When I see you vaping, it makes me sad. / by Dan Mayer

For you, of course. Also for the world, in general, and a little bit for myself, but mostly for you. And here's why: You look like a little bit of a douchebag. Your display of reverse evolution doesn't have the pyrotechnic intensity of say... oh, I don't know... a drunken skinhead. Or even just a garden variety high speed tailgater. No, you sucking down your nicotine-laden water vapor just demonstrates a very limited sense of how to enjoy life. Such a lack of imagination is a too banal to even be considered a tragedy.

I used to smoke cigarettes. I loved it. I would still love it if it weren't so ridiculous. Everything about it was great, except for the fact that it made me slow and tired and brought me closer to a ghastly death than I otherwise would have been. If you've never smoked an actual cigarette, even a Newport, you can't possibly know how much your e-cig pales in comparison.

Perhaps puffing on your pretend choker will allow you to live longer than you would if you smoked a Lucky Strike. That seems likely. You might even get a similar level of endorphin activity. But you're missing the point of smoking, the real nugget of nitty gritty right at the center of the phenomenon. It isn't the nicotine that makes smoking so pleasurable. Nor is it the warm smoke filling your lungs on a cold morning, or the way it blends so perfectly with coffee, whiskey, or a post-coital daze. It's not even the flavor. These things contribute to why smoking is so compelling, but what really collects all those minor joys and amplifies them to such an exquisite degree is the fact that you know the fucking thing is killing you.

You know it's killing you, and that is what makes it so good. Whenever you smoke, you take all the incredible drama and horror and release of suicide, shave off a tiny sliver of it, and ingest it. You experience that tiny bit of death, and way deep down inside you're telling yourself that you own it. You've chosen it, this horrible flirtation with ruin. You're a rock star. You never meant to live that long anyway. Fuck it all.

Of course, that isn't true. You have wrongly perceived the reality of the situation, as I did, as all smokers do. You don't own any part of the experience except for the crushing, terrifying responsibility for attempting to undo it. Many smokers fail. Many of them die horribly. That doesn't matter when you're a kid and someone offers you a cigarette and you smoke it because you think you're immortal and that the rules don't apply to you. You are drawn to the cigarette as you are drawn to the opportunity to scorn death. Or you might just be extremely stupid.

So if you've never smoked tobacco, and an e-cigarette looks kind of good, rest assured that you're just being duped by some utterly merciless motherfucker who would just kill you with a gun if there was a profit to be had. The habit will prove to be bad, and you will eventually get sick, because there is no free lunch. Either way, you just look like an asshole. Not tough, or sophisticated, or however else you imagine yourself to look with your e-cig in your mouth. To me, and the other smokers and ex-smokers out there, you don't look like someone beating the system. You look like a post-modern hack who likes to waste money on a bad habit that just mimics an even worse and more poisonous habit.

Now, the one exception I'll make is for smokers of tobacco who are doing anything they possibly can to kick the habit. I can only wish you the best of luck. Do whatever it takes.