x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 September 2017

Make e-cigarettes next on the list to ban

A new fad, especially in the UK, is the electronic cigarette. The act of inhaling the vapour from these sleek wonders is called 'vaping'. What's not to love? The fact that their principal ingredient is nicotine.

No matter what you do, there will always be someone opposing it. Until recently, the American public blamed its obesity epidemic on companies selling fast food. Now that the sale of sweetened drinks of more than 16 ounces might get banned in New York City restaurants, cinemas, etc, people are turning against the mayor, Michael Bloomberg.

Fizzy drinks make you fat, can contribute to the onset of diabetes and increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. Which, in turn, increases your risk of an early death. All right, so they taste nice. That's not saying much in defence of something that positively screams out to you in curly lettering, "Wash down your cholesterol-laden crisps with me if you would: a) like to pack on the pounds and b) help up the mortality rate of the country."

New Yorkers whinge on about how their mayor doesn't need to outline their drink portions for them and mollycoddle them like a motherly hen. I have a sweet tooth, but I don't see the harm in Bloomberg's idea. If you really feel like a Coke extravaganza, you can always buy two.

Teenagers are a furiously independent race, and therefore indignant about the proposed law. In New York, the fizzy drink ban could have the greatest effect on teenagers out to see a movie. It injures our pride to be told what to do, or worse, being seen by our peers to comply with what we are being told to do.

Perhaps that's why you see so many teenagers having a cigarette in mall parking lots or shisha bars. Of course teenagers know smoking can cause lung cancer and so on; schools have been showing us gory images of tar-damaged organs ever since we were little. Teenagers do it because we shouldn't be doing it, and doing what we shouldn't be doing is cool. We are also extremely resourceful: we'll find a way to get around whatever laws you impose on us.

A new fad, especially in the UK, is the electronic cigarette, which is not covered in the smoking ban. These are rechargeable devices resembling your run-of-the-mill cigarettes and they work by heating up propylene glycol solution into an aerosol mist. They come in different enticing flavours - including blueberry pancake - and supposedly contain no tobacco or carcinogens. What's more, the act of inhaling the vapour from these sleek wonders is called, somewhat unimaginatively, "vaping". "I'm just nipping out for a vape" sounds much more current, and impressive, than "going for a quick smoke". What's not to love? The fact that their principal ingredient is nicotine.

In cigarettes, nicotine is what gives you a rush - and gets you addicted. The e-cigarette industry is targeting vulnerable teenagers who are lulled into a false sense of security with the "no-tobacco" claim. The makers say nicotine is harmless. Tosh. The effects of nicotine are well known - it can lead to brain malfunction and pancreas damage and play havoc with diabetics' systems.

It's time someone took a leaf out of Bloomberg's book and a stand on what appears to be a dodgy practice of luring teenagers into yet another quagmire.