Farewell cloves, we hardly knew thee

Last week, a federal ban on flavored cigarettes took effect. In case you weren’t aware, you’ve probably smoked your last clove.

I, for one, wish we had a little more forward warning. Cloves were a wonderful distraction in my first years as an undergrad. Everybody loved how they would snap and crackle as you took a drag, the Rice Krispies of smoking.

Like any novelty or fad, we all got tired of it after a while. But now that its gone I wish I could do it just one more time. The government might as well have outlawed the Laffy Taffy dance.

Enough reminiscing, let’s see what the logic is.

The Fresno Bee article on the subject contains a quote from Dr. Lawrence R. Deyton, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. He says, “Candy and fruit-flavored cigarettes are a gateway for many children and young adults to become regular tobacco users.” And he adds that 17-year-old smokers are three times as likely to use flavored cigarettes as smokers over the age of 25.

In other words, smoking flavored cigarettes will get you addicted to unflavored cigarettes. If only this worked on the flavored water side of the page!

As you can tell, I think it’s a stupid idea, yet another fun item relegated to the world of things you buy when visiting foreign countries.

Before long, rappers will add cloves to the list of barred and expensive items in their repertoire. Here comes, “Hop in the Chevy, with the butterfly doors. What’s in my mouth shawty? A m———– clove.”

And it’s not just Djarums that will go the way of the Dodo, more obscure flavored cigs are out as well. It was only in doing research for this column that I came across extinct brands such as Kool’s “Mocha Taboo” and “Midnight Berry”. Looking at pictures of the packs online was like visiting a dinosaur museum: “What was it like? What if I could go back in time and touch them? Were they really green?”

In all seriousness, this is a wrongheaded idea on many fronts. What has been outlawed are the cigarettes you smoke in social settings when you’re young. The ones you smoke anywhere and everywhere for life are still around. Those Art Hop kids who used to hang out outside smoking cloves? They didn’t hear the news and say, “Aw shucks, guess I won’t smoke ever again now!” They will just turn the regular kind.

There will now be a small but surely profitable black market for flavored cigarettes, something else for the famous drug cartels to make dirty money on with no legal protection and no rules.

Apparently the old “save the children” bit has no limit to how many bad ideas it can support. When you first got your driver’s license you probably took mom’s car to an empty parking lot and tried to do doughnuts. When you turned 18 you probably went and bought some outrageously huge cigar, smoked half of it, and threw up. Why don’t you do these things anymore? Because they are a novelty, a way to experiment with a newfound freedom. This is why 17-year-olds smoke flavored cigarettes and 25-year-olds don’t.

I smoked my first clove in 2003 and have yet to become addicted to cigarettes of any kind. Once again, the government is punishing everyone for an apparent lack of willpower on the part of a few, in this case without solid evidence that it will help anyone at all.

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