So in recent news, and this seems to have been rumbling on for some time now, we’re told there are two camps to the argument on whether electronic cigarettes can help you to quit smoking. One camp believes that to quit smoking you shouldn’t swap one form of smoking for another. The other camp believes that the level of control you can get from e cigarettes, and the fact that you can effectively turn down the nicotine dosage that you smoke, means that e cigarettes are an excellent device to help you quit smoking all together.
According to the American Heart Association, electronic cigarettes should be the last option for anyone looking for help to stop smoking. Its policy statement, which is the first from the Association, supports this view. The American Cancer Society on the other hand, has no formal policy at all. However, it took a stance similar to the American Heart Association in May.
Both groups have urged people, and especially the youth to stay away from the popular nicotine vapour styled products of electronic cigarettes. They have expressed their concerns about the situation, and their stances is that they believe traditional products for quitting smoking, that are tried and tested should be used first.
According to Dr. Elliot Antman, the American Heart Association president, it would be reasonable to have a conversation about electronic cigarettes only if the regular methods have failed. From the Cancer Society’s perspective, electronic cigarettes could be an option for people who have tried counseling and other approved methods like nicotine patches in order to quit, but to no avail.
The makers of electronic cigarettes do not make the mistake of marketing their devices as a better method for people to quit smoking. After all, neither the American Heart Association nor the American Cancer Society recommends them for that purpose.
E cigarettes work by vapourizing nicotine. They are battery powered devices that have been sold since 2007. Currently millions of users own them, something that helps generate $2billion in sales every year, in the United States alone. While there is little information about the health side effects of these devices, the consensus is that they contain lower levels of toxic substances compared to traditional tobacco based cigarettes.
There is a debate on if electronic cigarettes can hurt or aid anti-smoking efforts. Because these devices can be smoked in areas where smoking is banned, although in the States and parts of the UK this is changing, some people believe that e cigarettes encourage smoking. On the other hand though, e cigarettes could be compared to the use of methadone to curb heroine abuse, because they help satisfy nicotine cravings to those who aspire to quit smoking.
Tom Glynn is a retired top scientist and electronic cigarette expert who used to work for the Cancer Society. According to him, the concept is known as harm reduction. He believes that the issue that the tobacco community is currently dealing with is one of the most contentious yet important ones we have faced.
Nicotine patches, medications, and chewing gums are some of the approved ways of aiding smoking cessation. However, there is no evidence solid enough currently, to show that electronic cigarettes do the same.
Glynn believes that more research and hard-nosed electronic cigarette regulation is needed. He also believes that the hardest task is to stop smokers of tobacco based cigarettes from continuing with their habits.
The Heart Association has emphasised on the heavy toll of tobacco use. Over the last five decades, there have been 20 million deaths from smoking in the US alone. The American Heart Association chief executive is Nancy Brown. She has made it clear that the Heart Association has made full commitment to prevent a new generation of smokers from picking up the habit, courtesy of the tobacco industry.
According to Antman, regardless of the form that it takes, nicotine is a highly addictive chemical. Many elecgtronic cigarettes contain this chemical in addition to other products like formaldehyde, which is a carcinogen.
Antman also believes that other effects of electronic cigarettes can be seen as dark clouds on the horizon. These especially include the negative effects on pregnant women’s blood vessels as well as the second hand exposure (although this has been proved in other studies to be inconclusive).
The Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made a proposition in April to treat electronic cigarettes like tobacco products. This would allow them to enforce warning labels and ban on selling to minors. Attorney generals from more than 24 states also sent a letter to the agency earlier this month. They were asking for a ban on the more than 7000 flavours of e liquid available. The American Medical Association has also lent its voice to the cause. It is calling for youth appealing flavours to be banned, as well as the use of additional measures to keep youngsters from accessing e cigarettes.
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Children in the United States does not share the view that electronic cigarettes play a role in smoking cessation. It is also pushing for more regulation of the devices.
Vince Willmore, the group’s spokesperson made it clear that they understood that quitting smoking was hard and many attempts would be made before people succeeded. However, he also emphasized that if smokers had a hard time, doctors could come up with better plans, which should include approved therapies.
It is clear that in America especially people are worried about their children smoking e cigarettes. But this has been a concern with conventional cigarettes since they first appeared.
Most of this news is coming out of America where it seems that they’re on the cusp of following EU’s footsteps in the decision to strictly regulate ecigs. The point is can electronic cigarettes be a viable option for people that are already smokers? It doesn’t seem that anyone wants to stop debating about this question, even though people that used to smoke know the answer. So to cut a long story short why don’t you simply ask them. The MHRA insists that ecigarette companies can make no claims to the word ‘Quit’ we also stand by their view on this as we also believe that in order to quit something this surely must be down to sure will power and determination, after all many vapers are only using e cigarettes as an alternative option, otherwise they would be simply puffing away on a cigarette as we speak.
Lets talk about alternative methods? why not embrace it as a choice like diet soda which seems to have it’s own debate about the safety of artificial sweetners. With all of the above said I believe that there is a third camp that doesn’t take the stance that e-cigs will help you quit smoking, it’s called the ecig industry, because we believe in choice. You’re simply not quitting, you’re switching. I’ll leave you with that thought as I enjoy my own choice of Blueberry eliquid and a can of my favourite diet fizzy pop.
Author: Kevin Ewbank
Avid vaper & co-founder of SmokShop
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