E-cigarettes: sending the wrong smoke-signal

  • Europe
  • United States
  • Health care
  • Smoking and tobacco
  • Health and fitness

E cigarettes are not entirely risk free. Little research has yet been done about their long term health effects. Nicotine is, in implausibly large doses, a poison. Even in small ones it is addictive and the amount of the chemical dispensed by e cigarettes varies from one brand to another. But it is already clear that whatever health risks may emerge in studies of e cigarette use, they are vastly less lethal than traditional smokes.

Given the prospect of weaning the world s billion or so smokers onto something much less harmful, as well as protecting children and others from second hand smoke, there is a more sensible approach. Europe should tighten the existing rules on labelling and quality control that affect e cigarettes. America should also increase oversight. Governments should then invest in rigorous testing and see how the product evolves. For e cigarettes are changing rapidly in response to consumer demand. In America around 300m of them will be sold this year, three times the figure in 2012.

This seems to worry pharmaceutical firms, which in Europe are lobbying for curbs on e cigarettes, a competitor to their nicotine patches and other quitting aids. Big tobacco firms are working on e cigarettes of their own, as well as cigarettes that heat rather than burn the tobacco. But they have an interest in slowing the switch to smokeless smokes. If the innovative smaller firms that make most e cigarettes have to seek a licence every time they want to offer a new flavour or strength, the move towards safer nicotine consumption will be slowed.

Careless regulation costs lives

So far it seems that most regular vapers of e cigarettes are smokers or ex smokers. But over time the prospect of a relatively harm free nicotine kick could draw in many new users. This risk, and the lack of long term research on the residual risks of nicotine, argue for restricting the sales of e cigarettes to children. But as far as adults are concerned, they should be subject to less regulation than alcohol (which is far more harmful) and perhaps to no more than caffeine, another addictive and mildly poisonous substance whose widespread use governments see no need to curb. The risk of getting more people addicted to something relatively harmless is well worth taking, given the opportunity for curbing dramatically the world s single most harmful voluntary activity. Politicians should stand back and let a thousand e cig brands bloom.

Why it would be crazy to ban e-cigarettes — telegraph

I am not a smoker.

Never in my life have I been privy to the heady chemical high that comes from sucking the end of a little white stick and blowing smoke from your nose like a dragon. Nor shall I experience the not so alluring side effects stained fingers and teeth, heightened risk of stroke, heart attack and all manner of cancers or spend up to f400 per month on what by all accounts is an incredibly dangerous hobby.

Nor am I one of those non smokers who doesn’t mind other people lighting up in my presence. I have no qualms about shielding my nose beneath my shirt, prefering to inhale my own body odour over their second hand puffings social norms be damned.

And nor am I sympathetic to the plight of this persecuted demographic. The days of bemoaning Big Tobacco advertising for their charming lies, or blaming addiction on ignorant folly, are long behind us. If you’re hooked on smoking, that’s your look out. We all heard the warnings.

But, before a legion of addicts make arrangements to extinguish their fag ends on my forehead, you should know that there is a burning issue on which I stand with you shoulder to shoulder. The proposed EU ban on electronic cigarettes, which may come into effect if three or more of the 28 member states prohibit their use is nothing short of unfair persecution.

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I m aware that times have never been tougher for the 21st century smoker. We threw you out of our pubs and restaurants, inflated prices exponentially, broadcast messages of doom on packets and even took them off display in shops, meaning every purchase, every puff, felt like you were participating in a shady drug deal.

But then a groundbreaking new technology hit the market, one that struck the sweet spot between still smoking and cold turkey, allowing smokers to, quite literally, come in from the cold.

Reported to be a f1.7bn industry across Europe, battery powered e cigarettes are now used by 1.3 million of the UK s estimated 10 million smokers, and they mimic old fashioned smoking by vapourising a liquid infused with nicotine, while coming in nice smelling flavours from mint to juicy peach. Granted, they re not perfect some are a visual cross between a fountain pen and Doctor Who s sonic screwdriver, and they have given rise to the abominable buzzword «vape». But, given that experts claim they pose no known harm to others, they could potentially slash the 100,000 tobacco related deaths in the UK each year. Outlawing them would be kicking the wheezing smoker while he’s down.

With fresh government legislation banning the sale of electronic cigarettes to under 18s as of this week, the smoky squabble has taken on yet another dimension. And sure, this new law does make some sense, in that the long term health effects are still somewhat unknown and no one wants to glamourise or advocate any form of smoking to children. However, this is still just one side of the coin. Over 200,000 British children start smoking every year, according to anti smoking charity ASH, with two thirds of adult smokers admitting to first sparking up while under 16. Is it really wise to criminalise a device that regardless of the precise risks could be licensed as a medicine as early as 2016 and is the first step on the route to packing up for many? Or, as with the alleged health risks themselves, is no one actually all that sure?

Just as heroin addicts have methadone, the favoured way for smokers to wean themselves off addiction is via a safer alternative, and with e cigarettes both tobacco free and as effective as nicotine patches, the case against their use is not just cruel but petty.

Already outlawed in Norway and Brazil, one of the prevailing factors behind New York City s forthcoming e cigarette ban, which from April will prevent use of devices in bars, restaurants and public spaces, as with regular cigarettes, was that their use «normalises» the idea of smoking in the minds of impressionable youngsters. That idea is wildly offensive to both e cigarette users and impressionable youngsters.

Another gripe by critics is that the use of electronic cigarettes in restaurants could «confuse» other diners and muddle current smoking laws, as smokeless vapour can look similar to the real thing. It s a concern which, by the same logic, would eventually see sugar outlawed from coffee shops, because it looks a little bit like cocaine from a distance, and you wouldn’t want people stirring that into their capuccinos.

The sole argument holding any currency is that the proliferation of e cigarette advertising is akin to the old days of Big Tobacco marketing with flashy adverts splashed across newspaper spreads, celebrities eager to endorse them and vague messaging masking the actual effects. This may be true, but is this not a staple advertising tactic used by everyone from Ronald McDonald to the singing Satsuma offering high interest loans?

Regardless, if the saturation of e cig ads leads to yet more puffers swapping their B&H for a liquid stick and packet of batteries, then more power to them.

So come on EU, don t punish smokers actively trying to stub out their addiction they ve got enough on their plate dealing with militant non smokers like me, as they battle to spark up in a sub zero pub garden.


4 комментария to “E-cigarettes: sending the wrong smoke-signal”

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