Search This Blog

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Vaping: The Only Moral Choice

This is a long post so I will lay out the basic premise first:

Smokers die because of the government - not tobacco.  Since the surgeon general's report in 1964 banning tobacco has always been an option.

Fifty years later today's "tobacco economy" - all tobacco taxes, smoking healthcare costs, government spending, and so on - amounts to roughly $600,000 USD per minute (every hour, every day, all year).

That's $600,000 USD per minute of failure because during that same minute a smoker dies.

Vaping, on the other hand, actually provides a reasonable, non legislative means for people to stop smoking, so we, as vapers, must now step forward and

A) point out vaping isn't responsible nor should it be blamed for this legislative failure;

B) emphatically and publicly call out the ANTZ and government on their collective failure;

C) step in and, by example, rescue the lives of the smokers because we can; and

D) prevent vaping from being turned into just another part of this failure.

The 8,000 pound gorilla in the "vaping room" is that the government has failed smokers - not vaping. 

Yet we, as vapers, are constantly put on notice that somehow what we do is the problem.

No, the problem is that the government has failed to stop smoking.

Vapers are just trying to save themselves and anyone else that will listen...


You are walking to school or work along a road that runs along a pond.  As you pass by the pond you notice a child, out toward the middle, struggling to keep their head above the icy water.

Are you obligated to save the child?

Even if its very cold? Even if you will ruin your new clothes? Even if you will be late for work?

Or do you just keep walking...?

If you thought "I would try and help" you would not be alone...

Virtually every society, religion and humanistic belief system, from the dawn of civilization through today, acknowledges the concept that one is obligated to help a fellow human in need.

This "obligation" extends from the ancient Jewish talmudic obligation of "thou shall not stand idly by" to the today's modern, legal "duty to rescue" found in many countries and societies around the world, often as an actual law requiring you to render aid in specific situations. (I will use the "thou shall not stand idly by" below to mean the general concept and not specifically the talmudic version.)

While there are endless arguments about specifics and the limits of such obligations (primarily the question of whether or not one must put one's self in danger to render aid) the basic idea is clear: if you encounter someone in danger  you are required and obligated by society to make a reasonable effort to save the person from that danger.

As societal dangers go smoking cigarettes is the largest single killer of humans, at least in the US.  Some 480,000 people in the US each year die from smoking related illness according to the CDC.

So the question I want to pose here is very, very simple:

Am I, as a human being of whatever religious (Christian, Jewish, Muslum) or humanistic belief system, required to render aid, to "not stand idly by," while smoking endangers someone?

As I wrote in "The Right Not to Smoke" it is clear I have the inalienable right to treat my own illness and disease.  To "not stand idly by" regarding my own health.

A right protected by the US Constitution.

Similarly I will now argue that there is no rational reason anyone would allow someone to remain engaged in the danger and act of "smoking combustion tobacco" or "chewing tobacco leaf" if they knew of some reasonable means to stop them.

A person is morally obligated by society, within the limits of endangering their own person, to not stand by while they engage in this activity and to attempt to save or rescue them.

But before going further let's look back at the basic premise of "thou shall not stand idly by."

This premise does not suggest that there are restrictions on this obligation.

Nor does it suggest that only a government or institution of society can render aid.

"Thou" in this case means "you" - "you" personally. 

Now "you" (or at least the collective you) may have created, for example, a fire department to address deadly house fires or a welfare system to feed those who are starving.  But if you are walking along the road past a house on fire the fact that a firehouse exists does not excuse you from your obligations.

You can't just say "Oh, someone else will call the fire department, I'm late for work."

No, if there is a person trapped on the second floor, screaming for help, you are obligated to try to do something.

Which means at, a minimum, to call the fire department, flag down a car, do whatever it takes to improve the situation of those in trouble.

And while the fire department's direct actions might mitigate your obligations, i.e., by arriving with ladders to rescue people from the second floor, you remain obligated to assist until they show up.

But what if you are alone on the scene with a child trapped on the second floor?

Do you simply stand there? Look at you phone? Staring at your shoes?

Or do you take action in order to fulfill your moral obligations to society?

In the case of the fire, for example, its going to be unlikely that in such a situation you'll find a convenient, government-approved, fire resistant, stress-tested ladder to aid those in need.

Similarly, if a child is drowning there may not be a government-approved "floatation device" handy.

So what do you do?

Do you stand by and watch the child die because you can't find a ladder or life preserver with the proper government safety tag?


More than likely you will "make do" with whatever means you have on hand to save the people from danger.

Pile up boxes, pull an old rickety ladder out of the barn, drive your car up next to the house and stand on the roof, throw anything that floats into the water, what ever is required to fulfill your moral obligation.


Well, if you don't then for the rest of your life you will likely not forget watching that person die because of neglect on your part.

But what if your rescue attempts fail, or the child jumps down to you on the ground and is injured by the fall, or the child drowns anyway?

In may countries, states and localities there are "good Samaritan laws" which protect you from legal action for rendering reasonable assistance in a rescue situations such as I describe (what "reasonable" means in this context is for lawyers to discuss at some other time).  These laws may legally protect you during a rescue, and in fact are in many cases designed to encourage people to perform such rescues.

So society not only wants you to contribute by engaging when problems occur but to also, at least in some cases, protect you from the consequences of your actions if you are not a "trained professional" covered by some form of municipal immunity, e.g., an EMS or fireman.

With all this in mind let's turn our attention to the smoking of "combustion tobacco" which seems to have acquired a somewhat different moral imperative, at least in the context of vaping.

Though designs for e-cigarettes have existed since the 1960's actual modern e-cigarette devices were not invented until 2003.  These devices have been in continuous, heavy use for at least the last five years by millions of people world wide. They've also been subjected to numerous medical studies showing few if any ill effects (many links are available - many are summarized under in "Vaping Truth" as well as dozens of other sites).

Given this we can now frame a reasonable question relative to smoking:

Does vaping qualify as means to "rescue" someone from smoking "combustion tobacco"?

If I see a smoker and suggest that person vape instead am I fulfilling a moral obligation to save that person from death by smoking?

The only possible answer is an emphatic "YES!"

Smoking will kill them; they are in danger.

Given a dozen years of use and countless positive health studies I argue that suggesting "vaping" to a smoker as a means to rescue that smoker from the immediate danger of smoking is the moral equivalent of rescuing someone from a burning building with whatever materials are handy (and as opposed to not performing the rescue because no "government approved" device was available for said purpose).

Basically I am willing to climb on this ladder (vaping) that's been around for ten years (and perhaps used by me for a year or two) so its totally rational to use that very same ladder to attempt to rescue someone from a far worse fate than having the ladder fail or collapse during the rescue.

Of course, many government institutions, such as the FDA or US House or Senate, created by society, may also be present in this "mix" to provide aid as well, but they are, at best, not very speedy.

Consider: The surgeon general identified smoking as a health hazard in 1964.  If roughly a half a million die each year from smoking related disease a mere 25 million people have died as a result of the government's inaction.  (And note, none I am aware of, have died from nicotine use, but instead from what amounts to smoke inhalation.) 

Every 12 1/2 years a full Holocaust.

During these last fifty years exactly what or how has government attempted to save people?

By warning them of the danger.

Roughly equivalent to shouting to the people in the burning building: "The building is on fire!"

"Er, well, yes, we are indeed in the building and IT IS ON FIRE! Can you rescue us?" might be the reply.

Not by banning the product.  Not by stopping the sale.

Not by doing anything other than whine about their own lack of action and blame smokers.

A couple of things to note:

1) We don't stop and ask people "did your carelessness cause this fire because if it did I am not going to help you..." - the equivalent of saying "its your fault you smoke."  Peril is peril regardless of how things got that way - even in the commission of a crime, like trespassing. These days its not the fault of the trespasser - its the fault of the property owner - who the trespass was against.  (After all I climbed the large, barbed-wire fence and got past the dogs only to slip on the greasy floor and hurt my back so I can sue you Mr. Property Owner.)

2) Similarly, if you started the fire on purpose you are still rescued by the fire department (or whomever).  Again, no one says: "Gee, if you're an arsonist then I'm just going to let you burn."  Again, the equivalent of saying "its your fault you smoke."

3) No one says "Gee, you're on welfare" or "Gosh, you're nothing but a costly invalid" or in general a person who has consumed too many of societies resources to warrant saving.  The equivalent of saying "You lousy smoker, its your fault you smoke and cost society billions in healthcare."

Yet on the smoking front that's exactly what is said to smokers every day.

So Ms. Smoker you can just BURN.

All of this leads up to the following very simple moral argument, which, by the way, works regardless of the reason you subscribe to morality or the type of that morality you subscribe to:

Smokers are in immediate danger and need to be rescued because the government, which could actually stop smoking, has not.

Just as if someone lived in a poisonous environment (say like Love Canal) and the government said, no problem, you just stay there and die.

The actions of government, tobacco companies, and those charged with society's welfare, has been to just shout "The building is on fire!" (i.e., "don't smoke").  (Yes, they killed off "Joe Camel" and so on but really, for hundreds of billions of dollars, not much has been done.  And too, don't forget the "Master Settlement Agreement:" yes, keep poisoning my child but pay me a few bucks a week and I'll turn a blind eye.  Isn't government action wonderful?)

There is a serious ethical and moral problem with this.

First, its wrong because the self interest of those saying "The building is on fire!" is their own.  Laws could be passed to eliminate smoking but none have.  In fact, laws have been passed to allow governments to benefit from the misfortune of others via smoking.  Think of this as a "house fire tax."  "Yeah," the government says, "we know you have a problem lighting fires, so, no problem, just pay this tax and we'll all be fine."  Much like the casino ads, at least in Pennsylvania, that say in small print at the bottom: "Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLING"


Are you willing, as a human being in a modern society, to accept this?

Isn't this just like continuing on down the road whistling to yourself as the house burns with the people still inside?

This is unacceptable and ethically and ethically wrong.

Yet its not called out by pro-vaping and advocacy.

Smoking has killed, let's just say 25 million people in round numbers, over the last 50 years since the surgeon general first declared it a problem.

Do we still sell cigarettes?  Yes.

What has changed? More warning labels, less advertising.

Four times the number killed by the Holocaust.  A bit more slowly but not by much.

Second, when someone comes along, in this case those vaping, and actually performs an action that removes someone from the current danger, and with a decade of vaping safety and medical reports to back them up, there is only outrage and fear.



Over actually living up to the moral obligation to save someone's life.

Fear and outrage by the same Anti-Smoking Zealot's (ANTZ) who profit from smoking's existence.

Why are we not on the moral high ground here?

Why do we not say to the foes of vaping:



No, instead we get beaten up about formaldehyde.

We, the vapers, are in the house, and its on fire.

Today I know more non-smokers than I ever have in my life.  All have quit in the last four years since my wife took up vaping.  (And yes, we own vape shops.)

Regardless of whether anyone thinks vaping, beyond the ten years its already existed, is truly safe or has its own problems is irrelevant because the smokers are currently (as in "right now") in far worse and immediate danger from smoking. (Just like when someone (the smoker in this case) has fallen through the ice.  First you get them out of the icy water.  Then you figure out how to warm them up. If you waited around to figure out how to warm them up first and then pulled them out they'll never make it because hypothermia will kill them.)

But no one on the vaping side takes this position because it makes too many waves.  It rocks the boat - makes vaping "vulnerable."  Well, I've got news for you, its already vulnerable.

There are some implications of all this that will upset many:

First, smoking is a danger to everyone.  Children included.  Let's just say that a child had to drive a car in order to escape danger, e.g., car broke down in a bad neighborhood, the driver had a heart attack. 

Would we suggest that if the child could drive a car in order to save themselves they in fact should not because they are legally too young to drive and should therefore remain in danger?

People land airplanes when pilots become incapacitated.

Shouldn't the same be true here?

Vaping saves everyone's life by rescuing them from smoking, particularly children.

The child is already smoking.  So we just let them?  Really?

Sure, we (and the government) want them to stop - but they are smart ass kids and they refuse.

So make sure you understand this:  Who would let a child smoke?

The government.

The result of the "tobacco culture" you ANTZ have promoted for the last fifty years... 
And by the way, no vaper is responsible for today's "tobacco culture" - yet the blame is thrown at our feet should even one child vape (and notice, the reason they vape is never addressed... what if they simply want to stop smoking?)

We must stop accepting this.

The first statement from anyone advocating vaping must be "Why are you Mr. ANTZ/researcher/government offical... still allowing people to smoke.  YOU HAVE FAILED!"

Get out of our way while we stop ourselves and our children from smoking where you haven't.

I guess the government would just let the insidious tobacco smoke fill our children's lungs until they are 18 and then hope they turn to vape?

Second, the process of targeting bans is fine but it does not address the root of the problem:

Vaping, a solution for smoking, is being instead being held responsible as if it were smoking.

As if we set the rescue ladder on fire in order to prevent someone from using a non-government approved ladder.

But what about the people in the house?

And we, as vapers, allow our leadership to do this.

No, the ladder doesn't need to be set on fire and nicotine does not need to be turned into tobacco leaves.

We, as vapers, are the most able and effective advocates of not smoking.

Instead we need to take the mantle of "do gooder" from the ANTZ and ask "why is there still smoking?"

Aren't 25 million dead your fault Mr. ANTZ and Mr. Government?

I think the point is, that in addition to studies and medical research local governments need to hear that vaping is the only thing likely to end smoking anytime soon.  Treating it like smoking will make smoking go on longer.

Stop blaming us for your failure and the fact that someone in China thought up a better idea that costs nothing and isn't anywhere near as toxic as smoking.

Finally, we accept bans that address even the appearance of smoking (New Orleans, for example).

Smoking is the problem and if the solution looks like it why are we, those who are rescuing people, being given a hard time?

To win smoking, and those who indirectly support it, must be characterized for what they are.



Self interested.

Laws and attitudes can be changed but not from the back where the smoking section is...

It's time to step up front and demand answers for the last fifty years of smoking deaths and for vaping to own the solution.

No comments:

Post a Comment