Lileks: Legislators huffing and puffing over e-cigarettes

  • Article by: JAMES LILEKS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 1, 2014 - 4:11 PM

Prediction: If e-cigs are found to be relatively harmless, their use in public will still be regulated.

As a state rep said, “It’s renormalizing a behavior that we’ve denormalized.” Sounds like a sci-fi weapon — hand me the denormalizer! — but you know what they mean. All that work making addicts into pariahs will be lost, and if we see someone using an e-cig indoors we won’t be able to judge them.

Minnesota’s smoking ban may have been predicated on public health concerns, but was happily embraced because nonsmokers didn’t have to eat restaurant meals in an eye-watering blue haze. Imagine today if the hostess said, “Welcome to Embers! Spraying you with goat musk, or not spraying you with goat musk?” And then you got sprayed anyway.

No one misses the stink. I explained to my daughter the other day that people once smoked in restaurants, and her reaction was the same as if I’d said, “In my time, folks emptied their bladder in the corner of the elevator car.”

Some e-cigs give off aromas, but they sound rather innocuous: blueberry, bubble gum. Even if they came up with scents both faint and beloved (freshly baked bread, old nooks, ditto fluid, grandma’s cheek) they would be bad, because they look like cigarettes and hence encourage smoking.

Apparently people will think “my, that banana-flavored mist was pleasurable. Now I want something that hastens me to the grave and tastes like horse dung rolled in formaldehyde.”

And they’ll start smoking because it’s been normalized.

There are people who believe that meat is wrong for moral reasons, or because they believe a meatless diet is healthier. I wish them well and encourage smart grocers to serve this market. One of the items I see at the store is Quorn, a fungus whose malleable properties allow it to be shaped and flavored into ersatz “chicken” nuggets. Does its existence “normalize” the consumption of processed fried poultry nodules? If there’s a fast-food tax, should Quorn be included?

If they’re harmful, regulate them. If not, leave them alone and let people use them to quit. Otherwise you’ll have to attack those other tubes people use to suck down stuff that’s not quite healthy — and good luck banning milkshake straws.

jlileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Do you like the Twins' offseason moves so far?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close