Having The Vapors

The May 14th issue of The New Yorker featured an article on vaping, specifically Juuling, offering an insight into the vape culture that has emerged and skyrocketed. During my high school/college graduation and talking to teens tour, I learned that this phenomenon is uniquely theirs. They have claimed it. I know two people who vape who are in their mid-20’s, but the core group is high school and college –  middle school as well.

The article was startling. More nicotine can be put into a pod than what is in one cigarette, in fact kids are putting the equivalent of one pack’s worth (20 cigarettes) of nicotine into a pod. That’s terrifying – it could stop the heart! They’re young and invincible, but most are still seeing a pediatrician – do they know whether they might have a heart condition – mild or otherwise? The flavors sound disgusting, and God knows what harm the chemicals that create, say, Creme Brulee or Cool Cucumber, will do long term. Also, the off brands are using formaldehyde and other additives that are in cigarettes. It’s expensive too, not exactly a cheaper alternative to smoking.

Juul of course is in the forefront. The other point of interest to my teens was how much money the inventors and company make. Tons. I have written that I do smoke, so I’m not judging here…well not too much. I entertained the idea of vaping as a method to quit smoking, but the article and my teens discouraged that idea.

All of this annoys me and gives me a feeling of evil glee. Smoking has had a bad rap for ages, and virtually the only place you can smoke is in the privacy of your home: like it’s some dirty little secret. But vaping you can do anywhere: in class, on a bus – vapers have the run of the place! Why aren’t they in Siberia shivering with the rest of the smokers I see huddled together in winter, or sweltering in the summer?

The glee comes in because now vaping is the new smoking. Also sitting is the new smoking, So is marijuana. All can kill you and possibly faster than smoking which takes about 30+ years. I know it’s all bad and terrible and we should just stop. But I am pleased that smoking moved down a couple of rungs.

Finally, from a cinematic POV, vaping doesn’t have the same allure. How would it have looked if Bogart had lit(?) Bacall’s pod? Or Paul Henreid firing up two pods before handing one to Bette Davis?

I am reminded of a line in Fight Club “The only people who smoke in movies now are foreigners and serial killers.” I’m not sure if I have it exact, but in that wonderful anarchic film everyone smokes.

“We’re consumers. We are by-products of a lifestyle obsession.”

Take the power back and let’s, including me, make smart choices?

 

Clare Irwin

 

The Cessation of Smoking and Other Proposed Resolutions

First off Happy New Year everyone! May it be healthy, prosperous and joyous. I hope all of you enjoyed the festivities. Where I live the roads and stores were unusually quiet today. People must be sleeping in, recovering from too much fun, watching football, etc. I’m not big on resolutions, but I do like some variations on the theme. My church has a service on New Year’s Eve where we right down the things we wish to let go of and the slips of paper are placed in a burning bowl. I also find appealing the idea of intention, thinking and visualizing a happier year, a happier tomorrow.

I have been toying with the idea of stopping smoking. I know! It’s bad! Terrible and no one should do it! Ever! I don’t smoke much at all, one really can’t since there aren’t many places that it’s allowed. I stop and start. In the past I haven’t had any trouble quitting. This last stint started when I was spending time overseas in a country where it’s allowed everywhere — even that’s changing. Now it’s time to quit again, but I’m not sure why this time around I feel a mild trepidation. I’m probably overthinking it. One friend, who was never a smoker, and I think privately sees herself as a bit of a psychology expert, asked me in a super serious hushed tone, “Why do you think you smoke?” Because I like it.

It’s that simple! Even Freud said sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. I’ve been given an assortment of advice from former smokers: chew nicotine gum (revolting), stop cold turkey, stop gradually (impossible), take Chantix (the side effects are alarming), and so on. Once again my friend Will offers some amusing advice. We were talking about it, and I have to admit that my first reason for quitting was monetary. I calculated how much it costs if I average out how many packs I purchase in a year. I mean it’s a lot of money! Will nodded understandingly and said, “The main reason I stopped smoking was because I could afford to drink more.” (!) His advice was to stop. Just stop. He also suggested getting Trader Joe’s tea tree toothpicks in cinnamon flavor and chew on those. It sounds like a good idea, but how is that going to look? Do I have to do that in private? Otherwise I look like some old guy in a movie about the Mafia. Will’s other advice: crème brulee lattes from Dunkin Donuts. I had one and it was delicious, but it wound me up for hours. My favorite parting words of wisdom from Will were, “You may want to stay away from people for the first few days.”

Clare Irwin