Dick Puddlecote has been in Warsaw at a tobacco harm reduction conference, the Global Forum on Nicotine. Apart from featuring the inventor of the e-cigarette, Hon Lik, it also had a must-watch video of Dr Attila Danko, a clinical doctor from Australia, and an enthusiastic supporter of vaping.
I must say that I’m about as likely to be found at a Tobacco Harm Reduction conference as I am at a Tobacco Control conference. Because basically I no longer believe that tobacco is particularly harmful. Or if it is, it’s no more harmful that alcohol, sugar, salt, fat, or any of the rest of the things we’re now told are “The New Tobacco” that’s killing us. I think we’re living in a time of panic, a time of pandemonium, seeing monsters everywhere where there are none at all.
I’ve got an e-cigarette. In fact, I’ve got two. But I haven’t got one because I’m trying to stop smoking (I’m not). I’ve got one because for a while it looked like I could use e-cigs where I couldn’t smoke. And also because a few years back, when suffering from a dose of flu which smoking exacerbated, I found that vaping didn’t. So my e-cigs are really back-up devices. I prefer smoking the real thing.
But something Danko said in his talk was that vaping was a pleasant and enjoyable way for smokers to stop smoking, and this was what the antismoking zealots hated about it. These puritans want people to suffer. They can’t tolerate the idea of people moving from one habit they enjoy to another habit they enjoy. People must learn to stop enjoying anything.
And that prompted the thought that maybe one day there would be a new smoking experience which was even better than smoking. And I suppose that, in my view, vaping isn’t it. But Jredheadgirl recently wrote about a new “heat-not-burn vaporizer” (similar to shisha?).
“All the e-cigs on the market are basically using the same chemistry–nicotine in its pure form,” Bowen said. “If you look at cigarettes, what you find are nicotine salts: nicotine complexed with organic acid to form a salt. This was a huge discovery.”
Those salts, Bowen said, deliver nicotine in a vastly different way than the vaporization of liquid nicotine. From there, the company went to work reverse engineering the naturally forming nicotine salts from tobacco leaves to use in their electronic cigarette product.
Anyway, with all these new products coming out, it’s quite likely that some of them might provide a great new experience, like cigarettes once did in the time of pipes and cigars. Or like the amplified electric music created the rock’n’roll music of the past 50 years. In fact, there might be any number of smoking devices, just like there are any number of genres of electric music.
Which would be kinda fun, because it would mean that the end result of the War on Smoking will not be the end of smoking, but the emergence of countless new and interesting and enjoyable ways of smoking, in any number of surprising new ways. To the Tobacco Controllers, it’ll be like the mythical Hydra which breathed poisonous fumes, and grew two new heads every time one got cut off. Every time they ban something, a new device will emerge to replace it. In the end they’ll be calling for bans on anyone putting anything in their mouth and sucking it (unless it’s been made by Big Pharma).
Tobacco Control may simply end up multiplying the number of different ways of smoking. And some of the products may not contain any tobacco or nicotine, and so not be ttobacco products in any shape or form. TC may now be trying to stop a tidal wave of innovation that their prohibitions have triggered.
Anyway, I think I could be won over by a new technology. Many years ago, on a visit to Egypt, I tried a roadside cafe water pipe, and loved the cool, rich smoke it produced. Over the years, I’ve gradually moved away from the stronger tobaccos to the milder ones. If some new e-cigarette could replicate a water pipe, and go one better, I might become a convert.
Until then, I’m going to remain something like those classical music fans who don’t really like all these screaming electric guitars and drums, but want the full orchestra (and choir) that comes with a classical cigar or pipe or cigarette.