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Giving up smoking is easy — I’ve done it hundreds of times! How many times have we heard that exclamation, and statements like it? Giving up smoking is almost as much of an obsession as is smoking itself.


Why is it so difficult?

Of course the answer to that is complicated. Smoking became entrenched in our society in an earlier age when we weren’t so aware of its health hazards. It provided a relaxing break, often social in character. It was a ritual of sorts, and rituals are always comforting. It seemed a manly thing to do, and became an established part of the male mystique with actors like James Dean and Marlon Brando appearing with a cigarette perpetually dangling from the lip.

The cigarette still has a certain panache in the world of glamour.  Advertisers bear much of the responsibility for creating this association, because frankly there was money to be made. In TV shows of the 1960s, ones as innocuous as the Dick Van Dyke Show, a male character as vanilla as Rob Petrie was often seen lighting up, a feature that was almost certainly supported financially by the cigarette industry. We’re hooked.


So are you hooked, or trying to get unhooked? One new technology that may provide an alternative is the electronic cigarette. After a false start in the 1960s, the phenomenon faded from view only to reappear in our new millenium with a Chinese product that  vaporizes a stream of nicotine and allows it to be inhaled with no involvement of smoke at all.

Since the electronic cigarette involves no smoke, the question becomes: Is it smoke or nicotine that causes cigarette related illnesses? It certainly seems a good bet that ingesting nicotine without smoke shoud remove the dangerous elements, but the jury is still out on this.

Another question is where to get electronic cigarette information, and where to get the electronic cigarettes themselves. As you might guess, given the fact that the product was invented in China, and patented by Chinese business concerns, one can find electronic cigarettes wholesale at some Chinese sites. As a retail product, they are available both online and in stores, as a simple internet search will readily show.

The industry is growing, and it seems only a matter of time before the product will be approved. Perhaps this will bring cigarettes back into public places, since a cigarette that produces no smoke shouldn’t cause the problem of second hand smoke. This is almost certain to come into the courts in due time, providing a lot of work for lawyers. We will simply have to wait for some answers on the crucial question of whether nicotine in the air, without smoke, endangers passers by or not.

Meanwhile, look for a plethora of accessories, and probably PR campaigns as well, complete with bumper stickers, T-shirts, marches on Washington, and assorted similar hoop-la. It’s all part of the game, right? But in the long run, everybody may turn out to be a winner in this game.

By Liz Becker


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