We all know smoking is bad — the only one who doesn’t is Rip Van Winkle, if he fell asleep before 1964.
With cigarettes costing an eye-popping $8 per pack in Wisconsin, many are turning to the roll-your-own variety — I’m talking tobacco, not marijuana — as a way to keep down costs. A study published in the British Medical Journal found that these folks believed the tobacco they were using was organic and, therefore, had less additives.
Well, guess what guys? You’re wrong. Roll-your-own tobacco has nine times more additives than the factory-produced variety.
This reminds me of the focus on filtered cigarettes back in my college days, when I temporarily picked up the nasty smoking habit. I thought filtered would prevent me from getting sick because it “filtered” out the bad stuff. Wrong again.
That marketing ploy worked on me. The “organic” marketing ploy for roll-your-own cigarettes is about the same.
So shouldn’t we tax loose tobacco like we do cigarettes? Why should roll-your-own users get a pass on the sin tax that regular cigarette smokers pay?
And what about those little cigars such as Swisher Sweets? These puppies give a bigger tobacco wallop than any Marlboro. They’re cheap and sweet (great for teens to try, right?) and the taxes are minuscule. Why do they get a free ride?
Hmm ... I wonder who made that decision?
My spin: Roll-your-own cigarettes are worse than regular cigarettes. Best advice is to kick all the butts.
Now on to e-cigarettes. Every time I write about them I get hate mail (people say the darndest things when they can’t be identified; some of you need to loosen up or you’ll get a stroke).
E-cigarettes are a $1.5 billion industry. For you non-hipsters, e-cigarettes vaporize a chemically laced liquid that is not — let me repeat, not — currently regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.
That may be changing, as the FDA in late April released a 241-page proposal to, among other things, ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. But as yet, e-cigarette makers are the Wild West of the smoking business.
Guess who’s buying up these companies left and right? You guessed it: Big tobacco.
Here’s the problem: The vapor is sweet, making it attractive to teens. And it’s addictive, with that nicotine jolt along with a variety of other chemicals. The makers say e-cigarettes are not proven to be bad so they’re OK. Uh huh.
It took 25 years of research before the surgeon general came out with the report saying that cigarettes caused lung cancer. It took 10 more years to show that smoking caused heart attacks and strokes.
Do the math. Do you really want to wait more than 30 years to see if these supposedly safe chemical vaporizers are good for your lungs?
Legislatures around the country are wondering whether e-cigarettes should be allowed in public places like cigarettes were in the past. I say, unequivocally, no.
If someone wants to smoke them in their house, that’s their business, a do-as-you-wish kind of thing. But I don’t want my personal air space ruined by a potentially devastating, unproven chemical concoction. Not on your life — or mine.
For advertising agencies, e-cigarettes are the next great frontier. Marketing ads show smart, handsome, beautiful, healthy, sexy people smoking these electronic weeds. They look just like the Marlboro commercials of my youth.
My spin: If you think e-cigs are safe, you’re on the wrong side of the curve. The only thing that’s safe for your lungs is clean, nontoxic air.