The following is a guest post by Richard Becker.
I heard on the news that the FDA is getting all fired up about regulating e-cigarettes – possibly even banning them outright for youngsters.
Why? E-cigs may not have the risks associated with ordinary cigarette smoke, but they’re still a vehicle for delivering nicotine – an addictive stimulant. Plus, there’s plenty of fear that e-cigarettes and “vaping” could make old-fashioned smoking “cool” again – disaster! Here’s from a story in the New Republic:
Tobacco control advocates worry that any effort to “normalize” even the rituals of smoking, as with e-cigs, could undermine hard-won battles to ban public smoking, re-establish smoking as cool, and lead to youth-directed marketing.
After all that hard work on the part of the feds and the healthcare workers to make smoking uncool, there’s a real possibility that it will suddenly get hip again.
Here’s the thing, though: Smoking is still cool. It never stopped being cool. It didn’t matter how many pictures of diseased lungs you showed kids, smoking’s allure never diminished. Heck, I’m a nurse with experience in cancer and hospice care, and an ex-smoker, and I even still think it’s cool.
You see, it’s not the nicotine so much as the culture – something Hilaire Belloc understood apparently. Here he is using a smoking analogy to make a point about Arianism:
To give a man the history of tobacco, to give him the chemical formula (if there be such a thing) for nicotine, is not to make him understand what is meant by the smell of tobacco and the effects of smoking it.
Think of Humphrey Bogart and James Dean. Steve McQueen and, well, pretty much every actor (and actress) from the previous era (i.e., my era). They all smoked – on camera – and it was very cool.
Of course, that was back when

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