Containing the Menace


Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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32 Responses

  1. Avatar Morat20 says:

    And my rather pointless two cents is this: Vaping can’t possibly be as bad as actual cigarettes, unless the people making it just half-a*ssed it. I mean, good lord, in the end you’re talking a faux cigarette nicotine delivery system. It might not be healthy for you, but it shouldn’t take much to make it head and shoulders better than a cigarette.

    That said, the heaviest smokers I know won’t switch to e-cigs because, and I quote, “I can’t tell when to stop. Like I know when I’m done with a cigarette, because it’s out. So I can smoke one, go back to whatever. I can’t do that with vaping”.

    For all I know, there’s a nifty LED or something that tells him that and he just doesn’t know it’s a feature.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Morat20 says:

      I don’t quite understand the mentality there. Probably because I was never a “one cigarette” guy. I would usually smoke on a fixed period of time, or as long as it took for me to work something out. So during lunch breaks at a particular job, I’d smoke for 50 minutes straight*, or 15 during morning and afternoon break. On my own time, I would usually smoke for as long as I needed a break. I’d finish whatever cigarette I was working on, but I wouldn’t really keep count or anything. (I could, if I wanted to, work out the math. It took me seven minutes to smoke a cigarette, so it was probably seven over lunch and two over breaks. I’d know my smoking volume by how often I had to buy a new pack. I generally smoked between 1-1.5 packs a day. Two packs would be… punishing.)

      So for me, it is actually preferable to have the “endless device.” Though not endless, really, because you’d need to refill the tank. The tank on my previous device was 2.5ml (I think), but you were supposed to refill at the halfway point and once you’re at less than a third it’s not enjoyable anymore. The new devices have bigger tanks, but go through liquid faster.

      In any event, for me it’s usually marked off in time. So instead of “smoking a cigarette” it would be “vaping for ten minutes.” Which is not different from how I smoked, except that I had less control because I didn’t put out cigarettes that weren’t used up.

      * – At one job I’d go to a local truck stop. It had a colorful cast of regulars. Apparently, they initially thought I was a narc or something,Report

      • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Will Truman says:

        Yeah, him and his wife are “We’ll smoke one, go inside. An hour later, smoke one, go inside”.

        I don’t know enough about vaping to say “Well here’s how you go about replicating that” — and their friends who use it don’t use a similar “Smoke one, go back to business” setup so it just doesn’t work.

        I *think* the first time they tried e-cigs they got more nicotine then they expected — vaped too long, or the mixture was too concentrated, or something.

        I suspect if they really wanted to make the change, they could work it out with practice. But the up-front costs are a bit high for a “probably”, so they stick with what works.Report

  2. Avatar North says:

    I loathe cigarettes down to my bones; they killed my Grandmother and worse than killed my Grandfather.

    That said I whole heartedly approve of vaping. It’s so unambigously superior to smoking health-wise and pretty much entirely eliminates the second hand anything concern that it baffles me that the regulatory stance wouldn’t be a simple validation of safety, enumeration of exact risks and then common sense rules to keep it out of the hands of children. The gateway this or that nonsense utterly baffles me. How can anyone not fail to see vaping as the final nails in the smoking coffin?Report

    • Avatar Maribou in reply to North says:

      I am also in favor of vaping, but I can tell you that this:

      :”pretty much entirely eliminates the second hand anything concern”

      is not true. I am allergic to most of the flavored vapes I have come across. If I am in a room where someone is smoking one of them, I have to ask them to stop, or leave, or wait until I’m on the brink of an asthma attack and then do that. It sucks. (I’m allergic to cigarette smoke too, but not as sharply.)

      So there are still bystander issues with vaping.

      But, like you, SO MUCH BETTER than cigarettes for people.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Maribou says:

        Incidentally, I think I have discovered that I have a (very minor, compared to you) allergic reaction to PG. Since changing devices, I’ve gone from eliquid that is 50% or more PG to eliquid that is 30% or less, and I haven’t had to take cough syrup since. I mean, it was already way better than when I was smoking, but now it seems non-existent and what I say in the OP about my throat and lungs seems less pronounced.

        From what I recall, you are also allergic to VG, so it has no bearing on your situation. But I found it noteworthy.

        After hearing you on the subject before, I find myself in favor of some indoor bans in public accommodations. Or, at least, not holding it against public venues that choose to ban it indoors.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Maribou says:

        Oh I understand and agree Maribou but let us be frank, that drops the second hand consideration down to the level of cologne or perfume. Definitly something one should consider for allergy concerns and absolutely should stop immediately if someone is experiencing distress but not exactly on the same level as second hand cigarette smoke.Report

  3. Avatar Kazzy says:

    My issue with vaping is how stupid so many of the devices look. Can we work on that?

    I say this as someone who has no interest in vaping but is starting to get eye strain from rolling them so hard at all the losers smoking out of their old beepers.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

      If you’re talking about devices that look like the ones in the picture up-top… not really. There seems to be an positive relationship between how unattractive a device is and how effective it is. I would love to just be using something that looks like a cigarette (or even a small cigar). Those devices, unfortunately, aren’t very good. The pens are clunkier, but more effective. But the mods (above) are rather conspicuous and not very attractive… but they’re good devices.

      I find myself migrating to uglier and uglier devices for a better experience.

      (Now, if you’re talking about people that have Mickey Mouse or glitter on them… ugh. I used colors on the pens to help keep the batteries straights. The batteries on the mods are better so I don’t have to juggle as many of them, so I stick mostly with black and silver.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:

        Yea, those one look like a kid’s walkie talkie toy. If that is the most functional form, obviously people should use it. I’m mostly joking about the appearance. But it does make me laugh at times.Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to Kazzy says:

      I’m assuming that, for manufacturers, making your e-cigarette look “cool” would be putting a regulation target on yourself, since it could be seen as youth enticement.

      Maybe we should go the other direction, and require them to be painted hideous neon colors and stuff.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Glyph says:

        Here’s a funny thing that is absolutely contrary to the way it’s being covered. Within the industry, you know who is most reticent non-tobacco flavoring? Big Tobacco. While the new entrants are throwing every conceivable flavor at the wall to see what sticks, the tobacco companies who got into it are far more inclined with tobacco flavors and a limited selection. Blu would only release its disposables in tobacco and menthol flavors (they had other flavors, but only for kits).

        It’s not hard to see why that is.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Glyph says:

        California’s anti-e-cigarette campaigns are indeed saying “these are shiny fun things that look like toys, CLEARLY and FOR NO OTHER POSSIBLE PURPOSE designed to entice children”.Report

  4. Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

    There are concerns about kids getting into the eliquid and getting nicotine poisoning. There are some misconceptions about this because articles seem to present the ejuice as something a child might drink. They wouldn’t. It tastes awful. Most come in containers that limit output so, with the right packaging, people shouldn’t worry about chug-a-lug

    Eh? Kids are experimentalists. They will try anything. They may only try it once, but that once could well be a hearty chugalug. The containers limit output? How secure are the containers? Can they be pried open? Because, once again: kids.

    One of my two trips to the emergency room with my elder daughter was after she pried open a toy twirling baton. It was filled with water, plus sparklies. This is all very attractive to a small child, which is the point. So she pried it open and drank about a third of the water. This was followed by difficulty breathing. I’ll say one thing. If you want fast service in the ER, carry in a child and tell the nurse at the front desk that she drank an unidentified liquid and is now experiencing respiratory distress. The upshot is that she was fine. It was just water, but the cheap plastic bits had leached hydrocarbons into it. The hydrocarbon smell is what, along with the respiratory distress, secured my attention and the decision to take her to the hospital. The concentration was low enough that there probably wasn’t any real danger, but I didn’t know that going in. So it all turned out well enough: now when she is visibly contemplating doing something stupid I can raise the topic of “baton water” and she takes the point.

    I have no idea how toxic the ecigarette liquid is. I certainly would not assume that this will not be determined in the wild. Rather, I would assume that some person of low body weight will at some point consume the entire container, however large that is.Report

    • Depends on the container, but some of them are genuinely a pain to crack open. My guess is that they would try it first and realizing that chug-a-lug and won’t down it for the same reason they don’t down cosmotological products. It’s not a little unpleasant. It’s spit it out if any gets in your mouth immediately unpleasant. (Even if you’re a vaper who likes the taste in inhalation form.)

      I’m not saying that you shouldn’t keep it out of their reach. Things do happen, though honestly the bigger reason I keep it out of Lain’s reach is that she would squirt it around and get the nicotine through the skin. Which I doubt would kill her, but is obviously something to be avoided all the same.

      It’s been a while since the NY Times ran its Barrels of Death article, and so far there has been minimal since. Only one recorded death I am aware of, a two year old in Israel who did chugalug. Which I guess means don’t not worry about it at all, but worry about it with about the same degree as you might with cosmetics. Other than packaging and low-hanging fruit of that sort, it is not cause for significant regulation of the sort that has been proposed.Report

      • Avatar gingergene in reply to Will Truman says:

        Plus, when you consider the things that each and every household with children contains, both with and without child-proof tops, I would have to imagine that vaping liquid would have a difficult time breaking into the top half of the list, in terms of toxicity. It sounds as if it’s more difficult to open than any pill bottle or cleaning bottle. The only concern I see is that any device that is used regularly will likely not be locked away in a latched cupboard or high up in a medicine cabinet.

        But if you’re imploring someone to “please, think of The Children”, those kids will be far better off in vaping home than a smoking one in the vast majority of cases.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman in reply to gingergene says:

          The bottles at present vary. I’m more comfortable/uncomfortable with some than with others. But they can be made reasonably secure, and doing so is a fair objective.

          A little more background:
          – The premium brand is a little bit difficult to open at all if you’re a little one. However, once opened, it is open and you use a dropper to put it in the device. This is the one that makes me most uncomfortable because once you have it open, it’s open-open.
          – The middle brand is easier to open and squirt, but sufficiently difficult to get the squirt lid off (to open it to the point that you could pour it) that I usually don’t even try and let throw the dregs out.
          – The cheap brand has no childproofing to open and squirt, but you need either sharp fingernails or a knife to open-open it to the point that you could pour it out (or chugalug).Report

        • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to gingergene says:

          Another consideration is how the child sees the stuff being used. The younger ones don’t really make a distinction between brightly packaged household chemicals and, say, food. But as they get older, they figure this out. So when they see a product being consumed by adults, they reasonably will conclude that this is a product for consumption, without necessarily appreciating the subtleties of how to go about this. This, inconveniently, is also the age when they learn more effectively techniques for getting into things they ought not get into. Yes, this is the voice of experience. Humans are a tool-using species.Report

          • The most likely thing a child would do* is squirt it in their mouth. Or just squirting it all over the place and getting it all over them (and absorbing it). Which we definitely don’t want to happen, but is not really the danger that is commonly presented.

            * – Except for the premium bottles which don’t squirt. Those do have me a little concerned as far as “catastrophic consequences” go and why I would prefer they do something different. But we’re still in the domain of things that seem pretty rare and could be made more rare somewhat easily.Report

          • Avatar gingergene in reply to Richard Hershberger says:

            I’m not saying they’re harmless, just that they’re less dangerous than a lot of things kids could theoretically get access to in most households. If we’ve decided that bleach, multivitamins or baby aspirin have a positive benefit/risk ratio, all of which are toxic in sufficient quantities (and the latter two of which are not only consumed by people but are also often tasty), I think we might conclude something similar for vaping liquids.

            IOW, it seems like a disingenuous argument, or at least one that demonstrates a lack of acknowledgement of the actual risks to children’s health.Report

      • Avatar gingergene in reply to Will Truman says:

        One area I might question is your assumption that kids won’t continue to consume it because it tastes bad. There are numerous cases of kids poisoning themselves with brightly colored detergent pods, apparently eating enough detergent to have serious consequences. I can’t imagine that detergent tastes any better than vaping liquid, but for some reason kids do sometimes eat a lot of it.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman in reply to gingergene says:

          Well, maybe it differs from others, but I think I’d rather try a detergent pod. I’ve never had a detergent pod, but I’d rather put soap in my mouth and it’s not a close call.

          I guess some kid could get a real high on how terrible it is (like eating a ghost pepper for the sheer sensation of it), but without nicotine is gross and with nicotine it is gross and it can sting the tongue in even small amounts.

          Which, I mean, indicates how powerful the stuff is. I got it in my eye once (well, on my finger and then from my finger to my eye). Very painful. One fear I really do have is if they regulate nicotine levels too low (as the EU may be doing) that people will homebrew to punch it up with more nicotine. If not for that, or the concern that high nicotine levels might be required for some people to quit, I wouldn’t object to capping nicotine at 18mg/ml or maybe even lower. You could, I suppose, cap it but allow higher doses with a prescription? Not sure. It’s an area where I am reluctant to say too much because I never needed nicotine levels as high as all that and I never personally had the need nor have I ever felt the effects, but others may need it that high.Report

  5. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    That vaping is not the same thing as smoking, and therefore ought to be regulated differently than smoking, is something that is so obvious as to defy the need for explanation. Well, it ought to be, but as you note in the OP, apparently no, this isn’t so obvious to some people.

    I thought I took an implication from the OP that an ecig has a timer built into it? So you can only take a vape every “x” minutes or so? When I’ve been out socially with vape users, I’ve noticed they take a pull much less frequently than a tobacco smoker would puff on the cigarette. This seems to be only in part because the tobacco smoker is holding something that is literally on fire and therefore must be consumed before it burns up. The ecig lacks that sort of imperative. But it also seems to elicit a lower level of urgency in the user, even one who is animated, drunk, and/or stressed — attributes which seem to produce a light-the-second-before-the-first-is-even-done sort of behavior in the tobacco user.

    It would also make asking a stranger for a drag off of her ecig even more of an intrusion into her personal space rather than a light icebreaking gambit, the way asking for a light or a cigarette bum might be.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Burt Likko says:

      There’s no timer counting down. Some of the entry-level and intermediate devices have a temperature control (that, setting aside the voltage, would itself prevent the level of formaldehyde from the Portland State study). The “timer” I refer to is like a stopwatch on upper-end devices. It just tells you how long you’ve been heating the liquid.

      There may be a way to tell it to cut off after a certain number of seconds. Not sure. It has a whole lot of settings where you can change the voltage or wattage, let’s you know the coil resistance, and things like that.

      You’re right about the “puffing less frequently” part. It’s one of the things that makes comparisons between combustibles and ecigs kind of difficult. Right now the best way they try to compare is liquid consumption versus cigarette consumption. The chart in the post puts 3ml with 20 cigarettes, which sounds about right as far as those things go, but different devices burn liquid at different rates but the percentage of liquid consumed by the user does not necessarily go up correspondingly.

      A part of me thinks that the entire regulatory regime is geared towards reducing the number of competitors to a minimum just so that it will be easier to know what’s going on. In their grand altriusm, RJ Reynolds requested that the FDA ban all products but cartridge-based products. Which, it just so happens, is what they do. Their altruistic rationale was that if it’s all cartridge-based, it’ll be more standardized and testing will be more uniform and easier. Thankfully, the FDA did not go for this. So if that part of me is right, they are at least not too maniacal about it.Report

      • Avatar Will H. in reply to Will Truman says:

        I must have upper-end devices then.
        I have two of the pen types, and both have a ten second max on the battery.
        Two are really necessary, to be able to swap out the batteries when one goes down.

        I don’t use flavored juice, other than tobacco flavor. Which is odd, because the tobacco flavor is more like the flavor of chewing tobacco than smoking tobacco.
        And I smoked a pipe for some 14 years. I’ve had a lot of different types of tobaccos.

        The puffing less I would say comes from the simple fact that enough is enough, where there is some compulsion to finish the combustible simply because it is there and available.

        I feel better vaping over smoking, though I still smoke for about half of my addiction-feeding.
        The initial expense was definitely an obstacle.

        I would say Will T. hit on several pertinent points in this post, but you seem to have accepted groundless paternalism unquestioningly.

        I do believe in this case governmental action is required to keep everyone honest, and maintain a standardized testing procedure so that results are directly comparable.Report

  6. I think I mentioned this at Hitcoffee (or maybe here?), but U of Sangamon at Big City has been declared a “tobacco free” campus, and one of the ensuing regulations is a prohibition against (tobacco-less) vaping.

    I’m not a smoker or vaper, but….sigh.Report

    • Avatar Will H. in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

      My school.

      I thought there was someone here whose avatar I recognized. It was a photo of a Santa standing in a doorway and holding a child.
      I recognized the avatar as a photo I saw at an office for the union (not my local, but the local local).
      Ring a bell?Report

  7. Avatar Kim says:

    If you want to avoid formaldehyde, get yourself a damn water filter for your house (a good carbon one will do). Most formaldehyde exposure is inhaled during showers.Report