Sunday, March 26, 2017

On Vaping...

I am constantly surprised by the prejudice I find in some against vaping – the unthinking bias and the fact-twisting. It’s taking millions of people out of a lethal habit, it’s saving lives, and in social situations it produces only the smell many already have pumping from numerous kinds of scent makers and air fresheners in their homes. My personal experience has been the loss of a smokers cough, a large increase in lung capacity (after a winter of vaping I was able to swim a mile non-stop whereas when I was smoking I could only manage a few hundred yards before stopping to cough my lungs up), loss of a skin condition, and no need to keep a Ventalin inhaler on hand so I could get to sleep at night and to jump-start my lungs in the morning. My risk of cancer, COPD and numerous other conditions is now in steady decline. In fact (though there are other factors involved), I am fitter and healthier now than I was 10 years ago.

But I shouldn’t be surprised by the prejudice.

The dislike of vaping is rooted in a dislike of smoking. Simple. Smoking is being made socially unacceptable and the tar brush (sorry, couldn’t resist) has smeared vaping too, understandably, because the second would not exist without the first. Many people find it difficult not to conflate vaping and smoking. Some are like people who have grown up in a heavy drinking culture, maybe seen friends and family turned into alcoholics, and learned to hate everything about it. Next moving on into life with a puritan attitude they now frown at someone sipping a glass of red in the evening. Others are ex-smokers whose hatred of smoking (and anything remotely like it) is a necessary part of their psychology to stop them smoking again. Still others are merely the product of decades of anti-smoking social conditioning – social engineering – and simply swallow whole and unquestioning much of the nonsense spoken about vaping, because, of course, it confirms their biases. They see something in the mouth and a cloud of something coming out and, to their simple minds, that equals smoking.

Another problem here is the inability of some to separate two things: nicotine and smoking. This is again understandable. Maybe for some of you this is before your time, but I remember adverts depicting a disreputable and nasty top-hatted figure handing out wads of cigarettes to children. He was called Nicotine. This has been the whole zeitgeist about smoking for decades: smoking is bad and the prime actor in this is Nicotine. Well, it isn’t. Nicotine in and of itself is not particularly harmful, but it’s problem was that it is addictive, and the further problem was that for centuries the main delivery system of nicotine could kill you. Nicotine is not the problem, cigarettes are. Taking burning leaves, tar, carbon monoxide, heavy metals and a number of carcinogens into your lungs (from 50 to 150 depending on your source) is the problem. Vaping doesn’t do that.

Vaping is drinking coffee from a cup. Smoking is injecting caffeine with a dirty needle.

It is sad that many in the medical profession, and many of our law makers, have responded with a knee-jerk reaction – the prejudice I mention above. Without thinking very much, without actually looking at the growing evidence and, in many cases, falsifying stuff to confirm their bias, they moved to stamp on vaping. They want every ecig development put through expensive medical trials, they want the nicotine strength of eliquids limited to levels that make them ineffective – they want to limit, control, socially ostracise and stamp vaping out of existence.

There are other reasons here: pharmaceutical companies making millions from NRT are not exactly pleased about vaping, cigarette companies were not pleased either (but soon jumped on the bandwagon), and governments are not pleased (Oh my god, how do I put sin taxes on something that is stopping people smoking!) and also instinctively want to seize control of and legislate for anything new. But it is some in the medical profession for whom I have the greatest contempt. They’ve had careers telling people to ‘quit or die’ and now cannot quite comprehend this level of harm reduction. I can only style their reaction as not only prejudice, but jealousy.

But the evidence is coming in despite them. Even some medical organisations that were at first completely against vaping are now agreeing that it is 95% less dangerous than smoking. Grudgingly, I suspect, because they are having to respond both to the evidence and the ‘wisdom of crowds’ – those millions who are now free of cigarettes and feel very strongly about the vaping that freed them, and are vocal about it, like me.      


bascule said...

it's also because although we have quit smoking, we have not done it in the way that we were told to. Like fracking and natural gas leading to a decline in CO2 emissions. It's what we were told to do, quit coal, but not how the control freak left wanted it done.

Dac, aka ExcessionOz. said...

My partner was a heavy smoker (3 packs of 20 per day), and for years and years I was annoyed because it made things stink, turned stuff yellow with tar, and cost a bucketload of money that could be spent on something useful.

She quit, cold turkey, after almost dying during an operation, and feeling like death warmed up. That was about 9 years ago, and she's stayed off the evil fags since. Life is a lot less worrysome, no more smelling like a smokers convention when you go outside, no 'passive smoking' getting into my lungs. Things are good.

Vaping seems quite sensible as an alternative, it isn't taxed up the wazoo -- I think a pack of 20 cigarettes costs $25 in Australia, about 16GBP) vs 1980 when they were about $AU1 a pack.

My partner still misses them, especially when relaxing after a meal. Last year I suggested she take up vaping to help her relax, but she wouldn't have a bar of it.

A friend visited over Christmas, and was heavily into vaping, and seeming to enjoy it very much. As a non smoker, there is zero attraction to me, but I would MUCH prefer it if society didn't hassle vape users like they do smokers.

Not sure about the government outlook on Vaping, not much news about it here in Australia.

Ray Yeates said...

Thank you Neil for expressing your views on the topic of vaping vs smoking. Unfortunately here in Canada our government and its accompanying tobacco control insurers are too busy safe-guarding those vested interest sin tax dollars. Your posting of your views are particularly important to vapers/smokers however because you obviously understand the potential above the obvious regarding the scourge of smoking. That and being a non smoker who is well versed in the smokers position.

Again thank your for posting and we can only hope more non smokers who are well versed (especially if they have family members and friends that smoke) might come forward to help this life saving phenomenon of vaping reach it's fullest potential around the world.

Regards to you and your spouse from Canada

Richard Parry said...

I don't really understand the anti-vaping sentiment. My brother in law was a very heavy smoker, turned to vaping, and now has a similar new lease on life to what you've described. Our mutual *other* brother in law refuses to let him vape around him though, shuns him, mocks the behaviour, despite literally the entire family backing the vaper.

It's not very live and let live, and the reaction seems worse than when the vaper was a smoker. It's ... perplexing. But for my part I've a handful of friends who've switched to vaping and are doing a million times better - and this can only be a good thing. I'll start telling them to give up vaping about the same time as I give up my evening glass of wine: never.

Greg Smith said...

1 truth 1 life 1 love.Thank you for an excellent statement of truth..Why do we still allow the people who are supposed to serve us to lie deny and dictate? If the people of Iceland can peacefully overthrow their government and take back their country why cant we..Our government is killing ys..Consciously lying and covering up truths related directly to our health.Vaping,Marijuana.are the 2 massive lies the government is perpetrating and supporting..Threatening to imprison anyone who speaks out about vaping being healthier than cigarettes.There is a bill in Canada about this right now..

Bjorn Buijing said...

Coming from a background in medical research and also being a smoker (on my second attempt at quitting) I wouldn't mind realistic regulation for vaping equipment and liquids.
There's not a lot of doubt whether vaping is better for your health then smoking. The efficiency of actually quiting a nicotine habit is low, but nut necessary a bad thing.

The problem for me (vaped for a month or so) is the fact you don't actually have anything to go on in terms of production quality, ingredients and quality control during production.
It's a quickly growing market with a lot of competition. Without at least some control manufacturers will cut corners which can be more hazardous for a consumer then actually smoking.
I think proper regulations are a good thing.

Millitant anti-smokers will just whine no matter what. If everybody stopped smoking they'd probably start smoking themselves just to be able to complain.

Larry Shone said...

I don't have a problem with vaping per se, it's quite harmless and certainly smells better than cigs and helps people quit. What I find silly is young uns taking it up because it's 'trendy'. Seems daft to me.

Tony Noble said...

As a cigarette smoker for 40 years who switched to vaping a year ago, I have had similar benefits - and thoughts about cigarettes as separate from nicotine - as Neal. We all started smoking because it was cool, Now it isn't. But we can give up cigarettes without the drama of withdrawal, and the even more difficult loss of a comforting ritual of sucking, inhaling and generally playing with a 'thing'. Freud was missing the point with his "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar" judgement. But then nobody ever tried to take away his cigars. Vaping is not so cool..and the social jury is out on whether it might become so. Maybe it will. my daughter, aged 25, and very cool, has recently affected a very elegant small black vaporiser.....which she deploys with some elegance in social situations (but with the lowest nicotine liquid formulation). My pick is that cigarettes will disappear, and vapourisers will linger but eventually go the way of snorting Snuff and sneezing into a lace handkerchief.

BTW Neal, if you are reading your blog stream, I've just finished your latest chapter in the Penny Royal saga. I inhaled it in a day, puffing contentedly on my vapourizer. I've been reading science fiction rather addictively since being captured by Dune in my late teens. I read your first Cormac title and was immediately hooked...and haven't missed one since. So thanks for the stimulation and entertainment. DOn't ever change..:) Regards, T.

Neal Asher said...

Thanks for the comments. There is one I have to reply to here. Larry, there's a meme out there about vaping being a gateway for the young into smoking. The reality is that young people do take up vaping, but usually having smoked first. All the studies done thus far show that vaping is a gateway OUT of smoking. And one has to reckon that if vaping wasn't about the young ones would take up smoking instead - the more it is frowned on by society the more likely they would be do so.