Up In Vapor

By Bill Maher

There was a big Senate hearing recently about e-cigarettes and whether their ads are designed to appeal to children and what should be done about it.

It's a reasonable question, because Big Tobacco is now investing in e-cigs in a big way, and they are a historically scummy industry that always strove to get 'em while they’re young. In fact, Altria, the fine folks who brought you Marlboro, recently decided to run with “Let It Glow” as the tagline for their MarkTen e-cig. Which is a pretty obvious reference to the mega-hit “Let It Go” from Disney's “Frozen.”

I'm not against banning obviously kid-centric advertising here. After all, nicotine is an addictive drug. And a pretty shitty one at that – its most noticeable effect on most people is that it makes you want to have more of it. Fiending for a substance you’re addicted to is bad, but for a substance that doesn’t even really get you high? That’s criminal!

But beyond that, the current hysteria over e-cigs seems premature. Yes, it's an exploding $2.5 billion industry that will eventually be ruled by Big Tobacco, but so what? 

All over the country, state governments are imposing limits on where when and how you can buy and use e-cigs. Which makes little sense. By any banned-substance standards, it’s cigarettes that do no known good and cause massive harm.

E-cigs, though… we just don't know. The FDA and thousands of scientists are currently looking into it, and that's almost all that can be definitively said at this point. And in law, as in baseball, a tie ought to be given to the runner, not the defense. Because, you know, freedom. The FDA is almost certainly going to have to regulate how e-cigs are made, but that's what the FDA is for – keeping us just slightly less wretchedly sick than we otherwise might be.

Look, I wouldn't smoke 'em. Not until there's some good science, and not even after that, because nicotine sucks and a quick look around LA proves that smoking e-cigs has the power to turn hipster douchebags into hipster megadouchebags. But the presumption of guilt until proven innocent isn't how we do things in America. Though it is how we do things at Guantanamo Bay.