Vapid thinking about the vaping problem is shown in a seven-author Research Letter in an online publication of the Journal of the American Medical Association called Network Open (2 April 2021). Six of the authors are Doctors of Philosophy and one has a Master of Science degree. (It’s part of the PATH study about which I’ve written before.)
The ponderous title, which tells you all, or rather, nothing, is: Interest in Quitting e-Cigarettes Among Adult e-Cigarette Users With and Without Cigarette Smoking History.
Dear reader, note the word ‘Interest’. This mental state is qualified in the Conclusion of the Letter with the word ‘eventually’, thus: ‘A majority of e-cigarette users expressed interest in eventually quitting vaping.’
Now, suppose you were to take a random sample of vapers and ask them, ‘Do you have an interest in eventually quitting vaping?’ what would the majority say? I think we can take it that the majority would, indeed, say they have an interest in eventually quitting, or words to that effect.
The road to hell
But what does this mean, if anything? Were the vapers surveyed in this study on the road to hell, which is paved so invitingly with good intentions? Perhaps they were, in which case it seems we might paraphrase the proverb to say the road to hell is paved with an interest in having good intentions.
Or were these vapers like St Augustine, who in his Confessions relates that he prayed, ‘Lord, make me chaste—but not yet!’ The venerable Saint was praying to be relieved, eventually, merely of his naughty thoughts, but today’s vapers, if we continue the religious analogy, are doing something far worse. They are desecrating the temple of God by sucking poison into their lungs: ‘Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy: for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.’ (1 Corinthians 3: 16-17)
Readers of my other posts will not be surprised by my pointing out that the idea of interest in eventually quitting vaping is meaningless. No—it’s worse than meaningless: it’s a statement of the vapers’ attitude that they have no intention to cease inhaling a nicotine-laced aerosol at any time in the foreseeable future. In other words, those who have quit vaping, have quit; those who have an interest in eventually quitting, vape on!
And that minority of e-cigarette users who express no such interest are in exactly the same situation, except they’re being more honest.
The Discussion continues: ‘A limitation of the present analysis is that the anticipated timeframe for discontinuing e-cigarettes is unknown.’ And they call this a limitation? If they don’t even know this, though it seems the study wasn’t designed to answer such a question, then what good was it? Well, they have an answer to that, sort of: ‘There is an urgent need for development of interventions to help individuals quit vaping…’
What more futile summary of the whole pointless exercise could you have? There is, apparently, not just a need, but an urgent (!) need, for [the] development of interventions to help individuals quit vaping!
And how, I wonder, can one develop interventions to help individuals quit vaping? If they left some of the words out we might be a little further ahead. How about this: There is a need to help individuals quit vaping. Indeed there is, but how can it be achieved?
Perhaps the learned Doctors and the one Master of Science who co-authored this paper could put their minds to the question for their next publication.
After all, in their own words, the need is urgent!
Text © Gabriel Symonds