Friday, March 19, 2010

Vaping in the Boys' Room

A lot has changed for us men in the last 20 years.

We've gone from an era when a man could be vilified for not helping out with childcare and housework to an era when a man can be vilified for not helping out with the childcare and housework without being asked to do so.

Not so long ago, a man trying to find his way around an unfamiliar neighborhood would have to use a map, or (yikes!) ask directions.

But nothing signifies the profound cultural shift in notions of masculinity more than the growing popularity of the electronic cigarette, which, try as I might, I just can't imagine between the lips of any rugged cowboy like the "Marlboro Man."

The e-cigarette is for all you smokers out there who would love to keep your addiction to nicotine without constantly smelling like an ashtray, having to figure out where your lighter is all the time, and basically just offending the general public with your very existence.

(Plus there's that whole emphysema thing.)

"Electronic cigarettes look like the real thing but don’t contain tobacco," explains Boston Globe reporter Norma Love much better than I can. "They use a metal tube with a battery to heat a liquid nicotine solution in a replaceable cartridge. Users inhale and exhale the resulting water vapor. The tip of the tube lights like a cigarette.

"The process is called “vaping’’ instead of smoking."

I know you're shaking your head. So am I. Seriously: "Norma Love" cannot possibly be this reporter's real name.

She probably used a pseudonym so the tobacco industry's mob goons would not track her down and have her injected with some kind of addictive poison.

They can't be happy with her article, which is clearly biased against inhaling anything besides air, and celebrates the efforts of the worry-wart nanny state freedom bludgeoners who are already trying to step in and limit the fun.

This "Love" character's article features the efforts of 16-year-old Mara Zrzavy of Peterborough, NH, who is campaigning to have her state legislature prohibit e-cigarattes from being sold to or used by minors. The "Live Free or Die Trying" House of Representatives already passed a bill.

The fear is that once kids are hooked on nicotine, they will be more likely to eventually switch to less expensive tobacco cigarettes.

Baloney. That may be true in New Hampshire, where they don't believe in taxes, but the research I did around here finds the 21st century version cheaper, if not comparable. That's before you factor in medical bills and teeth whitener.

Besides, it's a struggle to get a smoker onto a nicotine patch, even though it's cheaper than cigarettes. Clearly, money is not the main factor in the decision-making here.

Fact is, "vaping" is the next hot trend. Smoking is so 2002.

Besides, if these battery-powered addiction sticks were any real threat, our very own state government would be already sending troopers out to personally remove them from the mouths of any offending scum.

Instead, according to Love, these devices are popping up in shopping mall kiosks, invading the epicenter of suburban teenage life. They are on par with soda and cell phones: addictive, for sure, but otherwise harmless enough.

("Enough" being the operative word, of course.)

If there's a way to market these toy-ish cigarettes to children (say, by using some sort of cartoon character and playing off insecurities about masculinity), the tobacco industry has met its doom.

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