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Electronic cigarettes are an idea whose time has not come

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The opinions expressed here are my own, and do not reflect the attitude or outlook of anyone else. Anywhere. Ever.

I am a reformed smoker. I started at 15. Twenty-some years later, lying in a hospital bed with double pneumonia and an oxygen tube up my nose, I vowed to quit. In those days, there were no aids for quitting, so it was just me and the withdrawal. It was incredibly hard. I was hooked like a mackerel, and it was only my stubbornness that kept me off the things.

So now they have come up with another form of idiocy (again, my opinion) in the form of an electronic cigarette. It is battery-powered, and is shaped like a cigarette or a cigar or a ballpoint pen. (I’m not kidding!) The cigarette-looking version has a mouthpiece that looks like a filter, a white tube, and an end that glows when you puff on it.

It is a nicotine delivery system. You load the thing with liquid nicotine, which is heated when you puff on it, and it emits a vapor that you can inhale and then blow out of your mouth or nose just like a real grown-up.

The new devices are being marketed as a smoking cessation tool, like nicotine gum and patches. However, the continued nicotine addiction may make them much harder to put down.

E-cigarettes come in flavors. You can get them in coffee or mint or orange or strawberry or vanilla or caramel. Of course, they are not being marketed to anyone under the age of 18. Of course not.

Nicotine is used in rat poison. Nicotine causes chemical burns on the skin. The liquid has already killed several children who were attracted by the flavors. And you really want to inhale this stuff?

Jim Nelson is a former Glenwood Springs resident who works with regional and national cardiovascular and lung organizations.