Archive for smoking

Why Prohibition Doesn't Work On Drugs

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Volstead Act

Perhaps the closest parallel to the "war on drugs" is the war on alcohol -- the Volstead Act of of 1919. Highlights from Wiki:

The three distinct purposes of the Act were:

1. to prohibit intoxicating beverages
2. to regulate the manufacture, sale, or transport of intoxicating liquor (but not consumption), and
3. to ensure an ample supply of alcohol and promote its use in scientific research and in the development of fuel, dye and other lawful industries and practices, such as religious rituals.

It provided further that "no person shall manufacture, sell, barter, transport, import, export, deliver, or furnish any intoxicating liquor except as authorized by this act." It did not specifically prohibit the use of intoxicating liquors.

In 1933, after this "experiment" proved to be an utter failure, leading to massive deaths caused by bootleggers and a growth in the mob for the purposes of providing this contraband, the government passed the the Twenty-first Amendment rendering the Volstead Act unconstitutional and restored control of alcohol to the states.

It was a tragic right-wing plan to control the masses and under the guise of protecting them, really caused more deaths and imposed more prison sentences for a low risk, non-violent crime -- drinking. By their restrictions, they generated an environment of death and destruction far greater than the booze itself.

Marijuana justice

Maybe we're about to smarten up on the current "war on drugs," specifically marijuana. With a number of states lessening their restrictions on usage, a few even allowing people to participate recreationally, sanity seems to be without our reach. The importance of this isn't so people can get high. It's important that our rights are being snatched from us with restrictions that have a disproportionate number of poor and minorities caught up in the government web.

Here's a short summation that's as concise and succinct as I've ever seen. It's worth a gander:

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Video Overnight Thread- Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, the opera

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Snort and guffaw. Via Boing Boing.

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Welcome To The Explosive World Of Vaping

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eCigs

A week ago, three U.S. congresspersons,  Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) and Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) wrote in a letter to the Food and Drug Administration. They complained that e-Cigarette companies are taking advantage of a “loophole” in current regulations that allows them to escape the type of oversight given to the rest of the tobacco industry.

Really. The tobacco industry is getting nervous. That can't be all bad. Remember, these are the peddlers of cancer sticks they call tobacco cigarettes.

What this trio of representatives is really complaining about isn't regulation of the product based on contents, health, or dangers. It's competition. Commerce. They're doing their dirty deeds under the guise of trying to protect children from vaping -- using eCigs.

First, I don't want to see kids smoking. Certainly not cigarettes. Yet the health hazards equated to eCigs and related vaporizing devices, according to the Daily Consumer Alert are not all that drastic.

A few of the benefits claimed from using the electronic cigarette:

No tar, tobacco, carbon monoxide, or ash.
Get the same amount of nicotine as a regular cigarette.
Each cartridge costs less than $2 and is equivalent to an entire pack of cigarettes.
Average consumer can expect to save over $1,000 each year.
You won’t “smell” like a smoker any longer.
Different flavors are available.
No more second-hand smoke.

bloomberg reports on eCigsYet because there is no tobacco in these products, they don't fall under the strict guidelines the FDA has set up for tobacco products. One of those restrictions has to do with access to anyone under 18.

Will kids start taking up eCig usage and vape? You bet, just like with regular cigarettes. But is this healthier for them? Probably, but that's what research is for.

Then the question becomes, before a product is deemed needing regulation, do kids need extra protection, just in case? Hesitantly I say, maybe. But I'm not sure yet of the motives of the people trying to bring parity with the tobacco industry regulations. I've got questions as to who's bidding these congresspeople are doing. Are they interested in the children, or is this a lobbyist attempt to help out what could be a dying cigarette industry?

Maybe if they want to bust open their books and return any money they've received in contributions in the past or currently, I might be inclined to be less dubious of their putting some "sin" in sincerity.

If vaping grows as rapidly as it looks to be doing, there's cause for tobacco to worry. Cigarettes won't die out forever, but they may becomes yesterday's news.

A year ago I didn't know anyone who had tried an eCig. Today I know a few. And those are all people used to smoke cigarettes. They don't anymore. I've asked if they enjoy the experience and unanimously they say yes.

Formerly, the cigarette smoker's clothes and even their bodies reeked of old cigarettes. Their breath wasn't fresh, and when they'd  taken a hit or two in my presence, I got a headache from the smoke smell. Not now. With the eCig usage I noticed nothing more than a light waft of soft, fragrant aroma. It's less than passing by mid-summer, night-blooming jasmine.

So maybe these congresspeople should cool their jets. Do some research. If eCigs require more regulation, it'll come. But after research.

Until then, check out the newest advertising for eCigs. An adult campaign isn't going to get kids to want to give vaping a try. See for yourself.

Hmm. You know what I wrote up above -- Never mind.

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Coming Soon, Epidemic of Lettuce Smokers -- Congressman Buyer

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insane asylum

Oh, boy, where to start? When the nuts in the crazy house start bringing up analogies, you're sure to have some outrageous statements that only serve to reinforce why we need to clean house in Congress. For too long, we've been committing the insane to the big domed building on Capitol Hill and not the institutions for the mentally challenged or handicapped in their own state. And they shouldn't mind. With the ACA, pre-existing conditions will now be covered.

Take Rep.Steve Buyer, R-Ind. With a name like Buyer, you might think this guy was a dope dealer. Only half right. The first half. He's a dope.

Steve Buyer

In debating whether or not eCigs, the tobacco-less smoking vaporizing devices are harmful and should be regulated as tobacco, Buyer goes off on a tangent that only someone high on Marijuana could make sense of. I'm not saying he's a pot head -- I'm just saying his logic is about as sound as someone who's been on a non-stop Kush smoking binge for a few days --  if not since college.

I'm neither for nor against eCigs. But when you take to the floor of Congress to fight for one side of the other, don't some unprepared. It shows.

Buyer's argument harkens ineffectively to guns don't kill people, people do. In his argument cigarettes don't kill, only people who smoke them do. Of course he forgets the thousands, if not millions who've died from second hand smoke. But Dealer isn't all that bright and his arguments would give an aged Swiss Cheese a run for it's money in the content holes department.

So he goes on -- not quitting when he had half a valid argument to go on. His amped up argument reaches to smoking lettuce.

smoking lettuce

LETTUCE. That green, leafy stuff you make a salad with. He's proposing that drying and smoking lettuce is analogous to smoking marijuana or tobacco.

See for yourself. This real Congressional moment wouldn't need a bit of punch-up to become a classic SNL sketch. It's right up there with the Sarah Palin parodies and the "more cowbell" sketch with Christopher Walken.

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E-cigs, A Puff Of The Future - Ask The Metrosexual Marlboro Man

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e-cig

E-cigs are the latest fad, perhaps even the fastest growing in the states. The nicotine delivery devices (nicknamed Vapes) and their imprint is being felt worldwide. As governments have pushed through legislation to ban smoking from public places there's not been a huge amount of attention given the newest delivery system for nicotine users and addicts, until recently.

To call e-cigs a fad might be saying that computer tablets and cellphones are a fad. Time to wake up and smell the aromatic vapors of e-reality. The e-cig industry is integrating rapidly into the mainstream. At least the US Food and Drug administration thinks so. They're spending millions of dollars trying to bring them under their regulatory umbrella. Currently they are not classified as cigarettes. Therefore they can't be regulated or taxed at the same levels.

If you're curious about the levels of money we're talking about, consider this from Business Insider:

Miami, FL – V2 Cigs (www.v2cigs.com), the worldwide online leader in electronic cigarettes with over 1 million customers, today announced that, for the first-time, the electronic cigarette category has surpassed $1 billion in annual sales across both traditional and digital retail channels. Wells Fargo Securities also projects total 2013 retail sales to reach a record $1.7 billion by the end of the year—an increase of at least 240 percent, respectively, over the previous year’s estimated $500 million mark.

What's driving all of this business and possibly taking down the traditional tobacco industry? Some startling facts. Here's how Goldman-Sachs assesses the budding and burgeoning industry:

Goldman's Judy Hong describes e-cigarettes as basically all the good stuff about regular cigarettes but none of the bad. "Imagine a product that is possibly >99% less harmful than cigarettes, delivers a similar user experience and offers a better economic bargain—this is the proposition of electronic cigarettes (e-cigs)."

Source: Goldman Sachs

We all know that if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is too good to be true. So what's in this "safer" system of nicotine delivery? Here are the four ingredients in e-cigs?

First is the scary sounding propylene glycol.

Propylene glycol is considered generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and it is used as an humectant (E1520), solvent, and preservative in food and for tobacco products, as well as being the major ingredient in the liquid used in electronic cigarettes.

This scary sounding chemical compound, what's it do? It makes foods safe to eat as well as clearing the air (pumped into some hospital ventilation systems to clean the air). It's in layman's terms, a relatively safe preservative. And it's already in cooked goods, candies and other foods that we eat. If you look at the labels on your canned goods at home, you'll probably find it there, down toward the bottom of the list.

Next on the list is vegetable glycerin. What does it do? Wikipedia source:

serves as a humectant, solvent, and sweetener, and may help preserve foods. It does not feed the bacteria that formplaques and cause dental cavities.

Third on the ingredients list for e-cigs you'll find flavorings -- yes, the smoky product can be anything from cherry, mint, chocolate, citrus, strawberry -- whatever flavors you like, they'll either have it or mix it for you. It's kind of like Ben and Jerry's -- there's something for everybody -- with some funny name associated with it. "Aunt Rosie's Raspberry" or "Rock of Ages Apple" were two I find inspired.

Finally, we come to the Nicotine. As mentioned earlier, in small doses it's a stimulant. And with controlled use, it's safer than caffein which is found most commonly in soda, coffee and chocolate.

This brings the story to the video portion of this commentary. Here's a short, but easy to understand report which DNEWS Channel presented and lays it out pretty well.

Now I've never tried an e-cig. But I have been in the company of those who use and love them. I never noticed any issues with smoke, and not unlike an aromatic pipe smoker, there was a tinge of pleasant smell in the air. It was certainly nothing noxious as second-hand cigarette smoke.

No product, even water (hyponatremia), is free from abuse and misuse. And having regulations may be necessary. Sadly, it seems 1.5 million kids grades 6 - 8 have tried e-cigs. They've Vaped.

The FDA seems to think regulations are necessary, if for no other reason than that opens the door for them to grab revenues to squeeze out of users. And they want their piece of the vape. They're looking to raise additional federal taxes and put into place federal guidelines on these PV's (personal vaporizers) and their liquid contents.

Time will tell. But if we look to Europe where trends are often set on medications and legalizations of substances, The Hill revealed that recently:

The European Parliament rejected a proposal to subject e-cigarettes to the same regulatory standards as medicines. That was seen as a major win for the e-cigarette industry, which is expected to eclipse $1.75 billion in global sales this year.

Safer than cigarettes. Legal to use in public. No second-hand, carcinogenic smoke threats. Can reduce regular cigarette addictive habits. Maybe there's something here that's going to benefit us all. It will be interesting to see as the FDA tries to move in and inhale from the vape industry.

It will be fun to see how the traditional tobacco industry reacts. Right now they're trying to buy up the smaller, emerging PV suppliers and e-cig manufacturers. They can smell the smoke in the air, and it's their traditional industry burning down. There's a battle brewing and I'm going to enjoy watching this one. Vape up, if you're so inclined.

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Iowa voters scared of President Obama... because he used to smoke

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Yes folks, there amongst the usual hysterical "Give back my AMURICA!!", is the fear that a common habit the man used to have will get the kiddies a'smoking.

COUNCIL BLUFFS, IOWA — As he’s pivoted back to a campaign focused almost entirely on President Obama, Mitt Romney has raised the alarm: 2012, he says, is about nothing less than the very “soul of America.”

Iowans I talked to at two of Romney’s campaign stops Sunday were in full agreement. So I asked them what scares them about a second Obama term. I got answers ranging from the creep of socialism to concerns that Obama’s best-known vice will encourage kids to take up smoking.
(snip)

Donna Conn of Council Bluffs has backed Romney since 2008. She was standing among a group of women, one of which pointed out Romney’s “a non-smoker” when we got to talking about what Romney can bring to the White House that other candidates for president can’t.

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"How long can we remain a first-world country with a third-world mind-set?"

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Today's L.A. Times letters to the editor, Part 2, because our voices matter:

Times change

Re "Obama faces a battle on air rules," Dec. 22

Back in the mid-20th century, the American Cancer Society was in its infancy, smoking was considered a good way to relax and control your weight, pregnant women smoking didn't draw a second look, every car had a cigarette lighter and an ash tray and power plant emissions of mercury and other poisons were not regulated.

Here we are a decade into the 21st century. We are just now, for the first time, getting around to regulating the levels of mercury coming out of generating plants. But what do we see in Congress and the conservative media?

We see Republicans and the polluters' lobbyists longing for the good old days, predicting economic gloom while ignoring the success of world-class economies that have modernized their power generation.

How long can we remain a first-world country with a third-world mind-set?

Richard Green
San Clemente

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