Surgeon general’s warning: E-cigarettes make leftists crazy

In April 2016, the British Royal College of Physicians published a study vindicating the public health value of e-cigarettes as a safer alternative to smoked tobacco.  Demonstrating that e-cigarettes function as an effective aid to quitting smoking and are used “almost exclusively by confirmed smokers,” the report recommends that they be promoted as a healthier substitute to tobacco-containing cigarettes.

On this side of the pond, however, where the politicization of science continues under the patronage of the Obama administration, leftists are willfully misrepresenting the use of e-cigarettes or vaping (so termed because the user inhales water vapor) as a gateway to tobacco smoking.

In recent years, Democrats in Congress have been waging an aggressive regulatory assault on the sale of e-cigarettes.  In this mission, they have found an ally in Big Pharma, which favors stringent regulations on vaping because its Nicotine Replacement Therapy products (gums and patches) are struggling to compete against e-cigarettes in the market.  At the state level, too, legislators are following the example of Washington, D.C.  For example, the Democrat-controlled state legislature in the kooky leftist enclave of Vermont genuflected and passed a 92% tax on e-cigarettes this year.  It is worth noting that the 2016 session almost resulted in Vermont becoming the first state to legalize marijuana through legislative action.  Ironic, much?  Not if you consider the real motive behind the leftist opposition to vaping.

Since the early twentieth century, Hollywood positioned the cigarette as the quintessential emblem of white American masculinity – rugged, reliable, and rebellious.  Describing how he began his decades-long dalliance with smoking, veteran actor Kirk Douglas wrote, “At that time everyone smoked, and the cigarette was the favorite movie prop.”  The cigarette was ubiquitous on the American screen by the 1950s, when Philip Morris Companies Inc. (now Altria Group) launched its iconic Marlboro Man campaign.  The Marlboro cigarette-smoking cowboy was depicted as a tough workman with the pioneer spirit of the Wild West and seductive charm.  The enormous success of the campaign set a lasting example for tobacco advertising in the U.S., and in effect, it made the product synonymous with an aspirational brand of American masculinity – the kind that the postmodern left despises.

The white American patriarch has been traditionally understood as an independent man who provides for his family and contributes in meaningful ways to his community without any desire for intervention from the state.  Consequently, such a figure frustrates the leftist project to create a population of isolated, confused, fragile, and dependent subjects who would willingly submit to an all-powerful government.  Because he refuses to embrace the “psychopathic brilliance” (as Norman Mailer put it) of moral nihilism, gender relativism, sexual perversion and promiscuity, and general irresponsibility encouraged by the left, the Great White Male and his insignia – here, the electronic twin of the cigarette – are vilified at every turn in mainstream culture.

Therefore, don’t be fooled when the left bemoans the ills that could ensue should the e-cigarettes entice teenagers and pregnant women to take up tobacco smoking.  These are crocodile tears.  Indeed, the left’s contention on the basis of alleged heath concerns is entirely inconsistent with its support of marijuana legalization and serving alcohol to pregnant women in public places.  Moreover, Democrats like California senator Barbara Boxer who denounce the e-cigarette as a delivery system for nicotine paradoxically also support the provision of clean hypodermic needles to heroin and other intravenous drug abusers as a form of harm reduction.

Plainly, leftists are not concerned with scientific studies on the benefits of e-cigarettes.  Rather, they are obsessed with undermining the historic symbolism and narratives surrounding traditional American masculinity.  This is why the surging popularity of e-cigarettes makes them crazy.

Meg Hansen directs the political communications of the Vermont House Republican Caucus.  Her writing can be found at