The Scrapbook neglected to follow its usual practice last week and had a look at the reader comments under an online New York Times article. The Times piece covered the growing popularity of so-called electronic cigarettes (which Ethan Epstein chronicled in these pages a few weeks back), noting that people are increasingly using the devices in public places like restaurants and bars. Unlike real cigarettes, e-cigs don’t contain tobacco and don’t emit carcinogenic smoke—they only expel water vapor—so they don’t cause any harm to nonusers.
This point appeared to be lost on the ninnies in the comments section though. “There is no god-given right to pollute the air someone else in the immediate area will be breathing,” fumed one. “I don’t care what people do, just don’t want any of their nasty vapors wafting my way,” said another. “It’s disappointing (not surprising) that these people are trying to glorify the use of nicotine,” said another, as if nicotine itself—rather than tobacco—were a particularly harmful substance. Another reader shared this confusion, braying, “What about second hand ‘smoke’ or whatever’s in the exhaled air? Unless 100% of the nicotine is absorbed by the user, some of it must become part of the ambient air. Surely this can’t be good?”
The same could be said for the comments on this article. Perusing them reminded The Scrapbook that while using e-cigarettes may not be, reading online comments is most definitely hazardous to your well-being.