Ever had the urge to drink from an ashtray? Not-so-brave Britons could soon get a chance to switch from their gin and tonic to a newfangled cocktail of African plants that purports to render its drinker a kick just as sprightly as the good old-fashioned cigarette. The intrepid islander will, of course, have to step out in the cold for his tobacco fix.
The world has tried to chew, inject and hypnotise itself out of the habit. A drink was long overdue and the latest offering of Dutch courage should get its place in the sun. Its makers, United Drinks and Beauty Corporation, claim the plants that go into cans of Liquid Smoking are a nicotine substitute that can stop the craving for a drag by up to four hours. What has been working in the bars of Amsterdam, the esteemed corporation believes, should work in the London pub as well, given the British penchant for the medicinal in their drink (that drop of quinine was pure genius).
Much as we try to find new delivery mechanisms for the alkaloid we love most to hate, smoking remains a psycho-motor reflex that no “slight energising effect, followed by a euphoric sense of calming and relaxation” can hope to reverse in a hurry. For ages before Jean Nicot sent tobacco from Portugal to Catherine de Medici, the Big Chiefs of Milwaukee had been smoking the stuff in pipes, mostly in peace. The Great Shrieking Eagle in Heaven must be wondering, then as now, about the ways of the paleface.