The big news is that the FDA will now begin to regulate e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes, for those who don’t watch the super bowl commercials or look at the magazine ads on every other page, are electronic nicotine vapor delivery systems that look like space-age pens(if you haven’t seen any, take a look at the Vape NZ ones, they’re pretty cool). However, their use over the past 5 years has exploded. You’ll see them everywhere you look, on airplanes, on the subway, or at work.
These e-cigarettes are hugely controversial within the field of public health. That is because there are two competing arguments being made. The first argument is a personal one and goes like this: e-cigarettes are a less toxic tool that can help people to quit smoking cigarettes. If this is something that interests you then why don’t you locate vape shops near you. Though not scientifically proven, it seems quite logical that since e-cigs are only nicotine vapor and don’t contain all the carcinogenic components of smoke, such as tar, that e-cigs could be a safer alternative to tobacco smoking for tobacco users. One of my friends was finally able to quit after many years struggling to do so by using e-cigarettes. He couldn’t believe I was questioning whether e-cigs were a good thing and to be honest, it’s great that he feels that they worked for him. If this is something that you think could work for you then you could try something like this Italian website that offers e-cigs on vaporizzatori. I would never tell you to not try a way to stop smoking, after all, e-cigarettes could be considers as better than smoking (although not smoking would be the ultimate solution). The e-cigarette industry is also heavily lobbying this argument for their multi-billion dollar per year industry. However if the past 100 years have taught us anything, it is to never believe the tobacco industry.
The counter-argument to e-cigarettes is a public health one. Over the last years we have been making dramatic progress in reducing smoking rates. The worry is that e-cigarettes could stop that progress by allowing people to stay hooked. Bold initiatives like Mike Bloomberg’s smoking bans have helped to incrementally evict cigarettes, the defining product of the 20th century, out of their place in society and popular culture. The problem with e-cigarettes is their potential to re-normalize tobacco use, both through an unproven belief that they are safe and through their ability to allow people to use nicotine in public places like work or the restaurant. Ask any smoker; it is an enormous inconvenience to continually have to go outside at work, public places, or home for a smoke. With e-cigarettes, smokers can continue to get a nicotine fix throughout the day. E-cigarettes remove many of the disincentives to smoking.
You might say, so what, if people want to quit, they should quit. It’s a free country. Except we need to remind ourselves of the galactic scale of the problem. Tobacco kills over 480,000 Americans every year, and most of those people got hooked as kids. I would postulate that tobacco’s negative impact on health has been greater than the positive impact of all of medical practice over the past century (this is of course pure speculation, and I would love to see this analysis borne out). Tobacco’s personal impact translates to kids without parents, grandchildren without the opportunity to meet their grandparents, and spouses losing their partners. That is why the stakes for e-cigarettes are so great, and hence the provocative title of this blog. On first mention, e-cigarettes seem to be a less toxic version of cigarettes, but if e-cigarettes halt the downward slope of smoking rates, the results will be catastrophic.