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If you are over 18 (or 21 depending on the jurisdiction) and like to smoke, you're part of a growing minority who continue to face almost universal stigma against the smoking habit.
Around the world, studies on the health effects of smoking, second-hand smoke (and yes, even third-hand smoke) have made smoking a social taboo for an entire generation.
It is certainly not the first time in history that tobacco has been outlawed. Bans on smoking have been enacted since the 16th century, when Pope Urban VII banned smoking near, around, or in a church.
Later, citywide bans occured at various times throughout Europe, with the first nationwide ban enacted during the Nazi regime when smoking was verboten in every German university, post office, military hospital, and Nazi Party office under strict orders from the Feuhrer himself.
The modern war on cigarettes
Today, in major cities in the US and throughout Europe, the lines of battle in the modern war on tobacco were first drawn in neighborhood bars and restaurants, when service workers raised the specter of threatened lawsuits over occupational health dangers.
Smoking is also now prohibited in most all public buildings, as well as a number of public parks and beaches, further forcing the separation of smokers from the rest of the population.
A national ban on smoking was
imposed in 1940's Germany
under the Nazi regime.
Taxation on tobacco products, enacted at both national, state and local level, has additionally made the cost of buying cigarettes prohibitive for many smokers.
Buying cigarettes online
Online shops selling cheap cigarettes and other tobacco products were the last resort for many smokers - until 2006, when major US banks stopped honoring online credit card purchases. This effectively cut off consumers' last remaining outlet for an affordable way to maintain their cigarette habit.
Currently, American Indian reservations have been the last holdout in refusing to adhere US government regulations, although only a handful of online stores remain to offer online purchases (by e-check, money order, and via the phone, or by snail mail.)
More online retailers today operate mainly out of China and Eastern Europe, which continue to offer easy online credit card payment for purchases. Some are entirely legitimate, while others can be shady operations in which customers are bilked for charges on cigarettes that are never delivered.
As always, shopping smart for cigarettes online means carefully reading a site's guarantees, return policies, and more importantly carefully watching for sometimes pricey overseas shipping charges, which are often only added to the final total before checkout.
Enter the electronic cigarette
The modern version of the electronic cigarette was invented in 2003 by a Chinese pharmacist, and has since gained popularity among some smokers as a viable alternative to the traditional cigarette.
Looking to all the world like a fountain pen, the electronic cigarette simulates the act of smoking by producing an inhaled mist bearing the physical sensation, appearance, and often the flavor and nicotine content of tobacco.
The advantage to e-cigarettes is that they are completely odorless, fireless, and are intended to avoid many of the health risks associated with traditional tobacco smoking.
However, until more controlled scientific studies are performed to prove or disprove their health claims, electronic cigarettes will most likely remain controversial. In the US, for example, the FDA has warned against the dangers of e-cigarettes which may contain many of the same cancer-causing chemicals as regular cigarettes.
Meanwhile, the American Association of Public Health Physicians has advocated for their use among smokers who have tried and failed to quit smoking using the available nicotine withdrawal drugs. They further argue the beneficial effects of e-cigarettes for eliminating the dangers of second hand smoke.
In the wider society, acceptance of electronic cigarettes has been slow, and often marked by confusion over their novelty. Bars, restaurants and some workplaces welcome their use, while airlines still treat them like regular cigarettes with a total ban imposed on-board commercial airplanes and in airport waiting rooms.
In many communities, retail tobacco shops are also reluctant to stock electronic cigarettes, but appropriately enough the new 'cyber cigarettes' are now easily ordered at a growing number of online shops.
More about buying cigarettes around the Web:
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