We all remember the story of the Greasers versus the Socials. The Outsiders was about two rival gangs in rural Oklahoma and their social differences. A brawl between the Greasers and Socials results in the death of one of the Socials. Thus, Ponyboy (C Thomas Howell) and Johnny (Ralph Macchio) must go into hiding. Eventually, Ponyboy and Johnny must come out of hiding and contend with the consequences of their violence. I think we know where the story goes from there.
What does this have to do with smoke and vapor? In order to answer this question we must first clarify what I am talking about – Smoke and Vapor? Drying out leaves, of many sorts, and rolling them in order to smoke has been with us for centuries. It was not until the 1960’s and 1970’s that doctors and researchers started to realize the grave dangers of cigarette smoking and the second hand smoke produced by cigarette smokers. According to a report from the Surgeon General over 20 million deaths have been caused by cigarette smoking since the 1960’s. Government entities began regulations about advertising, labeling and campaigning about the long term health risks involved with cigarette smoking. With the realization of this new information many cigarette smokers wanted to quit without realizing how difficult it would be to quench the desire of lighting up. Over the next several decades many products were developed to assist cigarette smokers to quit. Options for smokers to quit were suddenly flooded with nicotine patches, nicotine gum, prescriptions that turned users into walking zombies and many even turned to hypnosis. After all, according to the American Cancer Society, only 4% to 7% of smokers attempting to quit will be successful without the use of nicotine replacement products.Enter the 21st century filled with technology and innovation. In 2003 Hon Lik of Beijing, China wanted to invent a healthier alternative to traditional cigarette smoking. At 52 years of age Hon Lik was a pharmacist, inventor and cigarette smoker who had recently lost his father, also a smoker, to lung cancer. Hon Lik’s thought was to produce a safer alternative to cigarette smoking. The principle of the process was simple. His vision was to produce a liquid form of nicotine, without the tars and other harmful chemicals of a traditional cigarette. This would be a healthier form of nicotine intake. The liquid is placed into a small tube with an electrical coil. The coil is heated by a small battery creating a vapor. By inhaling the vapor, just as a cigarette, one could still receive their accustomed nicotine amounts without the harmful chemicals in cigarettes. In the past 10 years the electric cigarette has morphed into a multi-million dollar business with a vast array of equipment and liquids. Not only can a vaper choose specific voltages, wattages, resistances and battery charge life, but they can also now choose from a multitude of e-liquid flavors and nicotine levels. The principle purpose is to slowly reduce the nicotine levels in the e-liquid until your body no longer craves the nicotine. The result is a reformed smoker that had successfully quit cigarette smoking for good. According to addictionjournal.com, “People attempting to quit smoking, without professional help, are approximately 60% more likely to report succeeding if they utilize e-cigs”.
In my experience I find that most smokers that make the change to electric cigarettes do not actually quit. Although the smoker is no longer a traditional cigarette smoker, most never put down the e-cig. This creates two genres of smokers with traditional cigarette smokers and vapers. As with any genre, of any sort, there is division among the individual camps as to what genre is better or worse. There have been many arguments, governmental and individual, in regards to the unknown risks of e-cigs. Many traditional smokers still use this as a crutch not to kick the habit. According to research provided by Boston University there are over 45 million current cigarette adult smokers in the US who are unable or unwilling to quit. The same research by Boston University goes on to state, “E-cigs may be safer than cigarettes but they may not be safe”.
Still trying to figure out what all this information has to do with The Outsiders – Greasers and Socials? Electric cigarettes have created a division. For the sake of argument we will call the traditional cigarette smokers the Socials and the vapers (electric cigarette users) will be the Greasers. After all, vapers are fairly new to society and misunderstood. Not only has this division occurred with the smokers themselves, but also within government entities such as the FDA, World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control. Human nature is to be afraid of that which we are not educated about. There have been many research scientists perform studies on electric cigarettes. Most of these studies have been inconclusive in regards to long term effects. Therefore, many smokers that are interested in quitting have been reluctant to try electric cigarettes stating the unknown. Here is what we do know. Traditional cigarettes have over 4000 chemicals that create 499 chemical reactions when burned. Traditional cigarettes have also killed over 20 million Americans since the 1960’s. Let’s look at some arguments from both camps. From this point forward, remember, we will refer to traditional smokers as Socials and the vapers (electric cigarette users) will be the Greasers.
This argument definitely goes in favor of the Socials, or traditional cigarette smokers. Stores on every street corner sell cigarettes of all brands and quantities. If you are a Greaser, or Vaper, e-cigs are much more difficult to obtain. Although Vapor stores are opening daily, they are simply in short supply and maintain normal business hours. There are, however, many online sources to obtain e-cig equipment and liquids if you monitor your stock and order wisely. For this reason we see many Greasers jumping the fence back and forth to the Social’s side.
This argument definitely goes in favor of the Greasers, or Vapers. Currently the federal government does not tax e-cigs in the way they do traditional cigarettes. This may change in the very near future as much debate has been involved. However, at this time traditional cigarettes take the hit in regards to federal and state taxes. On average a pack of traditional cigarettes is $7.00 per pack. The cost alone is a good reason to quit. If the average smoker clears out one pack per day they will average $212.00 per month. An e-cig basic starter package can be purchased beginning at $50.00 and will last for several months. Of course there will be the need of purchasing replacement coils and e-liquid. A 5 pack of coils can be purchased for $10.00 and will last three weeks. E-Liquid starts as little as $5.00 per bottle and that bottle should last about one week. As any good math student can tell you, after the initial equipment purchase, the Greaser can spend as little as $35.00 per month to satisfy the nicotine habit.
Let’s face it. Both Socials and Greasers lose on this one. The best means to consider in the health category is to not smoke at all. Neither alternative is good for your lungs as they were designed only to keep you breathing, not intake potentially harmful chemicals of any sort. The jury is still out on electric cigarettes. We know traditional cigarettes are a leading killer among people and it is statistically proven. However, if you are addicted to nicotine the majority of Doctors interviewed would rather a person utilize an electric cigarette over that of a traditional cigarette.
This brings us back to public perception of Socials versus Greasers. Each day the public is hearing of research studies on e-liquids and their contents. Yet, I have not personally viewed a single study that specifies US made liquids in comparison to import liquids. In regards to the liquids, US producers do have regulations as to the contents of e-liquids. In addition, many companies are currently producing virgin e-liquids without the use of artificial colorings and sweeteners while utilizing 100% Vegetable Glycerin. Even with this said, again we are afraid of that which we are not educated about. Many governmental municipalities have classified electric cigarettes equal to traditional cigarettes in regards to smoking ordinances and laws. It is always best to check your local laws when considering switching from the Socials to the Greasers. In many areas of the US one can still smoke an electric cigarette where they cannot smoke a traditional cigarette.
Regardless of the clash between the Greasers and the Socials I can assure the reader there is one group that has taken a particular interest in electric cigarettes. The tobacco companies making traditional cigarettes have taken the electric cigarette threat to heart. Much of the same research studies mentioned earlier in this article are sponsored by the tobacco industry. The tobacco companies have been campaigning to enact the same laws for electric cigarette companies that they are subject to. Although, in practice, this may be fair and keep a level playing field. The main interest of the big tobacco companies is to maintain revenue. According to the same research study mentioned earlier by Boston University, “Electronic cigarettes represent one of the greatest threats to cigarette smoking in many years”.
I was a traditional cigarette smoker for 15 years and made the switch to the Greaser’s side three years ago. Although I have fallen off the wagon a few times, I can assure my readers that I notice a huge difference between traditional and electronic cigarettes. Not only can I breathe better, but I also don’t smell like an ashtray and have the nasty taste of a traditional cigarette lingering on the tip of my tongue. This is not to say either the Greasers or the Socials are right in their choice of smoking. As in the case of Hon Lik, the inventor of the electric cigarette, I also lost my father to lung cancer in 1995 from traditional cigarette smoking. Thus, I can ensure that smoking, of any kind, is not recommended. However, if you are a smoker weigh your options and do your own research. If utilized properly, an electric cigarette is a means to an end by slowly stepping down your nicotine intake. I will post future blogs on how to properly utilize electric cigarettes for the purpose of quitting for good and improving your health.
As in the case with The Outsiders, no one wins in rival brawl. The Greasers and the Socials both lost in the end. Don’t be an Outsider. Instead, be an advocate that creates change as did Hon Lik in his legacy of attempting to change the direction of smoking and the means to quit.Share