Jul 312019

By Fair ExpertOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

A Limestone County family has filed suit against e-cigarette manufacturer JUUL (and 35% owner Altria, parent of Philip Morris) and a local merchant, wishing to hold them responsible for their 17-year-old son’s nicotine addiction. The WAFF story, which embeds the legal complaint, is here.

I started smoking cigarettes regularly in March 1987, just short of my 16th birthday. I was able to smoke for a long time without my parents or stepparents detecting it, mostly because all four of them smoked. Also, it was only very rarely that I got carded, and if I did, all I had to do was go down the street. Finally, there was no significant financial hurdle. In the beginning, I would get a pack of cigarettes and a sixteen-ounce soft drink and get a little change back from $2.

These were circumstances highly conducive to me getting addicted, and I did. Except for a sustained period of a year and a half that ended the week my mother died in April 2001, I smoked a pack to a pack and a half a day from the spring of 1987 until the summer of 2011. I was 40 years old when I finally quit, having smoked a quarter of a million cigarettes.

It is the greatest mistake of my life, and quitting was the hardest thing I’ve ever done that was completely under my control. I still thank God regularly for delivering me, and ask for His help in continuing to keep me abstinent. (As I’ve said before, we like to think the addiction is across the country, or at least in the next town. It’s not. It hangs out about six blocks away.)

It is a demon. I feel tremendous sympathy for this young man’s parents. Quoting from the complaint:

“A.B. now struggles to function without nicotine. He experiences strong mood swings and bouts of rage from withdrawal from the JUUL. A.B’s severe addiction to the nicotine levels contained in the JUUL created within him behavioral issues and deceptive habits that did not exist before, causing severe conflict in the Bentley home to the point where he had to be sent to a military academy in Texas. There, his parents would mail him nicotine cessation products in an effort to help him quit. This behavior of anger and deception has caused A.B. a great deal of guilt, but he was so desperate to obtain nicotine that he could not restrain himself…A.B. still struggles with this nicotine addiction and will continue to struggle with this addiction for the rest of his life. A.B.’s nicotine addiction from JUUL permanently injured and altered his developing brain.”

To be sure, there are different circumstances here from the ones under which I got hooked. Legally, financially, and culturally, it has (thankfully) gotten steadily more difficult for young people to become addicted to nicotine.

However, as painful as it is for his parents to witness, there is nothing remarkable about their son’s behavior described above. A.B. is exhibiting textbook nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Suing tobacco companies and convenience stores will not help him recover. Moreover, there is already a high state of alert about these products. It’s highly unlikely that this lawsuit raises any flags that aren’t already flying.

From what the complaint reveals, and from what I know firsthand about being a nicotine-addicted teenager, I strongly suspect his parents are requiring abstinence as a condition of A.B. living in their home. That is not realistic. They may also think he can patch up or chew gum and just quit. That is not realistic either.

Is the “severe conflict” at home coming from his addiction? Or his parents’ reaction to it?

A.B. should be home (if he’s not home already). Everyone should take a deep breath, speak softly and calmly, and work on a plan together that may not include him quitting right this second. He must want to quit himself for any aids to be effective. But there’s no need to put his entire life on hold because of this unpleasant thing that must be managed for a time.

(And it doesn’t help him to pay a lawyer another dime.)

 Posted by at 10:41 am
Jun 142019

I’m not talking about my fasting regimen a lot, because I don’t want to be tedious. But I’ve realized an unexpected benefit from it that I want to share—better sleep.

I am on a 16-hour/8-hour program four days a week, during which I eat only between 11 am and 7 pm. But one day a week, I fast completely, taking in no calories at all. So I’ll eat dinner, say, Wednesday night, and won’t eat again until Friday morning. Typically this works out to be a 36-hour fast.

Initially I worried that I’d have trouble falling asleep hungry. Funny thing, though—not only am I not hungry at bedtime on my fast day, I actually fall asleep more easily and sleep more soundly.

(The Fitbit knows.)

In the following charts, the light blue lines indicate restless periods (basically moving around) and the pink lines indicate waking periods (getting up to pee). (I’ve removed the falling asleep and waking up periods at the beginning and end.)

Here is a typical chart from before I started any fasting:

Here is a typical chart for sleep the night of my all-day fast:

That’s a five-hour period of uninterrupted sleep. That is huge for me. And the charts on the nights that I haven’t fasted all day, but stopped eating at 7 pm, are improving, too.

I usually don’t call myself an insomniac because my deficit is typically small and manageable, but it has been over a decade since I slept reliably night after night. If that’s you too, you might look into fasting as part of your approach. It’s probably not as difficult as you think.

 Posted by at 9:47 am
May 142019

Bill Nye made headlines this week dropping F-bombs about global warming. (This post is a good entry into what I’ve had to say about climate change on BoWilliams.com.) Here are three things that concern me more: Factory farming. I have written before of the extensive animal welfare concerns embodied in the way we raise most […]

 Posted by at 9:35 am
Apr 232019

Of the several rechargeable battery technologies we have, lithium-ion batteries run a whole bunch of stuff. Your phone almost certainly has one in it. Electric and hybrid cars largely rely on them. This makes sense. Lithium-ion batteries are reasonably durable and perform well, with good capacity, charge times, and so forth. There’s just one thing […]

 Posted by at 8:59 am
Feb 202019

Beginning with the 2019 Indianapolis 500, all of the Dallara DW12 IndyCar bodies will include the Advanced Frontal Protection device, or AFP for short. The AFP is a roughly trapezoidal, three-inch-tall, three-quarters-of-an-inch wide piece of titanium mounted on the centerline of the car, directly in front of the driver. It is meant to deflect debris […]

 Posted by at 10:40 am
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