Doug Rutherford

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The lesser of two evils

May 2013
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While I have not been as good about it the last few days, since I’ve been laid low with the flu, I’ve been experimenting with electronic cigarettes lately. These are someone misnamed, as they aren’t cigarettes and you don’t really smoke them.

An e-cigarette is actually an atomizer, which atomizes a liquid into tiny particles that behave like cigarette smoke. The liquid can contain a variety of different items, although the main constituents are glycerine and distilled water. They emulate the habit of smoking, including coming with a taste. For example, I’ve developed a preference for the ones that supposedly taste like Canadian cigarettes. Since this is a food grade product, the full ingredients have to be listed. The magic ingredient that emulated Canadian cigarettes, by the way, is vanilla extract.

There are two parts: the taste cartridge and the battery. The battery came with two chargers. One plugs into the wall and one runs off a USB port. This leads to a rather interesting situation:

charging image

Using the USB charger.

One of the support staff said he was sending my picture to Dell and raising a trouble ticket… seems one of the computers at work is smoking.  I said that, if he got a response, I want to see it.

Needless to say, there are certain health implications that are absent in using one of these vs. smoking. First of all, there is no nicotine or tar. While you can get ones containing nicotine in the US, Health Canada does not permit this and US companies will not ship them to Canada. Also, since there’s no smoke, there’s no second hand smoke so many areas allow their use indoors. Only two US airlines, for example, have banned their use in flight. Air Canada permits them to be brought aboard but not their use.

Now, given this this represents a pretty decent tool in the arsenal of quitting smoking, you would think Health Canada would be happy about this. Unfortunately, they seem to have adopted the holier than thou attitude that anything that emulates smoking is just as bad. I sometimes wonder what it takes to work in a department that thinks quitting smoking aids are bad but gives drug approvals based on the manufacturers’ word of how the testing went.

There is one health hazard I do have to worry about, though. I’m trying to keep on a one-for-one schedule with a real cigarette only every second one. Now, my fear is that I’ll go out, fire up a real one, take three or four drags, and then throw it into my shirt pocket without thinking. Oh well, that’s a mistake I’d only make once…



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