Thursday, June 11, 2015

Juul vs the PAX2

About five months or so ago, I was quite bummed upon learning that Ploom (now PAX Labs) was to sell off its intellectual property rights to Japan Tobacco, for this meant that (at least for now) that I would no longer be able to purchase Ploom's modelTwo pods in the U.S.. It was the modelTwo after all, that enabled me to switch over from smoking to vaping entirely. They were expensive, but they were damn good. I was never a heavy smoker, but I was a stubborn one, well, because I enjoyed it. Nearly two years after parting ways with combustion, the last thing that I wanted to do was to back track into smoking. Lucky for me, I also own a PAX (the original) that I sometimes fill with quality pipe tobacco. For me, there is something about vaping actual tobacco that is ultimately more fulfilling than any e-cigarette that I have ever come across thus far. In addition to having tried many different e-cigarettes and PVs, at least I had that to keep me vaping rather than smoking. Still though, I was going to miss those awesome Ploom pods.

When I learned that the former Ploom (now PAX Labs) had a new e-cigarette in the pipeline I became intrigued. With high expectations I waited with anticipation for June 1st to arrive so that I could find out a bit more about this new e-cigarette that purports to be fundamentally different from other vapor products on the market. My Juul arrived in the mail last Thursday on the the 4th of June, two days after the most recent FDA hearings on vapor products were held. Interesting timing......

So what makes the Juul stand in its own class apart from other 1st, 2nd, and 3rd generation e-cigarettes? Is it the hardware itself? Yes, the hardware is different aesthetically in that its looks more like a usb drive than an e-cigarette. Some critics may write is off as just another cigalike, albeit with a different shell. This is no cigalike. The only common trait that the Juul shares with your corner store bought cigalike is its size and pre-filled clearomizers, er, I mean pods. The juice is truly what makes Juul special.

So what is so unique about Juul juice?

From the Juul website:

Unlike other vapor products, JUUL is the only system that uses the nicotine salts found in leaf tobacco - the natural state of nicotine - rather than free-base nicotine. This makes a huge difference in how nicotine is absorbed by the body, which is crucial for a satisfying vapor experience.

Without nicotine salts, average vapor products (like e-cigarettes) can only accommodate about half of JUUL’s nicotine strength - much less than what’s in your average cigarette. For us smokers, this leaves something to be desired.

JUUL’s nicotine salts allow you to quickly vaporize an amount of nicotine that is closer to what you’d normally receive from a cigarette - 1-2mg of nicotine per 10 puffs.

One may, depending on their own view on what constitutes harm reduction, either love or hate the idea of manipulating e-juice to deliver nicotine more like that of an analog cigarette. No one can argue, however, that the Juul does not indeed stand in a class of its own amongst its peers. Personally, I have no moral qualms about saying that I believe this to be a great idea, especially if it gets more smokers (ie., the ones who don't want to "quit", but would like to quit the bad constituents generated from combustion) to switch over to vaping entirely. Yes, there are health conscious smokers. Some of them even drink wheatgrass on occasion, but back to the point at hand: more innovation = less damage done by the "act" of smoking. It is not the act of smoking that kills so many people after all, it is the smoke.


  • 2X nicotine strength and 3X vapor quantity of leading vapor products-
  • Liquid-to-wick system ensures thick, consistent, flavorful vapor-
  • Easy to use - no buttons or switches, simply insert pod into device and draw-
  • Sophisticated temperature control and smart battery life light indicator-

So is what PAX labs says true, or is it a bunch of hooey marketing that is devoid of any real substance?

From my personal experience over the course of the last week, I would have to say that the claims made by PAX Labs are not merely marketing hyperbole. Juul delivers nicotine at a quicker rate as promised. It is thus, more like a true analog cigarette with regards to the rate of delivery.

What is interesting for me is that I don't inhale (I haven't inhaled ever since I started vaping with the modelTwo and the PAX almost two years ago) and the Juul appears to be working quite well for me, despite the fact that the Juul is obviously designed for the smoker that inhales.

It is closer to a cigarette in that it is less alkaline. Cigarette smokers may appreciate this option in an e-cigarette, and I suppose that is the point. Nevertheless, it worked so well for me on one recent morning that I found that there was a bit more of a spring in my step, and a bit earlier (I'm a slow riser) than what is normal for me. In other words, I got that nicotine kick. I had the same experience today and what is interesting is that now some 6 hours later, I feel no real drastic drop off or mid-day lull making me want to "compulsively" "smoke" more. So at least for me, there goes the notion that nicotine coupled with benzoic acid makes one want to vape more.

According to numerous studies on smoking with regards to technique, most smokers tend to self-titrate according to individual needs. This is the main theory on why "light" (ie., low nic/low tar) cigarettes are no better than a full strength cigarette when it comes to risk. Everyone is different. Depending on the inhale, the Juul can accommodate the lightest to heaviest smoker without any increase in tar because there is no tar. Proponents of health should be rejoicing!

What about the flavor(s)? Juul pods come in four different flavors:

Juul Pods

  • fruut
  • tabaac
  • miint
  • bruulé

As a tobacco person I'm a tough sell. I liked all of the flavors at first, but not as much I had anticipated. That was at first impression. Realizing that the Juul is meant to be more like a cigarette, and it is, I decided to change my draw technique by partially covering the two air holes that are placed one on each side of the pod. The improvement in flavor was dramatic. That is what ultimately sold me on the Juul. In essence I found that less airflow brought out more flavor, which is good for me since I no longer inhale. When I tried that very same technique on an attempt to inhale it was too much. Leaving the air-holes uncovered produces an airier draw which creates an experience that is closer to that of a real cigarette. The individual smoker can decide on what works best for them. I don't know if that is what Juul's designers had intended, but it is brilliant in the sense that it really does offer something for every type of smoker. So far, I tend to go back and forth between the tabaac and the bruulé (my fav) the most, though the fruut is also quite good. For those menthol lovers out there I would think that the miint harbors the potential to be a hit.

Another thing that I really like about the Juul is its size. I like the fact that I can switch out flavors on the go without having to sacrifice flavor and without having to carry around a bunch of extra gear around when I'm out and about. Apart from curiosity, one of the reasons that I bought a sub-ohm mod not too long ago was to see if I could find a vape that could compete with the modelTwo pods flavor-wise. While not the same as vaping real tobacco for me, I did find that the more powerful units tend to deliver flavor a bit better. For those who vape high-end mods for the flavor, rather than for the massive clouds, Juul may be a workable solution when on the go.

Though I still harbor a great enthusiasm for the potential of vaping real tobacco, I feel that this is yet one more step closer to the real thing. It is also why it is of paramount importance to urge the FDA to change the grandfather date on new and novel vapor products in addition to supporting our friends overseas should there be any hope of amending the EU's TPD. How can we realize the true potential of THR if innovation itself is banned de facto or otherwiese? The whole idea of THR is to develop low risk products that are attractive to smokers. That means that it is important to embrace new and novel vapor products such as the Juul.

PAX Labs has also released an upgraded version of its original dry leaf vaporizer the PAX quite appropriately called the PAX2.

I finally got around to purchasing a PAX2 a little over a month ago. Much like my experience with the Juul, I soon found out that finding your personal sweet spot is contingent largely upon the draw and the airflow. Packing it for the ultimate flavorable experience also depends on the type of tobacco used. Tobacco with a higher moisture content tends to taste better with less tobacco (a pinch) in the oven, whereas drier tobaccos can be packed in a bit more firmly without any obstruction to airflow. I attribute this to the improved functionality of the oven that is both deeper and more efficient at extracting constituents from the tobacco leaf as compared to the original PAX. What this translates into for me is that overall, less pipe tobacco = more flavor.

When I first received my PAX2 I was packing it firmly to the top. The result was little to no vapor or flavor. That's when I realized that what may be true for drier blends may not be true for many aromatic blends. I did try a drier pipe blend and that worked quite well when packed full, but the flavor on the aromatic when packed with less tobacco was just about as good as a modelTwo pod. Just a pinch is my new motto for the PAX2. That simple change in technique made all of the difference for me. This is now my go to vape at dinner time (apart from the modelTwo pods that I have left), when I'm enjoying a glass of red wine, or when I'm craving that true tobacco experience. The flavor that comes through with my hazelnut and MV1000 blend(s) is simply amazing! I did try stuffing some cigarette tobacco into the oven, and well, meh....not so tasty.

Here is a bit more info on the new PAX2:


  • Hassle-free cleaning and fewer maintenance requirements mean more time enjoying and less time with upkeep.
  • Narrower and deeper oven maximizes surface area, providing more draws per session and efficient use of oven contents.
  • Simple. No moving parts - and device includes two interchangeable, silicone mouthpieces for easy cleaning. No lubricant needed!
  • Lip Sensing technology that improves vapor production and ensures consistent plant matter temperatures.
  • Improved ease of charging through magnetic USB cradle; charge your PAX on the go!

  • 10 year warranty.

Four Heat Settings

  • 360F
  • 380F
  • 400F
  • 420F

My favorite temperature settings are 360F and 380F, settings one and two respectively. This is where the flavor comes out the most in my opinion. But again, it's all really comes down to personal preference.

There are also four colors to choose from. I chose the Flare of course!

The PAX2 comes with both a flat mouthpiece and a raised mouthpiece, both are an improvement upon the retractable mouthpiece that was designed for the original PAX. No longer is there the risk of that retractable mouthpiece flying out unexpectedly into a dark corner of a barroom or music venue floor somewhere. I've had that happen to me with the original, and it can be a frustrating experience trying to search around on a dark concert venue floor with the light provided by your cell phone.

Both the original and the PAX2 go into standby mode if you just leave it sitting idle for a bit, which preserves your tobacco for a longer and more relaxing vape.

At $280, the PAX2 dos not come cheap, but given its superior technology, portability, and warranty, I feel that it is an investment that is well worth it in the long run, especially if your goal is to switch away, not towards, smoking.

The dual user of the future...

Truth be told, there really is no PAX2 vs Juul with regards to quality. One is not better than the other, they are merely different. One is geared more towards the cigarette smoker who likes to inhale (though I no longer do) and the other is meant to be puffed on more like a pipe or a cigar without the smoke. One delivers nicotine more like a cigarette and the other delivers a warm and relaxing tobacco vapor for those times when one has the time to sit back, relax, and relish the experience and flavor of real tobacco in an un-hurried and relaxed environment. The PAX is also quite stealthy in the sense that it does not generate massive clouds. You can sit next to the most ardent anti-smoker and they'd be hard pressed to even notice that you were vaping. It is a neighborly vape.

PAX labs has made a "dual user" out of me, but not a dual user as currently defined in some circles. I am a dual user of vapor products. I would still be smoking if not for the release of the modelTwo a couple of years ago. I have since completely moved away from combustion without the want or need to go back, and although I am going to miss those modelTwo pods, I do believe that between the Juul and the PAX2, I have what I need to stay the course. I do believe that with every new THR development and discovery comes the potential to change our perceptions on what constitutes "dual use" in the not too distant future. I am proof of that.

PAX labs delivers as promised.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

City Of New Orleans Urges Citizens To Spy On One Another

You can't make this stuff up.

This is not satire. This is real:

The city encourages people filing complaints to include date- and time-stamped photographs documenting illegal smoking.

...and of course, this would include taking unwarranted photographs of vapers like myself..

What country is this again?

Have we fallen victim to a bad dream that just won't let us wake? No, says the bold-faced and brutal reality that thrusts itself upon what has fast become a definitive and waking moment:

There is nothing healthy about the trajectory of 21st century anti-smoking and anti-vaping fanaticism. In fact, it is fast becoming clear that it is incompatible with democracy itself. Don't believe me? Then just read the attached article below for proof of my accusation.

Democracy and health are synonymous entities. This is not a zero sum game, for neither can survive without the other. Both are suffering as a result.

How to report illegal smokers in New Orleans? City offers primer ahead of ban

Thursday, March 12, 2015

PAX Labs CEO Teases 'Fundamentally Different' E-Cigarette

PAX Labs (formerly known as Ploom) is at it again. Always on the cutting edge of vapor technology and THR, PAX Labs is setting out to prove that it understands what it takes to develop a satisfying vape. This is the company that is responsible for turning me into a former smoker, so naturally I am excited to find out more about anything new that they have to offer!


NEW YORK --The leaders of PAX Labs teased not one, but two upcoming new products from the San Francisco-based vapor manufacturer during a recent Wells Fargo “Tobacco Talk” Conference Call Series--an update to their heat-not-burn vaporizer and what they called a “game-changer” entrance into the electronic cigarette space.

The Pax 2 will retail for $280 (approximately $30 over the original Pax price point). 

“It’s a premium product,” said Bowen. “We’ve held to the premium position in the marketplace. This allows us to reinvest significantly, keeping our technology ahead of curve.”

Indeed, anything that I have ever tried from this company has been nothing other than top notch.

When it came to the company’s second product “announcement,” Bowen and Monsees were admittedly vague on the company’s yet-to-be-named e-cigarette product.

Though he couldn’t share a name, pricepoint or launch date, Bowen did promise that Pax’s offering is “an e-cigarette—but an e-cig that’s fundamentally different.

I am intrigued.

This is where things get really interesting:

Specifically, the engineers on Pax’s research and development team looked to solve the difference between how nicotine is delivered in a combustible cigarette versus an electronic cigarette.

“All the e-cigs on the market are basically using the same chemistry--nicotine in its pure form,” Bowen said. “If you look at cigarettes, what you find are nicotine salts: nicotine complexed with organic acid to form a salt. This was a huge discovery.”

Those salts, Bowen said, deliver nicotine in a vastly different way than the vaporization of liquid nicotine. From there, the company went to work reverse engineering the naturally forming nicotine salts from tobacco leaves to use in their electronic cigarette product.

“The result of this is really profound: a night and day difference,” said Bowen. “This new platform delivered, finally, a real cigarette experience.” 

This is a product that is ultimately going to change the nature of the e-cigarette industry,” Monsees said.

That's a pretty bold statement to make, but considering the source, I believe it. As a major fan of the original PAX and the modelTwo, I am looking forward to trying out any new product that comes from this novel and progressive minded company.

PAX Labs CEO Teases 'Fundamentally Different' E-Cigarette

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Action Alert! Defend the right to vape in Illinois!

From Julie Pisciotto via CASAA:


Wednesday March 4th

HB2404 will add vapor products to the Smoke Free Illinois Act

HB2404 restricts vaping like smoking cigarettes ONLY because the vapor looks like smoke

- Vapor is NOT smoke

- Vapor is not harmful like smoke

- Adding Vaping to this Act and inferring that the vapor is harmful 
IS Misleading Consumers about the relative harms

- Adding Vaping to this Act and inferring that the vapor is harmful 
WILL deter people from trying this less harmful alternative

Call members of the Consumer Protection Committee

Representative Thomas Bennett (R) 106th District
(815) 432-0106

Representative Avery Bourne (R) 95th District
(217) 324-5200

Representative Peter Breen (R) 48th District
(630) 403-8135

Representative Jerry F. Costello, II (D) 116th District
(618) 282-7284
and continue to call the following 2

Chairperson of the Committee
Representative Elizabeth Hernandez (D) 24th District
(708) 222-5240 
(217) 782-8173

Chairperson of the Committee
Representative Eddie Lee Jackson, Sr. (D) 114th District
(618) 875-9950
(217) 782-5951

Tell Your Story!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Support Lawsuit Against Govt Overreach by Audrey Silk

Please help if you can..and don't forget to share. Thanks in advance!

Click here to support Lawsuit Against Govt Overreach by Audrey Silk

This might sound like it's about smoking but it's much more than that.  It's about protecting everyone's interests against government encroachment where, by law, it ought not be.
When government bureaucracies are allowed to get away with breaking the law, it's the law itself that suffers and, next thing you know, it will 'only' be about some activity you enjoy or some group you belong to."

In May 2012 the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation announced it had taken unilateral action to ban smoking in state parks and beaches without benefit of legislation.

The problem with that was not that a smoking ban in state parks was illegal. Rather, it was that the Office of Parks had exceeded its authority -- that the ban was imposed by bureaucratic fiat, not legislated law, and on that basis alone, was unconstitutional.

In fact, the New York State legislature has repeatedly declined to pass this specific law for over a decade, as proposed by both houses. At least nineteen bills have been rejected. The Office of Parks, therefore, not only exceeded its administrative mission, not only assigned itself legislative powers, butin fact went against the legislature's will.

My organization, NYC Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment (C.L.A.S.H. ), sued on those grounds. We won .

They appealed.  They won .  Sigh.  

C.L.A.S.H. is now in the process of filing the next appeal. But C.L.A.S.H. is cash poor. In fact, in the interest of total transparency, the last round  was almost entirely paid for with the private money of its founder, moi,Audrey Silk.  This shouldn't be when the benefit is the protection of all against the whims of unelected officials.  No one's civil liberties are safe if this is allowed to go unchecked. 

Worse yet are instances where government bullies you out of defending yourself when challenged by them simply because you can't afford legal representation. The government then has the nerve to describe it to the media as a "success of [our] lawsuit" as if the case was heard in court.

A favorable outcome reaches beyond the borders of New York state in that this will send a message to non-legislative bodies in jurisdictions across the country that might contemplate doing the same that they cannot violate the rule of law and to step back. 

C.L.A.S.H.'s Attorney Brett Joshpe has said, "This is another example of government run amok in our society. Unelected officials simply cannot create substantive laws and restrict peoples' freedom without appropriate legislative authority. Democracy is as much about process as it is about results, and this is a flagrant abuse of process that we will not allowto go unchecked."

No matter what state you live in, no matter if you smoke or don't smoke, your donation to this legal fund is an investment in your own right to be free from lawless governance.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Thoughts on The New Orleans Smoking Ban Hearings-

For those of you that are unaware, there is a wide reaching ordinance being proposed  by New Orleans Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell that would ban smoking and all forms of vaping virtually everywhere in the city, inside and out.  There has already been talk of amendments amongst council members, but that is not what I am going to talk about in this post. What I want to share is my experience and observations on what took place at the two town hall sessions before the council’s Community Development Committee on Weds., Jan. 7th and on Weds., Jan. 14th.

Round One…..

Hearing #1 took place at 10 am in the morning. The first thing that I noticed upon arriving was the number of people in attendance. The place was packed to capacity and many people were not allowed in to listen or to fill out a speaker card.  I took a quick glance around the room and I immediately noticed that the room had been divided into three factions, one with smoke and vape-ban  proponents  heavily armed with t-shirts calling for a smoke free New Orleans. Smoke and vape ban opponents were identifiable by stickers provided by  Freedom To Choose Nola .  There was a sizable pro-vape ban contingent that brandished “I am not a smoker…..anymore!” t-shirts that lined the back wall and portions of the adjacent wall. I chose to sit amongst the 2nd group.

The first segment of the hearing was allotted to a panel of health industry lobbyists that took up a good portion of the 1st hour, leaving the public only one minute to speak per person in the remaining hour. All three factions had an impressive turnout, but a quick glance around the room told me that there were more opponents than proponents of the ban; and that’s not bad considering the amount of time, preparation, and money that is often afforded to pro-ban campaigners. Passing bans around the country is their job after all, and they’re quite good at it.  Each panelist went on about the dangers of 2nd hand smoke and the need to protect employees from exposure in the workplace. When the panel (there were no detractors) was finally finished the public was invited (one by one) to speak.

My first observation was that ban proponents were well organized. They stayed with the uniform message of protecting workers and musicians from 2nd hand smoke while making it a point to wax quixotic on the new(er) danger of “passive aerosol”.  They had the head of the Musician’s Union (of which I was briefly a member) Deacon John, musician Irvin Mayfield (who owns a smoke-free venue on Bourbon St.), the head of the local Musician’s Clinic, smoke-free volunteers, and a small smattering of smoke-free bar owners all calling for a smoke free New Orleans. Presumably, the latter group was merely in it just to “level the playing field”. Though not in attendance physically, even the local radio station has been campaigning with them ( band was scheduled to do an on air performance a few months back...we were cancelled by management and  never asked back…Coincidence? I can’t prove it, but I believe that there is a price to disagreeing with smoke ban proponents) via on-site ads and sponsored smoke-free shows. Never mind the fact that most live music venues in New Orleans, save for Bourbon St. (and there are even smoke-free venues there), are already smoke-free.  The more trendy and upscale Frenchmen St. is currently about 95% smoke free. I only know of one venue there that allows smoking. Oh, and God bless him, they even had a minister get up and speak in favor a smoke free NOLA. I am sure that he is the type to frequent bars, live music venues and drinking establishments.

Listening to the pro-ban side and realizing the amount of power attached to it, my heart sank knowing the risk that I’d be taking as a local musician by speaking out against this ban, but I choose to speak out anyhow; it’s the way that I’m wired. I’ve never liked it much when other people tried to tell me how I lived my life. The first song that I ever sang in a band was a Who cover song….’nuff said.

Those opposed to the ban in its entirety were comprised of local casino representatives, local bar and casino workers (and there were a lot of them), an owner of several bars on Bourbon St., residents of the Quarter, and as far as I could tell, one lone musician: me. Even though I know musicians against that are the ban, I was the only musician to SPEAK out against the ban that day. There were quite a few people in our amalgamated and loosely aligned group of ban dissidents. In fact, it appeared to the eye that there were more us than “them”. Why didn’t more musicians speak out against the ban? My only guess would be that getting up there in front of so many powerful people can be quite an intimidating experience, especially in a climate where many of your potential employers are supportive of the opposition. Disagreeing with the establishment can be a scary thing when gigs and money are already scarce.

Our group was nothing like the more organized pro ban group that occupied the left side of the chamber.  We had no professional lobbyists speaking on our behalf, no formal welcome committee, and no real organization. We each got up to tell our story (in one minute) on how and why we had come to oppose the ban. The reasons given varied from being about the potential for lost job and tourist revenue, lost revenue for the state (and thus, for the state police), lost freedom, lost private property rights,  a loss of social cohesion and diversity, and the catastrophic loss of the laissez-faire attitude that New Orleans has come to be known and loved for. There was no one on our side to contest the “settled science” on 2nd hand smoke or the “dangers” of aerosol/vapor, save for me of course. My years (about 7 now) of reading and conducting research on the science and politics of smoking (and now vaping) bans have afforded me the luxury of coming across some  potent  and  valuable information  that calls the “settled science” of decades past into question. This is what I attempted to base the first 30 seconds of my time speaking on, with the remainder of my time spent on questioning why they would want to ban vapor products that harbor the potential to save lives.  I showed them my Ploom tobacco vaporizer and I told them that this is what helped me to transition away from smoking entirely. I also told them how I had used it in a crowded non-smoking bar on Frenchmen St. and how no one had even noticed that I was doing so until a couple of patrons saw me partaking in the hand to mouth motion, of which one made it a point to marvel at the brilliance of the technology. The point that I was trying to make was that clearly my little vapor pipe is annoying to no one, not even in a non-smoking venue, so why ban it? I mentioned how vapor technology has the potential to save lives. I closed by saying that I oppose the ban in its entirety and that I supported the right of the property owner to choose between being a smoking or non-smoking establishment.  I wanted to say more, but that was it: minute up.

Then came the e-vapers with their “I am not a smoker….anymore” t-shirts. As a vaper myself, I have to say that I was quite pleased to see them there…..more for the side of freedom I thought…As a proponent of harm reduction, I have to admit that I felt a sense of pride for them. Then one by one, vaping proponents took to the podium and proceeded to side with the pro-ban side by expressing their distaste of smoking and all things tobacco (I vape tobacco..I also have a couple of mods, but whatever…). I was mortified. They had thrown smokers (many of whom are musicians and my friends) under the bus.  How could they have become so judgmental I wondered? Truth be told, only a few vapers had the chance to speak at the first session. No worries I thought, for surely the remaining vapers in the room would speak out on behalf of freedom of choice in the next round. 

The pro-ban side began throwing in its two cents (mostly coming from health advocates) on how vapor should also be banned. The look on the faces of vaping advocates was pure astonishment, and rightfully so, for the same trusty strategy used against smokers was now being used on vapers. They/we were now getting thrown under the bus with the smokers. The clock hit 7:00 pm on the wall and the first session was over, much to the protest of many vapers who did not get the chance to speak. There were shouts of protest and a few vaping advocates were ejected from the room.  The representative from the ALA was allowed to speak a SECOND time giving her the last word of the evening. Then the committee voted 3/2 to bring the ordinance, with amendments (more on the amendments as they become clear to me), to a vote before the entire council, but not before holding one more “open” public discussion to allow for more public “debate”.

Round Two……

Weds., January 14th @ 5:00 pm marked the beginning of the 2nd Town Hall discussion on Councilwoman Cantrell’s proposed ban on smoking and vaping in New Orleans.

Expecting another packed house, I arrived early. As expected, the pro-ban side had their army of ban proponents there before everyone else. It didn’t look good I thought as I sat there on the opposite side of the room anticipating the arrival of more like minds. Then much to my relief, more and more people began to fill up the chairs around me. Once again there was also a sizable group of vapers in the room by the time the session was about to get underway, but not as many as the week prior. In the end it appeared to my eye that the room had about an equal amount of pro and anti-ban proponents, along with the vapers, who tried to remain autonomous from the first two groups. This time there was an allotment of two minutes, rather than one, for each speaker.  The room was divided roughly into three factions, just as it had been the week before, with the exception of some loosely integrated pockets.

On the fence about whether to fill out a speaker card for a 2nd time, I took the liberty of speaking once more. What the hell, I figured, I might as well try to finish what I couldn’t squeeze in the week prior. One minute was not nearly enough time to get my point across the last time, and I have since learned that neither is two. It takes a special set of skills to make a case about something in two minutes, but I’m learning.

Each side had roughly the same message as the week prior, save for some new and novel arguments relating to wild and far reaching claims about the dangers of 3rd hand smoke,  and the possible use of cannabis in e-cigs.  There was even reference made to the idea that e-cigarettes could be used for crack cocaine. There was also a fear that vaping could serve to “re-normalize” smoking (courtesy of the ALA representative). Ban proponents therefore made a special effort to focus on the demonization of e-cigarettes and aerosol.  “E-cigarette aerosol is filled with formaldehyde, diethylene glycol, and tobacco specific nitrosamines..” cried one ban proponent. Vaping enthusiasts were not thrilled, and neither was I.  I could see them shaking their heads in utter disbelief at the exaggerations being put forth by various health proponents. Ban proponents even brought in Louisiana Democratic Party Chairwoman Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans) to speak in favor of the comprehensive ban:

"I’m hopeful that next Thursday you get the support you need to make New Orleans and its citizens healthier,” she said. “This ordinance is a critical instrument in fighting for healthier air for all of us.”

OK, why is the government lobbying government to take away the rights of its own constituents I wondered? I thought that this was supposed to be a forum for the RESIDENTS and BUSINESS owners of New Orleans! How does a community defend itself from regulatory overreach when its own government is lobbying against the very constituents that it is supposed to represent? Furthermore, aren’t our representatives supposed to represent ALL of the people? Quickly I began to realize how futile my argument was. The decision likely had already been made.

They even brought in a pediatrician to speak on the danger that 3rd hand smoke poses to children when their parents come home with the smell of smoke on their clothes after being in a smoking allowed bar. No, I am NOT making that part up. He really said that 3rd hand smoke is dangerous and that "the children" need to be protected from it. In addition, there was one woman who howled into the microphone that she felt sick because she could smell the smoke on the clothes of the woman sitting next to her. “I feel like someone has just shot Novacaine into my nose” she howled. No. I am not making that part up either. Suspicious minds think that she merely had an aversion to sitting next to anyone on our side of the room that harbored an alternative opinion different to her own. She and her significant other proceeded (after her speech) to pick up their things and move to the center of the chambers…..where it was at least 1/2  full with smoke and vape ban opponents. Frustrated, she and her significant other picked up their things and left.

On Vapers and Quasi ANTZ Support..

I would like to conclude this post by saying this:

For those who are not familiar with the tactics of anti-tobacco campaigners, much of what I have described thus far should come off as being quite shocking. I have to admit that many of the claims made by anti-tobacco and anti-nicotine campaigners still continue to shock the hell out of me to this day; however, what really stunned me the most was when one after another, vaping advocates proceeded to side with anti forces, often clapping their hands and nodding in agreement with many of the claims made by pro ban speakers. WTF? How can they believe all of the lies about 2nd hand/3rd hand smoke and the “10 gazillion chemicals” in tobacco smoke and then in the same breath (pun intended) act surprised when the very same people exaggerate the risks from “passive vaping”? How could they be so blind I wondered? Even if we do manage to get vapor products exempted from this proposed ban, don’t they realize that the prohibitionists are masters of incremental subjugation with only one end game in mind? I realize that many vapers feel that they need to separate vaping from smoking. I get that. Vaping is NOT smoking. However, as a vaper myself I surmise that throwing smokers, service industry workers, and private business owners under the bus will only serve to leave us standing all alone when they come back for us next year; and they WILL be back for us next year. Count on it. They are already on our front porch. Furthermore, for those vapers who loathe all things tobacco, I have one question:

Don’t you remember where you came from?

The fact that smokers are habitually thrown under the bus by the ANTZ is par for the course in our neo-healthist (the irony here is that I’m somewhat of a health nut myself, but whatever…) world.  It’s not “right” nor just to tell other people how to live their lives, but that is what we have come to expect from anti-smoking campaigners these days. What I didn’t anticipate was being sideswiped by fellow vapers, most of whom are former smokers like myself.  I understand the anger amongst some against (certain) tobacco companies for what appears to be an  effort to put many independently owned vape shops out of business, but how does directing your ire towards the people that you are purporting to care about help our cause? Why take out your anger, however direct or indirect, on smokers and other small business owners like yourself? That’s what the ANTZ do. We don’t need to perpetuate the lies and exaggerations of 2nd hand smoke in order to demonstrate that vaping is not smoking when the science is already clear on that.  Why not focus on the bigger picture?

The Lesson Learned…..

The cause of freedom is not contingent upon the wants of one faction over another; that is the game that the ANTZ use to take freedoms from ALL of us. In any war the first casualty is truth. First they come for me, then they come for you.  No one wins in such an environment. This is not a zero sum game. Freedom and the overall message of harm reduction are synonymous with one another.  Selling out for short term gain equates to long term loss for everyone and on a multitude of levels.  Unfortunately, there are some people out there that think that it’s their job to take away the people’s freedom.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Sign The Petition | Freedom to Choose NOLA!

Hello and Happy New Year to all.

Sadly, there is no time to rest for the "wicked".

For those of you who have either come to let loose in New Orleans in the past and for those of you who plan to come for a holiday in the future, there is a proposed ban in New Orleans that would virtually ban all smoking and vaping pretty much anywhere within the city, indoors and out.

Please sign the petition linked below. Thank you in advance!

 Sign The Petition | Freedom to Choose NOLA!


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