One of many marvelous products to come into its own in the last year is the e-cigarette. It looks like a cig. It pumps nicotine into your body like a cig. But you don’t light it and it doesn’t fill your lungs with cancerous crud. It is a water vapor, nearly entirely odorless; and, so far as anyone can tell, it is entirely harmless.
It is exactly what the doctor ordered and millions have responded. It is helping people give up the cancer sticks and coffin nails and replacing them with vapors. We are talking about a gigantic improvement over sticks of gum and patches, neither of which address the urge to suck and puff smokey stuff.
For good reason, there is a now a vibrant culture of vaping out there, and it is getting bigger by the day.
This is serious innovation, and it follows a course we’ve come to expect. Ten years ago, no one would have imagined that such a thing as an e-cig would exist outside science fiction. Nevertheless, some scientists worked with some great entrepreneurs to make the future better than the past, and in a matter of months, these marvels appeared on the shelves, expensive at first but now falling in price.
You might think that the anti-smoking fanatics — these people that have regulated and taxed the industry to the point of destruction all over the world — would celebrate. After all, e-cigs are the best-ever replacement for tobacco. Surely this is a cause for celebration!
Nope. Apparently, for our current political culture, the need to spread as much misery as possible is a more important goal for government than getting people to quit tobacco.
Attorney generals from 40 states are begging the FDA to intervene and stop the e-cig industry. Some states have already passed legislation to regulate them like regular cigarettes.
There is something about this technology that has the control freaks in a state of frenzy. Health nazis are in a panic, trying to figure out how to shut down the industry, tax it exorbitantly, or otherwise drive it out of public life forever.
The implications of this trend are very interesting. No one has demonstrated that e-cigs are harmful in any way. Why is government so down on them? What could possibly be the point of a crackdown here? If government claims to favor our health and well-being and does things that improves our lives, why not just let this industry flourish? The tech behind it is so great and wonderful that you might think it had been invented by the do-gooders themselves, if they were actually capable of inventing anything or marketing anything at all.
Why the lust for a crackdown?
The reason comes down to the most salient point about government that no civics text wants to talk about. In theory, the political system exists to enhance our well-being. Its purpose is to make us safe, make us wealthy, protect us from our own folly and sin, to make commerce and community possible, to punish bad guys, and administer justice when possible.