The scene was a common one for any parent of a young child – a friend’s birthday party. There were all the usual suspects: cake, balloons, presents, music, and lots of excited screaming children. I dropped my daughter off and vowed to return before the allotted pick-up time.
I actually made it back in time to witness the ritual of the presents being opened. The kids all sat in a circle and after each gift was opened, it was passed around so that the young guests could inspect it. That’s when I noticed a nefarious presence I had not seen in a children’s party before. There, in the middle of the action, was the father of the birthday-girl with a cigarette in his mouth.
I should point out that my North American friend was puffing away on an electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) since he had given up smoking the “bad” kind. When one of the kids asked him about his cigarette, the father nonchalantly explained that it was not a real cigarette. Pardon me, but what the hell does that mean?
Users of e-cigarettes, convinced the things are harmless to others, are using the things in places and situations where cigarettes have long been banished. The thing may not pose an immediate health risk, but it certainly is sending kids mixed messages about the harmfulness of smoking. I can recall just a few years ago where this same parent went to great lengths to hide his smoking from his own kids. Now, armed with an e-cigarette, his smoking is no longer confined to out on the balcony or in dank stairwells.
Frankly, this openness is also making some potentially embarrassing situations for me. For example, do I post up photos of a dad toking on an e-cigarette while sitting in a circle of kids opening birthday presents? I’ve got a feeling the comments from the netizens would not be very kind.
Photos: Ozont (Flickr)