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

  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 35

When foot meets bullet

Category : rants , vaping

So a couple of days ago an article appeared. Some vaping advocates thought it was a great piece of work. A somewhat larger number were less impressed. I’m with the second group. It may have been meant well, but the author could have spent his time more profitably doing something else. Practically anything else, in fact.

This article was all about arguments the author thinks vapers shouldn’t use, because in his opinion they’re “misleading” or even “total bullshit”.

I suppose he’s entitled to his opinion, but that’s all it is – his opinion. Does the fact he holds this opinion make his article a useful contribution to the debate? No, I don’t think it does. I think publishing the article to a high-profile blog, then tweeting about it, was an act of mind-blowing stupidity.

I’m not going to spend a lot of time deconstructing the author’s claims, because Dick Puddlecote has already done a splendid job of that; I’ll just pick up on a few points where I find them relevant. What I want to do is talk in more general terms about who we need to be getting the message out to, and what sort of message that needs to be.

The public are the priority

In my opinion, the most important people vapers need to be influencing are the general public. If we can get them – at least a solid majority of them – on our side, we’ll be in a pretty strong position when it comes to fighting off hostile legislation. If we don’t successfully get our message out to the public we’re basically screwed. We’ll just be another small, irate and slightly weird special interest group that nobody cares about, and if we’re in that position we might as well give up. Persuading ordinary people that vaping is a real alternative to smoking, and that it’s safe, has to be our number one priority.

Yes, safe. Vaping is safe – at least, as much as anything is safe. Sure, there’s probably some residual risk. I have no doubt that vaping means you’re at slightly more risk of some obscure disease than if you breathed only the freshest alpine air. But really, how high is that risk likely to be? Not very.

Propylene glycol is safe to inhale unless you’re one of the unlucky few who’s sensitive to it, and even then it’s not exactly Zyklon-B. Cigarette smoke contains hundreds – or thousands – of times as much diacetyl as e-cig vapour, and smoking has never been linked to popcorn lung. No, really. It hasn’t. You can certainly argue that smokers might have died of popcorn lung, but who do we know who makes wild, speculative claims about hypothetical dangers of vaping? If you find yourself using bullshit ANTZ arguments in your blog post, do us all a favour; hit delete and have a serious word with yourself.

Safe enough is safe enough

By any sane standard vaping is safe. Serious people with white coats and letters after their name say it’s as safe as drinking coffee, and frankly you have to be a bit of a cock to think coffee is dangerous. Vaping is safe. The problem is, the public don’t believe that.

Unfortunately the public are, by and large, not scientifically minded. They don’t really understand that science is tentative. Creationists and anti-vaccine lunatics exploit that all the time, and ANTZ use exactly the same tactics. They take the systematic uncertainty that’s inherent in the scientific method and portray it as a genuine doubt, something that we should really worry about. Time after time the public fall for it, and most scientists have a very hard time countering the bullshit. They make reasoned, nuanced arguments that would carry the day in any scientific discussion, but huge chunks of the public ignore them and soak up the big, bold doubts spread by the loons.

When it comes to countering these big, bold doubts we have a choice. We can park ourselves on the moral high ground and make reasoned, nuanced arguments like the ones advocated in the article. Then we can spend the rest of our lives complaining that the public didn’t listen to us, because I can guarantee you, they won’t.

Our opponents like to scare people by implying that a global epidemic of vape cancer could be lurking a couple of decades down the road. And the article’s author just encourages them:

“We might be able to do so in 20 or 30 years, but right now we’re far from being able to honestly compare death rates.”

Awesome. Stan Glantz could have said that. We have enough ANTZ scaring people with purely hypothetical risks. Why make painful, pedantic statements that to the casual observer sound very like what the ANTZ are saying?

Instead of further muddying the waters by dumping in a bucket of vagueness we could stick with something big and bold of our own, like Agent Ania’s excellent cartoon:

Deaths

Except we can’t do that anymore, because the ANTZ have just been given an in-depth, superficially persuasive and oh so nuanced demonstration of how to attack it. And that’s what really annoys me about the article. Yes, if you want to descend into useless pedantry all the “misleading arguments” it complains about can be attacked. But they are all, in broad terms, true. E-liquid does contain four ingredients, compared to hundreds in a cigarette. All those ingredients are generally recognised as safe. Nobody has died from vaping. Smoking hasn’t been linked to popcorn lung. And so on.

Where was the problem?

If these arguments were as much of a liability as the article claims, rest assured the ANTZ would have attacked them long ago. They haven’t, because it would have backfired on them spectacularly. What tobacco controller wants to make a big fuss about the gravedigger cartoon when, in the end, they’re just going to have to admit that the number of deaths attributable to vaping is indeed zero? Who wants to be the clown yelling triumphantly, “Aha! You said there was 750 times as much diacetyl in cigarettes but really it’s only 240 times as much!”?

These arguments may not be pedant-proof, but they are effective. They are simple, easily grasped and carry a positive message. Unfortunately they’re now all compromised, because they can be dismissed with an airy, “Oh, even vaping advocates say that’s not true.” We have, essentially, just thrown away some reliable and effective weapons – in exchange for what? A warm glow of sanctimony?

The suggested arguments added to the article in an effort to temper its initial relentless negativity might be appropriate for a discussion with public health activists, but that’s a sideshow at best. The likes of ASH will use vaping when it suits them, and abandon us when it doesn’t. Where was their condemnation of Pembrokeshire’s decision to ban vaping on a beach? Yeah, I didn’t hear it either. Even when they do decide to take our side they’re of limited use. Politicians only listen to them when it’s convenient. ASH Wales spoke out against Drakeford’s plan to ban vaping in public places; Drakeford simply tuned them out and started quoting the California Department of Public Health instead. There’s no shortage of tobacco control rent-a-gobs, so legislators don’t need to pay attention to the ones who’re not on-message.

Talking to pressure groups can be somewhat useful as long as we don’t start thinking they’re our friends, but the first priority has to be winning over the public. If that means saying things ASH don’t like, so be it; the public are more important than ASH. If we want to preserve our freedom to vape we need to convince the ordinary man or woman in the street, and to do that we need to have clear, persuasive, hard-hitting points. That’s going to be pretty difficult if some on our own side insist on trashing them.

Apply the safety catch, place the weapon on the ground and stand back from the firing point. Because you’ve just put a bullet in our foot.