Saturday, November 30, 2013

BATTLE STATIONS!! Big Tobacco Taking Aim At YOUR E-Cig

 It's Time to "Kiss the Girlfriend"
Clearing the air is lots easier when there's no cigarette smoke

MeanMesa is an old smoker.  Even when considered over generously, that claim is more than substantiated by decades of pack a day plus cigarette use.

There have been a few -- very few -- attempts to quit, but the picture was never a pretty one.  There's something a little degrading about a grown man scratching off the dry wall with his bloody finger nails, not to mention the look of pale, condescending terror in the faces of all those victims in his household while the train wreck is unfolding.

So, in terms of "kissing the girlfriend," there is little comfort to be extracted from denial.  This old bird is a nicotine addict.

With that out of the way, let's have a short little story to introduce this post.

MeanMesa makes a habit of planting someone who needs a little help in the spare bedroom.  The young man just prior to its current resident was also a heavy smoker, but this new fellow, looking around the dingy walls covered with years of tar and nicotine got the idea that he would "inspire" the landlord to paint the apartment which serves as the Galactic Headquarters of Short Current Essays.

It All Started With A Paint Job

Well, the maintenance man came, buckets or paint, ladders and rollers in hand, and painted the whole thing -- some shade of suspiciously industrial "white like" cream color.

Looking at all those newly painted ceilings and walls brought a "moment of clarity."

The visual comparison between what they looked like now and what they looked like before emboldened this young associate to propose the unthinkable.  "We should both quit smoking."

The words landed on MeanMesa like the "Arizona asteroid."  A rationalizer with long experience, the response was easy and instant.  "At this age, this geriatric codger has not the slightest inclination to spend the precious short remainder of his life in a state of bitter, anti-social insanity -- the inevitable state which would automatically follow such a decision.  In any case, if these things haven't killed MeanMesa yet, it probably portends a natural destiny to die from something else."

This young room mate almost instantly produced an e-cig, informing MeanMesa that he intended to use this new contraption instead of cigarettes.

Further, he emphasized in a sort of irritating, patronizing tone that this decision of his was not at all similar to the brutal prospect of simply quitting, that is, anything similar to the history of such attempts in MeanMesa's long past --  memories of cruel, self-inflicted hyperbole such as cold turkey, line in the sand or die trying.  

Instead, he continued, the e-cigs would continue to provide the nicotine needed to assuage MeanMesa's openly admitted addiction, but in a much healthier way, that is, without the carcinogenic smoke and additives found in commercial cigarettes.  He immediately added more even more persuasive nonsense about "feeling better" and "not having brown stuff dripping down the walls."

For "icing on the cake," this little trouble maker offered up the significant cost savings the change would bring.  At the time this household of two smokers was plunking down around $200 a month for the old cancer sticks.

[The cost of sustaining two functioning e-cigs is now around $35/month.]

The metamorphosis from cigarette smoker to e-cig user revealed the primal depths of the cigarette smoking habit.  One on occasion MeanMesa suddenly  froze while trying to "light" the e-cig battery with a cigarette lighter while working on the computer!

It doesn't stink.  It doesn't stain. It doesn't smoke. [image source]
The rules for the change were intentionally not dramatic.  A carton of the old cancer sticks was tucked away in the freezer, and the plan was simple.  Whenever the craving for a "burning" cigarette became too strong, just smoke one.  However, as one week turned to another, there were more and more days without any cigarette at all!  

And, this was unbelievably easy!  Without "Jonesing" for nicotine -- now quietly supplied by the e-cig -- these "cigarette breaks" became less and less satisfying.  The fantasy of "how good it will taste" became a disgusting reality accompanied by smashing half an unsmoked cigarette in the ash tray.

Now, for the amazing part of the story.

A month after replacing that last cigarette with the e-cig, MeanMesa jumped in the swimming pool and swam a mile without getting winded!  It has been two and a half years since that last cigarette.

With that in mind, let's get to the Big Tobacco Attack part of this post.

Big Tobacco Will Do Just About Anything
Including "buying" JUST ABOUT ANYBODY.

Even more than the millions Big Tobacco was forced to spend advertising the horrible consequences of smoking, the e-cig has driven a "stake through the heart" of the gigantic industry in a way no legislation could dream of doing.  As more and more smokers discover that they, too, can make this money and health saving change, cigarette sales have started dropping for the first time.

We can all remember the brazen corruption of John Boehner as House Minority Leader passing out tobacco lobbyists' checks on the House floor to protect the subsidies for cigarette makers. [Read the whole December 2010, Examiner article here.]

Did Rep. John Boehner, the House Republican Minority Leader who is likely to become the next Speaker of the House actually hand out tobacco company checks as bribes to legislators before a US House vote?

Yes, he did…and he even admits that he did it.

We should hardly be surprised that Big Tobacco has "gotten out the Big Guns" and, of course, the check books to regain control of the nicotine addiction market they have spent so much developing over the centuries.  Even a cursory review of the recent history of their behavior paints them in a picture dismally familiar to the "American free enterprise oligarchs" who pulled a similar scheme selling Indian opium in China century ago.

While this post could rattle on and on about the different strategies we can expect in this latest challenge to Big Tobacco's glory, a specific example may suit just as well.

A Quick Visit to the Local News

MeanMesa's abusive cable contract presents the local broadcaster, KOB, on Albuquerque's Channel Four.  Because the other local stations have long ago succumbed to the right wing check books and become thinly veiled, salivating camp followers of Murdoch's FOX Empire, MeanMesa relies on good old Channel Four [ABC] for local news -- coverage which is, generally, pretty good quality.

However, last week the Channel Four folks, while preparing their weekly allotment of time-fillers, put together a special in their series "4 On Your Side" titled "Clearing the Air on E-Cigs" in which was intended to inform viewers with pertinent facts about the product.  The reporter found a sympathetic doctor from the local Presbyterian Medical Group for this "revealing" and "riveting" interview.

An excerpt is presented below.  [Watch the video or read the entire transcript here. ]

"4 On Your Side"
"Clearing the Air on E-Cigs"

Part of not having rules means regulators aren’t watching over what goes inside the e-cig.  No one knows that better than Denise Gonzales, M.D. of the Presbyterian Medical Group. 
"I had a patient I took care of in the ICU who used e-cigs,” Dr. Gonzales explained.  “It's very likely that the fluid he vaporized and inhaled was contaminated.  He got a very particular type of bacterial infection in his lungs from bacteria that grows in contaminated water.

Dr. Gonzales said her patient thought e-cigs were a safer alternative than traditional smoking, but turned out to be very wrong.

"This patient required artificial life support and was on a ventilator.  I had to go in and take biopsies of his lungs and treat him with antibiotics,” Dr. Gonzales said.  “He was a young person, only 19 and stayed in the hospital for two weeks."

There are no standards about the water the manufacturers puts in the e-cig cartridge.  So if the e-cig is made in China or any other foreign country, chances are the water inside comes from that same factory.

Countries like Portugal, Australia and Mexico have created regulation surrounding e-cigs.  Some blame a 2010 appellate court ruling for the U.S. being behind the ball in creating regulation.  U.S. courts determined that so long as e-cig companies aren't marketing themselves as a way to cure traditional smoking or any other disease, the product doesn't have to be tightly controlled by the FDA.

Although all this sounds "palatable" enough, just think about it for a moment.

Refresh your memory. What, exactly, was causing the young man's medical problem?

The implied answer is easy. It was poison water from China, right?

MeanMesa could not avoid a "mental LMAO" while listening to the "reporting." The problem is that this old blogger makes a trip to the "vapor store" at least once a month to purchase the fluid our household E-Cigs use. On those trips, the man at the counter always asks a few questions such as:

"What flavor would you like?"

"What nicotine level are you using?"
With this information carefully provided, he steps back a few feet to MIX the vapor fluid MeanMesa just ordered. Everything he is doing is quite visible. There are no secrets.
There is, most assuredly, NO contaminated water imported from China in the recipe.

Next week, Big Tobacco will probably announce that their latest, totally scientific E-Cig research proves the product will create unwanted pregnancies.

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