I am not just a non-smoker…I am an anti-smoker. Of my four grandparents, three were smokers. The three smokers all died of emphysema, at relatively young ages. (My paternal grandfather died when I was little over a year old. I have no memory of him at all, and he never met my sister.) My non-smoking paternal grandmother lived to be 88 years old. Both of my parents were smokers. My father, even though he quit cold turkey in his 50’s, suffered from COPD later in life and died at age 76. My mother just turned 81 but still smokes, and suffers from multiple health issues because of it. I hate smoking.
Still, I would not ban smoking. I believe that true freedom includes the freedom to make stupid, self-destructive choices. I believe this even though I also believe that smoking has no upside, other than simple pleasure.
I tell you this as background for a conversation about the current controversy over the dangers of vaping and the national discussion over banning vape products. This article at Reason.com does a great job of breaking down the debate, but the simple numbers reveal that so far there have been about a dozen vape-related deaths in the United States, compared to about 480,000 annual smoking-related deaths. If you consider that there are an estimated 9 million vapers in the US who might otherwise be tobacco smokers, that translates into a lot of lives saved. What sense does it make to make it more difficult to vape than to smoke, when smoking clearly kills many, many more people than vaping?
Anyone who can put emotion aside and look at the numbers will should be able to conclude that it is completely illogical to trade the relatively low number of vaping deaths for the much higher number of deaths caused by smoking.
It is exactly the same with the gun debate, if we can set aside our feelings and look at the numbers. With over 100 million gun owners in the nation, and somewhere in the neighborhood of 2.5 million lives saved annually by armed citizens, a relatively low number of homicides drives an emotional argument for ever-increasing restrictions on civilian gun ownership…even to the point of bans. Even though removing lifesaving guns from the hands of citizens would result in more deaths, feelings alone drive the movement to disarm good people and leave them at the mercy of criminals.
That makes about as much sense as favoring smoking over vaping.