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The War Against E-Cigarettes (Again)

A new front is clearly opening up in the war against e-cigarettes, this time in Sweden, but expect others to follow. Inevitably “the children” are involved.

The Local reports:

Twenty-nine cases of nicotine poisoning specifically from electronic cigarettes were reported this year in Sweden, nearly a tenfold increase from last year’s three incidents. A third of the reported cases were children, the Swedish Poison Information Centre (SPIC) stated.

“We are extremely worried about this product, which is spreading like wildfire,” said Barbro Holm Ivarsson, spokesperson from Psychologists Against Tobacco, to news agency TT. “And if such strong liquids are going to exist then it is a very serious problem that they are not regulated yet.”

… “The concentration of nicotine in a 10 milliletre bottle (of smoke juice) is so strong it can kill a small child,” Ivarsson said, confirming a statement by the World Health Organisation.

In May, a two-year-old girl in Israel died after drinking the liquid, and cases of liquid nicotine poisoning are becoming increasingly common worldwide. Poisoning usually occurs through drinking liquid nicotine refills for the e-cigs.

Pharmacists at SPIC have seen serious cases involving symptoms of vomiting, shock, seizures, and heart palpitations, but no deaths yet.

Oh, good grief. Without wanting to minimize the suffering  involved, let’s just pause to note that these Swedish cases involved a grand total of 29 children, none of whom died. It is even unclear from the article whether their cases were among the more serious incidents noted by the SIPC.

Let’s also note that, according to EU data, 40 percent of all fatal injuries within the (European) home are caused by poisoning (a total that excludes those killed by overindulgence in illegal drugs or alcohol), a tally that would suggest that 29 non-fatal poisonings is a rather small total.

Obviously, e-cigarettes should—so far as is reasonably practicable—be child-proofed. Regulation to that effect would be a sensible idea, just as it has been for many other medical and household substances, but this Swedish panic is really about something else: the demonization of e-cigarettes.

And why demonize something that is a life-saver?

I wrote about this phenomenon recently over at NRO and so I will (lazily and immodestly) quote myself:

The campaign against tobacco began with the best of intentions, but it has long since degenerated into an instrument for its activists both to order others around and to display their own virtue. And with that comes an insistence on a rejection of tobacco so absolute, so pure, that it has become detached from any logic other than the logic of control, the classic hallmark of a cult. So mighty is the supposed power of this anathematized leaf that anything — even when tobacco-free — that looks like a cigarette or provides any approximation of its pleasures is suspect.

Incidentally, take a look at the comments section to The Local’s piece. It’s well worth reading. 

  1. Nick Stuart

    Sci Fi buff or not, anyone who appreciates, or aspires to write, trenchant social commentary should read Kage Baker’s Corporate novels.

    They paint a picture of one place where this urge to control ends up.

  2. BD

    The recent banning of electronic cigs from “indoor public spaces” in NYC shows how phony the secondhand-smoke rationale was for banning regular cigarettes in public.

  3. Crow

    Just say no to Swedish e-cigs.

    Choose snus instead.

  4. Valiuth

    If you loaded them with THC then they would be magical cancer curing sticks and everyone would want to give them out at playgrounds from vending machines. 

    Either ban nicotine as a drug, or just layoff. 

  5. iWc

    I would have been shocked. Leftists worship nature which means that hi-tech alternatives are always suspect.

  6. iWc

    It is all part of nature worship. Technological end-runs to avoid inhaling a leaf are evil.

    The WHO estimates that 340 million new cases of syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and trichomoniasis occurred throughout the world in 1999 in men and women aged 15-49 years. These are sexually transmitted diseases.

    But sex is natural. So who cares about consequences?

    I guess the logical case would be: posit that someone invents a drug or machine that triggers orgasmic reactions in the brain with no actual sex required. Are we for it or agin’ it?

  7. Kozak

    All they need to do is mix a little THC in with the nicotine and they will stop the crusade….

  8. Nick Stuart
    iWc: 

    I guess the logical case would be: posit that someone invents a drug or machine that triggers orgasmic reactions in the brain with no actual sex required. Are we for it or agin’ it? · 14 minutes ago

    Candy Crush smartphone game seems to have that effect on some people.

  9. dittoheadadt

    Whoa!  Civilization is in peril.  A tenfold increase!

    (from 3 to 30 in a nation of 9 million; how do they NOT feel silly and stupid writing that stuff? I mean, I’d hide that fact and try to make my point using more vague and touchy-feely arguments, unless they know that enough people are really just, well, stupid enough not to know better)

  10. Johnny Dubya

    “And why demonize something that is a life-saver?”

    Exactly.  A few kids getting sick.  That is what is seen.  What is unseen is the thousands or millions of people who, because they have switched to e-cigarettes, will not suffer or die from smoking-related illnesses.

    That the piling-on of opprobrium against smoking and smokers has spilled over into smokeless cigarettes was predictable.  While not limited to progressives, this impulse, derived from moral vanity, is a key characteristic of progressivism.

  11. PracticalMary
    Get the Libertarians on it! When they have time or decide it’s sexy enough. How far they have fallen…  
  12. MarciN

    Cutlass: I’ve thought this myself a million times in relation to the smoking issue:  

    “Oh, and on the flip side we’re called hysterics for pointing out the dangers of mercury in the new light bulbs that the government is forcing on us.”

    Mercury is the real deal in terms of dangerous household substances, and that truth has been obscured by all this other nonsense. 

  13. Ross C

    Some people just cannot be satisfied with a win.

    BTW, where is the picture of Julie Christie smoking?

  14. Cutlass
    MarciN: All alcoholic drinks have a similar potential, and these people seem to be okay with children’s exposure to wine and beer.

    No only that, but dozens of liquids have a similar, often more lethal, potential. By this logic we’d have to ban everything from shoe polish to hobby glue.

  15. Cutlass

    Oh, and on the flip side we’re called hysterics for pointing out the dangers of mercury in the new lightbulbs that the government is forcing on us.

    Think of how easily this issue could have been reversed? Would anyone have been shocked if leftists had proposed to ban tobacco completely and argued that smokers had a “wonderful, high-tech, green, safe alternative” in e-cigs?

  16. MarciN

    All alcoholic drinks have a similar potential, and these people seem to be okay with children’s exposure to wine and beer.   

  17. dittoheadadt
    Ross C: Some people just cannot be satisfied with a win.

    BTW, where is the picture of Julie Christie smoking?

    Every picture of Julie Christie is smoking.

  18. Eric Warren

    While not nearly as nasty as the real thing, the eCigs I have been around still stink up a room. Smoke at your house, please.

  19. Andrew Stuttaford
    C
    Eric Warren: While not nearly as nasty as the real thing, the eCigs I have been around still stink up a room. Smoke at your house, please. · 17 hours ago

    Eric,  if I may say so,  that’s an exaggeration, but even if you were to be correct about this, that would be a matter of aesthetic jusdgment. Neither the smell of your clothes nor your the state of your health are at any significant risk from a vaper’s vapor.  Under the circumstances, it seems a little heavy-handed to insist (and I apologize if that is not what you are arguing)  that a ban be put in place to protect what is purely a matter of taste.

  20. ctlaw

    “Oh, good grief. Without wanting to minimize the suffering  involved, let’s just pause to note that these Swedish cases involved a grand total of 29 children, none of whom died.”

    Actually that’s 29 people total. only a third children. Of that they did not break down age further.