Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Cigarettes

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...
When you think about sad technologies, there are few that are sadder than cigarettes. Cigarettes should probably be the SadTech poster child.

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:
  1. The cigarette mixes the drug with smoke, and the smoke causes huge health problems.
  2. The person using the DDM is not the only one who receives the drug. Secondhand smoke also causes health problems.
  3. 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."
Considering these problems, it is interesting that the use of cigarettes as a DDM is still allowed. There are plenty of other ways to deliver nicotine, including gum, patches and even water. They all deliver nicotine without any of the health problems or the fire problems.

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.

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12 Comments:

At 4:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, but you're missing the whole point of smoking. Sure, nicotine is addictive, but so is the whole DDM mechanism. The hit you get from the smoke (OK, it's asphyxiation, but try telling a smoker that) is part of the addiction. To a committed smoker, the whole habit is important, not just the nicotine. I've know ex-smokers who haven't had a cigarette for 3, 6 months, they're well over the nicotine addiction, but some of them still miss holding that little white stick between their fingers.

 
At 10:41 PM, Blogger Marshall Brain said...

True... patches and gum are slow-release technologies. Maybe you can carry a little nicotine inhaler and use it when you need a good hit of nicotine?

 
At 10:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cigarettes cause damage #1 - Apartment fire blamed on small blow torch used to light cigarette

 
At 10:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cigarettes cause damage #2 - Apartment Fire in Central Fresno

 
At 10:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cigarettes cause damage #3 - Cigarette likely caused fire

 
At 10:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cigarettes cause damage #4 - Fire official: Dry conditions bad for fire season

 
At 10:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cigarettes cause damage #5 - Smoker Sets Car on FireHow many more examples do you need? Get rid of cigarettes!

 
At 12:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another reason to get rid of cigarettes

 
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Chantix, the medicine manufactured by Pfizer Incl. is meant for triggering off smoking cessation and as it is an FDA approved quit smoking medicine, you can administer the anti-smoking drug without any hesitation and successfully get rid of nicotine addiction. However, significant chantix tidbits available at http://www.chantixmagic.com clarify that the medicine is meant to be taken only after getting hold of a Chantix prescription from the doctor.

 
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At 6:06 AM, Anonymous Generic Nexium said...

Obviously it is difficult for anyone, including smokers, to give up a pleasurable habit. Your smoking habit forms the basis for daily rituals that regularly define many moments of your life. Well... that's true if you're anything like the type on smoker I was.

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