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ALEX HARROLD: We're not going to vape it

Alex Harrold
Alex Harrold - SaltWire File Photo

Wisdom may come with age, but so many other things that come along with it, you may find it difficult to filter out the wisdom from the mass of confusion, surprise, and outright objection to the direction life seems to be going.
We should be able to use wisdom gained from one problem to apply it to any similar problems that arise, particularly when the new problem and the old problem have such similar properties. If both problems are unhealthy, bad habits, avoiding the new problem should be easy.
As an example, the subject of vaping came up several columns ago, but was sidestepped in favour of butterflies in winter, which sounds like that could be an age-related issue, too. It wasn’t. Vaping is a relatively new societal problem invented by classless, faceless people intent on continuing to make a profit from unhealthy vice choices other people make relative to smoking cigarettes. 
Once it became general knowledge that smoking can lead to a painful and disfiguring death, the purveyors of death-producing products found a new and fashionable chemical way for the public to continue to experience the apparent joy associated with sucking up a lung full of different chemicals that look like harmless vapour. And, wouldn’t you know, many of our restless and rebellious youth have taken up the habit; it’s just that cool. Being cool shouldn’t trump dangerous chemical absorption.
There were some figures recently released to let us know just how much of a growing problem among young people vaping has become. Vaping in high school-aged children has grown by four times since 2010, resulting in 20 per cent of kids in that age group admitting to vaping. Even more startling, if it can be said, a similar increase among middle school-aged children since 2010 suggests that five per cent of that group are also now vaping. 
Kids might be forgiven if they mistakenly believe vaping is harmless and they think they’re just engaging in some cool thing their parents don’t want them to do. But really, is it going to take 20 more years of studies to reach the same conclusions about vaping that we already know about smoking? It just seems like a good opportunity to ferret out some of that wisdom we think we gained and then, actually apply it to an obvious solution. Or is society going in the direction that this is all OK?
This is where that filtering of experience process kicks in, trying to know if some of the changes taking place make sense. Somewhat related to vaping is the use of smokeless tobacco. It’s difficult to understand the pleasure one derives from putting a pinch of tobacco between their cheek and gum to suck on, only to have to spit out the material, usually into some type of container they require near them. But if that part is difficult, it’s impossible to understand why they would do that in the seat next to you in an airplane, and their container of choice is an empty see-through water bottle.
If you think that’s a fairly good example of a socially inappropriate faux pas, then you wouldn’t need to know that the 20-something young man engaged in this activity also felt it necessary to kick off his flip-flops and leave his feet bare for the full three and a half hour flight.
People used to actually dress up to fly. Women wore dresses. Men wore a coat and tie. Thankfully, we passed that era. However, if the new era means a generation of bare-footed, tobacco-spitting young people, it raises two questions about our years of observation: Was my generation of “anything goes” back in the '60s right to propose such an attitude and, if vaping, and bare feet and tobacco-spitting on a plane are new norms, where can I get off?
All the wisdom of the world doesn’t answer either question.

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