Tobacco, Nicotine Addiction and E-cigarettes with Tad Fisher
Season 01, Episode 05
Today we’re joined by Tad Fisher, who happens to be Nicki’s life partner.
Tad experiences nicotine addiction.
Join us as we discuss the complicated history and issues surrounding tobacco use, nicotine addiction, and e-cigarettes in American society and culture.
In this can’t-miss episode, Tad shares his story about nicotine dependence. Nicki and Tad talk about the culture of shame around nicotine dependence that enforces cycles of addiction, the nuances in the e-cigarette market and how it’s been co-opted by the tobacco industry, the relationship between the state and big tobacco, and how increasing access to harm reduction and resources help people reduce nicotine dependence and improve societal and individual health outcomes at large.
Mentions & Further Reading
1493: Uncovering the New World that Columbus Created by Charles C. Mann
Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA)
Reclaiming Sacred Tobacco (documentary)
“FDA’s top tobacco scientist takes job at Marlboro-maker Philip Morris” in Ars Technica
Connect & Support
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Nicki : Welcome to Nicki’s Wonder List, a podcast about exploring story in a time of collapse. I’m Nicki Youngsma.
Today we are joined by Tad Fisher. Tad is a software engineer, an open source enthusiast, a father, and also my life partner. Tad experiences nicotine addiction.
[Music fade out]
Nicki: In this conversation, we explore the complicated nature of nicotine addiction, tobacco, and cigarettes.
Nicki: So Tad, it’s really great to be in this conversation with you today. you know, we live together …
Tad: Yes, we do.
Nicki: we have some kids together.
Tad: That’s trye.
Nicki: yeah. you know, I think about the story of how I came to know you and the story that I’ve been telling for a long time and how it’s something that I been thinking about how to do differently. We’ve talked about this, you know, what it is to. Create a new story of the person that you are with, I don’t know, how I’m gonna retell the story of, how we got to know each other, like how we met, because that’s a thing people like to do or tell, or sometimes it just gets like asked, the story that I used to tell, which I’m not going to repeat here, is a story that perpetuates harm I don’t like to tell this story anymore, because is what it does is it highlights my privileges as a middle class, white bodied person and , because of who I demographically am I escaped the consequences of what it is to encounter the criminal justice system.
So, you know, we don’t have to figure that out right now, but it’s something that I am interested in revising and coming up with a new story. What do you think?
Tad: think there’s some things we can leave out from the story and it still works.
Nicki: Yeah. Cause you know, that’s kind of what stories are, right. Is like, there are things that we map onto that happen that are events and then you, create like points between those, like you create lines between the points, , that’s just how I’m seeing it in my mind cuz I’m, visual person and I talk in metaphor and analogy, like with everything.
So we’ll figure that out. and we’re here today to talk about something we’ve been talking about for a very long time. , we’ve been together for , I don’t know, 17, 18 years, something like that.
Tad: It’s been 18 years. Yeah.
Nicki: Yeah… throughout the duration of the time that we’ve known each other, you have experienced nicotine addiction , we’ve. Gone through this, for the last, almost two decades now, and a lot of changes and, shifting perspectives and lived experiences, and how that shows up, in our relationship, it shows up in our society. I’m just really grateful to have the time here today to talk about that and just clear some space. , so we can share with, other people because this is a conversation that like just happens between us, in my mind, there’s this desire to , wanna talk about like all the things when I think about tobacco and nicotine addiction, you know, like history and, , society and brain science and all those things and, and that’s not gonna happen today.
And, , that’s okay… with that, gosh, we could start in so many places, what is coming to mind for you right now, with how we wanna start talking about that in this moment?
Tad: feel like, describing how I started smoking.
Nicki: Yeah, we can start with that cuz that’s, a big part of nicotine addiction is how it starts. So Why don’t you tell us about how that started for you? Hmm.
Tad: , so I was 15 when I started smoking. , and it happened, , because, , my social circle, were smokers and I was offered a cigarette once and I tried it. I think a large aspect of that was, , I was neuro divergent and I feel that a lot of my social circle was, also neuro divergent. I am diagnosed with, ADHD today, but I wasn’t at the time.
Tad: , definitely , anything that would help my social standing or improve my relationships with friends, , I latched onto, and one of those was smoking.
Nicki: gosh, this thing about smoking that I observe and like, to some degree, experience myself by proxy to you, and my other friends and family members who either smoke or use vaping products like e-cigarettes that there’s this ritual, you know, and there’s something that feels really good about it.
And I’m saying it is good. Like that part about. Tobacco use there’s like a community part of it. There’s like a break. You go outside, you make friends with people who are just walking down the street, who are at the bar, you know? And like those interactions there’s something really , wonderful about that. I don’t know where else that, that exists , just like it’s effortless, , there’s like this shared understanding that happens, you know? Like the mutual aid of cigarettes. like, you could be walking down the sidewalk and just ask someone for a cigarette. And then if you see someone smoking or ask them for lighter, and people will just say, yeah, or people will say like, no, sorry, I’m out. But I get it. You know? And it’s like this really casual I don’t know, again, there’s something about it that I, I really had never observed or experienced before in that, way. And it’s a thing that happens like several times a day, depending on someone’s, smoking habit, the frequency, I don’t know. That makes sense to me.
Tad: Yeah. I mean, it’s interesting because, \ , since I switched to vaping, those encounters have, , dwindled and they, occur less and less. And when I’m around a bunch of people smoking cigarettes, , I do feel ostracized slightly.
If I were to place myself in, , someone’s shoes who was around me, I would feel that, oh, this person thinks that they’re better than me or. That they’re being healthy and I’m not, and they’re participating in the oppression that I feel.
Nicki: That’s interesting. Yeah, because, gosh, you know, the messiness and that’s like, what I’m really interested in talking about today is the mess
Tad: oh, and it’s, it’s a huge mess.
Nicki: yeah. Smoking cessation is a part of the smoking industry and like the really like.. Messy web of social norms and practices and, financial incentives.
Tad: Because smoking cessation is also a part of the pharmaceutical industry.
Nicki: Yeah. Right. , there’s so many directions I could go in in this moment but the mess of that, right? like there’s this, tiering that happens and like, I don’t know if the word hierarchy is one I wanna use, but the word used as oppression, participating in the oppression of it. , can you expand a little more on that? Open that up a little bit? Hmm.
Tad: and just to be perfectly clear, I don’t think smoking or vaping is healthy or a very smart decision to start doing. , but for those who are already dependent on nicotine and obtain it through smoking or chewing or vaping, they, at least in my experience feel shame pretty much every day, and that is internalized and that can really affect, mental health.
It can affect, , the decisions that they make every day. and it can also deepen your dependence on nicotine, in the first place.
Tad: So I feel like that there’s this sort of tack. At least American society has taken when dealing with, , the problem of nicotine dependence, , that is counterproductive.
And I, feel like, the actions that we take are not helping people break their nicotine dependence and are negatively impacting those who are currently dependent on nicotine.
Nicki: you used e-cigarettes as a way to manage. Nicotine addiction
Nicki: . What does that look like for you? Cuz you’ve tried to quit smoking so many times and I’ve been there,
God, it’s so painful, it’s so painful and it’s expensive.
Tad: Oh yeah.
Nicki: And like smoking already is a thing that once you get addicted to smoking and I don’t think people who are non-smokers realize this the way that nicotine dependence or addiction gets talked about is like, , , there’s all these things you can do, you know, like, oh, there’s all these options out there. , just pick one. , I think you’ve done them all. ,
Nicki: you know, there’s medication, there’s gum there’s, whatever. And like buying cigarettes is sometimes less expensive than buying cessation, stuff
Tad: Oh, it always, is it always.
Nicki: and it’s also socioeconomic impact of this, because if you don’t have the money to like buy Ette gum, which is , you know, God, how fast you go through that stuff. , and it’s like, if you already are like crunching numbers on, , what it is just cost of living like buying food, cigarettes also have this effect of suppressing appetite and they keep you awake.
So you can like do more things. So it’s just like, oh, the thing that’s helping me like get through , the work day and also, helping me stretch my dollars between , food I buy, this thing also helps that happen. And if I don’t have that anymore and I already am paying for Nicker at gum or like medication, if you happen to have health insurance, you know, and that can pay for, cessation care. , it increases , the burden, the financial burden. Right.
Nicki: so now me rounding back to your experience , and history with trying to be in control of your relationship with nicotine, , and like finding a delivery system because. , shaking that is, really difficult. And there’s like all of the research that shows how hard it is to deal with that. , , , how did you find . E-cigarettes ? And like, how does that help you? Or how do you use that nicotine addiction? Hmm.
Tad: I mean, I use it to, get nicotine right. And. In the past, it’s been really difficult to stop smoking because , , there’s so many aspects involved in it. But the number one thing for me was, , actually, , dealing with mental health and stressors in my life. And I was not generally in the place, at least for, , the first 10 years or so of my smoking career. , I was generally not in a place to be able to do that, to be able to, , break my dependence and still basically function because of my, exacerbating circumstances such as, , depression. , because when you are dependent on nicotine and you stop. Every stressor in your life is just magnified by that much.
It’s, I don’t wanna say painful, but it’s, you know, I would almost say
Nicki: you know, my late brother, who took his own life 12 years ago, , , he was trying to quit smoking in the months prior to his, death. .
Tad: There’s an aspect of it too, where, you feel this shame every day because you’re smoking and then when you stop and you fail to quit,
I feel like that could trigger some thoughts in people. And I feel like that is a shame. and then, , you know, I wanna say about 10 years ago, e-cigarettes, sort of became a bit more popular and after, , trying to quit so many times, , we moved in together and, you know, I wanted to keep the house from smelling, like cigarette smoke. so I. new thing. Oh, e-cigarettes yeah. It’s like super healthy for you. which is like, okay. But, you know, it allowed me to get my nicotine. , I didn’t smell disgusting afterward. could ride my bike again, , for long distances. I mean, after that we went on a hundred mile bike rides and I could manage those just fine. I would not have been able to do that while I was still smoking. , so , , there were aspects of it where I felt like, this might not be completely healthy, but , as I use this over time, I can step down , , the amount of nicotine that I ingest and over time, reduce my dependence on it. And it’s also not killing me as fast as. Cigarettes do . And I don’t want to say I failed to quit smoking, but . , I have arrived at a place where it’s manageable without downsized to my daily life and to where I feel a lot less shameful about my own decisions regarding my health.
Tad: I mean, how do you feel about where I’m at with vaping?
Nicki: You know, I feel like, coming to mind is . I notice all of those things for you. I think that that is great that you have a release from like the pressure like cuz it’s so like omnipresent, , I try to move on from thinking about it not being a thing that you need anymore, because I know it’s so complicated and, I feel really proud of you and, glad that you have access to that. I’ve seen it, how it has empowered you , to feel better in like your body while this is a thing that you experience. I think I find myself, get angry when I see the arc happening with policy setting and like how it’s this kind of bipartisan, thing that people agree on, you know, about like vaping, like, lumping in vaping with smoking. And like, know, this is part of the mess, right? That we’re wallowing around in right now. And like, people do this, organizations do this. And now like the FDA, getting in with , , increasing pressure to , make these things inaccessible to people who experience nicotine addiction and use e-cigarette devices to manage that.
And, I, I think about what it is to be stuck like that. And, it hurts to watch people you care about be trapped in systems like that. And this is a very particular experience. Like I know we both experience a lot of privilege, , being white And middle class in the United States. , and this also has intersections with people who are, , black, indigenous. People of color, this gets again messy, and the marginalization that occurs becomes much more severe. And, this is just one way in which people get trapped in things
Tad: I completely agree. Another aspect of this too, that makes it so messy is that there are, pretty large companies that are exploiting this, new technology. for example, jewel and views, basically , the big brands that are actually owned by tobacco companies, they’re trying to diversify and they are notably not cessation devices.
They are not. Ways to manage your nicotine addiction. They are devices intended to make you dependent on nicotine.
And when a company like Juul, actively markets to teenagers, , that does mean no favors. When all I want is like the minimum amount of nicotine intake in my life. And to just maintain that until, I can drop off to nothing eventually when my stressors are low,
Tad: and that’s not gonna be possible in the future. And it’s because of these large actors that are actively exploiting teenagers, kids, the marginalized folks who still need nicotine because. Of everything we’ve talked about just before. And they found this way to somewhat control, the health impact on them and their family and it’s being taken away. it makes me more sad than angry. To be honest, I can still access this stuff, but those folks you know, who don’t have the resources I do they’re not able to get it. And it , feels disempowering because you know, my only option now is, to go to a gas station and buy Vuse, which is like the only thing that , the FDA has approved for, marketing
Tad: you know, all the, mostly, small business…Vaping shops in the area are going to close down because it will be illegal to sell anything related to vaping, including batteries and devices and, , nicotine, liquid, unless it’s been approved.
And so . The only options available to me are gonna be these devices that are a disposable, yeah, these things have batteries in them and you’re supposed to throw them away and , also contain way more nicotine than I ever want, which is actively harmful to me because I am trying to wean myself off of this stuff.
Tad: That’s just really unfortunate. And I think , this whole tack that we’re taking is like, so puritanical, like it’s not okay to be addicted to something it’s not okay to have a dependence. When I think all that’s doing is just shaming people into being more dependent on this stuff. And it’s channeling all that, all the resources that people have into large cigarette companies, companies, you know, selling the cessation products. And it’s unfortunate because I don’t have, now I don’t have control
Tad: now. I can’t go and buy like, , a 0.03% nicotine liquid. I have to go buy, a point 10% nicotine liquid.
Tad: Maybe Juul is like point 30, which is why kids are being addicted to Juul as is insane. Insanely addictive level.
Nicki: Cause that’s , like another thing that, you know, we have two young kids, one who might also have ADHD And so that’s like another thing that we, , think about and, , the story that I see kind of like, outside, right. Is , we need to tamp down on e-cigarette use because kids are getting addicted, which is true. And it’s not the only application or like, you know, , I guess what I’m trying to get at is the realm where you and I are sitting right now. And so many other people who found these cessation devices are like left out of this conversation.
Nicki: and that’s so infuriating to me,
Tad: well, it’s like saying you can’t grow your own tobacco. but you can go buy these cigarettes that are gonna kill you. Like, I feel like it’s the same kind of analogy, right?
Tad: Like I can’t go buy the ingredients to make, uh, a nicotine product, but I can go and buy these things that are definitely worse for me. Or I could buy cigarettes because those are still on the market
Nicki: right. right.
Tad: and those kill you. I think everyone can agree that cigarettes kill you. I don’t think everyone agrees that vaping kills you. In fact, I, I will go out on a limb and say that vaping does not kill you. It might not be as safe as not vaping, but it’s not , going to kill.
Nicki: Yeah, I feel like language that I see a lot around e-cigarettes is, you know, it kind of starts with we don’t know enough about vaping, you know, to say, , that it. A safer alternative or that there are no reduced risks to secondhand vaping, and then it stops there. Like, it’s just like, oh, we don’t know. And that’s true. We don’t know, Okay? We don’t know. And ….
Tad: . There’s strong evidence to indicate, that it’s a lot safer than smoking. there is, research being done mostly in the UK because the NHS is actively promoting switching to vaping over smoking cigarettes because of the reduction in harm, to their members, which is the whole country
Tad: you know, there’s that aspect of things. and it’s true. We don’t have the Corpus of evidence we do around smoking, but we didn’t have that in, you know, the sixties and seventies. And we built that up over time. In the meantime, , I feel like folks should be free to make that choice to switch from smoking to vaping.
And I feel like harmful products, , should be limited. I’ll put it this way. I think the FDA should regulate this stuff because it is a drug delivery system It is delivering a drug … Nicotine is literally a poison. If you take too much nicotine, you will die.
Tad: Nicotine will tell your brain. Oh, just forget about the lungs. You know, we’re gonna remove that , uh, signal to keep the lungs functioning.
Nicki: Take a break. Lung. we got this…. Someone else has got this….
Tad: That’s. Yeah. yeah. So it’s super dangerous and yeah, it should be regulated. , however, the dose makes the poison and folks are already addicted to it. So what are we gonna do as a society to deal with that?
Tad: there’s kind of , two tracks you can really take, right? It’s like, okay, ban it, remove the option, make it illegal.
Tad: , or, maybe actively promote ways that are less harmful, maybe allow these things on the market, but limit how much nicotine can be in them. , determine the safety of the chemicals that go into the liquid, to actually do research on what happens when you vaporize e-liquid and what that does to the lungs. I feel like there’s a lot we should be doing that we’re not. And kind of the tack that we’re taking is to treat it like some new drug when it’s not it’s ancient.
Nicki: Yeah. I mean like tobacco itself is a sacred plant to many indigenous cultures in the Americas and has been for thousands of years and it has been taken and taken out of context and colonized and taken away from the indigenous peoples who have a relationship with this plant and, you know, it’s like, completely
Tad: yeah. Yeah. It’s designed to make you addicted. it was commoditized packaged up sold, and it was designed to create a continuous
Nicki: transformed into something unrecognizable and, you know,
Tad: that are dependent on, on the product.
Nicki: yeah. You know, I think about just as a tangent to this as indigenous folks who are working to repair or like reclaim their relationship to tobacco, there’s this documentary that I’ll link in the show notes about indigenous communities in Minnesota, for example, who are heavily marketed to by commercial tobacco and, are working to educate their young people to be in right relationship, or to be in relationship with this plant that has a really deep meaning to their culture. And, you know, I just think about, this, just to be a question that does not have an answer, but like how do we improve a relationship with something that is based in harm? Like I’m talking about commercial tobacco, you and I, as like white folks who don’t have that history, you know, and other people who don’t have that. Longstanding cultural relationship, , because our, relationship to tobacco is like, based in this thing, you know, of commercial, tobacco, big tobacco, you know, everything cycles around contending with this experience and pervasiveness of addiction and how it , saturates, our society, like the tax level, you know, at like the health insurance level, on your disposable income level, like, the doctor’s office, you know, all these questions you have to answer and like smoking status and that being a conversation, that’s just another piece of this big mess.
Um, you know, and I, I think about, how with harm reduction, , a lot of people are working really hard , and there’s these different approaches and like layers to this. , but the direction that things are being pulled at in this moment anyways, is , something that’s not new, right? It’s like big tobacco getting involved and having the resources , , to bend policy in a way that suits their interests. The cigarette by Sarah Milov talks about this, you know, in detail of like the last a hundred years and how, , the non-smoking movement is created and in spite of that, , grassroots movement, big tobacco is, you know, finding other ways to pivot. and we’re seeing that right now, right with e-cigarettes and, what you had just described, , with removing access to the variety of devices and solutions that exist to , , make these things work.
Tad: Uh, and this isn’t just with e-cigarettes either it’s with any. tobacco or any smoking alternative out there falls under the purview of the FDA. and then, you know, our home state of Oregon, you can’t even order snoose, that’s the stuff that was invented in Sweden. it’s like they process the nicotine and put it in basically what looks like a tea bag. So it’s not like chew where it cuts up your lip,
Tad: uh, and causes cancer basically they invented that as an alternative to chewing tobacco and it has dramatically reduced the incidences of, mouth cancer in Sweden. And you can’t order that stuff online in Oregon. You can’t send it through the mail in the United States. so that’s yet another way that,, big tobacco has sort of like subsumed the. public health role of our government to their benefit.
Tad: And it’s unfortunate because we should be increasing access to things that reduce harm. I mean, reduction is everywhere in our society. Um, seatbelts our harm reduction.
Tad: You know, we take our risk by driving a car and we wear seatbelts. So , we reduce that risk, the risk of dying in a car accident, condoms, you know, birth control. These are always that we reduce the harm of risky activities and vaping, , snooze, you know, these are a couple ways to avoid or to reduce , , the harm of nicotine addiction. And they do that by providing an alternative to combusting tobacco and inhaling the smoke. the way that we approach this is it’s puritanical because the correct answer and the only correct answer is to not be dependent on nicotine. And that is not an easy thing to demand of people, it’s like with like mental health, right? Like, oh, you have ADHD. we’re not gonna accommodate that. You need to take pills or you’re in school. You need to sit down and pay attention. You know?
Tad: I don’t know if that’s a good analogy, um, you know, it’s your fault. It’s your fault that this thing happens to you? so like what is the overall goal here? And, you can be Deontological about it, or you can be pragmatic. And the difference between those is basically demonizing something and hoping it gets shamed out of existence or promoting safer behaviors that overall reduce the amount of harm in society. That’s a really difficult thing to do for a lot of people. And I understand, especially when your teenager is caught vaping in class,
Tad: or, you wanted to quit smoking. So you decided to try this gas station e-cigarette and now you’re addicted to the e-cigarette and it’s worse than smoking. And. That stuff to me is just so inherently dangerous cuz , we’re taking away people’s control. And I feel like if you gave people the option even though it’s more harmful than doing nothing, more people are gonna choose vaping over smoking because it reduces harm. And it basically provides the same release. It provides the same dopamine that people are dependent upon because quitting is hard quitting. An addiction is hard
Tad: and I have. So much respect for those people who could drop it. I wish I could do that. I think I will someday, but I can’t do that right now.
Nicki: You know, I just think about what you said earlier about, , other stressors in your life. Right. And how
that’s the foundation that is present or like sets up, what happens next, you know, and like the foundation being stressors and how those get compounded, by, Just your brain or sensory \ , processing, , how that gets compacted by socioeconomic status, um, , with just your own interpersonal relationships and like, , what if people , had access , to relief from stress What if people just had more of what they needed right.
Tad: out ad campaigns against vaping, you know, and just demonizing it when it’s like, okay, It’s actually a nuanced issue.
Tad: Like there’s different kinds of vaping. There’s what I do, which is like, I have a very specific kind of device that lets me adjust the amount of nicotine that I get. And it’s also very economical to use over time. And then there’s the stuff you buy at a gas station, which is you pay 10 bucks to get a stick that you use for a couple days and then throw away. And it has way more nicotine in it and you can’t control it you know, there’s.
Nicki: I feel like I’m getting mad. Just , thinking about, it.
Tad: Yeah. Well, and the whole reason the, industry became what it is now is because of folks like me who are so invested in this alternative, because it’s so much better. I mean, It may not be healthy, but it’s way better than smoking. And people believed in this stuff and they still do. And most of the industry is not views or jewel or Philip Morris or RJ Reynolds. Most of the industry is small mom and pop shops and small mom and pop, e-commerce sites
that are inventing devices. There are people who are like learning, uh, electrical engineering just to like build some of these devices to, work better. And that’s where it came from. It was a grassroots thing to start out with, and it’s been co-opted by big tobacco and it’s being ruined and that’s just really unfortunate. I think it was inevitable. I think our response to it is enabling big tobacco even more
Tad: because now only big tobacco can afford to bring their harmful products to market. And folks like me who want to manage an addiction are having another option taken away from us.
Nicki: But you can still go buy cigarettes
Tad: I can still go buy a pack of cigarettes.
Nicki: Which are, I don’t know what the tax is in Oregon, but it’s like,
Tad: Oh, It’s like nine, 10 bucks a pack now.
Nicki: my blood is just like boiling, with that. Right. You know?
Tad: and, and I, what do I get? I get a roll up tube full of genetically modified plant material and additives, including added nicotine. Like, come on.
Tad: , that’s why they’re called cancer sticks. I, It is absolutely disgusting. don’t want to ever be addicted to , cigarettes ever again. And I really hope we take a more level headed approach in the future and maybe, fund more research into ways to reduce harm, because right now we’re handing a bunch of resources to that of tobacco industry and the pharmaceutical industry. And there’s effective solution available right now. That we are legislating out of existence and it’s really unfortunate.
Nicki: Yeah, it is. Oh, I’m just like sitting with like, being so mad and like, you know, and just , the big picture and like, the long arc this colonization of tobacco. And it’s like several hundred year, time span that I’m thinking about. And just appreciating, I guess, the weight of it , the time of this recording, it’s almost 4th of July, Which is independence day in the United States and I just keep thinking about like how, part of this story, people talk about what it is to live in the United States and independence. And it’s just like all of these , threads that , are like completely vital to like this foundation, are like, genocide slavery, And, , tobacco is in both of that. The us economy was, , supported by commercial tobacco. George Washington was a, tobacco farmer, the campaign to. Steel land from indigenous peoples has a lot to do with needing more land, to grow tobacco on. Yeah. From stealing people from another continent to farm tobacco. I’m just like thinking about this show called Jamestown, you know, if you wanna see a dramatization of early tobacco, I mean, it’s , just something to binge on, but like, I just think about how foundational that is to just this country that we live in you know, and like tobacco had a really big subsidy program for a long time. And it only changed ,, within the 20th century, like that shifted, but again, big tobacco, pivoting. to co-opt and like not lose their stake in what it is to, control, at the level that they do
Tad: to be addict.
Nicki: Yeah. And just like the things that get built up around that, like the shame, and how that gets off put onto people and it gets internalized and, it’s so big and messy and then it, gets like shoved into people’s bodies, and then it becomes about them, , you know, not having the willpower or like not making , quote unquote, good choices, , And it’s just, so big. And it shows up in all of these ways,
Nicki: so we’re getting close to time here. Um, or,
Given all the things that we’ve talked about in this conversation, or just things that are related to this big topic, what is something or things that come to mind to you when you imagine what you wanna see, or when you imagine what could be regarding harm reduction within the context of nicotine addiction. I wanna know what that looks like to you or what that could look like to you. Hm.
Tad: Yeah, I mean, I would like to see just the sort of group think around substance addiction, to change, to be more accepting of those that are addicted. And I wanna see the strategies that we choose to help those people lean more toward providing resources to reduce the harm and manage. Without shaming them, I feel like people are so innovative, we are coming up with ways to deal with so many problems. And this is just one way to deal with the problem of being addicted to nicotine. Like I wanna see us explore other ways to reduce harm in our life, even if it’s not the perfect solution.
That could apply to so many different things like climate change, you know, pollution, like there are things we can do right now. There’s like a silly example of, uh, one thing we can do to reduce climate change by 6% a year is to capture the refrigerant out of your air conditioner.
When it gets recycled. a lot of places, they’ll just release a valve. And all that refrigerant goes into the atmosphere, which has like a 6,000 times CO2 equivalent and C and by just paying those folks to, capture it and recycle it, you know, that’s one way to reduce the. Of having air conditioning or we could band air conditioning and then how many people would die from heat stroke in Arizona, you know?
Tad: that’s another example of, uh, where things could go. I think that one’s an obvious, like, yeah, we should do that because no one wants to give up air conditioning, even though air conditioning is bad for the environment, but there’s a less than perfect solution to it that reduces the harm. And I think the same thing goes for, health problems, mental health problems and addiction. you know, the fact that we have methadone clinics, like or, uh, needle drops, those are aspects of. Harm reduction that are present and people rely on those and it helps people.
And I feel like we should just make more tools available to people and we should regulate them. I would like to see big actors removed from the discussion because this isn’t about protecting the tobacco industry or who has the most money to, get approved by the FDA. This is about people’s bodies.
Nicki: Yeah. I’m just thinking about. noticed this in my own thinking how it’s easy to think and want a solution to a problem. , like, what is the key to this issue? it’s a, , monocultural kind of thinking, and that is a whole other podcast episode or a conversation, you know?
Um, but just how we architect our own thoughts about problem solving you know, wanting things to be easy and simple, and sitting. The reality that things are not simple. And we live in a complex world being within that, asks a lot of us all the time.
I mean, just appreciating yeah. What it is, to engineer things, right? I mean, you’re an engineer, this is what you do. You build things, and to meet, you know, what is your problem area? And like what is a solution to, achieving an outcome.
and how that is a very. Complicated process. In the system that we’re a part of, and it’s, big and messy and we have to keep moving and learning new information and, creating new patterns and shifting course and finding ways to, that together with other people is a lot and, , is necessary
So what’s a time and this can be on the, anywhere on the spectrum of really small, to like epiphany. What’s a time that you’ve experienced the feeling of surprise
Tad: nicotine ? anything?
Nicki: God, anything. This is just a question about the feeling of surprise. This can be about nicotine. It can be about something completely unrelated.
Tad: I mean, hearing our four year old reciting the letters of alphabet I showed them to him like one time. And then I hear him reciting them to you in the other room that was surprising that this is like our capability to learn is so huge when we’re little. And I think it’s something that we learned to suppress, but that fascinating and yeah, it was pleasantly surprising to, hear.
Nicki: Yeah, it is. It’s wonderful. as we’re done talking about this and listeners who might wanna learn more about things we talked about, what are some resources about, nicotine addiction or tobacco use or e-cigarettes, you know, all of that, what are some resources that, you know, you think are, are worth putting out there for people who wanna learn more.
Tad: Yeah. Um, the, uh, consumer advocates for smoke free alternatives association, or C a S a a, is a great resource for learning about, , not only nicotine addiction, but just learning about, , how harm reduction could benefit. Our society. And their website is C a S a a.org. And , I find that, , pretty invaluable.
Nicki: Great. I’ll be sure to include that in the show notes. Yeah. Okay. TA, well, thank you so much for being in conversation today and, Talking about all the things we talked about. we’ll continue talking about. .
Tad: Hmm. Well, thanks for having me. And I think , I’ll see you around.
Nicki: Right. . You know, now we gotta go get our kids yeah. This is like the one time we don’t get interrupted with Lego duty or who needs a quesadilla, you know? , just, thank you so much. , , , for you and, um, you know, you, my life and you taking time to show up here to this space and talk about these things, which are hard and messy, like all the mess.
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Tad: right. Yeah. Well, thank you And thank you for being so wonderful. okay.
Nicki: That concludes this episode of Nicki’s Wonder List. I hope you enjoyed the conversation. I’m really glad I got to share it here. Stay in the loop with us exploring story and a time of collapse by going to Nickiswonderlist.com and signing up for update. You can also click on the link in the show notes to get there.
Thank you for listening to Nicki’s Wonder List. Until next time.
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