The Electronic Cigarette – Puff the Magic Dragon
For those of you who smoke, kicking the habit may be the hardest thing you can ever imagine doing. Fear of weight gain associated, hunger pangs and cravings. Not to mention the psychological effects such as mild Depression or Sadness, Anxiety, Boredom and Loneliness – and a really, really short fuse
The crutch, as cigarette smoking is called, helps one to cope with stress. No wonder that these symptoms or even the stories of other smokers trials and tribulations break the resolve of many a would-be quitter. Even Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, quit smoking in 2008 only to fall back in the rut in 2010
For the record, I do not smoke, muchless consume alcohol. Growing up in a very religious Sabbath keeping background, even in my days working at C&W as a NMT (Network Maintenance Technician) in early 2001 to when I parted company via redundancy in 2004, I interacted with many an addict, as it was their only way to cope with the abnormally low wages of a Telecom Provider that was making big bucks pre-Telecom Sector Liberalization up to 1998. My addiction is gadgets, reading, writing and the Internet – so you know I am a Generation X’er!
Now this is all water under the bridge. International competition is now in Jamaica. Job layoff left, right and center in Jamaica since the Recession revealed itself official in 2008 in the United States. It hit Jamaica like a ton of bricks, affecting cash flows into the Government coffers coming from Tourism, our main driver of foreign exchange revenues, with Bauxite Mining ranging in a distant second, also reeling from the share drop in worldwide demand for aluminium.
Ironically, it is Remittances, the real big foreign exchange earner, “dal’az from far’ein” coming directly from relatives, that is keeping many a family afloat. Remittances which were down, now bouncing back – finally, according to according to a just released World Bank study entitled Migration and Remittances Factbook 2011! In a sense, a kind of bellwether as to the increasing probability of an early recovery?
The spike in revenues from Jamaica’s local Telecom Provider, sporting revenues increases of 6.5% year-on-year over 2009 of US$13.5 billion as reported by the OUR (Office of Utilities Regulation) are indications not of a recovering Economy but rather further evidence of unexplained cash within the Economy. Not the Formal Economy, but the Black Economy.
This Black Economy is mostly drug money, unpaid taxes and contract kickbacks, mainly from Government officials. The Great Depression of the 1920’s all over again. Like then as now, there was a flourishing trade in Tobacco, Cigarettes and Illegal Whiskey, more commonly called “Moonshine”, which kept the G-Men, predecessors of the Feds and the ATF (Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms), on the tail of the elusive Moonshine runners in the movie Moonshine Highway (TV 1996). Already the connection to smoking should be slowly revealing itself, dear reader!
The Jamaican Government knows this Black Economy connection. History is the teacher, as during this period of time, the amount of money in circulation from this unseen source increased. Hence the Government of Jamaica is going after tax delinquents and anyone who has been evading the Tax Net. Local Dancehall DeeJay Rodney Price, otherwise known by his nome de guerre Bounti Killa has thus far being the most high profile tax delinquent, with luxury vehicles of his being seized in early August 2010, along with several businessmen.
Thus no surprise that the Government of Jamaica has taxes alcohol, wines – and yes, cigarettes, a so-called “Sin” Tax. Your favorite pleasures, courtesy of history, are now carrying a higher tax, as the Government of Jamaica takes advantage of people more willing to lean on these luxury items as a crutch for their depression and lack of economic employment in our still weakened economy. Ditto for the Telecom Providers, now providers of 3G and 4G Internet, as most people cannot live without the Facebook or Internet fix – a benefit to the explosive growth of online Newspapers by the way!
So the rise of the electronic cigarette in France as chronicled by AFP Reporter Marie-Noelle Blessig is not a surprise, as albeit France is worlds away, the Recession’s effect is global, with Jamaica being used as mere reference and a snapshot of the Austerity Measures in place in the EU. Plus, the Electronic cigarette is little more than an over glorified steam generator, as it delivers the same dosage of the addictive nicotine without smoke inhalation – only with the pleasure of simulated smoking. Toss away those unattractive Nicotine patches and light one up for old time sake!
Reduced risk for the smoker and the Second Hand smoker, increasing the number of smokers who can safely kick the habit are obvious benefits. Pitfalls abound; the most obvious, as being as this is a tech gadget.
Thus it is only a matter of time later this year that some Boffins with a technical knack will modify this device and post a “hack” as to how to use liquid THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), the active ingredient in Marijuana (Cannabis Sativa) or even the mild legal drug salvia that Miley Cyrus seems to adore instead of nicotine. The market is just getting warmed up folks!
Apple, where are you with the Apple Puffs ?