It was office supplies day. We urgently needed some stuff we'd been putting off for way too long at the office, so we drove down to our local Staples (Staples Corner if you're wondering - no idea if there's a relevance in the name or not). The experience was quite something...
We'd set out a budget before leaving. We didn't need that much, just some basic supplies that included a shredder, some general bits and pieces (papers, folders, board pens etc.) and a wall calendar. After arriving, we quickly digressed from our original list and started looking at a whole spectrum of expensive gadgets we didn't really need - and then it all started. We were approached by one of their 'sales assistants' or whatever they call themselves.
'Can I help at all?'. Well, trying to be polite, I asked a simple question about whether the hard drive came with the device I happened to be holding in my hand (let me point out I was actually holding the box, which was empty)... He looked at me slightly confused, and informed me that 'well, that's just the box. The rest is behind the counter... [pause]. For security.' Seriously!? Did he honestly just say that?
It was just the start of a terrible retail experience. We asked about some other items we were looking for. One guy didn't know what a business card sleeve was. Another had to tell us they didn't stock them anymore but I could get it online. We tried to pick a good shredder but were indecisive (no reviews in Staples), so went online... and this is where it really got bad - not only could we find a larger range (we were on amazon - surprise surprise), but it was cheaper, and we had access to hundreds of customer reviews... And they would deliver to our door the next day.
In an effort to salvage the trip we looked for everything else... and failed. It got to the point that we were looking everything up online as we were walking around the store, and concluded it would be far more sensible to just purchase online and wait a day or two. And that's precisely what we did - with the exception of some board pens, which amazon told us were fairly good and about the same price.
Turns out, for our initial budget, we even bought a new laser printer - and we knew it would all be good, because we had read the reviews! So the real question is... Why would anyone, ever, use Staples? Yes, it's perfect for emergencies (that day when you really really need a printer and can't wait for tomorrow - because that happens all the time). But if you consider that it is inconvenient, the staff are badly informed and generally lack any knowledge about the products themselves, and 9 times out of 10 it's significantly over-priced, then what you have is a very large network of stores with no future.
I brought this up with my colleagues... They simply pointed out that not everyone is comfortable buying online. Which is a fair point today, but give it another 5 years, and most people doing the buying will have overcome this pre-conceived idea of internet security - or lack of it. Online purchases will have become ubiquitous within society (and that's for anyone who argues they aren't already), so the purpose of these stores really is quite limited...
I'm sorry Staples, but if you don't offer me something I can't get online - whether that's a better service, a better selection, or better pricing - I'm simply going to go somewhere else. It's really not that difficult.
I lived in Portugal for most of my childhood, and without a doubt developed a certain affinity and love for the place. Returning there frequently to visit family (and an ever decreasing handful of friends) it makes me sad to see the country at it's knees, with bleak economic prospects. It's a country that has been in the spotlight for months now, as it's economy continues to dwindle and an ever increasing number of austerity measures are put in place, to desperately try and rake in some extra cash and clear it's debts.
It's a sad note to end the year on, but the reality of their situation is far more severe than it seems for an outsider. The Portuguese have been criticised for years for 'not wanting to work' and wishing to spend their time at the beach, surfing or otherwise enjoying the sun. Whilst the latter may hold some truth, the former is entirely incorrect. They are hard-working people, caught up in endless waves of corruption, and an excessively complex infrastructure bogged down by often redundant bureaucratic processes. Everything from running a company, paying your taxes, or closing a bank account can quickly go from a seemingly simple task to a never-ending nightmare. It's incredible to see the types of initiatives that have received significant investment from government bodies over the years, to simplify processes and reduce paperwork. A perfect example is the 'Empresa na Hora' or in English 'Company in an Hour' that allows you to sit down and register a company to start trading in about an hour. This was a major breakthrough for a system that would take weeks, and often months to 'allow' you to start running a business. However, what they don't seem to realise, is this is only one small aspect in a spectrum of issues that needed addressing. You can now start a business almost instantly, but are then subject to ridiculous taxation laws that see you paying tax before you make any money, long and complicated processes to make any kind of legal change to your business, and a jaw-breakingly painful process to close down a business should you choose/need to.
A lot of what Portugal has is actually underestimated and underappreciated by oustiders, and even by those who live there themselves. A handful of friends have moved to the UK recently and taken up jobs at the NHS... And the curious revelation is that after working in Portuguese hospitals for years, and coming over, they are truly awe-struck at how badly everything works HERE! They complain that people lack a 'human' element, in what should be a very human job... And given the choice, every single one of them would rather be back home. But the country is faced with an economic crisis that, despite the optimism that comes from our honest politicians, will no doubt last for at least a generation to come. With cuts affecting everyone, including those on the very lowest income brackets, the disposable income for the average household has dropped significantly... With unemployment figures sky-rocketing, a negligible investment in businesses, exports, and innovation, and cuts to all services including healthcare and security, what future do they really have? If, hypothetically speaking, they could cut back enough to have a 'sustainable' economy today, it would be at everyone's expense, rendering it therefore unsustainable... Last time I was over, everyone was talking about cuts to Christmas/Summer bonuses (which essentially make up for the excessively low wages), increases in 'Council Tax', substantial increases in inheritance taxes, increases in corporation taxes... and so on. With cuts in healthcare and security, both areas that have already been short-changed for years, it's going to further reduce the quality of life for those living there and - worse yet - continue to promote crime, which already seems entirely out of hand over the past 3 to 4 years.
I feel as though the politicians are all incredibly short-sighted (not to mention self-centred and only interested in filling their own pockets). It doesn't take a visionary to take a step back and connect the dots. A worse healthcare and policing system (as a direct consequence of significant cuts in these areas) will unquestionably affect Tourism in the medium/long-term as the country loses it's reputation. The worse the economy gets, the less foreign investment will be attracted, and it's going to take more than high interest rates from banks (you can achieve up to 7% in certain banks at present) to attract investment - particularly commercial investment that leads to jobs and a thriving economy. Furthermore, cutting back on 'standard' benefits that for many people are their life-line without providing a suitable alternative is pure madness. Even if these cuts are being undertaken, the focus should be on what's being done to strengthen the economy both in the short and the long term. What incentives are there for new businesses? What support does the government provide for increasing exports to economically-strong countries - even within the EU? How is new foreign investment going to be attracted? I'd go as far as to say, that knowing the Portuguese people, if there was a level of communication and transparency about the situation we are facing, everyone would be willing to come together and make sacrifices if they saw a future. Instead, with talks focused simply on cuts and 'austerity' (definitely the word of the year), we're faced with students who have had their education paid for by the state for the best part of 20 years, taking their qualifications (which are quite highly regarded internationally in certain fields) and moving abroad to secure jobs they could only have dreamed of back home.
If they lose their skilled workforce (which is logical and evident already), can't attract foreign investment, provide no incentives for innovation, and fail to work with their people, then there is no hope for growth or for any kind of improvement in the foreseeable future. I personally hope things will change for the better. Let this be a lesson learned, that we can all benefit from, but one that we can also walk away from in our lifetime.
Written by Nikolai Hoffmann
I've seen a recurrent theme amongst people I know who are in the process of getting something done, whether its a simple task, a research paper, or learning a new skill. Everyone looks at these processes (subconsciously or not) as 'Problems'; it becomes a Problem that you have not finished a task, or started your research, or that you are still poor at a given skill. The Problems become 'bigger' when there is more pressure - i.e. an imminent deadline or serious consequences. So lets talk about Solutions!
My girlfriend has a research paper to do, and it is one of the reasons I bring this up; she has been trying to start work on it but is very rusty. The field is unfamiliar territory, and so she is nervous about attacking it with gusto. To her the resources are a "vast sea of information, very little of it is useful". Eventually she resolves to exclaim "I suck at this. I suck at research.". I immediately think of Jason playing Starcraft at 3am on his laptop "I suck at this game. Fuck this game." Then I remember myself in the law library a few years back thinking almost exactly the same thing about a Trusts law paper. "I suck at Trusts. I want a ciabatta.".
So in the interest of improving our research skills, task management, and maybe even our Starcraft gameplay, I wanted to jot down a few ideas/beliefs about Problems and Solutions. For now here are my thoughts on Crazy Confidence vs Calm Understanding.
Crazy Confidence vs Calm Understanding
It's a throwback to 'College' (High School) Math class. When learning new operators we were always taught different methodologies to follow when answering questions. We'd go home and practice these as homework; with the questions getting progressively (and predictably) harder as we went along. We became 'attuned' to the method of the operator. Eventually through the years we would answer these problems without a thought, either by memory or by sheer routine. The answer was never obvious, it just took us less time to solve it. Consistent practice and repetition wore away the insecurity of being faced with an unfamiliar problem and so it became easier to solve.
Think about a 10pool ling rush in Starcraft. The problem is winning the game now that you are being rushed. Early on when learning to play the prospect of this rush isan adverse thing to contemplate, hands and fingers freeze up on the peripherals in a paralysis of uncertainty. With more experience you scout, wall up, calm down, and keep the lings out. With more experience we gain confidence in our ability to deal with the problem; but why? Because we know a method. The method may have many variables (where to place the wall/zealot?), it may even be flawed, but we execute it anyway because we want to feel confident in our outcome. And if that wall breaks? Or something happens? Game over. So much for your crazy confidence.
The point here is that Confidence and Method only provide us with a temporary fix to a Problem; they allow us to buy time while we try to understand the problem. We know, inherently, that only once we have calm understanding of the problem can we finally apply ourselves towards a full solution.
So what is calm understanding?
Calm understanding is your ability to see beyond the basics of a Problem and understand the pertinent ramifications and effects.
When you have an asthma attack you don't think "I am having an asthma attack", you just automatically do what you feel will solve the problem - what will make it most comfortable to breathe. You stand up, you stand still, you crane your head down, and breathe. Generally the calmer you are during an attack, the faster it passes. Those of us with Asthma know this routine well enough; we understand the Problem and so we are flexible with our solution.
Similarly, when 10pooled I calmly understand that the enemy is trying for an early rush, sacrificing his economy, and that if he fails he will try to push me out early so that my economic advantage does not leverage against him over the course of the game.
The thing is, I'm not sitting in the game pondering these possibilities or sketching out the math, they just come naturally to me, like math class, like breathing. This allows me to focus on doing other stuff, like macro/micro, and winning the game.
Understanding makes you more efficient, and more effective. This can even apply to research. I don't know anyone who gets anything done by saying "I need to do research", or by working on planning out their research. I know people who get stuff done by actually doing the research. They are taking Crazy Confidence and using it to go do enough research to develop a Calm Understanding of the area.
TL;DR : Problems can be attacked with crazy confidence and some form of methodology; but true solutions will always require a calm approach aimed at deeper understanding.
Look forward to next week where I talk about Tilt Control and Dealing with Losses in Part 2 of "Solutions".
Perhaps not the most interesting of blog posts, but definitely food for thought for anyone in a manufacturing oriented industry or position.
Yesterday morning I attended an interesting meeting with a UK metal fabricator and manufacturer in the South West, together with our head of engineering. After so many months working with outsourcing consultants and offshore factories in the Far East, it was both inspiring and refreshing to see what is being done, and what can be achieved, so close to home.
We don’t see the UK as a manufacturing hub anymore. In fact, the same can be said for most of Western Europe these days. Our economies are centred around financial, legal, creative services - essentially we’re a service oriented nation. A service oriented continent even.
But it’s too easy to jump to conclusions. Yes, labour costs - and I’m referring to legitimate labour costs - may be significantly lower elsewhere. But the setbacks that accompany them range from severe communication barriers, a gaping cultural divide, and in a great deal of cases, limited technology for manufacturing processes that hinders productivity and consequently actually drives variable costs up.
After the months of battling with sourcing, planning, shipping and above all else an inherent communication and understanding barrier, even when aided by translators, it felt like a breathe of fresh air to sit down with a human being and discuss our project. Openly. Transparently. We toured the factory, met the workers, discussed the processes. Within an hour we felt relieved. By the time we left, we’d learnt more and had more answers than we could have possibly hoped to achieve elsewhere with the same level of effort.
No decisions have been made. Chances are, our project will continue down the road of offshore outsourcing for a number of reasons. But regardless of the end result, seeing the high-tech equipment and processes employed by factories in the UK, and hearing from one of the directors about how they have been ‘forced’ to innovate to ensure they remain competitive in the global market definitely gave us some perspective on the industry and the options available to us today.
For several years there has been a longstanding rivalry between iPhone and Blackberry users. The question on everyone’s mind now, seems to be, could this recent outage be the trigger that will permanently tip the scale one way?
The sequence of events over the 10 days leading up to (and including) the outage went as follows: Apple launched the iPhone 4S and took a hit on their stock price (likely due to excessive speculation and expectations surrounding the iPhone 5); Steve Jobs passed away, and their stock price was virtually unaffected (much to many speculators’ surprise); Blackberry gets taken out for three days, and Apple’s stock valuation rises over 7.5%.. That can’t be a coincidence, can it?
It took four days for the Blackberry co-CEO’s Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis to step up and make a public statement. Fixing the problem itself may have been more important at the time... But for the tens of millions of Blackberry users affected across the globe, would it not have been infinitely better to receive some form of official communication, out of sheer respect, straight from the top of the brand they cherish(ed), than to be left in total darkness for days on end, asking oneself, when will it be over?
A public statement shouldn’t be considered a mere PR formality to be pushed aside in the heat of the moment. It’s the connection between those who most represent the brand and the consumers that allow that brand to survive and grow over the years.
I read an article on the second day of the outage with comments from Blackberry regarding how ‘business users’ were unaffected as they operate on an independent system. Personally, I find that slightly offensive. What about all the personal users that influence the purchasing decisions of corporations to opt for Blackberry over Apple or one of the many Android phones now available? How does claiming that a problem is limited to ‘personal’ users, in a time of crisis, serve as any form of justification?
Let’s consider the compensation measures proposed by Blackberry: A series of free apps (that most users will probably never use), and free technical support for business users. It strikes me as unbelievably shallow for a brand that supposedly understands their customers and their needs to offer ‘freebies’ to soothe their pain, and then top it off with one months ‘free technical support’ for business customers.
What does the latter communicate about the brand itself? After one of the most severe outages that can be recalled, to say that certain users will receive ‘one’ month of free technical support isn’t particularly reassuring… Firstly, they’re putting out the message that you’re probably going to need that support at some point in the near future, and secondly they’re saying that they believe in their product so fervently, that they can’t afford to provide more than one months worth of support, should users actually require it.
Personally (and perhaps thankfully) I’m already a loyal Apple user. But had I been a Blackberry fan over these last weeks, I definitely know what brand I wouldn’t be looking at when my contract was next up for renewal.
Article first published as No Gain in Soothing the Pain, Blackberry on Technorati.
If you’re a recent graduate, and have been considering your options for kick-starting your career, chances are you’ll understand where I’m coming from.
Over the years, the way we tackle the progression of our career (so called ‘moving up the career ladder’) has changed significantly. Whilst glancing through a copy of the Evening Standard sitting helplessly on the underground, I came across an article that touched on this shift in a negative light … And the more I’ve thought about it over the last week, the more it seems to me that whilst it’s undeniable that our options today aren’t the same as they used to be, they haven’t necessarily changed for the worst.
What we’re witnessing is increased competition in the job market to penetrate large firms - whether we look in the fields of law, investment banking, or management consultancy - the list of talented candidates is increasing faster than ever, and the jobs just aren’t there for the taking. The result is in fact not great for traditional careerists. With so much supply, and increasingly limited demand, it’s only natural that entrance ‘incentives’ and salaries are actually being forced downwards by employers, and working hours together with employer expectations are increasing steadily.
But rather than look at this perhaps harsh reality and sob, let’s look at the brighter side of the equation. With limited jobs available for the ‘brightest’ minds, and an economy and society that every day embraces entrepreneurship and young start-ups more fervently, I think we’re starting to witness an increasing number of graduates look at the ‘work for yourself’ side of the job market, partner up and go into business from quite a young age… And no matter how we look at it, this can only be considered a good side-effect to this decrease in demand.
There are dozens if not hundreds of considerations outside the scope of this article to be considered, but the end result nonetheless seems bright. New ideas, not conditioned by existing practices and work-flows established over several decades in long-standing firms are beginning to surface. The rise in businesses providing funding ‘methods’ for raising start-up capital is a true testament to this new-age entrepreneurship, and looking down the line, I ardently believe that five or ten years from now, we’ll see some new radical ideas and businesses hitting the headlines… and these are likely to be headed by the bright minds starting up their businesses today and gaining vital business acumen and connections over the coming years.
It presents a world of opportunity for individuals who are driven and have vision to play their part in shaping the world. So rather than condemn society for following the simple rules of supply and demand, why not embrace the ‘side-effects’ and provide the support and direction needed to get our economy moving again - perhaps this time in a better direction altogether?
It was 6pm. With Engadget open in one window, and Google Finance pointing at APPL stocks in the other, we eagerly gathered round and watched as Apple unveiled the new iPhone, hoping it would be the iPhone 5 and not the much-talked-about iPhone 4S.
Alas, we were disappointed. All our predictions and guesses (with the exceptions of those based exclusively on Macrumors.com) proved to be incorrect.
Through deduction alone I had held a firm belief that this launch would be fantastic. It was the first major product launch since Steve Jobs stepped down from Apple, and consequently the first since Tim Cook rose to take his place. The world was (and probably still is) unsure whether he was a ‘worthy’ successor and had what it takes to propel Apple into the future. Did he possess the necessary vision and understanding of technological markets to introduce new products, penetrate existing markets, and even create new ones of its own (as the iPad successfully achieved in 2010)?
Riding on the back of this argument, I felt that the launch had to be something truly radical and unique to get him off to a good start. But it wasn’t - by no means - and their stock price continued to plummet from start to finish as a reflection of faltering investor confidence in their new product and direction.
To quote Kenny Hemphill, “Those high pitched noises you can hear are the howls of disapproval from Apple fans, investors and speculators who have come to expect so much every time the company makes a public announcement.” [Source].
Don’t get me wrong. The features they announced were fantastic. Whilst the phone may look the same, it comes with a host of new abilities that position it distinctly above the current iPhone 4 and the competitors in the market. However, with the exception of the new A5 chipset (from the iPad 2), an improved battery life, a better camera and antenna, and a few other technical improvements, most of the changes were software based.
That brings me to the new iOS 5 and Siri. Most of the new software-based features, such as activating the camera from the home button, taking photos using the volume buttons, new notification systems etc. will all be available to us iPhone 4 users from October 12th. Which leaves Siri - Apple’s $200m purchase which seems to have been integrated into the core of the new iOS and iPhone 4S.
Could Siri have run on the iPhone 4? It’s a question that is currently quite debated within the tech community. We’d all like to think Apple wouldn’t use this purely as a marketing tool for the iPhone 4S to differentiate it from the current iPhone 4. And we’d like to believe that their corporate ethics would prevent them from deceiving us that way… and yes, it’s more than likely to simply be a result of the increased processing power, new front microphone and RAM for the new A5 Chip that render it an inadequate candidate for any prior versions… But then again, it’s hard to know for certain.
My question is this: Yes, the new iPhone 4S is pretty cool. But with the massive expectations in the tech communities and consumers for this product, would it not have made a significantly bigger ‘bang’ if they had bundled all this tech beauty inside a new ‘package’? Even a slight aesthetic upgrade could have made the product ‘feel’ much newer. Did it just come down to manufacturing costs? Does not having to gear up for a new outer shell outweigh the general disappointment in delivering the same phone with a more powerful inside?
Call me superficial, but I for one would have perceived the product in an entirely different light, had the visual impact of the phone been different from the very first slide.
In February we heard about Spain's revolutionary cost-cutting exercise: Reduce the national highway speed limit by 10kmph to reduce fuel consumption and fight rising oil prices.
Wow. Let's just think about that for a second. What an insightful, and genius suggestion. In the UK, or perhaps any slightly more forward-thinking nation, perhaps this would have worked temporarily… At the end of the day, reducing the speed limit 10kmph could (in theory) reduce fuel consumption up to 15%… assuming everyone was travelling at the limit (and not over it which 49% of UK drivers do on highways - and I suspect this number would be substantially higher in Spain and Southern Europe), and spent the great majority of their time on highways… and so on. But the UK has one thing spain does not: No maximum speed limit signs along highway routes.
When driving through Spain in June this year, I was quite shocked. They consistently advertise their speed limits on highways every few miles! So… Let's account for every speed sign on highways in the country, and factor in a nominal cost for manufacturing these (they're made of steel or aluminium and prices for both were high)… Then let's factor in a cost for the urgency with which they had to be replaced, and the labour and infrastructure cost of getting these out to everywhere in the country. Then factor in the cost of shutting down parts of the highways as they were installed, the inconvenience to users in doing so, and - of course - the cost to the economy of everyone taking 9% longer to get between cities. Add to that the negative impact and frustration to individuals of taking that extra amount of time to travel - and in a world where time is money, the impact on the economy from losing that percentage of working time for travelling individuals - and the more than likely probability of them speeding anyway therefore rendering the change redundant… And what do you have? What could be considered the most redundant cost-cutting exercise in the world to date.
EDIT: I have since been informed that the roadsigns were not replaced, but rather had stickers placed over them. So on that basis, please subtract that from my rationale above - think the argument still stands though.
Had that investment been shifted to business start-ups, or innovation in the form of R&D grants, business start-up incentives etc., perhaps it would have boosted the economy substantially more than reducing speed limits. Or perhaps they could have spent a minute fraction of this on a marketing campaign to advise reducing speed when travelling on highways to save money - that could have even helped reduce road-traffic accidents simultaneously.
Today, however, we celebrate George Osborne announcing a 'Council Tax Freeze'. That, too, sounds like a brilliant move at first glance. But let's take a look at the numbers a little closer. Since the government can't prevent councils from freezing council tax independently, they have offered to reimburse councils for their increased costs as a result of NOT raising council tax. The estimated cost for this was £805m. That's a fair bit of money, but hey - at least council tax will remain the same right?
Well… A London 1 bed household pays around the £1600 per annum mark for council tax. That's quite high… and how much will this save? According to the BBC, the average saving will be £72 per household. That's £6 a month, or under £0.20 per day. Is this really going to boost the economy or make any difference whatsoever?!
Yes - numbers don't lie. If the difference to individuals will amount to £805m, then it's safe to assume that a large percentage of that will end up back in the economy through spending of disposable income. But the net effect of this saving per individual is so minute - so negligible - it can hardly be considered to make that big a difference to the economy.
What's more important? The consumer perception of the economy, or an extra £72 of disposable income per annum? What inspires more confidence? Investing in businesses and growth, or freezing council tax because 'the economy is so weak'? It's a pitiful action that on an individual basis only worsens the consumer perception of where we're at, and where we're going.
Would it not have been much more effective both in the short and long term to shift the best part of £1bn into a business startup and innovation fund to incentivise new businesses and ideas? In an age of entrepreneurship and digital technology, surely providing jobs for tens of thousands of people and investing in innovation would have a more profound lasting effect on consumer confidence and the economy as a whole, than a simple freeze on council tax?!
Surely innovation and entrepreneurship is a more sustainable avenue than a mere cost-cutting exercise. And we're not talking £10m or even £100m… We're talking over £800m. How many businesses could have been established, provided employment, developed new products, formed new partnerships, acquired new ventures… and so on… and so forth.
Why are we constantly stuck in this 'survival' mentality? If the money's going to be spent, let it be on growth and improving consumer confidence, as opposed to simply 'getting by'.
It's the 1st of October. Background information: I'm not a smoker.
Today we 'celebrate' the end of cigarette vending machines across the UK... and sure enough, one of the Google alerts for the day was this article - and from here I'll quote one line that I feel depicts the reality of this move better than any other:
“The whole ban on vending machines is a smoke-screen as part of a social engineering project to demonise smoking."
It's hard not to see a great deal of truth in this remark. Mainly because it's true. Putting an end to cigaratte vending and shifting it to behind the bars is hardly going to make that big a difference. If anything the greater the 'protection' provided to children and individuals not to smoke, the more they will want to. To some extent I agree with the measure, however I do feel that it doesn't really 'solve' anything, but rather places one more obstacle in the way of smokers that they will no-doubt circumvent.
Measures such as having to 'approve' each sale in a cigarette vending machine as is present in several countries across Europe (such as Portugal for instance) would have made much more sense than a total ban - at the end of the day, how different is it really from simply approaching the bar and asking for a pack? It's the same person approving you, and you're buying the very same product. The only difference is, by implementing this ban, we have sent tens of thousands of machines to scrap yards nationwide, placed a massive strain on vending operators who will feel the impact in the years to come and potentially placed hundreds of field service engineers out of work - to mention but a few effects.
One other aspect that intrigues me, is why did electronic cigarettes not get considered as a 'viable' substitute for cigarettes in vending machines? Fair enough, there are a number of questions unanswered about the actual health benefits of using these - I, for one, don't feel particularly great after smoking one - but surely providing an actual alternative to traditional cigarettes that could have been vended via the same means as previously, would have been better than the current measures that simply shift the point-of-sale to behind the bar, or the nearest convenience store?
I suspect that with the new measures regulating promotion of cigarettes and the removal of machines across the country, going back in and re-introducing cigarettes albeit in a different form (e-cigs) would be rather costly, impractical and simply not feasible.
I raise the question to all e-cigarette manufacturers and distributors out there. Was this considered? If so, what obstacles were raised to prevent it from being executed?