E-cigarettes as a safer alternative to traditional tobacco cigarettes?
This stance may go against the currently accepted party line worldwide which more or less states that smoking is bad and nothing short of quitting nicotine entirely is acceptable.
However, Zachary Cahn of the Political Sciences Division Harvard and Michael Seigl a researcher at Boston University have published an article that E-cigarettes might be a viable addition to the smoking reduction and cessation strategies currently in place.
The report titled “Electronic cigarettes as a harm reduction strategy for tobacco control: A step forward or a repeat of past mistakes?” was published by Harvard’s Population and Development studies. This Harvard program focuses upon global health issues and combines research from the medical standpoint as well as sociological dynamics and strategies to propose new answers to sometimes very old questions.
The Problems As Suggested by The Harm Reduction Report
Smoking may not be universally accepted as a recreational behaviour but the report approaches smoking as an addiction as well as a recreational activity. The researchers note that although harm reduction has been accepted with other activities such as illicit drug use and the needle exchange program, drinking and driving and the designated driver program, no such initiative has been initiated for smoking.
The roadblocks to instituting a harm reduction program for smoking as presented by the researchers are the common beliefs among policy makers that:
1. Attractive e cigs or nicotine replacement devices would inhibit the efficacy of the stop smoking campaigns currently in place.
2. Smokeless alternatives could be as dangerous or more dangerous than tobacco
3. Nicotine Replacement Products are in general unattractive and people will not use them
4. Lack of understanding about E-cigarettes and the belief they are combusted products
5. Big Tobacco Companies Can Not Be Trusted To Make E cigs
There are other concerns policy makers express such as the belief that attractively packaged E-cigarettes being widely available could induce non-smoking youngsters to pick up this habit. The researchers presented an impressive array of studies and statistical evidence on the psychology as well as the physiological effects of smoking tobacco as opposed to e cigs.
What is probably most notable about this report is the researchers were able to effectively rebut all the standard arguments against using e cigs or smokeless nicotine replacement therapies. What follows are the main arguments for using smokeless cigarettes rebutting the common misconceptions of the policy makers in the order they were presented.
Main Points Made For Using E-cigarettes as A Safer Alternative to Smoking
1. Current research suggests that nicotine replacement alone is not effective in reducing cravings. E cigs simulate the act of smoking and help satisfy the psychological component to smoking. In fact the researchers suggest that E cigs might be used as a long term smoking cessation device.
2. The researchers noted that none of the thousands of toxic byproducts produced by burning tobacco are found in e cigs. Nicotine levels when exhaled were minimal or non-existent.
3. Nicotine replacement products such as inhalers were deliberately made unappealing in order to prevent abuse. The researchers note that E-cigarettes help satisfy the nicotine urge of the smoker by delivering nicotine to the lungs and by allowing the smoker to indulge in a familiar ritual. E cigs are not the traditional nicotine therapy and are designed to look and feel as much like a tobacco cigarette as possible making them more attractive to smokers.
4. E cigs do not contain tobacco and are there is no combustion involved when using them.
5. It is generally accepted that tobacco companies can’t be trusted. However, e cig hardware and the nicotine cartridges are not produced by tobacco companies. In fact, since they are a smoking replacement for many users they are directly contrary to the interests of most tobacco companies.
The paper and statistical results presented by the researchers strongly suggests that e-cigarettes are a safer alternative to smoking tobacco products.The researchers also indicate that e cigs could be an effective tool in the difficult process of quitting smoking entirely. The main arguments against nicotine replacement devices were formulated before e cigs were invented and became available to the public. Many decision makers are using outdated statistics or operating on assumptions that do not apply to electronic cigarettes.
A few policy makers are operating from a rigid mindset which states that harm reduction will lead to abuse. The researchers indicate however, the abuse is already present, and harm reduction may save lives by helping people quit who may not otherwise be able to quit. Furthermore, they argue that e cigs have thus far shown less threat than traditional tobacco products.
While it may take more than one revolutionary report to induce policy makers to examine their current stance on e cigs, it seems that the movement has begun. Many smokers are trying and staying with e cigs because they have made the personal decision based on their own findings. Harm reduction strategies such as e cigs may well help reduce the healthcare costs of smoking related illnesses as well as the deaths due to smoking.