Saturday, 1 November 2014

The danger of Witch-hunts illustrated by a silly example - Vaping!

Lets start provocatively in order to prove the point. Leave the bloody 'vapers' alone now guys, we're not going to hurt you or your kids. Put away the holy water - calm down long enough to let the logic centres of the brain kick in. Now, that statement will have pissed some people off - and rightly so. So if it annoyed you, please read on.

If you hadn't guessed, Im a new convert. Started 'vaping' a few weeks ago to reduce my 30-40 rollie habit (with no filters) Today however, i was having real trouble breathing properly as one of those regular chest infections that hits heavy smokers every 6 months or so stopped by to say hi! Or is that 'Die'?

So instead im going to use this little gizmo to get me off the fags altogether. But already, im getting a lot of negative feedback for doing it in public places. This stems from how the war on tobbacco was fought, not why it was fought, and this is a really important difference. Peoples reactions to vaping are triggered by the fact that it 'looks' so much like smoking, so it makes them feel anxious (or is that 'righteous'?) :-)

Seriously though. Smoking ain't good. The vast cocktail of of thousands of chemicals does ya' some serious harm. When you fill a room with the stuff, its also been proven to harm the people around you too. Not to mention the evils of the tobacco industry and their recent drives to get more 3rd worlders smoking to compensate for the loss of sales in the West. If people want to smoke, im totally cool with their personal decision, but even most smokers like me admit its a bit fucked up.

Yet smoking was banned by playing to hysteria - the key ingredient in a witch hunt. Many people have lost someone to smoking, so understandably, the emotions run high. And this was the key to the anti-smoking campaigns success, they based their campaigns on the scientific logic against smoking, but then fuelled the communication of this logic with the pain and emotion that smoking has caused, The result is dangerously close to an fear charged witch-hunt (with the odd fascist on the side who just loves to disapprove of people anyway.)

It all gotten a bit hysterical. If the result of this particular witch hunt is that many people's lives are saved, it might be worth it - 'might' because i distrust all emotionally charged witch hunts. But now we are seeing the negative side effects - people getting all righteous with Vapers. Admittedly, more study is needed, as with nearly everything in modern consumer society, but there is already enough evidence to prove that it is nowhere near as harmful as smoking - and probably totally harmless in terms of 'passive vaping'.

If the millions of hard core nicotine addicts (like me) out there are free to enjoy our vapes without sigma and hysteria, we will probably remain nicotine addicts for life, But nicotine alone (without the vast array of other shit in fags - including Arsenic!) is about as bad as caffeine. Its a very mild stimulant which will slightly raise the blood pressure and heart rate in regular users, just like caffeine (which i personally feel affects me more, and has more side effects than vaping nicotine.)

Yet the smoking boogyman still stalks the halls. The hysterical energy unlocked by the anti-smoking campaigns has resulted in people looking down on those who have gone to great pains to adapt their habit from a generally harmful to a generally harmless form. Calls for bans have already gained momentum and a lot won't allow their friends to do it in their houses. But this simply is not logical.  As mammals we are essentially reactionary creatures. Visual cues warn us of danger, our blood pressure rises, adrenaline is released and we start to feel angry and agitated. This biological pattern allows us to learn from past mistakes to protect our selves. We get wound up and react - fight or flight.

This is exactly the same process that happens in racist lynch mobs and any other form of witch hunt. Primal instincts are mobilised to get an emotional reaction. When a non-smoker looks at a smoker angrily, they are probably projecting the pain of the loss of a loved one - or the ancient instinct to protect their child - through the prism of the facts they have learned how harmful smoking is.

But if you feel that same reaction because someone is vaping, get a hold of yourself, calm the fuck down and realise that logic is no longer on your side. Worse than that, by ostracising someone who is actively taking measures to reduce the harmful effects of smoking on themselves and others to almost zero, you are encouraging the little demons in their heads that want to get them smoking again.

I can already hear the cries of 'more research is needed' and 'we don't know that 100%' but very few things are that certain. If your still letting yourself get all wound up about it because a voice in your head says 'ah, but there is a slight chance' then you need to realise that this voice is hysteria masquerading as logic. Your home or your work place is full of technology and poisons that pose a very real statistical risk of killing your child or colleague through accidents and such like - a small risk mostly, but a real one. Not to mention the quite high dangers or driving a car and the high level of damage done to the lungs of people who breath in car fumes ('passive car-ing'?)  The basic logic is that it is a whole lot better and the initial studies agree. So put the puritanical riding crop down please and be kind to people who are moving from smoking to vaping, because they are doing it for themselves and you. 

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