The Teetotaler’s Mentality

Vapers that keep up see bans all the time. Not just regular public indoor bans, but apartment bans and outdoor bans. It offends the liberty-minded vapers, but it confounds even the average liberal. Why do they go after vaping? Lacking any good basis, the tendency is to resort to conspiracy theories. Big Pharma and taxes are popular bogeymen. Or a liberal agenda trying to turn the world into a combination of Disney and 1984.

As I’ve talked about before, some in the public health community have a gross fetish for stomping on smokers, and many in the public have joined that cause. The mass paranoia that we live with today, where a whiff of tobacco smoke may set off a Goldbergian reaction that ends with the offendee dead, their children’s dentures embedded in their spine, while the little creeps sing MMMBop and play pingpong with their eyeballs. Point is, people don’t just hate smokers, they’re scared of smoke, too.

Public opinion has had so much poison crammed into the notion of smoking that anything close might just rub off. The notion of vaping as smoking is popular (even among some ex-smokers). There’s still addiction to nicotine and the behavior. There’s still inhalation and exhalation of a nebulous, semi-opaque cloud of chemicals (in the pejorative sense of the word). And the fear, the paranoia is that in some years scientists will discover that vapers have just been putting cigarettes inside of metal and plastic enclosures and smoking them. That’s really what these people are on about. Full stop.

Some literally believe vaping is smoking. Others believe that we will one day find out that it has long-term hazards just as great. And still others may believe that sticking feathers up their butt would make them into chickens. But vaporizing a liquid is different than burning a solid. It ain’t water vapor, but it is a vapor (a vapor of mostly polyols and diols (glycerol and propylene glycol, respectively)).

But fear is pernicious. It can cause the mind to lash out at things unrelated, at scapegoats. Vaping is a popular one today, because—facts check out—the anti-smoking movement has been a failure in many ways. It has been a failure of policy, of lawmaking, of compassion, of sense, from every village and hamlet, from every state and every city. Success is not merely an ends game, which the anti-smoking (really anti-tobacco and in some ways anti-nicotine) movement hasn’t succeeded in either, but as the saying goes, ‘it’s how you play.’

And the strategies and tactics have just been lousy. Not that the tobacco companies were cooperative, not that the politicians were humble, etc., but the movement as a whole hasn’t met the standards of a modern society. Its only saving grace has been science, what little science has been done compared to the money spent on pet projects and shoring up deficets due to lack of courage to raise the taxes.

The science of smoking and the public knowledge of it, fear of it, has had some success. But the science has always been overshadowed by the teetotaler’s mentality. This idea that abstinence is king, and we must all bow. We must all find it in our hearts to become masochists, to deny every vice that we have defined as vice (and yet to indulge the thousand others we have not yet defined as vice).

The teetotaler’s mentality is that holding a party with water and no beer is still a sin. Bingo is still gambling. Minced oaths are still curses. That veggie burgers are still murder. Contraception is abortion. And that vaping is still smoking.

They are zero tolerance, abstinence-only fiends. And they sometimes get the political ear to worry out a lame law. I still hold that in a decade a good many vaping bans will get reversed. But for now they keep coming. For now, the fearblind teetotalers have to change their diapers every time you vape.

But vaping is not smoking and no amount of agitprop will make vaping numbers drop off to levels where science won’t prove them much safer over the years. The teetotalers will find themselves prone on this issue, and many of these bans will get repealed as truth wears and tears at their jerking knees until they are stiff and arthritic.