Vaping might not actually kill you. But why let that stop a moral panic not seen since Abigail Williams saw Goody Osburn with the devil? The public health brigades have been up in arms about the latest vaping crisis. They have demanded not only action, but results.
This zeal to ‘do something’ left us with a number of policies that banned vaping products, or at least flavored ones — examples include Michigan’s ban that was recently struck down in court, San Francisco’s ban, and other regulatory actions being considered on the state and federal level. With all of this animosity toward vaping, a modest proposal of sorts is readily apparent. Let’s swap out the nicotine consumption devices of today with the nicotine consumption devices of yesterday. In other words, the vaping crisis makes a new case for smoking.
Municipalities act like they’re solving problems when they bar vaping, but this only ignores the real issues going on in their communities. For example, San Francisco’s City Council recently voted to ban vapes, but this is the same city council whose incompetence directly lead to the city’s housing crisis and streets covered in needles and feces (human included). They are merely taking the lead on tackling vaping because they are desperate for policy successes and there is literally nothing else that they can competently achieve.
Even if governments aren’t intentionally distracting from real issues by focusing on vaping, there’s no question that their zeal still takes time away from dealing with other problems. The fact that so many different councils and committees are tied up legislating Juuls in states from California to Michigan means that presumably important work goes undone. So people should just switch back to cigarettes and save these guys the trouble. Cigarettes are, amazingly enough, still legal to sell in San Francisco, Michigan, and all over the United States despite the noise caused about vaping deaths. If fewer people were invested in the usage of vapes, fewer government officials would need to spend their time on vaping regulations and would have more time to do what they should be doing.
The politics created by non-smokers is another great reason to pick up a cigarette. The idea that politics is downstream of culture is generally correct. As our culture became less welcoming to smokers — casting them out into the unforgiving cold for the crime of inhaling tobacco, our politics became less welcoming to those on the other side of the aisle. Once upon a time, the Speaker of the House made deals in smoke-filled back rooms with the president, resulting in a more productive government for us all that had positive results for the American people. Backroom deals made a number of political initiatives possible, and while that smoke had nothing to do with picking a new Pope, it had everything to do with R.J. Reynolds.
Finally, smoking acts as a cultural equalizer — everyone outside the bar or coffee shop is looked down upon equally. There are not many parts of our society that we can call unsegregated. However, the community forced outside of any establishment is a good example. Smokers comprise people from all walks and worlds — rich, poor, young, old, white, black — all brought together by the flick of a Bic and the puff of a Red (or in the Gipper’s case, a Chesterfield). People deserve this kind of society and community, and it’ll never exist with vapers. There’s no time to appreciate the community made strong by the wisps of smoke and conversation that curl into a frigid December night, or dew-kissed summer evenings, when you’re blowing fruit flavored clouds big enough to signal the return of Typhon and Echidna.
To be sure, smoking is not an objectively good habit. Medical professionals can tell you about all of the negative effects, and they absolutely should be heard and carefully weighed. But to pretend smoking is some great evil is a cheap trick indeed. Sure, it’s not great for you, but neither is the nonstop processed garbage most people ingest. Smoking, like drinking and other enjoyable habits, is a vice. However, vices are necessary to balance our virtues. Plus, if people insist on consuming nicotine, cigarettes are worth another look because, unlike Juul, they’re Ben Shapiro-approved.