history, identity, politics

coffee and cloves

Today I heard (for the first time – where have I been?!) that the act Obama signed into law, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, will ban flavored cigarettes. This law gives the FDA power to regulate tobacco products, and one of the measures in the regulation process is to ban fruit-, candy- and spice-flavored cigarettes. This, of course, includes clove cigarettes. The ban takes effect today.

Although I have conflicted feelings about the ban, I am primarily a little sad. I smoked steadily from age 14 until about 27. Since then, I have had occasional periods of backsliding, but I have never smoked as consistently as I did when I was, say, in my early 20s.

But cloves – ahhh. Cloves were always something of a special treat for me. Even now, they’re the very rare exception to Donna’s personal ban on my smoking – she has said, on more than one occasion, that smoking is a dealbreaker for her, although she allows the very occasional clove during a camping trip.

I have always said they taste like Christmas: the spice sticks to my lips, and I can taste it for awhile after extinguishing. The crackle of the paper as they burn is appealing, too.

I’m not even sure who told me about cloves. Was it Eric Goedkoop, my first boyfriend who had his own apartment? Maybe. Or was it Teddy Hines, who I dated briefly one summer? Or was it one of my girlfriends – I can remember smoking cloves with Krissy and Annie, but I don’t know how we found them.

Ah, well. All good things come to an end. So long, my old friends:

9 thoughts on “coffee and cloves”

  1. I find this so-called law to be a joke. It’s definitely going to lead to a blog entry. Let us not forget that tobacco helped to build this country…

  2. I actually have a real problem with this ban. I generally don’t support smoking because of its health implications, but I DO support an individual’s right to choose to smoke.
    It’s my understanding that part of the reason behind banning “flavored” ciagarettes is to remove the “appeal” of smoking for teenagers/children. I think though, that the “appeal” of smoking, as I believe you eluded to in your entry, lies primarily in the social meaning, rather than the flavor. I don’t think any teenager actually starts smoking because it tastes good. Further, it should be noted that perhaps more children/teenagers wouldn’t smoke if their parents (or the people who care for them) played a greater role in helping them shape their opinions and decisions about smoking. Letting the government get involved in this manner isn’t really going to stop kids from smoking, and it’s actually going to just irritate people more than anything. And in the end, it’s still a matter of personal choice, not “flavor.”
    Just like marijuana, there will always be people who will find a way around the “law” and get their hands on what they want anyway. Are we going to start arresting people for smoking flavored cigarettes now?
    I think that Obama is walking a fine line with this ban – afterall, what would happen if he decided to take aim at the health implications of obesity? Would we then have to consider a ban on good flavored food? I know it seems ridiculous, but this ban on “flavored” cigarettes seems like a place where it all could start.

  3. I made a video about this bill back in June. I think you might some of the statements made and questions asked within the video to be interesting and relevant:

  4. I’m not going to pretend the word ban is something that sits well with me, and of course in an ideal world I’d prefer people to be better educated so they can make wiser, intelligent choices, but I have to admit I’m not that upset about it (and yes, I have enjoyed a clove or two).

    And honestly, I don’t think we can take on the healthcare crisis in any reasonable way without eventually taking aim at obesity and people’s poor lifestyle choices. Smoking was banned in public places in many cities/states and it’s hard to argue with the preliminary studies spouting the improved health effects that have resulted from it. Fireworks have been banned in some places to protect people from dumbly hurting themselves/others. I don’t know that all regulation, even if it sadly has to include bans, is a slippery slope. Would I prefer a world where we are all properly educated on good health, raised in families where we are taught how to stay fit and eat healthy, make enough money so that we can buy healthy food, etc? Sure, that would be great. But let’s not pretend that we don’t have to pay for things as a society one way or another. Let’s not pretend that like the price of restricting certain freedoms, there is not also a price for creating generations of bad choices that involve abundant chronic illnesses from things like obesity and smoking, that we are now paying for. There is.

    Is this an attack on personal freedoms, or actually an attack on companies that make, sell, and market a product they know will cause illness and most likely death for a huge number of their consumers? Is it about the right to buy what we want, or about the right to sell something one knows is entirely harmful? I’m still deciding.

  5. just to further convolute the issue – this feels like the left tilting full circle to the right, in which they are “banning” something that is vice-driven. Usually, these types of laws in the past were enacted to purposely punish a certain ethnic or social class of citizens.

    I will admit that in this case, it is an effort to lower the overall cost of health care in this country, however, taking away an individuals right to “choose” (which is exactly how I view this issue) feels too morally driven for my taste.

    The bigger issue is this: where does it stop? T.V. is a vice, too – what if we come to find out that television causes depression or social anxiety – disorders that are cause for medical intervention. What about the internet “addict” who develops carpal tunnel? Are we going to ban the television? The Internet? These are all vice-driven issues. The solution, in my opinion, is not to ban but to tax.

    I smoke – and I’m okay with paying $5.00 for a pack of ciggs (last time I was in NY it was $7.00 – and I would be okay with paying that, too).

    Also, I don’t know anyone who started out smoking flavored cigarettes. In fact, the first time I smoked a flavored cigarette or a clove was when I was heavily into smoking pot. By then, I had already developed my cigarette smoking habit.

    Personally, I think all illegal drugs should be de-criminalized. But I’m crazy.

    1. Rachel M., I totally agree with you. Drugs should be de-criminalized, especially pot.
      As far as the basis for this ban, I think the idea of protecting the children is a smoke screen. Apparently, Philip Morris has a hand in this ban, as well, so a lot of this has to do with trying to monopolize the business. I knew something was funny about this whole thing, especially when clove cigarettes make up about 1% of US cigarette sales, so it’s strange to begin with that they would feel threatened at all by Kretek International, the company that makes Djarum and Sweet Dreams cigarettes.
      Also, Marlboro has a new menthol cigarette called Blend #54…and yet menthol is still a-ok. The argument that flavored cigarettes are geared towards luring youth is flimsy. Most younger people I know smoke Marlboros, Newports or Camels. When I was younger, it was all menthol oriented brands: Bel-Air, Cambridge Menthol Lights, Marlboro Menthol Lights.
      Really, what’s next? Prohibition again? A chocolate ban? Only decaf coffee? I say, get the hell out of my business, Big Brother.

  6. I actually didn’t see Shane’s video prior to posting so his video was extremely enlightening. I didn’t know Phillip Morris had a hand in this ban but I’m not surprised.

    Here’s something interesting – When I tried to quit smoking two years ago I switched from newports to Vanilla Djarums since they are a heavier smoke and last longer, which meant I was smoking less. I had already tried the patch but because I have serious anxiety disorder issues, I couldn’t use the patch (it threw me into a panic attack) and Chantix is similar to Wellbutrin (another drug that I can not take).

    Of course, I ended up smoking again after a breakdown about a month later (har har). I’ve actually had several therapists tell me not to quit smoking right now. You should check out the statistics on people with mental disorders and smoking. It’s extremely high. People with such disorders, early in life and after trying smoking for the first time, realize that smoking is a way to control the release of chemicals in the brain. Think of it as self medicating – literally.

    While it’s not an excuse for smoking it’s been extremely hard for me to quit. I wish I had never picked up that first cigarette.

  7. Hey all,
    I’m not posting in the comments thread because I’m still working out how I feel about this ban. Until I figure that out, I don’t want to contribute much. But I just wanted to say I’m really pleased with the intelligence of the debate here, and I’m glad that my sad little reminiscence sparked such a strong conversation. Thanks!

    And Shane – thanks for your video, it was really enlightening.

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