Stuff I’ve been reading.
I’m not sure why I get so annoyed. There is just something about some vaping activists that leaves me cold.
For example, the cult-like insistence that if only smokers had access to e-cigarettes or weren’t ‘misled about vaping’ all smokers would switch and millions of lives would be saved.
There are times when some vaping activists sound more like evangelical preachers exhorting smokers to abandon their unhealthy ways and live a new life free from the dangers of tobacco.
Behind this lies the apparent belief that smokers smoke only for the nicotine and if smokers can only be persuaded to switch to a safer delivery device one billion lives will be saved and they will be so much happier.
In some cases, perhaps, but this belief (and I use the word advisedly) ignores the fact that many smokers enjoy smoking – the ritual, the taste, the inhalation and exhalation of smoke, the warmth of the burning tobacco etc.
Not least, cigarettes are as light as feathers, while vapes are laden with batteries. And cigarettes – like candles – are living things, with a metabolism and a lifetime – while vapes are machines , and as different from cigarettes as cars are from horses.
Smoking is completely different from vaping, which is reductionist in nature: it delivers nicotine. But smoke isn’t just vapourised nicotine: it’s something multifarious and deeply symbolic. Smoke has multiple dimensions.
There’s never going to be a “smoke-free” world. Smoke is as much part of the natural world as water.
Scary news. The Flu Manchu scare is wearing off. People are ignoring lockdown. It has nothing to do with Dominic Cummings, we are just getting pissed off with it all. It’s failing as it was always going to.
Yes, that’s true too. Scares always wear off. That’s why they keep on inventing new ones.
What happens when people don’t believe them in the first place? Because that’s where we’re going: A world where nobody believes anybody about anything. A world where there are no authorities, and there are no experts, because the authorities and the experts told far too many lies for anyone to believe them any more.
New York’s reputation as a place where “anything goes” reaches back to colonial times. In contrast to staid, Calvinist Boston, New York’s pragmatic Dutch origins as a trading center (rather than a putative haven for those fleeing religious repression to impose their own theocracy) meant a much more secular and tolerant atmosphere.
So it was a particularly bitter pill to swallow when New York mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled plans for a ban on smoking in all public places. Prior to Bloomberg’s reign, smoking bans had largely been associated with places like granola-crunch California (mocked by New Yorkers for its obsessive healthist culture, among other things) and true-to-its-Puritan-roots Massachusetts. The first place I ever visited where one couldn’t smoke in a bar was, appropriately, Salem, a little northeast of Boston and famous for its 1692 witch hunt…
We’re still living in a theocracy. The War on Smoking is as much religious persecution as witch hunting ever was. The new god is Health, and it’s as oppressively demanding as Jupiter or Athena or Cybele ever were.