I unapologetically endorse vaping. I enjoy it. It helps me relax and focus. It enhances my creativity. It’s a lot safer than smoking, and it’s a heck of a lot better for me than all of the bad habits I used to have such as biting my nails, grinding my teeth, eating sweet sugary snacks, and stimming. Since I know that I’m not the only lawyer with bad habits like these, I endorse vaping as a lawyer life hack that can help you eliminate other worse habits, help you relax, improve your productivity, and most importantly, help you overcome the 4 S’s that keep you from leaving your law practice in your rear view mirror.
Far Safer Than Smoking
A typical cigarette contains over 4000 chemicals that are dangerous to the human body, many of which are known carcinogens. You won’t find a single one of those chemicals in an e-cigarette. Not a single one. In fact, the level of toxic chemicals typically found in e-cigarette vapor is so low that Public Health England and the British Royal College of Physicians have estimated that vaping is 95% safer than smoking. There is also little to no second hand effect, so it’s not as if vaping indoors or in public is going to harm bystanders.
So Why the Pushback?
If vaping is so much safer than smoking, and if it doesn’t harm anyone else, why is it banned in public places? Why can’t I do it in my office? Why can’t I vape on the railway platform while waiting for a train? Why am I, like a traditional cigarette smoker, relegated to back alleys and street corners? Why is it so difficult for me to buy e-cigarettes in certain jurisdictions. I don’t know. But I have a hypothesis.
I think broad (entirely appropriate) societal rejection of smoking in recent decades is part of it, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. My hypothesis is that it’s more about “iron triangles”, in this case, the smoking-anti smoking industrial complex.
First off, let me explain what I mean by that. An iron triangle is an informal association of bureaucratic agencies seeking to consolidate their power, and interest groups seeking to achieve policy goals, often at the expense of the constituencies at the heart of the agency’s mission. The quintessential example of an iron triangle is the “military-industrial complex”. The goal of a department (or ministry) of defense is to protect a country’s citizens by fighting and winning wars against entities that pose threats to their safety. However, war has a lot of stakeholders besides the citizens. There are the military contractors who make the planes, tanks and bombs, interest groups that have policy goals that may be narrower or different from the safety of the citizens (such as toppling a specific dictator), and even the business interests who earn big money from being nearby military bases such as chain stores, supermarkets, gas stations, real estate developers, and fast food restaurants. (That’s why it’s so difficult to close a military base in the U.S. All the entities and businesses that feed off of the base want the base where it is because the soldiers on the base provide their main source of income. When they get wind of news that the Department of Defense wants to close a base and use the money more productively elsewhere, they lobby their senators and congressmen to keep the base open. Normally, this pressure by local businesses large and small keeps the base open, even if it would be better for the national defense if the base was shut down).
I hypothesize that there is a similar smoking-anti smoking industrial complex among the cigarette manufacturers, the government agencies that regulate smoking such as the Food and Drug Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, anti-smoking organizations, and big pharmaceutical companies. The way things worked before e-cigs came on the scene was that the cigarette companies made billions of dollars by selling cigarettes, the government agencies consolidated power and money by regulating the cigarette companies, the pharmaceutical companies made billions selling “smoking cessation” aids, and the anti-smoking special interest groups made millions of dollars and employed thousands of people to get you to stop smoking. From your perspective, you start smoking and buy cigarettes, the government collects taxes to regulate the cigarette company, the anti-smoking groups sound the alarm against smoking and amass millions in donations and grants to convince you to stop smoking. You decide to quit smoking and buy the “smoking cessation” aids sold by the pharmaceutical companies. These ineffective “smoking cessation” aids don’t work and you resume smoking, and the cycle repeats itself. Everyone benefits except you, sitting there smoking your cigarettes and getting cancer.
E-cigs pose a highly disruptive threat to this cosy and profitable relationship. If there is finally a safe, or at least much safer and equally satisfying alternative to cigarettes, people might switch from traditional cigarettes to the safer alternative. This nukes the billions of dollars in sales of cigarettes, and potentially puts the cigarette companies out of business (they could switch to making e-cigs but that would take billions of dollars of costly R&D and eat into their existing profits—see Kodak and digital cameras). The government agencies lose their budgets and the government loses out on tax revenue because there is nothing to regulate. The anti-smoking interest groups lose out because the problem is solved, leaving them with no reason to exist. And the pharmaceutical companies lose billions in sales because the consumer has no use for their products. He doesn’t need to stop smoking. He just needs to start vaping. If e-cigs are allowed to take hold in the consumer market, the smoking-anti smoking industrial complex blows up.
What it All Comes Down To
If you are a nail biter, a paper chewer, a candy fiend or a tooth grinder, you should seriously consider vaping. Even if it is slightly less healthy than not consuming nicotine at all, it is a heck of a lot better for you than those other things you are doing right now. If you tend to be anxious and have difficulty focusing, particularly when you have to tackle a large project, keeping a vape at your desk could be a great way to get you going and keep you powering through to the end (as it just did for me with this article). Vaping, it seems to me, is no worse for you than coffee, and a great life management tool.
You should also join in the grassroots movement to help make vaping more accepted in your jurisdiction, and stop all this ridiculous over-regulation that helps everyone but the consumer, that is, you. A good place to start is by joining Consumer Advocates for Smoke Free Alternatives (CASAA).
In future posts, I’ll review popular brands of electronic cigarettes and other vaping products and tell you which ones I like best.