By now, we’re all familiar with the canny political tactic of burying bad news while headlines are claimed by more upbeat events; but on a day when anti-Semitism in the Labour Party has led to two high-profile suspensions, some good news has been relegated to the footnote of bulletins. The news? Well, the Royal College of Physicians has declared e-cigarettes a positive aid in stopping smoking the real thing. Despite the familiar bullying and propaganda of the anti-tobacco lobby, the men whose day-job it is to study the health of the nation have found the spurious claims made by those who want to outlaw anything that remotely resembles a fag are bollocks. Most of us resistant to the finger-wagging war on personal freedoms already knew so, but it’s nice that the professionals have issued official confirmation.
In the space of barely two or three years the increasing popularity of e-cigs as a halfway house between tobacco and a nicotine-free constitution has gone from being universally lauded to utterly demonised. The cafes that sprang up to cater for the vanishing vapours in the absence of any indoor venue where lighting-up is permitted were initially viewed as a grown-up approach to a perennial problem. The negatives non-smokers associated with the Real McCoy – passive inhaling, the lingering odour of the smoke itself, the varnished teeth and fingernails of smokers – were rendered obsolete by this new method of overcoming the craving for baccy, and the health risks were virtually zilch.
However, the sight of people rejecting the accepted guidebook for giving up smoking in favour of an inventive alternative was evidently too reminiscent of the old discredited liberty for some. That public spaces which had been forced into sending naughty children outside for a cig were now colonised by new clouds of lookalike smoke – even if these particular clouds disappeared in seconds rather than clinging to every surface within a twelve-foot radius of the smoker – was obviously too close to the civilised days when adults were allowed to express their individual choices free from the admonishments of those in disagreement with them. Something had to be done!
Perhaps stung by their disastrous record of running the NHS, the Welsh Assembly struck first by proposing e-cigs be banned in public places on health grounds. There then followed a fresh assault on personal freedoms by a series of scaremongering stories claiming e-cigarettes were serving to ‘normalise’ the image of adults smoking in the eyes of those innocent angels born and bred in cotton wool, AKA children. Calls were made to ban the sale of e-cigs to under-18s, that pure, untainted demographic that has never tried the real thing, let alone the pretend version, nor had their precious, saintly bodies polluted by booze or weed, of course. The Kids were being encouraged to take up smoking by the sight of a harmless silver object in the mouths of their role models, and this could not be allowed to continue. The celebrated benefits of e-cigs in aiding over-18s to consign the genuine article to the permanent ashtray didn’t matter if it meant our babies could be led down the path to oblivion by their very existence. Perish the thought that the fat little potentates might look up from their Smart-phones or tablets and see their parents sucking on substitutes for cigarettes! Just imagine the horrific consequences.
According to the Royal College of Physicians, the great majority of the 2.6 million users of e-cigarettes in the UK are grown-ups employing the e-cig as a useful crutch while they work nicotine out of their system. The fallacy propagated by the anti-smoking lobby that e-cigs act as a child’s gateway to the wicked world of real cigs is rubbished by the facts; this is no more a widespread likelihood than the equally silly theory that the occasional spliff will inevitably result in the toker becoming a shivering smack-head within months of his or her first sustained drag. Apparently, the few teens that have tried e-cigs have simultaneously given the good old-fashioned fag a go and tend to prefer the former, suggesting the e-cigarette is an exit from the nightmare realm of the tobacco addict as painted by the health nannies instead of an entrance.
The experts have spoken, though this won’t make much difference to fanatical fascists as they will no doubt continue their campaign to hound any form of smoking to the fringes of society, even if it’s a form of smoking that is helping more smokers to quit than any other failed campaign of the past. Proper smokers making a legal purchase already have to request the opening of a cupboard hiding their poison from view while the little cherubs at their feet can focus their nascent gaze on sensational sexual headlines screaming from the covers of trashy magazines within their reach; yet even the ones that seek to quell the craving by switching to a pollutant-free aid to eventual abstinence are being browbeaten and blacklisted by illogical puritans who are supposed to have their healthy interests at heart. It stinks – and far more than an overflowing ashtray.
© The Editor