Miscommunication is a fickle thing. To manipulate emotions, miscommunicating a specific message could be successful in stoking fear in the layperson.
Just like in any typical horror story, powerful entities utilize the fears of people to assert dramatic changes in life and belief. Through this dynamic principle of perceived fear and manipulative orchestration, we can draw parallels to the history of drug prohibition and how these happenings inform modern policy
Public health advocacy organizations hold a particular role in society. At least in the United States, groups like the American Heart Association or the American Medical Association serve in capacities that directly inform policymaking within Congress and the executive branch. Elsewhere, as is in the European Union, similar institutions lobby to positively impact public health among population groups.
When vaping became mainstream, the behavior presented itself to society as some alien being from another planet.
Tobacco control’s first contact with vaping was understandably divisive. Vaping has since become popular as not only a way to quit smoking, but as a cultural phenomenon.
Nicotine abuse is a very real condition. Most people still rely on cigarettes as their nicotine delivery system and they become dependent on using an extreme and deadly method. By consequence, vaping became the leading smoking cessation method for millions of people. Governments like in the U.K. and New Zealand recognize the harm reduction characteristics of nicotine vaping products. The global tobacco market additionally signals this belief which has ultimately prompted large tobacco companies to begin creating their own smoke-free products.
But, the real innovation comes from consumers and the thousands of dedicated people who choose to support the crowdsourced development of one of the 21st century’s key achievements in technology, public health, and consumer culture. Small to medium-sized businesses and their owners in over 100 countries around the world dedicate their lives to refining and advancing the act of vaping.
This Halloween, we ask all of our readers to reflect on how the stigmatization of your lifesaving behavior has impacted your life.
A term used often at this publication is “folk devils.” This term was developed by criminologist Stanley Cohen to describe the process of how moral panics impact public policy. Though the mission of the vaper is clearly for the benefit of protecting health through harm minimization, powerful entities have created the decade’s contemporary folk devils. In turn, this renewed crusade against an entire group of people feeds the trends of prohibition and the drug war.
Inadvertently, the scare tactics used to push people from nicotine also harm other at-risk groups who use through various mediums. In the United States alone, the use of menthol cigarettes is disproportionately high among communities of color. Members of the LGBT community additionally have high smoking rates, as do veterans, the mentally ill, and recovering hard drug users.
Why shouldn’t we make the use of nicotine safer?
The really scary thing about this Halloween is that this trend of “father-knows-best” policymaking is that it exists on both sides of the American political experience: Democrats, and Republicans.
We conclude with this thought: Every single person in the world uses some type of drug. Caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, THC, MDMA, various chemicals used as preservatives in foods, and so many other substances.
To say that we as a society should strive to be “drug-free” is absolutely absurd. It may be true that these “drug-free” advocates may discriminate against specific substances; however, the sentiment of living “drug-free” contributes to the artificial and undemocratic zeitgeist of paternalism.
To be “drug-free,” you must accuse. You must create a scapegoat. You must create fear that exaggerates an issue. You have to manufacture hysteria. This is the design of a folk devil.
Don’t become Snowball as Napoleon the pig stokes fear and lies on the Animal Farm.
Based on all of this, we don’t exaggerate when we say that being a scapegoat is truly a nightmare.
With that, stand up. We vape. We vote.
Editorial by Ghyslain Armand, chief editor (France), and Michael McGrady, public policy columnist (United States).
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