper, which would compensate for the low strength by cranking the vapour production up. They’re all high-VG liquids, too, which is ideal for dripping. Unfortunately the only drippers I actually owned were an elderly Tobh and a positively ancient Igo-L, so I splashed out on a Wotofo Ice³, which seemed like it should be cloudy enough to do the job. In due course that arrived – not too quickly, because I got it from FastTech – and I set it up with a pair of Clapton coils and some fluffy stuff. Resistance came in at 0.4Ω, and I started with the power set to 50W (but went up a bit from there). Then I tried all the liquids, so I should probably stop waffling and tell you how that worked out.

Puffing Billy

The original Puffing Billy is in London’s Science Museum, because it’s the world’s oldest surviving steam locomotive and therefore pretty historical. Steam Potion, appropriately, picked the name as their first (and flagship) liquid, which is a blend of assorted berries with a vanilla background note. I’m not sure exactly what berries are in there, but I strongly suspect one of them is raspberry. In any case they’re sweet and  deliciously cool, which contrasts nicely with the warm vanilla. My bottle of Puffing Billy is among the emptiest of the set, because quite often I’ve made it to dinner time then realised I’ve been vaping this all day. It’s very, very nice.

Stephenson’s Rocket

Robert Stephenson’s famous 1829 locomotive was painted yellow. Steam Potion’s version is banana flavoured. Bananas are yellow. That seems fair enough to me.

Actually there’s a bit more going on than just bananas. The main flavour is a banana cream, which is always going to be a hard act to follow. This one has strawberries in it. There isn’t a lot left of the Rocket either.

Trans-Siberian

This is a cereal flavour, with loads of milk and a dollop of cream on top. I have to say, up front, that I don’t like it much. This isn’t the liquid’s fault, though – it’s mine. Trans-Siberian has a really good malty cereal base and the milk is done perfectly. The problem is that I can’t stand milk, which is unhygienic and comes out a cow’s bottom. If you do like milk I suspect you’ll really enjoy this one.

North Star

With North Star, named after one of Stephenson’s later engines, Steam Potion race right back into my flavour comfort zone. North Star is a strawberry ripple blend and it’s truly awesome. The strawberry syrup is rich and sweet, and the vanilla ice cream sets it off perfectly. Like the Puffing Billy, this one is a really delicious all day vape.

Midnight Express

It’s a toss-up whether this one or Puffing Billy is my favourite from the range. Midnight Express is probably the most decadent Steam Potion liquid – an ice cream sundae, crammed with bananas then topped with rich, dark chocolate sauce. It’s perfectly balanced, avoiding the trap of being too sweet to vape all day, and it really is pretty spectacular. I’ll be buying more of this when I run out, which is likely to be quite soon.

So there we have it – five dessert, or at least sweet, liquids, with a strong bias towards vanilla and fruit flavours. If dessert vapes are your thing I would definitely recommend you try Steam Potion. They’re the sort of responsible company that deserves our support, but more importantly than that, they really are good. Good enough that I’m enjoying vaping them at a quarter of my usual nic strength.

Steam Potion are a new company, so to get things moving they’re offering a rather nice discount now. Visit their website and use code xm30 to get 30% off. Buy another two bottles and they’ll throw in free UK postage. That’s not a great help to me, because I live in Germany, but I know the bulk of my readers are UK-based.

Once again, thanks to Shahid at Steam Potion for sending me these liquids. I’m thoroughly enjoying them.

These bottles are nice enough to hang on your tree. So I did.

These bottles are nice enough to hang on your tree. So I did.


  • 0

Black Note liquids gain TPD approval in 15 EU nation

Black Note is proud of our position as a responsible and forward-thinking company, and we constantly work to deliver the best products and most professional service to our customers. We want our liquids to be available for as long as you want them, and to give the best possible vaping experience. That means we seek to comply with all applicable laws and standards, both in the USA and internationally.

As the next step in our journey we are pleased to announce that Black Note liquids are now officially notified under the Tobacco Products Directive (Directive 2014/40/EU) in the following 15 countries:

  • Belgium
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Netherlands
  • Spain
  • United Kingdom

Our full range is now available in a 10ml bottle size that fully complies with TPD regulations, and we have completed all the necessary steps to gain approval under the new rules. The TPD is a challenging piece of legislation that makes it difficult and expensive to gain approval; sadly that’s likely to reduce the choices available to vapers in the EU as manufacturers trim their ranges or leave the industry altogether. The good news is that Black Note will still be here, supplying the finest naturally extracted tobacco flavours.”


  • 1

Grotty Crotty

One from the archives.

I like California. I really, really do. But the constant flow of anti-vaping propaganda that vomits from its university system sometimes makes me wish the San Andreas Fault would just dump the whole damn state on the bed of the Pacific.

We have yet another study from San Diego, revisiting the old nonsense about e-cigarette vapour creating superbugs. It’s nothing special, just another bunch of gassed mice and some not very important stuff about – shock, horror! – lung cells in a petri dish dying if you pickle them in e-liquid. By this point I’m pretty much numb to this sort of research – it’s tentative science at best, adds little to what we understand about vaping, and I don’t think it’s even having the media impact it used to.

What interests me about the latest study isn’t the study itself; it’s the lead author. The senior researcher on the paper was Laura E Crotty Alexander, an assistant professor at the University of California, San Diego who also works in a Veteran’s Administration hospital. Dr Crotty Alexander, at first glance, seems like an amiable enough sort – a serious and idealistic young researcher who’s genuinely concerned about health – and when she popped up on Twitter a couple of days ago I felt she deserved sympathetic treatment. Even if some of her claims were, you, know, a bit wild.

Well, okay. She’s young, and probably doesn’t get out of her ivory tower much. Maybe she isn’t really clued up enough to know the difference between owning 30% of companies and accounting for 30% of sales through American convenience stores.* So we can let that one slide, probably. She’s wrong, but no big deal.

Oh look, what’s this?

Right, this isn’t so good. Looks like she’s bought into the myth about “high voltage” e-cigs producing formaldehyde, and thinks power should be restricted for our own good. Again this is totally wrong, but maybe she was too busy with her own research to know that Peyton and Pankow’s pharma-funded formaldehyde hatchet job has been ruthlessly dismantled by real scientists.

Or maybe not. Maybe she’s an anti-vaping activist with an agenda to push.

And then someone kindly posted a link to a video she made a couple of years ago. It’s basically an anti-vaping propaganda video by the University of California, with Crotty Alexander presented as an expert on electronic cigarettes. The interviewer lobs her a series of highly loaded questions, all calculated to let her trot out the standard lines. “Targeted at children”, that sort of thing. She massively misrepresents propylene glycol as “something you’d find in a laboratory” rather than something you’d find in, you know, cakes and toothpaste. It’s a smear piece from start to finish.

So no, this is not an idealistic young researcher who’s uncovered something shocking. This is another anti-nicotine crusader whose first research project just coincidentally happened to back up her own prejudices. In other words it’s biased junk. And as it’s from California and about e-cigs, who’s surprised?

* – From the tobacco companies’ point of view a 30% market share is actually nothing short of a disaster. This figure only covers convenience stores, because that’s the only sales of e-cigs that are tracked in detail. So we’re talking about corner shops and petrol stations that have a case full of cigalikes beside the cigarette display, and maybe a few bottles of liquid – and they still get less than a third of sales. But where do most vapers buy their stuff? From a vape shop or online. And what percentage of those sales do Big Tobacco have? I’d be surprised if it was 5%.

This post was originally published on E-Cigs Plaza in January 2016, and is reposted here for historical interest.


  • 5
Limitless RDA in zombie green

Limitless style – Zombie atomisers & laser cats

Vaping is a lot more than just a replacement for cigarettes. It has an incredible number of things going for it – it saves money, it’s much better for your health, it doesn’t scatter ash everywhere (if it does you’re doing it wrong) – and, maybe most of all, it offers an almost limitless amount of fun.

Probably the fun thing is why so many people have a problem with vaping; after all, quitting smoking isn’t supposed to be fun, is it? You’re supposed to be miserable and unsatisfied, because you’re giving up something you actually rather like. That’s why patches, gum and Nicorette inhalators are so boring.

Personally I’m just happy that most vape gear makers really don’t agree with this. They think life should be fun, and that shows up in their products. I’ve been vaping for the last three years now and I’ve tried out a lot of things that were enjoyable, from seriously unusual flavours to tech-laden mods that I could sit and play with all day.

Enter the Zombie

So a few days ago one of my friends showed me his latest toy.  It’s the Limitless RDA from the Limitless Mod Co, who I must confess I’d never heard of before. I haven’t actually used a dripper for a few months – I have a few sub-ohm tanks to choose from – but, as you do, I admired it anyway. Basically it looked like an RDA, which probably isn’t a surprise. A very nice RDA, with lots of air holes and an interesting (very) dark green colour scheme, but still an RDA.

And then he took a big puff on it.

Imagine my surprise when, in the space of a couple of seconds, the dripper swiftly turned a bright acidic green – drip tip and all. Once I picked myself up off the floor, and he’d stopped laughing, he explained: The outside of the atty is powder coated, and the pigment is heat sensitive. Leave it alone and it’s a subtle dark colour; apply heat and it rapidly turns a startling shade that should be familiar to any fans of zombie chic.

Laser Cat sleeve for Limitless mod

How awesome is this?

It turns out that Limitless make eight different versions of this RDA, three of them colour-changing – including the zombie green one I saw. They also make a hybrid-style mechanical mod that their dripper is designed to work safely on, and the mod is also available in multiple versions – six in fact. Four of them are copper, including three with different coatings, and there are brass and aluminium versions too. If that isn’t enough choice you can also buy a sleeve that fits over the body to customise the appearance. There are 41 sleeves to choose from, including options to match the atomisers. That’s right. Forty-one. One of them has a picture of a cat with lasers coming out of his eyes, which may just be the most awesome picture I’ve ever seen.

Limitless make high-end gear that’s going to appeal to hardcore cloud chasers and sub-ohm vapers; from what I’ve seen of it the quality and workmanship are outstanding. But what really hit me about it was how much fun they seemed to be having designing it. These devices aren’t some boring old gadget to get you through a quit attempt; they’re bright, outrageous, stylish and definitely for people who enjoy what they’re doing.

And that’s what vaping’s all about. It’s easy to switch, because vaping isn’t just cheaper and safer than smoking; it’s also better.  And if it tastes and smells better, why shouldn’t it look better too? So don’t be shy about expressing yourself through your gear, whether it’s picking up one of those lovely, shiny Limitless mods or slapping a My Little Pony sticker on your old iStick. We should be enjoying this, and making sure the world’s grouches know it.


  • 6

ASHes to ashes, trust to dust

Well, colour me surprised. Action on Smoking and Health, the “pro-vaping” political lobby group who’ve “been supportive for quite some time”, just decided to publicly throw vapers under the bus. In an atrocious press release earlier today they announced that the EU Tobacco Products Directive, which becomes law on Friday, is “not a problem” for most vapers. It’s now clear that the hard-hitting post Clive Bates made a couple of days ago was in fact a blast at his former organisation, and I have to say it was entirely justified. The same goes for this morning’s responses by the New Nicotine Alliance and Vapers In Power.

ASH supportive

To claim that nobody will be disadvantaged by this demented, arbitrary law is simply bollocks. The TPD’s Article 20, which deals with vaping, is an absolute disaster – and ASH know that. They’ve been talking regularly to vaping advocates for several years. I know for a fact that many people have explained to them, carefully and in great detail, how vape devices work and what makes them effective for smoking cessation. ASH have also been told how people actually use the equipment, and why the TPD rules will have only negative effects on popularity, efficacy and even safety.

Here’s an example. One of the most incomprehensible clauses in Article 20 is a ban on any tank holding more than 2ml of liquid. This is allegedly a safety feature, to prevent us all being killed by accidental leaks of deadly liquid nicotine. Never mind that the actual risk of nicotine poisoning from e-liquid was wildly exaggerated by the EU Commission, in the face of protests from the scientists who did the actual research they claimed to rely on. If we assume that leaks are indeed a hazard that needs to me minimised, wouldn’t it be a good idea to look at how they actually happen?

A simple guide to leaks

Modern tanks – many of which have capacities of up to 9ml, while almost none comply with the 2ml limit – are extremely good at keeping their contents in. There are only really two occasions when they’re likely to leak:

  • While being refilled. This is obvious; while the filling port is open, liquid has the potential to escape.
  • When the liquid level drops too low. This one is a bit more technical. Tanks are full of liquid, but have holes at the bottom to let air in. Basic physics tells us that without something to keep the liquid in the tank it will pour out the air holes. The reason that doesn’t happen is pressure equilibrium. No air can get in the top of the tank, so if liquid starts to escape it creates a partial vacuum. The outside air pressure then simply pushes the liquid back into the tank. Or at least, it does as long as the liquid level is safely above the wick holes in the heating coil. If it isn’t, air can get in through the mouthpiece and through the coil into the tank. That lets the pressure in the tank equalise with the pressure outside, so the liquid will start to drain through the air holes. Tilting a partly full tank can let enough air in to cause a leak.

ASH, in their infinite wisdom, don’t think this is a problem. Their argument is that the average vaper uses 4ml of liquid per day, so they’ll only have to fill their tank twice a day. Never mind that this is obviously more leak-prone than filling it every day and a half; it’s also dead wrong. Most tanks will reliably work without leaking until there’s slightly under 1ml of liquid left. With something like my Subtank Mini (4.5ml) or Uwell Crown (4ml) that’s not a problem; you can vape for most of a day, by which time it’s looking pretty empty and needs a refill – but still has comfortably more than 1ml inside. Now what about a 2ml tank? It’s likely to start leaking when it’s barely under half full, unless you top it up four or five times a day. It’s blindingly obvious that the TPD rules make leaks far more likely.

And ASH should know this. After all they’ve been told often enough, by people who are very familiar with how this equipment works. The problem is that they simply aren’t interested. The arrogant clowns who run ASH are part of the new self-appointed technocratic elite, and it’s not in their nature to listen to ordinary people. It doesn’t matter that the NNA trustees they talk to are vaping experts who use these products every single day; they’re just little people, and what do they know? Instead, ASH have chosen to side with their technocrat friends in the EU – even though they know perfectly well that the TPD’s tank size and liquid strength limits are based on a deliberate misinterpretation of the science.

ASH – Not on our side

ASH don’t support vaping. They’ll make a few token supportive noises now and then, as long as they’re not expected to do anything actually useful like oppose a vaping ban, but this isn’t because they care about our rights or health. It’s simply because they can use vaping as a stick to hit smokers with – and the point about hitting things with a stick is, you don’t really care much about the welfare of the stick. If it breaks you can just toss it aside and find another.

I’ve never trusted ASH, and I’ve never been comfortable with the sight of vaping advocates working with them. At the same time I understand why some of my fellow advocates – dedicated, tireless people I have immense respect for – felt it was worth getting out the long spoons and sitting down with this particular sour-faced Beelzebub. ASH are very influential people (not something our democracy should be proud of, as they are entirely beyond the reach of the electorate’s wrath) and their support – real, as opposed to token and cynical support – would have been immensely valuable. But today’s press release shows that real support is not forthcoming. ASH have listened to the huge concerns vapers have about this lethally stupid law – and they have dismissed us. The experience, knowledge and fears of real people count for nothing, compared with the reflexive urge to support a ban imposed by their fellow unelected parasites.

The support offered by ASH is not a crutch; it’s a gallows. These are some very clever people, with years of experience in manipulating perceptions. They would be delighted to keep stringing vapers along, sending out just enough positive messages to convince us that they really get it. In the meantime they can keep right on working at their goal of bringing the industry under the thumb of the tobacco control lobby. In ASH’s shining vision of the future vapers will be the new smokers – meekly using products approved by the elite, at times and places specified by the elite, while paying a huge tax to the elite as thanks for the crumbs we’re thrown. I hope that, after today, any trust that any vaper retained for Deborah Arnott and her scheming gang has turned to dust. They have their own agenda, and it is fundamentally opposed to ours.

Whatever they claim, ASH know damn well that the TPD will be a huge problem for most vapers. The message they sent this morning is that they just don’t care. They’re far more interested in hanging on to their budgets and their unearned seat at the table of power. Well, that power is slowly slipping away from them, along with their reason for existing. If smokers in the UK want to quit, all they have to do is find a good vape shop. It’s time for vapers to send a message of our own. We don’t need the likes of ASH any more – so to hell with them, and let them fucking burn.

 

 


  • 3

An appeal to ASH: Save e-cigarettes from your stupid colleagues

Clive Bates has just written an excellent post about the stupidity of those in “public health” who stubbornly insist on supporting the EU’s ludicrous restrictions on electronic cigarettes. I won’t go through all his points again, but suffice to say that he’s thoroughly demolished every possible argument in favour of the TPD.

The Article 20 regulations seem calculated to deny the most effective e-cigarettes to those who need them most – smokers and people who’ve recently switched. It’s all very well to say that “only” 9% of British vapers use liquids stronger than 20mg/ml, but who are those 9%? Mostly they’re people who first picked up an electronic cigarette recently, and still need a high nicotine concentration to keep them from relapsing. Or they’re people like me, who aren’t interested in creating massive clouds of vapour and just want something that will deliver ample nicotine in a pleasant-tasting form without having to take a puff every two minutes.

There are various other so-called justifications put forward for the TPD, but all of them are just as daft. If the reason for the tank size limit is to avoid dangerous spills (not that a splash of e-juice will do you any harm anyway) then where’s the sense in making people refill more often? Why are small packs illegal for cigarettes but compulsory for e-liquid? What is the sense in the spiteful and childish six-month notification requirement?

None of the restrictions imposed by the TPD have any scientific justification whatsoever, and to argue that they won’t remove the most effective products from the shelves is nothing short of demented. It’s time for those in public health who support vaping to stand up and condemn this cretinous assault. Those who recognise e-cigarettes as a useful tool for smoking cessation have to explain to their more intellectually challenged colleagues why it’s a bad law written by dishonest and corrupt people.

Frankly, if you’re not willing to condemn Article 20 then you don’t believe in tobacco harm reduction. Anyone who supports these restrictions is either stupid or malevolent; it’s that simple. So come on, ASH; you have the media presence, intellectual clout and financial resources to let the country know, once and for all, that this is a bad – insanely bad – law. Show us that your heart’s in the right place, by breaking your silence and speaking out against this egregious piece of financially-driven desk murder.


  • 5

Public health and vaping – Silence isn’t support

The UK is in the grip of a moral panic deeper than any that’s been seen since the medieval witch-burning craze, and about as firmly based in reality. The anti-sugar cranks are whipping themselves into a frenzy. Local government busybodies are incensed that restaurants are merely giving free tap water to anyone who asks for it, as they’re legally required to do; they want waiters to actively offer it as the first choice, because some miserable cheapskate might be “too embarrassed” to ask for it. Idiot quinoa munchers are worried about their three-year-old’s gender issues. The government’s chief medical officer openly lies about the health benefits of alcohol and nobody challenges her. Against this backdrop of frothing hysteria, the relentless advance of vaping bans barely stands out.

Of course it’s true that, if you’re a vaper, you’re a lot better off in the UK than you would be almost anywhere else. The government is taking a relatively light approach to the EU’s insane Tobacco Products Directive – the penalty for breaking the rules is a mere two years in jail, barely half of what the average violent rapist serves. It looks like some loopholes will be ignored, making it possible to buy an EU-approved 2ml atomiser then fit a larger replacement tank. But none of that is going to matter much if the only place you’re allowed to vape is in your own shed, with the windows boarded over and a 300-yard exclusion zone set up to make sure no children catch a glimpse of your filthy habit.

Nuts in Nottingham

Last week’s bad news was Nottinghamshire Council’s decision to impose a total ban on smoking and vaping on all its employees. From now on it will be forbidden to take a vape break, or to vape while on council business. Basically, from the moment you get to work until the moment you knock off for the day you’ll be forbidden to touch an e-cigarette. The ban can be enforced by disciplinary action, so it’s no toothless threat.

Obviously this is a fucking awful idea. Applying it to smokers is bad enough; what possible harm is there in letting people nip outside for five minutes for a quick puff? Lumping vapers in too, however, is utterly grotesque. It’s also harmful. We might all be highly educated on the science and behavioural theory behind vaping, but the public aren’t. The public rely on what they read in the media, and what they’re reading on a daily basis is that smoking and vaping are the same thing.

Think about the implications of that for a moment. We all know that vaping isn’t smoking, but the public are being drip-fed a completely different message. If vaping is covered by the same laws as smoking then it must be related to smoking, right? You can’t smoke in public because of the dangers of second-hand smoke, so if vaping is banned too that must be because of the dangers of second-hand vapour. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Public perceptions

Of course not. It’s crap, but the public don’t know that. They don’t read medical journals or attend public health conferences, so they don’t know that the majority of the UK’s public health experts – yes, even busybody fake charities like ASH – are opposed to vaping bans. And the reason they don’t know is that nobody is telling them.

A few weeks ago Pembrokeshire council decided to ban vaping on a beach. Yes, a beach. There is no reason for this. None at all. It’s ridiculous. The ozone in sea air is more of a danger to your health on a beach than cigarette smoke is, never mind e-cig vapour. So this ban is literally insane. And what did those “pro-vaping” people at ASH Wales say about it?

Nothing.

In fact nobody in public health complained about this piece of illiberal crackpottery. Not a damn word. Our supposed allies in the tobacco control movement just pretended it hadn’t happened.

And last week there was the Notts ban. What did ASH and our other friends have to say? Yes, you guessed it – nothing. Again, not a damn word.

Well, mostly not a damn word. I should say that there was in fact an intervention from Professor John Britton, one of the most prominent pro-vaping experts in the UK. He laid into the council with a stinging denunciation of their authoritarian stupidity:

“This is terrific news”

/sarcasm

With fiends like this, who needs enemas?

Nobody else is saying this, so I will: I am extremely disappointed by Professor Britton’s idiotic words. He’s alleged to be pro-vaping, but in his rush to welcome yet another assault on smokers he instantly forgot we even exist. To Britton and his ilk vaping is only useful as another stick to hit smokers with. They don’t support our rights at all, and I can guarantee that the moment they think smoking has been beaten down far enough they will turn on us. Another allegedly supportive health activist is on record as saying she doesn’t have a problem with nicotine use “for now”. I’ll make sure the screenshots come back to haunt her next time she claims to be the vaper’s friend, because “for now” just isn’t good enough.

ASH is the organisation that’s built the strongest links with vaping advocates, and I’ll happily acknowledge that they’re more than willing to speak up for us in private. There are some qualifications, of course; ASH boss Deborah Arnott is happy for smokers to vape as a way of quitting, but doesn’t want non-smokers to use e-cigs. I’m not entirely sure why what Arnott wants actually matters – after all she’s just a private citizen like the rest of us – but I digress.

Silence is complicity

Where ASH falls down is a complete unwillingness to say anything useful in public. They may support vaping, but apparently not enough to actually object to something as cretinous as the Nottinghamshire ban. Their excuse was “We weren’t asked”, but I don’t buy that for a minute. After all nobody asked them to yelp about plain packs for years, but they did it anyway. Nobody asked them to demand a tobacco levy, but they did it anyway. Not having been asked has never stopped ASH from gobbing off in the past, and I don’t believe it’s what kept them quiet this time either. I think they just couldn’t bring themselves to condemn another attack on smokers, even if their silence meant throwing vapers under the bus. Again – ASH won’t condemn Article 20 of the TPD either.

It’s all very well having allies in the public health industry, but what’s the point of allies who won’t actually stand beside you when it matters? Simple – there isn’t any. Put bluntly, I’m not interested in arguments about how it’s difficult for them to oppose any anti-smoking legislation, or how they’d lose credibility if they aligned too publicly with vaping. Those are their problems, not ours. I don’t support their jihad against tobacco; my only interest in these people is how they can help us, which currently is not very much. If ASH really  support vaping then they need to start being more vocal about it. They have plentiful media resources, as we can see from their steady stream of press releases, and excellent contacts with journalists. If they wanted to express their opposition to vaping bans they could so so easily. But they don’t.  And until that changes I, and other advocates, will continue to condemn their craven, self-interested silence.