Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Helping smokers quit, the anti-smoker way

According to supporters, the electronic cigarette (aka the personal vapourizer) is a modern marvel; an innovative invention that allows smokers to engage their vice while avoiding the health concerns associated with tobacco. And, there are many in the public health community who agree with that assessment.

Dr. Michael Siegel, of Boston University School of Public Health, has written a number of articles on his blog, Tobacco Analysis, chastising anti-smoker groups for their efforts to suppress (read ban) use of the e-cig. He believes that the e-cig does help smokers kick the habit. And, Siegel stands ready to support almost anything that will get smokers off that wicked weed (tobacco, not that other wicked weed). Whether they want to or not.

The anti-smoker fanatics, on the other hand, have launched a full-scale assault on what they claim is a deadly new device designed to, among other things, ensnare children and turn them into nicotine addicted misfits.

The e-cigs are marketed to kids, according to anti-smoker cultists, by providing flavoured nicotine cartridges; strawberry, menthol, cherry, chocolate, etc. Dr. William Bailey, medical director of the UAB Lung Health Center, asks : “Who's going to want a chocolate cigarette but a kid?”

Geez, Doc, I don't know. A chocoholic smoker, maybe?

But, really, how many kids can afford fifty to a hundred bucks for a chocolate flavoured, make-believe cigarette? If it's the chocolate they're after, wouldn't it be much cheaper to spend a buck on a candy bar at the local corner store.

A recent FDA study, and I use that term very loosely, raised only two health concerns with e-cigs: they contained known carcinogens in the form of nitrosamines and one out of 19 cartridges tested contained di-ethylene glycol. The nitrosimamines were, in fact, present in only trace amounts, at levels similar to those found in nicotine replacement products; the gum, the patch and the nicotine inhaler.

And, as Dr. Siegel pointed out in one of his blog posts, “pharmaceutical grade propylene glycol is readily available and contains no appreciable amount of di-ethylene glycol, this problem is most likely not a widespread one.” In fact, it's likely a quality control issue confined to one brand of e-cig rather than a serious health concern inherent in the product itself.

Ellen Hahn, Director of the Kentucky Center for Smoke-Free Policy, claims in an article on the
Public News Service, that “e-cigarettes could actually end up creating new customers for tobacco in a state where adult and youth smoking rates are at epidemic levels.”

We'll ignore the fact that despite decades of smoker-bashing, smoking bans, punitive taxation and discriminatory action of all kinds directed at smokers, Kentucky is still in the grip of a tobacco “epidemic.” And, we won't ask what Ms. Hahn and her colleagues have been doing with their time and money.

Ms. Hahn says “it would be a bad idea for Kentucky smokers, who are trying to quit their habit, to get hooked on alternatives to smoking.” Uh-huh. What she means is that it would be a bad idea for Kentucky smokers to get hooked on the wrong alternatives to smoking.

The nicotine patch, nicorettes and the inhaler are perfectly acceptable. But e-cigs are a no-no which must be fought tooth and nail, despite the fact it has been used by hundreds of thousands of smokers to cut back and/or quit. So why would the anti-smoker crowd want to deny smokers use of a device which helps them fulfill their mission?

They are claiming, after all, that they want to “help” smokers kick the habit; for their own good, of course. They are claiming that they want to protect non-smokers from the alleged hazards of secondhand smoke. They claim that they are protecting the public purse by reducing the alleged high health care costs posed by smoking real tobacco.

So, why are they trying so desperately to persuade the FDA to ban the electronic cigarette; a device with the potential to address all three of those concerns? Why are they trying to vilify the product in the eyes of the public; to dissuade it's use. Isn't that counter-productive?

Unless, of course, the whole charade was never about public health in the first place. Unless, the pretext of protecting public health was merely an excuse to conduct a moral crusade against smoking. Unless they're more concerned about protecting their funding sources in the pharmaceutical industry and from the government (through the legalized extortion known as tobacco taxation).

At any rate, since I've commented on the electronic cigarette several times on this blog, I figured it was about time I invested in one. There's one slight problem of course; getting them into Canada. Health Canada has decided to follow the FDA lead and is apparently stopping shipments into the country.

But, what the hell. I'll wind up with the material for a blog whether it gets throug
h or not.


Anonymous said...

I recently purchased an e-cig and had it delivered to where I live in Norway. The Norwegian government, in thrall to either the pharmaceutical companies or the anti smoking do gooders banned the product before most Norwegians had even heard of it. The sort of knee jerk reaction you get in this country. I had no problem getting mine, I ordered it on-line and asked the company to ship it in plain packaging. Delivered to the door, no problem.
Everyone who has banned it is going to have to bite the bullet and reverse their decision as it will be found to be an excellent alternative to tobacco that completely kills objections based on health, second hand smoke (or third hand or fourth hand...yawn)etc. A friend of mine believes that government bodies have been quick on the ban it bandwagon mostly because no-one can work out how to levy taxes on the e-cig.

The ZaZ said...

Preach on, brother! Just found your blog. It's amazing to me the absurdity we smokers have to abide by. I battle it here in Minnesota as well.