So, yesterday the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ushered in sweeping, new regulations on tobacco: no more “light” or “low-tar” smokes, no more clove cigarettes or other flavored tobacco and no more marketing around kids. The FDA will also be able to lower the nicotine levels of tobacco products and cigarette manufacturers will be forced to list each and every chemical compound in their product, on the package. The FDA also gets a line-item veto of sorts for any ingredient that it deems harmful.
I personally quit smoking cigarettes after a hospital stay due to a burst appendix (one of the worst pains ever, if you’ve not experienced it). During my six, long, uninsured days bedridden and being doted on by the nurses — with nothing but wall-to-wall Michael Jackson death coverage on television — I found that coughing up black gunk with a severely inflamed abdomen is Really Fucking Painful.
Painful enough that I carried a sense of anger out of that hospital and applied it to my five-year addiction.
My urge to smoke cigarettes dissolved like so much rust in vinegar and I haven’t touched one ever since. It will be four months as of Sept. 30.
However, one tobacco product that has stuck with me is shisha, which I understand is no safer than cigarettes. But, I do not smoke the hookah terribly often, and even then it does not contain all the awful additives that are found in the cigs. The hookah is more of a social instrument than an addiction; friends come over, a coal is sparked, I load up some lemon-mint and the tube is passed — smiles all around. (The stuff is delicious.)
But is shisha now illegal to sell or purchase? I have not been able to answer that question for myself just yet, though I suspect it is. Later today I will call around to the local smoke shops and get their takes on the new rules … And see if anyone has a stock of shisha that I can snap up, just in case.
While I’m all for banning advertising near kids, and those “light” and allegedly “low-tar” cigarettes (which is just bullshit marketing, there’s no real difference other than the amount of oxygen that gets mixed into the smoke), axing cloves, fruity blunt wraps and shisha is simply going too far.
Granted, America does spend over $100 billion each year on tobacco-related illnesses. But, in my mind, what the FDA just did would be akin to banning pinot gregio because it tastes better than merlot … Or refusing to allow sales of caffeine-infused beers because energy drinks are popular with minors.
While there is a strain of logic present in such actions, none make sense to me when stacked next to an argument in favor of personal liberty.
Then again, this does only apply to tobacco products. There’s plenty of herbal smoking blends, even herbal shisha, that will keep my hankering for warm, flavored vapors at bay. But that does not assuage my visions of angry, wheezing smokers, drawing up picket signs as I write.
Will the U.S. of A. ever see a ‘million smokers march’?
Mark my words: If the FDA makes further encroachments on nicotine addicts, a gaggle of puffing, pontificating protesters will be the least of D.C.’s worries