The next time that you are out and about, notice how many smokers you see. You will find them in their cars, walking down city streets, huddled outside businesses, etc. With tens of millions of smokers in the United States, smoking is ubiquitous.
Despite how common smoking is today, you can easily imagine this scene in 2050:
- Grandkid: I saw a really old movie today, and the people in this movie were lighting these white sticks and then sucking smoke out of them. What in the world was going on there???
You: Oh... We used to call that "smoking". The white sticks were called "cigarettes."
Grandkid: You mean lots of people did this?
You: Yes, sure, millions and millions of people. There was once a time when half the people in the United States smoked.
Grandkid: You must be kidding!
You: I am not. It was a very big deal for hundreds of years.
Grandkid: So what was the deal?
You: It used to be that the only way to get nicotine was from a cigarette. You would light the cigarette with a match and then inhale the smoke...
Grandkid: No! People sucked smoke into their lungs on purpose???
You: Millions and millions of people.
Grandkid: Didn't they get sick?
You: Millions and millions of people got cancer and emphysema, yes.
Grandkid: Didn't all these cigarettes cause lots of fires?
You: Yes, they did...
Think about what a cigarette is -- it is a drug delivery mechanism (DDM). The drug that cigarettes deliver is nicotine. As a DDM, cigarettes are pathetic because:
- The cigarette mixes the drug with smoke, and the smoke causes huge health problems.
- The person using the DDM is not the only one who receives the drug. Secondhand smoke also causes health problems.
- A lit cigarette has a tendency to cause accidental fires. This article points out that cigarettes are, "the leading cause of fatal fires in the U.S., causing one of every four fire deaths."
The other thing about these alternative DDMs is that they are invisible. If you are wearing a nicotine patch or chewing nicotine gum, no one knows that you are doing it. Because cigarettes are so obvious, they tend to advertise themselves.
You have to believe that, sometime between now and 2050, there will be enough common sense in the country to ban cigarettes. At that point, all the smokers will simply switch over to other delivery mechanisms to get their nicotine. The transition should be very easy, and all the health and safety problems with cigarettes will be gone for good.