Smoking is Awesome
May 15, 2024 7:39 AM   Subscribe

"The average smoker loses 10 years of life. Which means some lose, like, 5 years and some lose like 25. You don't know which one will be you." Smoking is Awesome by Kurzgesagt and How "Anti-Vaping" Ads Trick You Into Vaping by Maggie Mae Fish are two sides of a coin: Maggie Mae Fish explains the media literacy needed to determine what makes effective anti-smoking ads and how tobacco (and now vaping) companies direct policy towards ineffective anti-smoking ads. Kurzgesagt has an informative and effective anti-smoking video.
posted by AlSweigart (105 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
 
As a former smoker, I am grossed out and saddened by the generalized acceptance of public vaping. It is unclear to me why public smoking is justly demonized and it's still okay to emit a horrific cloud of pine scent and melting plastic, which to my mind is far more disgusting and offensive.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:42 AM on May 15 [13 favorites]


Death in the West, a 1976 documentary.
posted by box at 7:43 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]




This one from the Health Education Board for Scotland from 1998 about Blue Stix lives rent free inside my head.
posted by Molesome at 7:57 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


Well, secondhand vapes don't give me migraines like cigarettes packed with gods knows what does. From fifty feet away, outdoors. So that's a perk. And the vape stench doesn't linger and cling like cigarettes do. Smokers reek way more than they think they do. In short, vaping is the autistic friendly thing and a trillion times better than cigarettes. No question.
posted by Jacen at 8:02 AM on May 15 [21 favorites]


It still seems weird that vaping is a thing in the first place. People have been smoking for centuries and it took decades of relentlessly fighting Big Tobacco in order to build the regulatory machinery needed to restrict the sale of cigarettes and convince people not to smoke. Then within a span of just a few years vaping goes from not existing at all to being a public health emergency.

I know vaping exists because at the time it was considered to be less bad than smoking and could be used as a treatment for nicotine addiction, but the fact that there's now a vaping industry and people are taking up vaping without ever having smoked feels like a tremendous failure of public health policy.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 8:06 AM on May 15 [43 favorites]


people are taking up vaping without ever having smoked feels like a tremendous failure of public health policy.

I've noticed this too! As a former smoker (more or less), it's wild that people who wouldn't have touched a cigarette have taken up vaping nicotine, especially the kind that smells like candy. (And even one of my sister's teenage kids has taken up vaping precisely because they come in--let's be real--appealing flavours.)
posted by Kitteh at 8:12 AM on May 15 [5 favorites]


"You may smoke, sir. I like the smell of tobacco... a nice state of affairs when a man has to indulge his vices by proxy"
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:30 AM on May 15 [14 favorites]


The sale of cigarettes (and all smokeable tobacco in general) should just be straight-up fucking banned. I'm not sure how to integrate this with my general belief that drug prohibition doesn't work, but there is just no way this absolutely horrible product should be on the market. Maybe let folks who are willing to grow and cure their own tobacco do so, maybe allow some kind of highly controlled, regulated-to-hell-and-back sale of vaping or nicotine pouch products, I don't know.

But cigarettes should just be straight-up fucking banned.
posted by nanny's striped stocking at 8:30 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


The sale of cigarettes (and all smokeable tobacco in general) should just be straight-up fucking banned. I'm not sure how to integrate this with my general belief that drug prohibition doesn't work

You can't, because they're incompatible. Humans have been smoking tobacco since 5000 BC, it is not new. There are lots of things we can do - and have done! - to disincentivize people from smoking cigarettes, but banning them wholesale will just result in a black market and a new (or, rather expanded) opportunity for criminal orgs that service those markets.
posted by grumpybear69 at 8:37 AM on May 15 [22 favorites]


Cigarettes persisted long after the health effects became irrefutable because Big Tobacco was considered too big to prohibit. You couldn't just ban cigarettes or even attach more than the most mild of warnings to the packages because that would affect their right to continue earning profits on a product they had been selling for decades. Plus there were tons of people already addicted to them. Other consumer products that are found to be poisonous get quickly removed from shelves, but to this day you can still buy a pack because there's some hard-working tobacco farmer Altria investor who needs to earn a living.

It seems amazing that in such a short span we've allowed an entirely new dangerously addictive vice--one that didn't even exist twenty years ago!--to not only take hold, but become too big to prohibit. It's probably not a surprise that vaping has ties to the old tobacco conglomerates, but it is a surprise that regulation turned such a blind eye to their antics. We might not be able to ban cigarettes, but we should have been able to ban vaping.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 8:43 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Just wait until weed becomes legal at the federal level!
posted by grumpybear69 at 8:46 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


I watched the (great) Maggie Mae Fish video the other day. I didn't understand that the primary target of anti-smoking and anti-drug campaigns was Congress. It makes a lot of sense why things are the way they are, but very dismaying
.
posted by Gorgik at 8:46 AM on May 15


I never habitually smoked cigarettes, but I did always love a Djarum (it was the 90s, duh), and for a while in my 20s I kept a stale pack of Parliaments around for when the mood struck. Now, though, I'm at a point in my life where I know exactly one person who smokes or vapes.

It really is worrying that kids who have never smoked cigarettes are starting off vaping nicotine. The numbers seem much higher than they should be. I don't know how much I buy Maggie Mae Fish's "one conspiracy theory," but I can admit that it's not entirely implausible.

On the one hand, fewer people of all ages are smoking. That's good. It's likely that vaping nicotine is somewhat safer than smoking (though I suppose it would be hard to be worse). But nicotine is, itself, not particularly "safe," to say nothing of all the adulterants in vapes.

People are going to use nicotine, just as they're going to use and do lots of things that can be harmful. So what's the harm-reduction path here?
posted by uncleozzy at 8:50 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


Last cigarette I smoked was in 1986. And I never trusted random vape juice from who knows where.

Although turnover in Congress was a bit quicker back when everyone always smoked everywhere all of the time, and thus progress slowed to a crawl.
posted by mikelieman at 8:55 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


That Kurzgesagt video is great. It warms my heart to see people can still make well tight, well-produced 10 minute videos in this era of where everything must be a sitcom- or feature film-length video essay.

The point about cigarette smoking and collagen explains so much about why all the people I know in their 70's look as young as all the people I knew in their 50's when I was growing up.
posted by 3j0hn at 9:00 AM on May 15 [4 favorites]


I wish I could stop smoking. I try to remind myself that the future may well not be a place I wanna be and to not feel too bad about the lost years of lives I've already taken from myself. Plus to be fair, for most of my life and when I started smoking, I expressly did not want to be alive at all. Now that I do, there is a really frustrating tension between my addiction and and wanting to not die horribly. I honestly wish they were not legal to sell, I find myself incapable of stopping of my own free will, I have had many out of body experiences watching my body go to the store to buy cigarettes while I scream let's please resist and try anything else instead.
posted by GoblinHoney at 9:11 AM on May 15 [21 favorites]


people are taking up vaping without ever having smoked feels like a tremendous failure of public health policy

Vaping what? Smoking what? We could be talking about nicotine here, or cannabis, and the ambiguity makes my head spin. I suppose it's different where weed isn't legal, but default assumptions that tobacco is the subject of any given discussion of smoking/vaping aren't valid anymore.
posted by Rash at 9:18 AM on May 15 [4 favorites]


>10 minute videos

It’s in their name! (kurz is from the Latin root of the English Curt, curtail; sagt from sagen, ‘say’)
posted by torokunai at 9:30 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


I'm fortunate enough to be one someone who has been able to smoke without ever getting addicted to it. I'm 45 and in the pre-smartphone years it was a great way to dissociate for a few minutes, a calming routine tantamount to today's social media scrolling. Since college I've been an occasional social smoker, but if nicotine were banned today I wouldn't be mad about it. As others have said I have trouble rationalizing that with my general belief that drugs in general should be legal. Maybe because in general the effects of nicotine are just so boring for the amount of harm it causes.

Anyway, the thing about walking through a mango flavored vape cloud in public vs smelling cigarette smoke is that I could at least pretend that smoke came from the cigarette vs directly out of the smokers lungs. With vape smoke I am always fully disgustingly aware that that air just came out of someone's lungs, putting it up there with getting coughed/sneezed on, touching spit, etc. And that's just gross.
posted by mikesch at 9:32 AM on May 15 [4 favorites]


I was riding the bus on Saturday and when it stopped there was a guy smoking on the sidewalk and all the smoke got sucked into the bus.

Thanks buddy.

Japan had this problem in a very major way when in was there, but on my last trip they’ve really instituted policy changes to fix this livability issue.
posted by torokunai at 9:35 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


which to my mind is far more disgusting and offensive

“Ex-smoker” almost goes without saying here, because I truly cannot imagine someone who doesn’t have some lingering positive association with and habituation to cigarette smoke saying that being around vaping is moreoffensive.
posted by atoxyl at 9:40 AM on May 15 [8 favorites]


what about all the unsmelled air that people are breathing out around you every day? You can walk through a cloud of used air and not even know it!
posted by sagc at 9:50 AM on May 15 [13 favorites]


But nicotine is, itself, not particularly "safe," to say nothing of all the adulterants in vapes. People are going to use nicotine, just as they're going to use and do lots of things that can be harmful. So what's the harm-reduction path here?

Juul in the EU is limited to 20 mg/ml while Juul in the US has 300% that. I'd start there.

Ban advertisements. Ban the fancy flavors and regulate the vape pens to have a dull grey color and remove branding. Kill it like Joe Camel. We've already started with some regulations.
posted by AlSweigart at 9:52 AM on May 15 [13 favorites]


I caught my teenage son with a vape cigarette. Proof it was marketed to kids: it was watermelon bubblegum flavored. Checking Google, they changed the name to Watermelon BG.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 9:56 AM on May 15 [7 favorites]


I recently realized my teenage daughters have probably smelled pot smoke more than cigarette smoke growing up here in Portland.
posted by gottabefunky at 10:02 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


I'll join your campaign to outlaw nicotine if you join my campaign to outlaw caffeine.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:19 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


I saw my family brutalized by tobacco-caused lung cancer and death as a child and have been vehemently, sometimes stridently anti-tobacco since.

Still am, to be honest, in spite of my five years as a hypocritical methamphetamine smoker.

Vaping is a lot more pernicious than smoking cigarettes can be today. It was not too long ago that I would heat zero-nicotine vape juice on a hot plate and supersaturate it with crushed meth so I could use my hard street drug of choice in public out of a modified vape pen (low wattage) with no one immediately the wiser. Today's DMT and cannabis disposable vape pens are capable of the same thing, potentially giving dangerous contact highs to the unwary.

That's some bad, bad shit.
posted by infinitewindow at 10:20 AM on May 15 [14 favorites]


I'll join your campaign to outlaw nicotine if you join my campaign to outlaw caffeine.

Psh that's nothing, join my campaign to outlaw all unhealthy food. (Health value to be decided by me obviously.)

[are there even enough sarcasm tags in the internet to tag this sufficiently]
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:23 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


It is unclear to me why public smoking is justly demonized and it's still okay to emit a horrific cloud of pine scent and melting plastic

Best current evidence is that second hand vape is harmful, but much less harmful than second hand conventional smoking.

I'll join your campaign to outlaw nicotine if you join my campaign to outlaw caffeine

Let me assure you that you are at no risk whatsoever of exposure to second hand coffee -swigs liberally-
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 10:31 AM on May 15 [9 favorites]


Let's not pretend that nicotine and caffeine are the same thing, please.

Let's also not pretend that there is nothing we can do short of a complete ban.

Allowing advertising to become as intrusive and misleading as it has and allowing corporations to render regulation toothless was a choice we made, and we can make a different choices.
posted by AlSweigart at 10:33 AM on May 15 [15 favorites]


I remember the days when Big Coffee put out ads targeting kids. The ones with the cartoon camel winking and smiling while enjoying a brew. Definitely a real problem.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 10:39 AM on May 15 [11 favorites]


Don't forget coffee-flavored ice cream.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 10:41 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


yeah...I have a positive aversion to caffeine but it doesn't kill people.
posted by supermedusa at 10:45 AM on May 15


I quit smoking fifteen years ago. I'm not sad I quit, but if the someone told me nuclear war was starting in an hour, the first thing I'd do is go buy a pack of Camels.
posted by thivaia at 10:46 AM on May 15 [17 favorites]


> But cigarettes should just be straight-up fucking banned.

You want to see why crack was not responsible for the violence of the crack epidemic, you do this. Then you'll get to see gangbangers killing one another over the right to sell cigarettes in various neighborhoods. And police forces corrupted (even more than already) by cigarette blood money.

Cigarettes are on the right trajectory, at least in the US. We should keep on keeping on until there's not enough money in it to keep an industry going.
posted by Aardvark Cheeselog at 10:47 AM on May 15 [8 favorites]


I remember the days when Big Coffee put out ads targeting kids. The ones with the cartoon camel winking and smiling while enjoying a brew. Definitely a real problem.

There was definitely a swing over time, but I'm not sure if that was based on public health concerns or just different ideas about health. When my parents were kids they were given coffee very young, but then later there were "coffee will stunt your growth" and so on warnings, so by the time I was a kid children were no longer offered coffee so frequently.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:48 AM on May 15


Realizing that I quit just in time to be done with smoking before my 35th birthday is one of those things that's making me breath a little easier today. (I've also heard it phrased as fewer than 10 pack-years—or somewhere around 3660 packs of cigarettes—as the point where the issues kicked in, and I was over that limit smoking more than a pack a day for 5 or 6 years even if I was under a third of a pack for the rest of the time.)

I occasionally miss it, but the way that I finally wound up quitting—smoking a cigarette almost exactly one week after the previous one I had, and feeling so nauseous as a result that I nearly threw up—means that I have a physical aversion to it that carries me through the strongest temptations. And to be honest, at this point the only time I get a craving is occasionally when I'm on a golf course, and despite my user name that's not as frequent an occurance as it once was.
posted by thecaddy at 10:59 AM on May 15 [4 favorites]


I think we don't really know how dangerous vaping is yet, except, "More than we might have hoped." It's a bummer! I don't do it even though I really like nicotine. Plenty of friends do (a couple regularly; a lot once in a while). A few smoke smoke. I will indulge socially 1-2x / year.

My orientation is, we should keep trying to find ways that allow people to modify their mental states with as little physical damage as practicable. Nicotine by itself probably has some harmful effects, but it also has some protective effects and -- look at alcohol. More importantly, stimulants are genuinely good and useful to people.
posted by grobstein at 11:17 AM on May 15 [6 favorites]


I only drink Duncan Hills coffee because it's the most metal
posted by Jacen at 11:32 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


Many years ago I worked on a ship where one of the 'perks' was duty free tobacco, almost all of the crew smoked and I remember an engineer saying once: "I'd give this up tomorrow if it wasn't so cheap, at this price I HAVE to smoke".
I think that gives a clue as to the way out: tax it, tax it not so high you encourage bootleggers, but high enough that people have to think twice about 'is this worthwhile'. Also the tax money will help to pay for the hospital care they will eventually need.
posted by Lanark at 11:36 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


I think that gives a clue as to the way out: tax it, tax it not so high you encourage bootleggers, but high enough that people have to think twice about 'is this worthwhile'. Also the tax money will help to pay for the hospital care they will eventually need.

I haven't priced vaping out at all recently but cigarettes are already breathtakingly expensive!
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 11:38 AM on May 15


I haven't priced vaping out at all recently but cigarettes are already breathtakingly expensive!

And, at this point the only people I know personally who smoke are all lower income, so those high prices have to hurt, but they are still buying them. (Often by driving to the shops on one of the nearby reservations, since the prices are lower.)
posted by Dip Flash at 11:43 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


Little weird watching these sad cartoon alveoli and thinking, ah, so that’s what was happening to my dad. End stage COPD is not fun to watch, y’all. Thanks for the link. I may find myself wanting to bleach my eyeballs when I’m falling asleep tonight but I do think “detailed enough to be off putting” is getting something right.
posted by eirias at 11:53 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Smoking really does seem to stave off Parkinson's
The prevalence of current smoking declined progressively during follow-up from 67% to 8% between 1951 and 1998. The crude rates of PD death were lower in current smokers than in never smokers at baseline (30 vs 46/100,000 persons-years). After adjustment for age at risk, current smokers at baseline had a 30% lower risk of PD (RR 0.71; 95% CI 0.60–0.84), and continuing smokers classified using updated smoking habits at resurvey had a 40% lower risk (RR 0.60; 95% CI 0.46–0.77) of PD compared with never smokers. The risks of PD were inversely associated with the amount of tobacco smoked. The protective effect of current smoking vs never smoking for PD was attenuated by increasing duration since quitting smoking.

Conclusions

In contrast to previous suggestions, the present report demonstrates a causally protective effect of current smoking on the risk of PD, which may provide insights into the etiology of PD.
Presumably this is an effect of nicotine more than any other factor, and I would be surprised if nicotine in moderate doses did not retard brain aging in general.

If a transgenic coffee which also contained a small amount of nicotine in addition to the caffeine were ever to be available, I would be very tempted to give it a try.
posted by jamjam at 11:58 AM on May 15 [6 favorites]


You want to see why crack was not responsible for the violence of the crack epidemic, you do this. Then you'll get to see gangbangers killing one another over the right to sell cigarettes in various neighborhoods. And police forces corrupted (even more than already) by cigarette blood money.

I mean, I don't want to turn this into a thread about my hobby horse instead of the actual point of the post about the duplicity of so-called "anti-smoking" campaigns, but would people really seek out illegal cigarettes over legal nicotine vapes or pouches if they had to go through a whole pain in the ass illegal dealer experience to get the former? It seems to me that the biggest obstacle is the fact that we don't fully know the health consequences of vaping yet - it seems to be less bad than smoking, but we haven't quantified by how much.

More on the topic of the post, I feel like there is a long overdue public conversation to be had about tobacco use in media. I am not some puritan arguing for government censorship or ahistorical depictions of the past, but it feels like more than half of the series I've watched in the last decade have not just depicted but glamorized smoking, Peaky Blinders, I'm especially looking at you.
posted by nanny's striped stocking at 11:58 AM on May 15


Let's not pretend that nicotine and caffeine are the same thing, please

Nicotine by itself is probably more hazardous than caffeine, yes, but considerably less so than smoking. Vapes and smokeless products are in need of better regulation but obviously are the harm reduction approach.

(My comments here put together make me sound like a defensive vape guy but I assure you I’m not)
posted by atoxyl at 12:17 PM on May 15 [3 favorites]


I'm finding that the teens these days are back into smoking. Now that weed is legal here I'm kind of shocked that they're still into nicotine. I don't know why - is it the rebellious nature of it? Mom and dad do edibles now so cannabis is no longer cool?

And vaping, because of the instantaneousness of it, seems to be a popular thing for the kids to do indoors, like on the bus or in the mall and I'm sure in school too, to a degree they would never dream of doing with a cigarette.

I was never a smoker but grew up surrounded by it, with parents who smoked while living in a city that not one but two major cigarette brands are named after. I've got a strong sense memory of fresh cut tobacco being trucked into town. I thought that seeing old people with oxygen tanks at the grocery store was normal. But it's just so gross and there are so many better drugs out there I don't get why it's popular with teens.
posted by thecjm at 12:18 PM on May 15


Oh kids definitely vape in school. It's actually pretty hard to catch them in the act, since it can happen so quickly, while you're writing on the board or something. Though usually the smell and their guilty expression give it away, or maybe that's only been true the times I have caught them. We used to have a drug counselor I could refer them too, now I just stop class to call them out and tell them not to do it again. I usually talk to them about it the same way I talk about weed, as something you shouldn't do all the time and DEFINITELY not in school. I'm not sure the administration here would be on board with it if I tried to do anything more. I teach high school students.
posted by subdee at 12:29 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


Nicotine by itself is not carcinogenic, and at normal doses is well tolerated. It raises blood pressure and the chance of a heart attack, but it's probably not as bad for your heart as, say, vyvanse or adderall or other ADHD meds. It has positive effects on cognition, and may have other benefits. The fear mongering around vaping is bizarre to me, even vaping by teens. It's far less harmful than, say, drinking alcohol. It's incredible how successful advocates have been at transferring the stigma from cigarettes (bad for you, bad for others) onto nicotine vaping (extremely low risk, on par or less harmful than many other vices, no second hand effects).

Nicotine makes you feel good, and I am not raw dogging reality, as they say lately.
posted by dis_integration at 12:36 PM on May 15 [10 favorites]


Vaping doesn't seem to linger and settle into stuff the way cigarette smoke does. It's been decades and I can still remember what my grandparents' place smelt like, but I've never walked into someone's house and thought "Whoa, this place reeks of vape."
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:53 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


When I first moved to Japan cigarettes were something like $2 a pack while in Canada they were like $5 or $6. I wasn't a smoker and didn't become one but even I thought that it kind of would make sense to pick up the habit because cigarettes were just so cheap. I
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 12:55 PM on May 15


Having watched the Maggie Mae Fish video now, I can confidently say it's a bunch of bullshit. Sure the anti-vaping ads may not be effective. But the video continually conflates vaping and smoking as if they're the same thing, uniting them under the rubric of "nicotine use". They're not the same thing. It's absurd to claim they are. Nicotine is not what makes cigarettes bad for you.

Part of the problem with making effective anti-vaping ads is that you can't really show the harms of vaping. You can't wheel out the guy with no throat and be like: vaping did this. Because it doesn't.
posted by dis_integration at 1:17 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


I think the drag queen Katya said it best; smoking is embarrassing, vaping is humiliating.
I’m also boggled by folks who never smoked picking up vaping nicotine. I love a nicotine high more than the average person but vaping is so un cool and smoking looks so cool. I just don’t get it.
posted by Uncle at 1:19 PM on May 15


@nanny's striped stocking

> ... but would people really seek out illegal cigarettes over legal nicotine vapes or pouches if they had to go through a whole pain in the ass illegal dealer experience to get the former?

I see that you were never a cigarette smoker, and probably never lived with one.

I smoked (cigarettes) pretty heavily for almost all of the years between ages 13 and 40. I was eventually able to convert from that to other forms of nicotine(1), but keep in mind:

1) Nicotine replacements of various kinds have been available for a long time now.
2) What with the way cigarettes are taxed now, replacement nicotine is cheaper than smoking.
3) Practically everybody who smokes cigarettes says they want to quit.
4) Most people who try to switch away from cigarettes go back to cigarettes.

A ban on cigarettes that left other forms of nicotine available would cause some smokers to switch/quit, but yes there would be a solid fraction who would go to the dealer(2) to get their coffin nails.

(1) And to go from there to not vaping or sucking gum or anything for several years now. I miss it sometimes but think I will not go back.

(2) I also have extensive experience with what going to the dealer is like. It will be an adjustment but lots of people will make it.
posted by Aardvark Cheeselog at 1:22 PM on May 15 [5 favorites]


Ex-smoker” almost goes without saying here, because I truly cannot imagine someone who doesn’t have some lingering positive association with and habituation to cigarette smoke saying that being around vaping is moreoffensive.

I am nauseated by cigarette smoke, too, but I almost never encounter it. I'm sure smoking is still very common somewhere, but not where I live. Vaping's nasty ass is, however, all over the place. But the most egregious is the weed stench, which has become far more vile for whatever reason than it once was - maybe it's just that because I no longer smoke I can actually smell weed in all its repulsive glory.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:25 PM on May 15 [3 favorites]


Yeah I dunno, I didn’t really live through smoking at its most ubiquitous but as a kid in the 90s it was common enough and I hated it and as a result whenever I hear people saying that weed or vaping is worse I have a knee jerk impulse to point out the recency bias.

I personally never thought weed was as bad even before I smoked it but I did smoke it regularly for a few years (and still do once in a while) so I am open about having a bias in the same way that former cigarette smokers have a bias. And I do have some sympathy because again I remember cigarette smoke really bugging me back in the day. I am pretty adamant that I’ve not once entered a house that a stoner used to live in and been able to tell like I can with tobacco though.
posted by atoxyl at 1:41 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


Nicotine itself is highly addictive. It's the chemical that makes smoking and vaping so hard to quit.

That's why it's concerning, especially for teenagers.
posted by AlSweigart at 1:45 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


i smoke about 1 weed pre-roll per day.

I know smoke is smoke and this is a bad idea but, I do it.

I'm keeping my eyes open for research on how smoking weed is similar and different from smoking tobacco.
posted by rebent at 1:46 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


I'm keeping my eyes open for research on how smoking weed is similar and different from smoking tobacco

Not fully up to date here but from what I’ve seen in the past it seems like they’ve had a remarkably hard time establishing cannabis smoking as a cancer risk. It’s a COPD risk and probably a cardiovascular risk (both from the particulates and the actual effects of THC, which tends to increase heart rate). Smoking tobacco and cannabis seems to be worse than either - best not to become a spliff guy!
posted by atoxyl at 1:51 PM on May 15


@rebent

There are some basic facts to keep in mind. People who present with clinical signs of cancer from cigarette consumption typically smoked more than 1 pack/day for 20+ years. Somewhere north of 200,000 cigarettes. The cancer started earlier, of course, maybe halfway through? Your 1 pre-roll/day (compared with a 2 pack/day habit) can't be very good for you(1), but also it's not likely to be harmful in anything like the way a career of cigarette smoking is.

(1) Though, interestingly enough, when there was a large household survey of pot smokers in the US after medpot had been going for a while, the people in your consumption tier got classed as "not heavy users" and also they had better lung capacity than average. Maybe there's some undiagnosed subclinical asthma that's being helped there? Sorry I can't be assed to look for the cite.
posted by Aardvark Cheeselog at 2:01 PM on May 15


My parents smoked and still do, so I personally can't stand it, but it's not that much worse than booze. I'm on the tax it and let people do it side. My mom recently slowed down due to starting to get COPD symptoms and vapes now, but occasionally still smokes. I know smoking kills a lot of people, but alcohol will kill you while you are still young and far quicker than smoking.
posted by The_Vegetables at 2:04 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


I was a "only when I drink" smoker. Then I moved to Canada, tried Canadian cigarettes, said oh hell no, and just stopped smoking tobacco.

Having pretty much worked in healthcare since moving to Ontario, healthcare staff looooooove smoking. I mean, I don't blame them. If you're on the floor, it's a tough job. Gotta get relief where you can.

I am a late-in-life weed smoker and keep up with current and past medical studies through the CannaKeys website (I access it for research). I am not particularly worried about it at 47. I was DEFINITELY more worried about my alcoholism.
posted by Kitteh at 2:24 PM on May 15 [3 favorites]


tried Canadian cigarettes, said oh hell no

it's the fine granules of beaver scat mixed with the tobacco, isn't it

one develops a fondness for it, judging by my parents lifelong chain smoking
posted by elkevelvet at 2:34 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


> tried Canadian cigarettes

Once upon a time they were a lot better than American cigs. Made of real Virginia tobacco, of a grade that curiously never got incorporated in any American brands. But then I was the kind of smoker would would hand-roll if I had to.
posted by Aardvark Cheeselog at 3:04 PM on May 15


> Once upon a time they were a lot better than American cigs. Made of real Virginia tobacco

I thought all Canadian tobacco came from Tillsonburg (my back still aches when I hear that word)
posted by 3j0hn at 3:26 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]




Vaping cannabis is very different from vaping other things, because there is typically no glycerine involved. I don't know what part glycerine or flavorings or other ingredients play in the health risks of vaping.

Vaping cannabis is probably not risk-free. I don't know of any reliable stats on the risks of cannabis vaping. I regularly use a "dry herb" vaporizer that cooks the volatiles out of plant material without burning. Mostly I use this with cannabis, but occasionally other herbs. Never tobacco nor any nightshades.
I also sometimes get cannabis concentrates: oil or wax. There are a many variations on these and I'm not familiar with all of them, but afaik they mostly contain THC variants with residual terpenes and sometimes leftover solvent (it's not supposed to be there, but I don't believe there is any perfect extraction process). I'm not sure exactly how safe any of this stuff is (in a MSDS sense) nor the extent to which that information exists.

Hopefully someone else here knows more!
posted by Rev. Irreverent Revenant at 3:54 PM on May 15


Media literacy is all good and stuff, but most smokers smoke to deal with life. The failure of public health policy, imo, isn’t that we tried to replace smoking with vaping as a method of harm reduction, it’s that we never considered why people were smoking so much to begin with. The harm reduction we need to address is the cradle to grave reduction of the miracle of humanity into banal meat machines that convert our labor into someone else’s wealth.

Actual cigarettes cost like $15/pack here, and to people habituated to cigarettes, they’re more satisfying in every way than any other delivery method. People accede to vapes, gum, patches, or whatever else mostly when they determine they just can’t have cigarettes any more, bc of the economic impact or specific health impacts. They still need the nicotine.

We could do better to fix the economic and social pressures that drive people to self-mediate with nicotine. Then we could stand down a lot of these manufacturing and marketing emergencies and just let cigarette smokers enjoy fewer cigarettes.
posted by toodleydoodley at 4:37 PM on May 15 [8 favorites]


If a transgenic coffee which also contained a small amount of nicotine in addition to the caffeine were ever to be available, I would be very tempted to give it a try.

You'd be even more tempted to try it again.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 4:41 PM on May 15 [7 favorites]


most smokers smoke to deal with life.

People might start for different reasons but they keep smoking because they are chemically addicted to nicotine.
posted by biffa at 4:55 PM on May 15 [3 favorites]


I was a social smoker for years. I would bum cigarettes off my smoking friends and I would go through a pack or two whenever my wife went out of town for more than a couple days. I always said that I would quit for good after we had kids, and I did and it's been about 10 years now. For years after I quit, when I was alone and thinking or sitting in an online meeting or doing some other thing where I needed a moment for myself, I would hold my fingers to my face and pantomime taking a drag off a cigarette. I don't know what it is about smoking, but there's something satisfying about it that I haven't been able to replace with another activity. It punctuates time a certain way, and there's something in the physicality of it. I liked how it felt, breathing in the smoke. I occasionally but rarely use a weed vape now and it's not the same. If the worst thing about smoking was that it made you smell terrible, I would probably be smoking right now.
posted by jomato at 5:36 PM on May 15 [6 favorites]


I have heard of people with difficulty getting their ADD meds using nicotine patches, which is pretty depressing, though I don't know how dangerous it is.

I do think lots of us on ADD meds would have been smokers or drinkers otherwise.

I hate smoking though, because it caused both my parents to die young and suffer a lot before that. Watching someone die with COPD is brutal.
posted by emjaybee at 5:49 PM on May 15 [5 favorites]


An acquaintance of mine used to use nicotine patches because they were the stimulant she needed in order to write vast quantities of independently published romance and/or erotica books (they're hard to profit from unless you can write FAST). Since I learned this, I have often thought that maybe I should be on nicotine patches, but I figure I'm better off not addicted to an extra chemical, even if my productivity suffers.
posted by Jeanne at 7:04 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


My mom just turned 70 and looooooves her nicotine vape pen. My dad buys nicotine liquid and mixes it with whatever to more economically get their nicotine fixes. Both my parents were lifelong (indoor!) smokers and I think that's probably why I've never smoked a cigarette in my life. I used to smoke weed. I still do, but I used to, to. But I've never had a cigarette.

Like Rev. Irreverent Revenant above, I'm a big big fan of dry herb vaporizers. I have several, and they allow you to vape flower and not combust flower by setting a precise temperature that's best for that particular flower. Some harvests like a higher temperature, some taste better and give great vapor at a lower temperature. I just moved to a legal state (fuck yeah!) and have been having head to head battles with different strains, trying to find what I like the best. What a wonderful world. As to THC/CBD concentrates/distallates, there's a huge gamut, loosely categorized by the method of processing used. The great divide seems to be "solvent" extraction vs "solventless". I would argue vaping dabs of live rosin is probably the gentlest and most potent way to use cannabis aside from edibles/tinctures. Way cleaner than just smoking a joint, but Is A Whole Thing and a different level of complication than combustion. Different growers partner with different processors and their product is highly sought after, released in limited batches like farmhouse ales.

Our parents' smoking is why my sister and I never smoked. We could not stand the stale odor that lingered.

When I was in sixth grade I went on a week long field trip cross country bus ride to Washington, D.C. When I got settled in to our hotel room for the night, I was shocked when the three guys I was roomed with were like "OK, WE HAVE 9 HOURS UNTIL WE HAVE TO BE ON THE BUS IN THE MORNING, LET'S SMOKE AS MANY CIGARETTES AS POSSIBLE UNTIL THEN". How did the chaperones not know? They had to have known. We must have reeked. It's some high rise hotel where you couldn 't crack a window. My god.

My mom was diagnosed with lung cancer a few years ago and had to have a lobe of one lung removed. She's cancer free now, and feels a lot of shame for smoking all those years and then getting cancer. At first she would be quick to remind people that people who don't smoke get lung cancer, too. My mom has used nicotine for roughly 56 years, and not even lung cancer made her kick that habit. At this point I see my parents' vaping as harm reduction. Whatever mix my dad concocts is odorless or near odorless. At least I'm not leaving their house smelling like I left a club anymore. It's a win in my book. Do I think anything other than healthy fresh air should go into her lungs? No. Is that up to me? Also no.

My kid's school district in Texas, where we are in the process of leaving, sent out a notice a couple years ago that any kid caught with a vape pen or nicotine of any kind would be arrested. And have to face the magistrate? judge? enter into the criminal justice system. For a cigarette. C'mon. My kid finished school a semester early but told me they'd routinely walk into the bathroom and could smell that someone was smoking a cigarette (not vaping, although there's a lot of vaping apparently) in a stall. And I'm like.....that's sooooo risky. There's such an odor. You're just asking to bring attention to yourself. You are not making good decisions. But I don't want you in handcuffs for it.

In conclusion, vaping is a land of contrasts.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 7:42 PM on May 15 [3 favorites]




@nanny's striped stocking....

I see that you were never a cigarette smoker, and probably never lived with one.


Nope, never been a smoker, vaper, or other type of nicotine user myself, but the only smoker I ever lived with frequently expressed the opinion that the sale of cigarettes should be banned, based on the fact that (1) They were older and a very law-abiding sort, as well as already deeply embarrassed to be known to be a smoker. The idea of being someone who called a dealer like a druggie would just have been too humiliating for them to contemplate. (2) They worked a job where they saw a lot of people in their 20s who had never smoked pick up the habit to kill time and socialize on their breaks; they figured the more legally stigmatized cigarettes were, the less tolerated smoking on the job site would be, thus cutting off a major avenue for addiction in new generations.

I think the drag queen Katya said it best; smoking is embarrassing, vaping is humiliating.
I’m also boggled by folks who never smoked picking up vaping nicotine. I love a nicotine high more than the average person but vaping is so un cool and smoking looks so cool. I just don’t get it.


I definitely don't want vaping to become glamorized like smoking has in popular culture, but it's always depressing to see people shitting on probably the best harm reduction method out there for the nicotine-addicted because it looks a little silly. Not to mention, the idea that smoking looks cool is totally a manufactured one based on images from media rather than the actual reality of smoking. I ran across a comment on a web forum once to the effect that smoking a cigarette is like carrying a pistol, something that looks extremely cool and glamorous when actors do it in the movies but generally kind of pathetic when average folks do it in real life, and damned if I haven't found it to be true. Same as every other drug, really, the heroin-chic aesthetic was super cool to me when I first saw the video for Fiona Apple's Criminal in 1997, while watching paramedics attend to a woman lying near-catatonic on the sidewalk with her genitals exposed while conference-goers stepped around her in San Francisco in 2017 was decidedly less so.
posted by nanny's striped stocking at 12:27 AM on May 16


There isn't any real comparison between smoking and heroin -- no one ever sold off the contents of a partner's house while the partner was on vacation to buy cigarettes -- but smoking does insidiously eat at your finances and, gradually (but also pretty quickly, just with gradually increasing intensity) make you sick, often unto death. One could argue that smoking is a way, way slower version of heroin addiction. What takes smoking several decades to do, you could probably do to yourself with heroin in just a few months!

I will say this: vaping did help me quit smoking; I maybe couldn't have quit without a cigarette substitute. This was in 2011, a time when vaping was relatively new. I first switched to a low-nicotine (completely unregulated, God only knows what else was in it, it could have been pure fentanyl or liquid defoliant for all I knew, it still would have been better than whatever is in the Marlboros I smoked two packs of a day) vape, and then a no-nicotine vape, and then one day I stopped because I felt ridiculous still vaping when I knew it was basically just the satisfaction of a nervous tic. Vaping really does work as a smoking cessation habit! ....If you want to quit smoking, and if you don't continue to huff nicotine, which is obviously a very addictive drug.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:32 AM on May 16 [5 favorites]


The fear mongering around vaping is bizarre to me, even vaping by teens. It's far less harmful than, say, drinking alcohol.

That's debatable. The info under health effects here is awful. link
posted by tiny frying pan at 4:56 AM on May 16


> That's debatable. The info under health effects here is awful. link

the health effects here are literally entirely “potential”, “under investigation” and “mixed results”. we know that nicotine has cardiovascular effects, although they’re not exactly dramatic. it’s all just fear mongering and frankly it’s done to keep up funding for anti smoking initiatives now that they’ve won and smoking is thoroughly disreputable and has basically no base of political support. who is going to continue to fund the truth initiative now that the teens don’t smoke (or screw or do much of anything for that matter)? but what if there was something sort of similar to smoking that we could also talk about, who cares if it is nowhere near as harmful as tobacco?
posted by dis_integration at 5:30 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]


People said it was fear mongering for cigarettes too. There's no way it's a healthy choice, we just don't know how bad it is yet. I don't really get the vehemence here for mild statements of its bad for you, 🤷
posted by tiny frying pan at 6:09 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


no one ever sold off the contents of a partner's house while the partner was on vacation to buy cigarettes

I wonder if someone with full access to the FBI's criminal database could find an example or two of this over the decades. Someone, somewhere, must have done this.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:22 AM on May 16


> There isn't any real comparison between smoking and heroin -- no one ever sold off the contents of a partner's house while the partner was on vacation to buy cigarettes...

Yes, there isn't a comparison, because cigarette smokers have never been made into criminals for their addiction, and the sellers of cigarettes use the legal retail market.

In addition to having been a smoker and a liver-with-smokers, I'm also the parent of somebody who died of opioid addiction while living in my house. I had my stuff stolen to buy drugs. Heroin addicts also do not sell off the contents of a house to buy drugs over the course of a vacation, not unless that vacation is a pretty long one. They sell off enough stuff every few days to get through the next few days. I am confident that some black-market cigarette buyers would behave similarly.
posted by Aardvark Cheeselog at 6:25 AM on May 16 [6 favorites]


the sellers of cigarettes use the legal retail market

Not always.
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:28 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


With respect to all the hate that vaping is getting here, I think some pushback is warranted. Vaping almost certainly is bad for you, though just how bad and in what ways are still completely obscure. But one thing is for certain, and that's that vape fumes don't contain the brew of combustion products that make tobacco smoke carcinogenic. And also that the small droplets in the vapor are bigger than the minute ash particles in smoke, which are known to be the main cause of COPD. There will have to be some really nasty effects of long-term vaping before it has the public-health impact that smoking did.

Sucks that kids are taking it up without ever having been smokers, but I know if I had to pick whether my kid would vape or smoke cigs, the choice would not be hard.
posted by Aardvark Cheeselog at 6:31 AM on May 16 [6 favorites]


the sellers of cigarettes use the legal retail market

Not always.
Get back to me when the Feds decide to spend a few 10s of billions of $$ coloring the grey market black, while using enough violence to ensure that only violent people will be cigarette bootleggers.

The thing at the link is not the gotcha that responds to anything I've been saying.
posted by Aardvark Cheeselog at 6:35 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


Not trying to refute your point that the heroin market is fundamentally different from the cigarette market, because obvious thing is obvious. But there has been intimations in this thread that people would never resort to criminal activity of cigarettes were banned which is just flat-out untrue, which was my point. It hits a little different when you were in NYC when Eric Garner was killed by cops for selling loosies on Staten Island.
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:49 AM on May 16 [3 favorites]


But there has been intimations in this thread that people would never resort to criminal activity of cigarettes were banned which is just flat-out untrue, which was my point.

I think this is mostly aimed at my comments, and yeah, obviously I realize that not everyone would just give up their cigarette habit overnight if cigarette sales were made illegal. OTOH it does have to be acknowledged that the decision to keep tobacco sales legal is a social policy decision that amounts to a tacit state endorsement of cigarette use, and that changing that decision should at least be considered as another social policy lever that governments could use to change people's behavior. I think it would be possible to craft a ban that made cigarettes hard to get and expensive (and yes, probably marginally more dangerous) without punishing illegal distributors so harshly that crack-epidemic-violence ensues. I don't think such a policy is politically feasible anywhere in the world at present, and I certainly wouldn't trust the US to implement one. But I think it should be part of the public discussion.

There's always going to be a tension between public health and individual liberty. Seatbelt mandates and trans fat regulations were controversial. Public smoking bans were controversial. Mandating SawStop for table saws is currently controversial. But I'll bet the average MeFite is in favor of all of those things now, even if they weren't at the time. With the arrival of apparently safer but still kind of "recreational" nicotine delivery systems, it's now possible to imagine banning tobacco without enacting de facto nicotine prohibition in a way that it just wasn't 15 years ago. Even if we never reach the moment where it's actually feasible or desirable to ban tobacco sales, I think there's some value in being a voice loudly saying "How the FUCK are they still allowed to sell this?!?" in public.
posted by nanny's striped stocking at 7:44 AM on May 16


Over on Blue Sky, an acquaintance and I were waxing weird nostalgia for Djarum clove cigarettes we smoked as teens. Like, we didn't want to take up smoking again but it is wild that I, as a teen, was able to purchase these sugary sweet smokes at a tobacconist downtown. In fact, during those teen years, I may have been asked to produce ID ONCE to purchase smokes. (To give the former smokers of MeFi a fit, when I did smoke it was either B&H Ultra Lights or Camel Ultra Lights. I was not a serious smoker, I guess!)
posted by Kitteh at 7:57 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]


combustion products that make tobacco smoke carcinogenic

Actually, tobacco smoke is made far more carcinogenic by the tobacco plant’s
uptake of Polonium-210 and other radioactive elements from the soil than it would be from the mere fact that it contains combustion products.
posted by mubba at 8:29 AM on May 16


> OTOH it does have to be acknowledged that the decision to keep tobacco sales legal is a social policy decision that amounts to a tacit state endorsement of cigarette use

No, that absolutely does NOT have to be acknowledged and I for one steadfastly refuse to do so.

This is the kind of reasoning that concludes that harm reduction measures "send the wrong message" and decides that it's better that people suffer unnecessarily than that normal people should have to be complicit in their sins by stopping oppressing them for being gay|drug-addicted|STD-infected|whatever turns off the person who thinks that creating the right image is the most important thing. No, it does not have to be acknowledged and in fact acknowledging it is bad.

Not prohibiting cigarettes just means that Yet Another harm-producing Prohibition is not happening, organized crime is not being fed, and otherwise inoffensive people are not being turned into criminals.
posted by Aardvark Cheeselog at 8:35 AM on May 16 [6 favorites]


The anti-vaping stance does not appear to be rooted at all in the ethos of harm reduction. I’m actually quite confused by it? Vaping allowed my grandma to transition from cigarettes into an assisted living facility where smoking was banned. As the parent of a tween, I don’t want him to vape, but I’m a million times less concerned about vaping vs drinking, cigarettes and pot. The biggest issue with vaping appears to be the rapid addiction to nicotine which isn’t great but not anywhere near the health impact of smoking.
posted by haptic_avenger at 8:45 AM on May 16 [4 favorites]


Still SMH at the comparison of nicotine and caffeine. I mean, caffeine isn't without its negative effects, and I've started cutting back generally on my intake, but nothing anywhere near the league of "traditionally delivered in a form that includes carcinogens." Smoking is also really fucking obnoxious if you're exposing other people to smoke--in addition to health effects, nonsmokers don't want to smell like an ashtray, generally--and even if vaping reduces the health effects, getting a big cloud of vape in your face isn't much better than tobacco smoke. (It really kind of blows my mind that some vape rigs are specifically designed to make a big cloud.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:27 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


What takes smoking several decades to do, you could probably do to yourself with heroin in just a few months!

You can also do some things to yourself with cigarettes that you could never do with heroin but same goes in the other direction - turns out drugs are different from each other I guess.

The anti-vaping stance does not appear to be rooted at all in the ethos of harm reduction

I sort of have a sense that there’s a generation gap among public health people, where the old school anti-tobacco people can’t imagine anything but to keep going with gradual restrictions on anything with nicotine and the new school buys into harm reduction more? But I could be making that up (I know harm reduction people but not so much old school anti-tobacco people).
posted by atoxyl at 10:23 AM on May 16


I mean, caffeine isn't without its negative effects, and I've started cutting back generally on my intake, but nothing anywhere near the league of "traditionally delivered in a form that includes carcinogens."

maté drinking has been linked to cancer in the past though I don’t know how well that has held up
posted by atoxyl at 10:27 AM on May 16


Speaking of whether or not caffeine can kill people, Panera recently decided it's going to stop serving the death lemonade.
posted by cultanthropologist at 6:34 PM on May 16 [1 favorite]


Just as a data point on the banning thing.

I am a cocaine addict. I never had any trouble finding and getting coke as a teen, and I haven't used coke in almost 25 years.

The longest I've been able to quit smoking has been a month. I don't smoke inside, I try very hard to keep my smoke away from other people. I smoke less now, and ultra lights, but I haven't been able to quit.

The patch and gum can help for a few hours, but no longer than that. A large part of my addiction to cigarettes is the physicality of it. Getting away from other people. Bringing out the pack, lighting, inhaling.

So when vapes started, I thought that would be the answer. Bought one that looked like a cigarette, came with a case that looked like cigarette case and everything.

My throat was raw and my lungs ached for a month before I gave in, went back to cigarettes. I've since bought two other vapes, trying each time. There's something in the vape liquid that really hurts my throat, and my lungs were pretty unhappy too.

I'm sure I'll try again. I need to quit. Very much. But I don't know how I'm ever going to do it.

Ban legal sales and there's a 75% chance that I'd be hunting for a dealer. Not because I want to. Not because I don't know how bad smoking is for me. But this addiction is fierce in me, in a way that neither cocaine nor alcohol ever was.
posted by Vigilant at 7:42 PM on May 16 [3 favorites]


I quit nicotine recently. Coming up on four months. My path to it was weird. I didn't start smoking until I was in my early 30s. Regularly at least (I'd have one occasionally but that's it). But then I moved in with someone who smoked and all of his friends smoked and I did it just to be part of the group. It's not just teenagers who succumb to peer pressure. So I did that for 3-4 years and then switched to vaping around the time Juuls came out. Did the Juul for a while but switched to Elf bars and settled on the Flum. But then the pandemic hit and now I was working from home. I didn't have to hide it or go somewhere to hit it. I was hitting the vape all day long every day. I was much more addicted from that than I was from cigarettes where I had to go outside and smoke and then come back. It was just a constant flow of nicotine. Then after a medical scare I tried to quit and failed horribly for a few months. I'd suck on lozenges for half the day and then hit the vape the rest of the time. But I was going through two or three of the big however many thousand hits disposable vapes a week. And trying to hide the vape in my car so I'd have to make effort to get to it. Or tossing it in a high closet behind things where I'd have to pull out a stepladder to get to it. But I would cause I wanted that hit. Then for whatever reason I was able to just not buy a vape that week. Stuck with the lozenge a bit. But just told myself not to go into the vape store I walk past every day. And it stuck. For the first six weeks or so it was hard. Mostly after I did something. Like I'd be cooking and got everything prepared and in the pot and now I just needed to wait 20 minutes or whatever. Or clean something and finish one area. And after that I just wanted to sit down and take a hit and relax. Even after I quit and had no vapes I had that mind and would be searching for a vape cause it was habit. And I missed it so much. Most of the hits I'd take wouldn't provide any effect at all but that first hit was so satisfying. But I made it past that first part and it's enough I don't want to break the streak. This fidget spinner has been getting a lot of work though.
posted by downtohisturtles at 8:14 PM on May 16 [2 favorites]


Prior to this thread I'd only heard of vaping being less harmful than smoking from tobacco industry shills, and as they are lying liars who lie I'd disregarded the message. Health Canada I'll take seriously. Vaping being less harmful than smoking is good news, and should be more widely known.
posted by mscibing at 9:08 PM on May 16


Vapes and smokeless products are in need of better regulation

This last bit being very important. Turns out that some of those flavorings can really fuck up your lungs! Who knew that something being safe to eat doesn't mean it's safe to inhale?

On the other hand, call me when we start shaming people for driving their fucking cars everywhere the way we shame smokers and vapers. Leaving aside the potential harm of collisions since that's more due to shitty street design and the utterly incomprehensible belief that shaming people into not driving like asshats is an effective means of reducing the hazard, the particulate and ozone emissions are a public health menace at least as large as smoking ever was.

Plus, my brain is just done in by the noise at this point.

Really, though, I'd just like to see less shaming in general and also less glamorizing of things that are harmful to everyone around us and also less "oh but my thing that hurts other people is different and useful/necessary" bullshit. Maybe it is necessary right now, but how about we work to reduce it as much as reasonably possible. Hell, how about we treat all the things we each have our bugaboos about the same way.

Whether it's cigarettes, beer, fast food, cars, heroin, cocaine, meth, or whatever else, these things fill some need for some people, but also cause people some amount of harm both personally and societally, yet banning them entirely is untenable and frankly silly to even contemplate. At the same time we should not just resign ourselves to the status quo any more than we have with cigarettes or drunk driving.
posted by wierdo at 5:51 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]


“ Prior to this thread I'd only heard of vaping being less harmful than smoking from tobacco industry shills”

I’m glad you learned that here, but I still find it really surprising! Vapes literally do not have the main toxic ingredient of cigarettes. Nobody wants kids to start vaping, but to the extent the extreme fall in youth cigarette use is due to vaping alternatives, that’s a big net positive for public health in terms of cancer reduction.
posted by haptic_avenger at 5:55 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]


Add me to the list that started vaping to quit smoking and now I've been tobacco free for 13 years...
posted by schyler523 at 8:57 AM on May 17


Full disclosure, I have a personal interest in this topic because my grandfather was co-author of the first academic paper to establish that tobacco smoke contains high levels of radioactive polonium-210, back in 1964. This isotope is an alpha-emitter that can stay in lung tissues and continue delivering radiation for years, long after the initial exposure. It’s absorbed by the tobacco plant from the soil.

This may explain, for example, why marijuana smoking alone has nowhere near the same association with elevated cancer rates as tobacco.

So apologies for the double comment, but I think more people should be aware that this mechanism makes tobacco smoke particularly dangerous, beyond the general toxicity of combustion products.

I can’t find any smoking gun references establishing whether electronic nicotine vapes also deliver significant levels of polonium-210 . But to me it seems like a reason to be cautious, at least, and to prefer nicotine gum or patches for help quitting, instead of vapes, if possible, since their contents are more highly regulated.
posted by mubba at 10:37 AM on May 17 [4 favorites]


Yup, the fact that vape juice itself is mostly unregulated is what gives me pause.
posted by grumpybear69 at 10:50 AM on May 17 [2 favorites]


I hate smoking though, because it caused both my parents to die young and suffer a lot before that. Watching someone die with COPD is brutal.

Right there with you. My dad died of COPD and only quit smoking when he was o2 dependent bc lighting a match could have literally blown up his house.

He went on hospice during COVID and as he lived in Indiana and I’m in Boston, I begged him to just live thru the pandemic. He did. I was able to get out to say goodbye and if that wasn’t the most gut wrenching thing I’ve had to do…

In the immediate grief aftermath, I was so angry at him for smoking himself to death at 69 as he hadn’t had nearly enough time with his grandkids - who were 8 and 11 when he died. (He hadn’t spent nearly enough time with ME either, but that’s a longer story.) He was a true addict - if it had addictive properties and he tried it, he was addicted. Cigarettes, alcohol, morphine… It was truly devastating to watch.


I’ve told my kids if they ever smoke ANYTHING - vapes included - I will cut off their hands and then they can see how well they can hold a cigarette. My son was so distraught by his grandfather’s death that he gets angry if his classmates pretend to “smoke” straws or pretzel sticks. It’s a brutal, horrible way to die.


(As for weed, there are ways to get THC into yr system that don’t involve smoking it. I’d absolutely have no problem with my kids doing edibles or tinctures once their frontal lobes are fully formed, but smoking… it would def be hard to remain chill.)
posted by sonika at 1:17 PM on May 17


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