Electronic cigarettes welcome smokers back inside
By Philippe Payeur, Contributor
I don’t smoke, and as such, I’ve gleefully taken part in feeling superior and righteous. Overall, as a society, we’ve become more enlightened in the last century. We’re more compassionate and our moral imagination has been vastly broadened.
That’s why being a non-smoker was so great. It was a chance to cut loose and behave like a close-minded bigot, just like our grandfathers! I criticized them and was smug when they told me about their shame, smoking. They were the only group we were allowed to be openly hostile to in an era that was obsessed with political correctness.
Starting in the ‘90s, we waged a war. We took away their smoking sections in restaurants and taxed them into oblivion. We humiliated them with labels that warned of impotence and stuffed them into airtight glass terrariums at airports, making them look like an attraction at a museum.
“Observe the smoker in his natural habitat. Notice the look of consciousness that the world is moving past her.”
In this game of cultural warfare, our team had Michael Jordan. Our team was crushing it.
“Yeah, that’s right. Six metres from the entrance. Further. Over there in the rain. Yeah, there.”
Then came electronic cigarettes (e-cigs), a sexy little flute-looking thing that comes in customizable colours and flavours. It delivers a nicotine hit without the carcinogens that come with tobacco and produces less smoke and odour. Smoking inside! At parties and in restaurants!
Smokers holding their heads high with *gulp* dignity. It even kind of looks cool. How did this sneak through? It felt like our side, which for decades had known nothing but triumph, had suffered a setback. I can’t be the only one who feels outrage.
From a more compassionate perspective the e-cig is a handy device that our nicotine-addled friends can use to get a fix without dramatically raising their risk of cancer or wiping out their bank account. In social situations it’s not annoying as long as the user practices good manners. When a new technology enters our lives it sets off an onslaught of poor etiquette until we develop a consensus for acceptable behaviour. E-cigs are new and thus many are behaving like ass-hats with them, exhaling in your direction, not asking if it’s okay to use in your house, etc. We’ll get there eventually.
Consuming nicotine and tobacco are two very different things. Anything that hurts the cigarette industry is good. E-cigs are a good thing, it’s just that some of us fantasized about wiping out smoking in a unilateral, scorched earth, shock-and-awe way. E-cigs feel like a product of our enlightened time, which is depriving some of us of our feelings of superiority and righteous indignation. I enjoyed being a jerk to smokers. I’ll have to get my fix somewhere else.