A few weeks ago I promised to blog about the Supersmoker, an electronic cigarette. Sorry it took so long but hey! Better late than never!
First, though, let’s remind ourselves of the sheer awesomeness of the Supersmoker promo video, which I thought was a parody until I discovered there was a real product.
The Supersmoker is a tobacco-free electronic cigarette, and if you’ve ever used a nicotine inhaler you’ll know roughly what to expect: it delivers a nicotine hit without any of the really bad stuff you get in normal cigarettes. However, the Supersmoker – and other electronic cigarettes; there are a few different models now – adds a few interesting ideas to the equation. In addition to the nicotine, a blend of food flavourings gives you something approaching the taste of a real cigarette; when you inhale, the cartridge is heated, giving you the sensation of smoking; and when you exhale, there’s smoke. Or rather, water vapour.
So does it do what it promises to do? To an extent, yes. It tastes more or less like a real cigarette – a slightly sweeter Marlboro Light, I reckon – and it’s as close to the sensation of real smoking as you can get without really smoking.
Is it worth having? Hmmm. There are three reasons to consider it: as a cigarette replacement, as a stop-smoking aid, and as a way to beat the smoking ban. Supersmoker’s marketing has concentrated on the latter.
As a cigarette replacement it isn’t bad, and it makes a lot of sense. Cartridges work out at roughly one-third of the cost of real cigarettes, and of course you’re only getting nicotine, so it’s better for you than real smoking in the same way it’s better to be addicted to Nicorette gum than to cigarettes. Cartridges are available in multiple strengths from “I’m not really a smoker” to “I can’t believe I’m not dead yet”, but they’re still not quite the same as the real thing, and they do take a bit of getting used to.
As a stop-smoking aid I’m not so sure. The whole point of such aids is to break the habit, but with the Supersmoker you’re doing all the things you do with a normal cigarette: you’re getting the nicotine hit, you’re getting the sensation of smoking, you’re getting the feel of having a cigarette in your hands. Which makes me think, what bit of the habit are you actually breaking here?
As a way to beat the smoking ban, I think the Supersmoker has scored an own goal. By creating something that looks more or less like a cigarette and that emits something that looks a bit like cigarette smoke, I think Supersmoker has created something that will cause you constant aggravation and get you ejected from all kinds of places.
Yes, it’s legal to use it – there’s no tobacco and no combustion – but at best, I think you’ll end up in constant rows with people who think you’re smoking, or people who think that if they let you use your Supersmoker in their establishment it’ll encourage other people to spark up real cigarettes. And I really don’t fancy my chances of getting it through airport security, let alone using it in an airport – which is a shame, because that’s the one place where a Supersmoker really makes sense. In pubs, restaurants, train stations and so on you can nip outside for a smoke; when you’re airside in an airport, you can’t. Maybe I’m wrong, though, so if any Supersmoker users are reading this I’d love to hear your experiences.
My gut feeling? I think if e-cigarettes were a common sight then perhaps the aggravation factor would disappear. Until then, though, I think they’re best described as a way to save money for people who don’t mind looking a bit silly.