Apparently a woman in Norwich, England got herself in trouble when she bragged on twitter about tagging a cyclist with her car. Not surprisingly, the police had a few questions for her. Genius at work, yes?
Well, I saw the link today and felt compelled to share the story here, specifically because of comments like this one, which appeared on this story in the Argus Leader:
Plenty of drivers hold some degree of resentment toward cyclists, or at least some cyclists. My suspicion is that the drivers who rant the most about bikes also rant the most about other drivers, but who knows for sure …
Anyway, the guy from the screengrab up there, whose named I have scrubbed not to protect his identity exactly but because I’m singling him out without warning (feel free to click on the comments if you care), made a relatively tame comment.
Some Argus commenters have gone next-level with their annoyance at pedal-pushing travelers, relaying sentiments along the lines of “get on the sidewalk where you belong or get ready to be run over.”
Consider our English friend’s experience as a reminder that the police tend to react rather strongly when bad attitudes move from joking to actual callousness.
So yesterday on 100 Eyes, the fast and furious Patrick Lalley and I talked about the National Transportation Safety Board’s recommendation that states drop their legal limit for alcohol in the blood from .08 to .05.
I promised on the show to post some numbers from the state concerning the blood-alcohol level of drivers involved in fatal alcohol-related crashes. Part of the debate on .05, of course, will be how much public safety good can we do, how many lives can be saved, if we make the switch?
As you’ll see from this spreadsheet, there are a handful of crashes that involve drivers with a BAC between .01 and .05. Most of the crashes involve people with a higher BAC than that, but it is an interesting chart.
Fatalaties By blood alcohol content
Most people assume driving under the influence means driving while impaired.
That’s more or less true. But it’s also true that some people who drink a six-pack end up further “under the influence” than others might.
This is thorny territory, I know, and I’m not trying to making light of the issue. We all know that drinking and driving is deadly and depressingly common. Nearly everyone has been touched by the issue.
But different people do have different levels of tolerance to alcohol, for a lot of different reasons. People do have different interpretations of what impairment means, even if those opinions are usually based on instinct and not science.
Those two truths - that people react differently to alcohol and people don’t always agree about what it means to be too drunk to drive - underpin the debate about where we set the presumptive level of intoxication for DUIs.
That debate is set to heat up again. The National Transportation Safety Board recommended this week that states drop the legal limit of alcohol in the blood to .05 percent from the current standard of .08.
NTSB Chair Deborah Hersman said during a Tuesday press conference that there were 1,000 alcohol-related fatalities in 2011 where the driver had a BAC of .05-.07.
She also said that Australia and several countries in Europe saw the number of drunk driving fatalities drop by five to 15 percent after switching from .08 to a .05.
“On this issue, we are woefully behind our international counterparts,” Hersman said.
She also said this:
“We know that drivers are significantly impaired at .05,” Hersman said. “There is no debate about that.”
Here’s one more:
“Impairment begins with that first drink,” she said, although she did say “most people” can have a glass of wine with dinner and still be okay to drive.
Where we decide to put the BAC limit matters a lot in terms of how the justice system handles DUIs, and not only because drunken driving is so prevalent.
In South Dakota, for example, there are two basic ways for prosecutors to prove someone guilty of the crime of DUI:
1. They can prove that a driver was under the influence by presenting evidence that the driver, at the time of the arrest, was impaired. That could include field sobriety test results that show the person couldn’t perform basic tasks like walking a straight line, tracking a pen with their eyes, holding their arms out and touching their nose with one hand, etc. The cruddy driving that got the person pulled over in the first place also fits here (if cruddy driving was the reason for the stop, of course). For this one, it doesn’t matter what your BAC is.
2. They can prove that the driver had .08 or more of alcohol in their blood at the time of the arrest. If they can do that, they theoretically don’t need to prove anything else.
At this point, I haven’t heard any prominent South Dakota official jump at the chance to support the .05 idea. A few have said it’s too early to say, but that they might be open to the idea if it were shown to improve public safety, but I haven’t heard any ringing endorsements.
Rep. Bernie Hunhoff, D-Yankton, Sen. Jason Frerichs, D-Wilmot and House Transportation Chair Mike Verchio, R-Hill City all said they don’t see such a change as a real possibility in South Dakota in the near future. They each mentioned, separately, that a .05 limit is a little too close to criminalizing the act of driving after drinking a beer or two. Terry Woster, spokesman for the Highway Patrol, said it wouldn’t be appropriate to comment on the policy proposals.
Minnehaha County State’s Attorney Aaron McGowan offered this:
“My primary responsibility is public safety and I will always support safer highways. However, any changes must be evidence-based and I’m not willing to place additional restrictions on our citizens without compelling proof.”
Here’s Attorney General Marty Jackley’s response:
“The issue of legal alcohol limits is ultimately for our legislature to decide. As Attorney General, I always make myself available to the Legislature to provide input and advice, and in anticipation of the legislative discussion I have begun and will continue discussing the NTSB’s recommendation with Sheriffs, Chiefs, State’s Attorneys and victim groups. As a consideration and consistent with NTSB’s recommendation, South Dakota law does already protect the public by holding an impaired driver below .08 accountable for DUI. See SDCL 32-23-1(2) which provides: ’No person may drive or be in actual physical control of any vehicle while (2) Under the influence of an alcoholic beverage, marijuana, or any controlled drug or substance not obtained pursuant to a valid prescription, or any combination of an alcoholic beverage, marijuana, or such controlled drug or substance.’”
My guess is this discussion will evolve. The .05 question, after all, is a continuation of a debate we’ve been having in this country for 40-odd years: Where do we set the bar for alcohol in the blood? How much alcohol can a person drink before we say “you no longer get to decide that you’re okay to drive.”
The limit was .15 in the 1970s, and Judge Larry Long told me once that he sometimes struggled as a prosecutor to get jury convictions for .15 back then.
Now, a .17 BAC is considered high enough for judges to require the 24/7 sobriety program as a bond condition, even on a first offense.
We all know people who think they’re okay after a few drinks. We all know people who have a higher tolerance and seem unaffected after drinking enough to lay another person out. Some of us have heard stories about Uncle Joe So-And-So who drank 12 beers a night at Yakadee Smack’s Downtown Pub for 20 years and drove home all the time but never hurt anyone.
Setting the bar at a certain level is society’s way of saying it doesn’t matter how lucky Mr. So-And-So has been. Once a person gets X amount of alcohol in their system, the science says it’s too risky for that person to get behind the wheel.
Let’s put it this way: It’s conceivable that there are people out there who, under the right circumstances, could drive away from a place at midnight with no headlights on and still make it home without a wreck. That doesn’t mean the person gets a pass on a law that says you need to drive with your headlights on after hours.
So that’s what the debate is about on a broader level, but changes to the legal limit have serious, real-world consequences in court.
Here’s one reason why: It takes a while for alcohol to be absorbed into the blood stream. That means if a person slams a beer on their way out of the bar then gets pulled over a block away, their BAC will have increased slightly by the time jailers take a blood draw at 9 or 9:30 p.m.
If there isn’t a lot of concrete proof the person is impaired (they refuse to do or somehow pass the field sobriety tests), a defense lawyer can use the blood test results to argue that their client wasn’t at the legal limit when they were in actual physical control of their vehicle. Juries might go for that argument, and prosecutors would generally rather have a conviction than a loss at trial.
In Minnehaha County, people who test at .08 or lower regularly have their charges reduced to reckless or careless driving for that reason. If you test at a .10 – which was the legal limit in the state until 2002 – you’ll probably still get the DUI charge.
In 2012, according to the State’s Attorney’s Office, 135 of the 1,978 DUI cases filed resulted in a reduction to a solely due to a low blood test. Of those, 130 involved drivers who tested between .05 and .09.
Does that mean those drivers would have gotten a DUI if the limit was .05? It’s impossible to speculate. No one knows how a South Dakota jury would react to a .05 presumptive level, and the way juries react has a lot to do with the kind of plea deal is offered in one county or the next.
So where do we go from here? Who knows. It’s certainly possible that there won’t be serious discussion about a change unless federal highway funding is tied to it, and there’s historical precedent for that. South Dakota didn’t change the law to .08 until 2002, though a bill was offered nearly a dozen times before that. The state was set to lose funding the following year.
So a 13-year-old boy spent the weekend at the Juvenile Detention Center for allegedly shooting two younger boys with a BB gun.
I don’t know this because I was somehow able to listen in to a closed juvenile hearing or because someone involved in the crime told me details that aren’t public.I know this because the boy was charged with aggravated assault involving a firearm.
Under the juvenile detention scheme in Minnehaha County, assault with a firearm nearly always results in a stay at the JDC that only ends when a judge decides to release the kid pending adjudication (which is juvenile court-speak for “trial”).
It doesn’t matter what the circumstances are. If you use a firearm in a crime, even a BB gun, you generally have to see a judge.
You might recall that South Dakota is in the process of reworking its juvenile justice system, with Minnehaha and Pennington counties in the lead. Three years ago, those two counties took grant money from the Annie E. Casey Foundation to study the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, which operates on the understanding that kids who are locked up are more likely to commit more crimes in the future.
Whenever possible, the JDAI studies show, using an alternative to detention is better for the child, cheaper and better for public safety. Those concepts required a huge shift in thinking in South Dakota, which the Casey Foundation once ranked as the state most likely to lock up kids.
Both counties ultimately decided to follow through and become JDAI partners.
To do that, the JDAI committee had to hammer out what’s called a “Risk Assessment Instrument” to help JDC employees decide who should and who shouldn’t be locked up following a new arrest. The work on the RAI started shortly after an internal study showed that a majority of the kids at the Minnehaha County JDC had been held for probation violations and minor offenses.
Basically, the RAI is a worksheet that scores a kid who gets busted with a point system. Let’s imagine a kid sucker-punches a classmate at the mall and someone calls the cops. The cop who shows up would call the JDC and tell them the kid has been charged with simple assault. The JDC employee would give the kid a score of six for the assault.
Let’s say the kid got in trouble six months before that for smoking pot and hitting another kid. Those two misdemeanors get him three more points. He also got busted for skipping school two months ago. There’s another point.
That’s 10 points. His loses two points because his parents are willing to take him in and because he hasn’t failed to appear for court over the past two years.
That puts him at an 8. That’s too high to let him go home by himself while his case is pending (6 or below), but it’s not high enough to be detained (12 or above). If a parent or guardian is immediately available, the kid can go home with them. If not, the JDC person will tell the cop to take the kid to the county’s reception center - which operates 24/7, 365 days a year - and the kid will stay there until a parent can come get him.
Clear as mud? Okay, let’s get back to our friend the 13-year-old.
His offense – assault with a firearm – gets him 15 points right up front. Even if he gets all three mitigation points, he’s still at 12.
The truth is that the rest of the details don’t matter. It doesn’t matter if it was a BB gun or an actual handgun. It doesn’t matter if the kid shot the weapon or just threatened someone with it. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never been busted before and that you swear, swear, swear you were only fooling around, and it doesn’t matter that your parents are ready to bring you home and ground you until you graduate.
Aggravated assault with a firearm means you go to JDC and stay there until you see a judge, and that’s that. There is an override on the sheet, but it normally wouldn’t apply to crimes involving firearms.
And in case you were wondering: The JDC is not any fun. Some defense lawyers will say the JDC in Sioux Falls is, in some ways, a scarier place than the Minnehaha County Jail. It’s not a new, modern place with new, modern amenities. It looks like and feels like a jail in a way the Pennington County JDC – or any relatively new JDC – does not.
Minnehaha County has come a long way in terms of distinguishing which kids belong in detention and which don’t. The JDAI’s work has dramatically trimmed the number of kids at the JDC, and juvenile crime hasn’t gone through the roof as a result. The Annie E. Casey folks regularly point to South Dakota as a success story these days.
But Minnehaha County still isn’t a place where you can fire a BB gun at a neighbor, get a ticket and go home. It probably never will be.
Don’t say you haven’t been warned, kids.
In case you’re curious, here’s the Risk Assessment Instrument.
Minnehaha RAI Updated
My colleague Beth Wischmeyer has this story today on bikes and bike safety in Sioux Falls.
It’s one of a series of bike-related stories we plan to report in the run-up to the first Tour Sioux Falls this summer.
She focuses on bike commuters and safe options for riding to work, which was one piece of a story I wrote a few weeks back.
One of Beth’s commuters is quoted saying he wouldn’t dare ride on Sioux Falls’ busiest streets at 7:30 a.m.
That’s not an uncommon thing to hear from bike commuters. They say drivers don’t like to share the road, that drivers don’t look for bikes, and that there are some roads where the fight with combustion engines isn’t worth the risk.
All of that is basically true.
Even so, there’s a sharp divide between the types of cyclists quoted in Beth’s story and the majority of bipeds on bicycles in Sioux Falls.
Relatively few cyclists do everything right. “Responsible” bike commuters ride in the road and behave like vehicles, wear helmets, use lights at night and assert their right to take the lane if necessary.
But most cyclists aren’t responsible bike commuters. They’re just people on bikes.
The crash data I used for my story supports that assertion. It showed that cyclists were held responsible for more than 60 percent of the bike vs. vehicle wrecks in Sioux Falls since 2007.
Often, those crashes involved a cyclist riding out across an intersection without stopping. Drivers who hit those cyclists aren’t usually held responsible, as the law says cyclists on sidewalks are supposed to stop before crossing the street. Other collisions involved cyclists who wove in and out of traffic instead of stopping like the vehicles around them.
When the driver was deemed responsible, it was most often because they weren’t paying enough attention.
This is what it means when people say things like “we need more education on both sides.”
The people who say that are correct.
I thought about this last night. I was driving west on East 10th Street near the school for the deaf and preparing to make a left turn. I had a green light, but I looked to my right and saw two young cyclists without helmets riding against traffic on the sidewalk (bike safety instructor Mike Christensen calls this the most dangerous way to ride).
One of them slowed down to wait for the other, almost as though he’d planned to stop her and cede the right-of-way. When she caught up, both of them proceeded to cross the street. The second cyclist took her sweet time, with my light turning yellow as I waited for her to cross.
Afterward, I realized that if I had I turned early and hit either of them, I might have been cleared of responsibility by the SFPD.
It’s a sobering thought. My car would have been fine. I’d have been fine. The cyclists, on the other hand, could have been seriously hurt.
Cyclist James McInnis III was killed in 2011 in a similar situation. The driver in that case, David Kinner, was ultimately deemed responsible because he was under the influence of prescription medication and because he’d “jumped the green” and turned in front of oncoming traffic.
Had he been sober, had he turned legally, Kinner might not have been charged at all. The cop who investigated the case told me as much.
It’s notable that Mr. McInnis wasn’t wearing a helmet at the time of the collision.
It’s amazing how much danger there is out there for cyclists once one begins paying attention to the bikes and where they are. Here’s an idea: Let’s all do more of that. There’s no reason we can’t share the road, and no driver honestly wants to see a cyclist hurt.
Be safe, folks.
Sod dealer Jerry Adrian almost got himself tossed in jail for failing to abide by his bond conditions yesterday.
The conditions include no contact with a fellow “sovereign citizen” devotee named Don Anderson, who tried to file a lawsuit in Roberts County (with the Register of Deeds, for some reason) against Judge John Simko.
Simko was not amused, calling the lawsuit “state sovereign mumbo jumbo of no effect whatsoever.”
So what is a sovereign citizen? Essentially, it’s a person who feels as though no one who works for the U.S. government has legitimate authority over sovereign citizens. They believe the government, as it stands in the modern U.S., is a sham.
The reasons for that are complex and outlandish. There are several places you could look for an deeper explanation. The FBI says the most extreme sovereign citizens are threats for terrorism. The Southern Poverty Law Center has a rundown of the group here.
Perhaps the best way to get an understanding of what the “mumbo jumbo” looks like is to read it yourself.
Here’s a letter submitted to the U.S. District Court of South Dakota by Mr. Anderson on Adrian’s behalf. It was filed on July 30, 2012, which was shortly after Adrian and his son were indicted for tax evasion.
Don Anderson Aff
Here’s a filing from Adrian claiming the court has no authority.
Here’s one of the many “affidavits” filed along with the above motion. This one says Mike Milstead has no authority.
Milstead no authority
We could do this all day. The court file is full of this stuff. Here’s one more, a letter to U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson regarding the search warrant served on Adrian’s property.
Last week, I sent survey-style emails to a half a dozen police chiefs.
I wanted to know what they were doing differently in light of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Missouri vs. McNeely that says blood cannot be drawn without a warrant simply because alcohol dissipates in the blood over time.
This was a particularly bitter pill for South Dakota, where our implied consent statute doesn’t even give arrested drivers the option of saying no to a blood draw.
Attorney General Marty Jackley advised police that McNeely didn’t overturn South Dakota law. Even so, Jackley’s advisement explained, police that opt to alter their DUI procedures ought to first seek consent for a blood draw, then attempt to get a search warrant telephonically, then consider several factors before going ahead without one.
The chiefs had a built-in opportunity to talk about McNeely, which unfortunately kept some of them from getting back to me by my deadline. The decision came one week before last week’s police and sheriffs conventions in Deadwood.
I was able to connect with someone in Sioux Falls, Rapid City and Mitchell by my deadline but that was it.
Starting Friday, after the conventions, more answers began to trickle in.
Brookings Police Chief Jeff Miller punted.
“Right now we are referring all inquiries to the AG’s office,” Miller wrote Friday evening.
Yankton Police Chief Brian Paulsen sent an email apologizing for not responding right away, but he didn’t answer the questions.
The answers from the rest of the chiefs show two trends: Most police in South Dakota are going to ask for your consent before drawing your blood at a DUI stop, but they’re going to do everything in their power to get your blood anyway if you say no.
Huron Police Chief Gary Will says his officers will ask for consent, tell the person they could lose their license for a year if they say no, and then call for a warrant.
If no judge answers the phone, Will says, “that’s an exigency right there,” meaning the lack of a judge counts as one reason to excuse a warrantless blood draw. Taken with other factors, the absence of an available judge might be enough to make the BAC evidence from admissible in court.
The no-judge scenario is a real possibility, Will says, because officers in Huron can only call judges who work in the Third Judicial Circuit. A Huron officer can’t call a Sioux Falls judge for a warrant.
Pierre Police Chief Bob Grandpre said Monday his officers haven’t changed just yet, but that they probably will.
Highway Patrol Superintendent Craig Price, who emailed a statement but declined to answer follow-up questions, said troopers will attempt to get a warrant in certain situations but doesn’t intend to alter its procedure drastically.
So officers in Sioux Falls, Rapid City Huron and Mitchell are definitely going to ask for consent, those in Pierre soon will do the same, but troopers in the Highway Patrol might not.
Some readers went right after this story about a former Ms. Wheelchair South Dakota suing eight local businesses over ADA access.
Some of the comments on the Argus Leader’s Facebook page and on two online versions of the story came from people who’d experienced their own difficulties with wheelchair accessibility in Sioux Falls.
Kristina Allen, the plaintiff in the lawsuits, claims to be speaking for them. She isn’t asking for money (aside from attorney fees). She’s asking each of the businesses to remedy the issues she says make it difficult for her and anyone else in a wheelchair to patronize the establishments.
The alleged issues are similar from business to business. The lawsuits have similar language, too.
This bit appears in all eight of them:
“Plaintiff is deterred from, and is denied the opportunity to participate and benefit from the goods, services, privileges, advantages, facilities and accommodations at Defendant’s property equal to that afforded to other individuals. Plaintiff is aware that it would be a futile gesture to attempt to visit Defendant’s property if she wishes to do so free of discrimination.”
The similarities aren’t surprising. These appear to be form lawsuits, filed with the assistance of an out-of-state lawyer who specializes in ADA lawsuits. For further proof, take a look at this rather perplexing sentence in the suit against Boonies:
“The Plaintiff has encountered architectural barriers at the subject property which discriminate against her on the basis of his disability and have endangered his safety.”
Notice the “his” pronoun in there? Someone probably went through each of the documents before filing them and plugged in the necessary changes: “His” to “hers,” “him” to “her,” “he” to “she,” etc.
Not a huge typo, really, given the sheer number of pronouns spread throughout the filings. If it happened in every paragraph, one might be justified in getting judgy about the grammar.
There’s something larger, though: Half the lawsuits list defendants who don’t own the targeted businesses any longer.
When calling around yesterday to ask for comment, I had a lady tell me it had been “at least three years” since she and her husband owned The Mint casino. She was served with the lawsuit, anyway. An employee at Nutty’s Pub and Grill told me the woman I was looking for hadn’t owned the place for a year.
The man who now owns Boonies Bar and Barbeque said he couldn’t comment officially on the lawsuit because he hadn’t seen it. Of course he hadn’t. He isn’t named in it.
This carried on into Wednesday. Someone sent a message to the Argus Leader’s Facebook account pointing out that Nutty’s is no longer owned by the named defendant (which is odd, considering we didn’t name her). The message also said the bar had been renovated in the past year.
Another defendant is dead and has been since 2010. Honestly.
The named defendant was once the owner of Black Sheep Coffee, but he died in 2010. A Black Sheep employee told me Tuesday that someone showed up recently to serve papers on him. He was predictably unavailable.
All of this raises plenty of questions about the veracity of Allen’s specific claims. Exactly when did she visit these places and have these troubles? How many of the problems described in the lawsuits still exist?
These lawsuits will probably need to be amended at the very least, possibly re-filed. The lawsuits that don’t name a specific owner – those targeting Crown Casino, Golden Bowl Chinese Restaurant, Jacky’s Restaurant and Bakery – might be in better shape.
Those are issues for the court to decide. The actual truth of a case is always up to court.
The story was and remains newsworthy for two reasons - One, an advocate for the disabled filed lawsuits against local businesses detailing a series of very real problems faced by people in wheelchairs, and two, the flurry of lawsuits is an example of how private individuals are sometimes expected to seek their own relief when they believe they’ve been discriminated against because of a disability.
In other words, the disabled feel they have to enforce the ADA laws themselves. That much is true, regardless of what happens with Allen’s cases, and is worth writing about.
Whether she is telling the exact truth about one business or the next is a separate question – again, one for the courts.
That said: if you intend to sue someone, it behooves you to make certain that the person is still alive.
At this point, there are still more unanswered than answered questions about the assault on Cpl. Zane Mathis in the state prison over the weekend.
Mathis was attacked in the Jameson Annex on Saturday evening, allegedly, by a maximum-security inmate named Carlos Green. Mathis was still hospitalized Monday, having suffered a broken jaw and several cuts to the head from being punched by Mr. Green.
The DOC and DCI have been mum on details beyond that, saying the case is an open investigation. Green hasn’t been charged yet.
Among the things we don’t know:
- Where did the assault take place? It was in Jameson Annex, but did the attack take place in or outside Green’s cell? Was he being taken from one place to the other? Does he share a cell with someone else?
- What lead up to the attack? DOC spokesperson Michael Winder said Monday that the last two inmate-on-staff attacks designated as “serious” involved inmates who didn’t want to be handcuffed. Was that Green’s issue? Was he arguing with Cpl. Mathis about something?
-Did Mathis use his body alarm or radio to alert his coworkers? Since the murder of Senior Corrections Officer Ron “R.J.” Johnson in 2011, all staffers have been required to wear body alarms. IN the event of an attack, the idea is that the staffer can hit the alarm and anyone anywhere nearby would hear it and respond.
- Was the assault captured on camera? More than 100 additional cameras were placed throughout the prison grounds after Johnson murder. You might recall that the murder itself took place in the Pheasantland Industries building outside the eye of the security cameras. The only video from the attack showed one of the perpetrators, Eric Robert, pushing a box on a wheeled cart through a hallway. That box, we later learned, had Rodney Berget in it. The two attacked Officer Matt Freeburg when he caught them trying to escape at the prison’s west gate.
-Was Mathis alone at the time of the attack? Was he performing a routine duty?
- What, if anything, will the DOC do in response to this incident? After the Johnson incident, there were formal and informal security reviews. When inmate James McVay walked away from the Community Transition Program and killed Maybelle Schein, just months after the Johnson murder, another review of procedures took place. Does the Mathis incident deserve such a treatment?
-Why hasn’t Green been charged yet?
I’ll be looking for those answers over the coming days. As soon as I know, you’ll know.
When I wrote about e-cigarettes, I had a feeling someone would call out the column for endorsing the devices as being a “safe” alternative to cigarettes (which I didn’t).
I expected that a few people would tell me to keep trying to quit in the comments section (Thanks, Rob!).
I learned something I didn’t expect to, though: Apparently, the friend who initially offered me an e-cig then returned to cigarettes is back on the vapor again.
I posted the story to his Facebook wall, you see (I try to fill my friends in when I write about them). He politely informed me that his scrappy, smoke-hating girlfriend had um, *kindly* nudged him back into vaping by buying him a kit from this site.
The point I made - that he was vaping and returned to cigarettes – is still valid. That did happen. It happens to a lot of people. It might happen to me, too.
That he returned is no small matter, though.
When I first thought about switching to e-cigs, I asked my Facebook friends if they knew of anyone who’d tried e-cigs and actually gotten off regular cigarettes altogether as a result.
My longest friend was among the scores of people who’d told me about trying to switch, only to end up disappointed and unsatisfied. Today, one of the people who read the story wished me luck, saying he hopes I have more of it than he did.
My friend’s story of a second attempt was a reminder that people do switch. There’s a forum site full of them right here.
The forum is where I discovered that the first e-cig kit I bought is widely viewed as an unreliable, overpriced choice. This is one I settled on after perusing their site for a week or two.
A lot of the posters on the e-cigarette forum are rabid fans of the practice. The online community in general is fairly rabid, I find. Google “e-cig reviews” and click the videos tab. Everyone’s got an opinion, as they say.
A lot of forum folk are of the opinion that vaping is, unquestionably, a safe alternative to cigarettes. If you read my column, you know that I’m not entirely convinced of that. It seems unlikely they’re anywhere near as bad as a cigarette, but the technology is too young to be certain of their long-term health effects.
Smoke-Free South Dakota certainly doesn’t see e-cigs as a safe alternative. The group posted my column on their Facebook page and said as much. They used the column as an opportunity to endorse the QuitLine.
I mentioned QuitLine in my column. I said I tried QuitLine and it didn’t work. Allow me to be explicit about something: The QuitLine is a phenomenal resource. If you’re even remotely interested in quitting, you ought to call them.
I get that all the phone counseling, quizzing, following up and whatnot can be annoying. I know exactly how much of a bummer it is when they call you back and you have to admit that you’re still smoking (or lie about it). But the fact is that they’ll get you practical stuff to help you quit: Patches, Chantix, etc.
So try the QuitLine. 1-800-SDQUITS. Try cold turkey. Try the gum. Try whatever. I stand by the point I was trying to make, though: If that stuff doesn’t work, you owe it to yourself to try e-cigarettes, too.
The other point? Don’t start in the first place. It’s not cool, it’s not fun and you’ll regret starting. Everyone regrets starting. Just don’t.