I've covered pot and alcohol; now it's time to move on to cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes, that is.
From the March 23rd editorial in The Economist, "No smoke. Why the fire?:"
Some inventions are so simple, you have to wonder why no one has come up with them before. One such is the electronic cigarette. Smoking tobacco is the most dangerous voluntary activity in the world. More than 5m people die every year of the consequences. That is one death in ten. People smoke because they value the pleasure they get from nicotine in tobacco over the long-term certainty that their health will be damaged. So it seems rational to welcome a device that separates the dangerous part of smoking (the tar, carbon monoxide and smoke released by the process of combustion) from the nicotine.
And that is what an e-cigarette does. It uses electricity from a small battery to vaporise a nicotine-containing solution, so that the user can breathe it in. E-cigarettes do not just save the lives of smokers: they bring other benefits too. Unlike cigarettes, they do not damage the health of bystanders. They do not even smell that bad, so there is no public nuisance, let alone hazard, and thus no reason to ban their use in public places. Pubs and restaurants should welcome them with open arms.
No wonder the e-cigarette market is growing. Though still small compared with that for real smokes, it doubled in America last year and is likely to do so again in 2013.
Who could object? Quite a lot of people, it seems. Instead of embracing e-cigarettes, many health lobbyists are determined to stub them out. Some claim that e-cigarettes may act as “gateways” to the real thing. Others suggest that the flavourings sometimes added to the nicotine-bearing solution make e-cigarettes especially attractive to children...It seems that the next evolution in the long history of tobacco has arrived.
For a book about cigarettes and the tobacco lobby, try Christopher Buckley's satirical novel Thank You for Smoking:
Nick Naylor likes his job. In the neo-puritanical nineties, it's a challenge to defend the rights of smokers and a privilege to promote their liberty. Sure, it hurts a littIe when you're compared to Nazi war criminals, but Nick says he's just doing what it takes to pay the mortgage and put his son through Washington's elite private school St. Euthanasius. He can handle the pressure from the antismoking zealots, but he is less certain about his new boss, BR, who questions whether Nick is worth $150,000 a year to fight a losing war. Under pressure to produce results, Nick goes on a PR offensive. But his heightened notoriety makes him a target for someone who wants to prove just how hazardous smoking can be. If Nick isn't careful, he's going to be stubbed out.