Urine Vinaigrette: e-cigarette

I must be feeling better today, because I am pissed off and feel it necessary to share it with the world. I know that depression and rage are opposite signs of the same coin, so I’m not getting my hopes up too much, but I still feel that’s it’s a good sign that I can turn my rage back outward. There were two things which set me off this morning: my lovely daughter, and some anti-vaping propaganda. Being upset with my daughter is nothing new; we are usually arguing at least five out of every seven days. But seeing the nonsense about the dangers of e-cigarettes is something that is not only irritating, but fundamentally confounding as well. The entire point of vaping is to avoid the public health consequences of secondhand smoke. It’s times like this that make me want to hurry up and find that time machine so I can pop back to nineteenth-century London and nip in for a lost weekend at one of their many fine opium dens. I totally look scruffy enough (or, I did before I shaved in preparation for a call regarding an interview which never came) to pass for one the intentionally befuddled.

I get that nicotine is bad for me. I knew it growing up, when almost everyone around me smoked. I remember restaurants with “smoking” and “non-smoking” sections, separated by only the slightest hint of air conditioning between them, if even that. Hell, my mother even smoked while I was gestating in the womb! I also remember when she finally gave up smoking, and the unrelenting waves of anger and irrationality which consumed her. I mean, the prednisone didn’t help, either, but apparently she needed it to breathe. On a small side note, I have never met someone even remotely tolerable who was under the influence of prednisone, and the prefix of “pred-” always makes me think of some sort of cantankerous lion who not only wants his evening meal, but intends to make it suffer for the trouble of having had to catch it. I remember jumping on the anti-smoking bandwagon when that was a thing, and lecturing my entire family about the health risks involved with smoking. Hell, I was doing this before the major talking points included the health risks which smoking posed to others! I still wound up smoking, though, as I was kind of weird, and desperate (though I would never have admitted it) to at least appear thirty percent cooler.

And I know that I should give up cigarettes, as they are most likely not making my life any easier. I’m tired of the recriminations from my wife and son about the smell, and the need to have just a couple of moments of peace and quiet to myself. I’m also a bit weary of standing outside in the pouring rain when I need to have a smoke (though if it would fix the drought, I’d gladly suffer this more often). If I’m at a bar, I hate that I have got to get up and go outside to light up. I would understand if it were a vegan restaurant, or Whole Foods, but it’s not like alcohol has no ill effects. It can destroy a person’s liver and their life, as well as those around them, if they get behind the wheel after tossing back a few. And yet there is the push to demonize smokers for having fallen victim to the evils of tobacco. And now that e-cigarettes have addressed the issues of secondhand smoke inhalation, what are the anti-smoking people doing?

They are pushing to ban “vaping” (also, can we get a better verb? Vaping sounds… vaguely dirty) in the same places where smoking is not allowed, saying that seeing people puffing on a simulated cigarette normalizes and implicitly condones the act of smoking for the youngsters. I would like to remind everyone that these products are still only to be sold to those people who have achieved the age of majority. These are still legal products. But even that is not enough. Now they are pushing an ad campaign stating that there is enough nicotine in the bottles of the e-cigarette solutions to kill tens of children! You know, if some idiot leaves the bottle unscrewed, and out where his kid can grab it. Maybe it’s just the background level of annoyance which I’m feeling so viscerally today, but it seems to me that if a parent leaves that sort of thing out where their kid can grab it, maybe it’s time for natural selection to do its job. Kids will get into literally everything. That’s the point of kids: they exist to teach you how to cram everything you own up onto shelves which they cannot reach. Never mind the cleaning chemicals which are far deadlier, which have not been outlawed yet.

If it was a matter of protecting children from accidental death, why are guns still legal? Oh, because that would infringe upon a person’s rights! Never mind the ridiculously high number of gun deaths, accidental or intentional, in the U.S. compared to the rest of the entire world! I’m not saying that guns should be outlawed, at least not right now. Let the world have its toys which were created as a means to kill people more quickly and efficiently. I’m just saying that it’s kind of bullshit to go on crusades against an “easy target” when there are bigger fish to fry. E-cigarettes, at least at first, were an elegant solution to a public health crisis. They addressed the health risks involved with smoking (as in, inhalation of combusted plant material), and offered up a way to help some people give up nicotine altogether. But there is no tax money involved in actually getting people to stop smoking, and that’s the real reason for the fight against e-cigarettes. We already have exorbitant taxes of tobacco products, both as a disincentive to smokers, and as a measure of relief to a burdened health care system (at least on paper), but as the manufacturers and vendors of e-cigarettes have rightly pointed out, their products are not tobacco, and therefore are not subject to anything more strenuous than the standard sales tax (where applicable).

I’m not saying that e-cigarettes are healthy; I’m pretty sure that the voluntary consumption of nicotine will never be a good idea. But they are a healthier alternative to smoking, both for the user and for those around him. There are not a whole lot of regulations right now in the e-cigarette liquid industry, and therefore there isn’t a standard set of chemicals for the FDA to use to determine the effects for the use of e-cigarettes, for both short and long-term use. When the findings are announced, if it turns out that they are somehow worse than traditional cigarettes, I will join the push to make them safer. If they are deemed equal in terms of health risk with cigarettes, I will still say that they have eliminated the issue of secondhand smoke, and therefore the need to ostracize and dehumanize smokers. And if they are deemed safer than standard tobacco products, I would like everyone who has been trying to get them banned to just go ahead and shut their bloody mouths. And just so you guys don’t think that I haven’t been paying attention, here’s a link to the FDA page in question.

Now, onto the issue of my daughter: I hate when she buys something, insists that no one but her can use it (while she and my son-in-law happily consume the meals which we prepare and share with them (not to mention that when they cook, they cook only for themselves) because we are a family), and then winds up just throwing it into the garbage. We have thrown out so many pounds of what had been perfectly good food that, in the time she has been living with us, it has probably weighed in at an actual ton. I’m just mentioning this because I needed to use something off-label to help fix something in my son’s mouth because he is a little terrified of almost everything, and if something isn’t done about that dead tooth, it’s going to throw off the entire balance of his mouth, not to mention, put his entire jaw at risk of serious infection. There were three unopened cans of the product which I needed (of those, I only required one), but she handed me the empty canister, and then demanded that we pay her back for it. A small amount of sleuthing led me to discover that not only had that can expired back in April, but the other can of the same brand had expired a day later. She would rather throw things out than either learn to properly shop for groceries, or relearn the lessons which she had apparently missed in Kindergarten. Whatever.

At least the irritation got me writing again.

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