SO, there I was taking a fag break outside the Brighton gay sex shop where I once had a part-time job when this creature roughly the size of Gibraltar was suddenly in my face, coughing and fanning her nose with a hand stolen from an orangutan.
“Ain’tcha heard of passive smoking?” she barked in a Bronx accent.
Expelling twin plumes of smoke through my nostrils, I replied: “Sure, and I’m totally against it. People should buy their own damn tobacco!”
Exuding aggression like a pit bull with piles, she retorted “Well, ain’tcha a wisenheimer; don’tcha know what those things will do to you?”
“Probably kill me, like your lard will do to you,” I shot back.
“Now just waddle off and annoy someone else.”
The Jolly Green Giant’s grumpy fat sister was still coughing and fanning her face as she faded into the mist.
The following day something similar happened when a jogger paused to criticise my addiction.
This was a less aggressive encounter because I knew him quite well, and admired him for not only giving up cigarettes but for embarking on a fitness regime that knocked his weight down by about 20 kilos.
A fortnight later he was dead, aged 42. His heart packed in when he ran up a flight of stairs in a hotel in Cape Town where he was holidaying.
I was reminded of these two encounters last weekend when my friend Nigel, drinking at Company Bar in Benidorm, stepped outside to light a cigar.
Moments later one client came out to complain about smoke polluting the bar. Nigel was nonplussed. And angry.
That prompted me to tell him how I came to be barred from a London pub last autumn. Within seconds of me stepping outside to use my e-cigarette – I gave up tobacco about two years ago – a security guard burst out of the bar like a cockerel with its feathers on fire, and squawked “no smoking here, go stand 12ft away!”
I growled “I’m vaping, not smoking. Don’t you know the difference, you moron?” and held my ground.
That sent him into a frenzy, and he screamed “you’re barred. Leave now!”
As I had my jacket inside, I said I wasn’t leaving until I’d retrieved it. He tried to stop me from re-entering the bar, but as he was such a sorry excuse for a guard, being short and dumpy and utterly out of shape, I simply shoved him aside, went indoors, downed my overpriced Scotch in a single gulp, snatched up my gear and left.
But not before blowing a Hiroshima-sized cloud of vapour in his face. This caused him to do the annoying coughing and face-fanning thing.
Ridiculous, because all he got was a whiff of my flavoured vape juice.
If I remember correctly, that night it was coffee and doughnuts. What’s not to like about that?
The range of flavours is enormous and growing daily as more and more people get their nicotine hits via e-cigs.
Visit any vape store and you’ll find a huge choice, ranging from rhubarb and custard (ugh!), aniseed (double ugh!) to blueberry, caramel and lemon pie.
I stick to menthol, as it helps clear my sinuses. For the record The Royal Society for Public Health says that nicotine is non-carcinogenic and no more harmful than caffeine.
E-cig vapour is significantly less dangerous than tobacco smoke which contains tar and other chemicals, including hydrogen cyanide, arsenic, and DDT, while the primary base ingredients of e-cig liquids are simply propylene glycol and glycerine.
Another plus: in Spain, every bar I’ve visited allows one to vape indoors. My one regret is that in Benidorm vape shops are few and far between.
This, to my mind, is because cigarettes here are WAY too cheap – an average of about €4.30 for a pack of 20.
In the UK the price is around €11.30, which would explain why vape outlets are increasing there almost as fast as the rate of homelessness and knife crime.