A puff of magical non-smoke

There’s a dealer in e-cigarettes down the road about a mile. Their presence affects me not a whit. Now there’s another one about two miles to the south, which apparently hired some seeming derelict to harangue smokers in the middle of the road last Wednesday, but that’s another story; still, apart from that bit of performance art, their presence affects me not a whit.

The half-whits in Los Angeles, meanwhile, would like to see such things banned, and there’s only one logical explanation for their behavior:

Primitive peoples who relied on magic rather than science to explain how the world works often believed in what is known as “sympathetic magic” — the idea that if item A looks like item B, that means A either shares B’s traits or gives you actual power over B… And belief in sympathetic magic appears to be enjoying a renaissance among those who oppose “e-cigarettes” or “e-cigs,” basically on the grounds that a battery-operated metal tube emitting water vapor looks like a burning tobacco cigarette emitting cancerous smoke, ergo it must have the same disease-inducing power as said tobacco cigarette, right?

Or at least deserves the same stigma. Consider this week, when the Los Angeles City Council voted to treat e-cigs exactly as regular cigarettes by banning the use of e-cig water vapor wherever tobacco smoke has already been banned.

Then again, this is Los Angeles, where the highest-paid representatives of the city’s best-known industry spend much of their spare time complaining about income inequality. There’s got to be some supernatural explanation for that.



  1. Tatyana »

    16 March 2014 · 4:49 pm

    Them and Gov. Christie, of all people..

  2. Dan Tobias »

    16 March 2014 · 6:31 pm

    I’ll eat cake with green frosting to substitute for green vegetables, thanks. Or does sympathetic magic not work there?

  3. McGehee »

    16 March 2014 · 8:54 pm

    Well, Democrats are elected by voting. And Republicans are elected by voting.

    There may be something to this parallel magic thing after all.

  4. fillyjonk »

    18 March 2014 · 9:48 am

    I’ve thought some about this issue. I think one of the problems is that in the past however-many years, because it’s been unacceptable to smoke cigarettes in certain settings (for example, a college classroom: apparently when my parents were in school, it was okay, if considered a little gauche), it’s hard to go “backwards” and re-allow e-cigarettes in.

    (Personally, I would be very taken aback by a student using one of them in my class; I’d consider it disrespectful. But then again, I consider people texting during my class disrespectful).

    I think the problem is, as I said, going back. I wouldn’t have an issue with sitting down in a restaurant where people were vaping, though I admit when I saw the vapor my first thought would be “Are they actually smoking? Do I want to stay here?” – I have allergies that make me miserable in the presence of cigarette smoke, so I just don’t go places where people are smoking.

    Do we want to do a blanket, “Whereever it was okay to smoke in, say, 1958, it’s now okay to use an e-cigarette?” or what?

    FWIW, my campus has banned e-cigarettes.

  5. Stop blowing smoke up my ass. | Heh. Indeed. »

    22 March 2014 · 7:15 am

    [...] This business with e-cigs being treated the same as good old-fashioned cigarettes has got me more than a little annoyed. Part of it is no doubt a crusade against anything anybody enjoys; the rest is most likely that they haven’t figured out how to tax the hell out of the things yet. Not to mention a generous sprinkle of superstitious nonsense… [...]

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