The Harm Reducing E-cigarette Meeting Health Opposition

Photo of e-cig user.

The rapidly increasing popularity of the e-cigarette within the smoking fraternity’s range of alternatives is certainly positive news, and this concept does seem to be having an impact, with some extremely encouraging reviews from seasoned smokers. The manufacturers at the forefront of the industry are doing there bit, creating a product that can satisfy the unrelenting craving for nicotine, but done so via a vaporized liquid solution, that resembles a kind of aerosol mist. This has the desired effect, but avoids the release of the lung damaging tar and associated carcinogenic killer chemicals that run into the thousands.

The differences they can make to an individual’s life are almost immeasurable. Many people have spoken of their increased confidence levels, brought about through an improved personal hygiene. No longer are they self-conscious of their foul smelling breath and unsightly discoloration of teeth and fingers; they are also more comfortable socially, happy in the knowledge that they have ceased distributing passive smoke to all around them.

As a consequence of this wonderful creation, its value to harm reduction policies has to be recognized as extremely high, or so you would think. After all, these public health directives have been thought up to offer genuine assistance to needy individuals, who for one reason or another, have issues with certain activities that can cause them injury, hurt, ill-health or trauma; basically some level of harm. They are intended to help manage these people through their particular problem, by providing a viable alternative to their need, but in as safe a way as is possible.

How much safer could cigarette smoking be made, than to develop something that mimics the actual process; it looks the same, it even allows the illusion of “smoke” to be exhaled, but causes no damage to the health; it has to receive major accolades, doesn’t it? Well it seems not. There is real frustration being felt in many quarters, as the major health organizations fail to acknowledge harm reduction value of e-cigarettes.

It should not even reach the debating point; the evidence is there for all to see. The percentage of people who have tried e-cigarettes and successfully quit smoking for real, within 6 months is currently sitting at 31% and rising; plus sales are going through the roof. Back in 2008 there were 20 million sold; by 2011 this figure had jumped incredibly to a massive 195 million, as the innovative creation grew in popularity. The staggering 2013 projected figure is an astonishing one billion, which surely indicates that the message is getting through, but not it seems to the powers that be.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has its eye on its inclusion as a “new” tobacco product to be brought under its regulations. Their guidelines completely disregard any potential it has as a harm reduction device and are resisting the pressure that is being applied, to accept the undeniable evidence that substantiates the counter argument.

Much of the thinking is based around analysis taken on just two brands as far back as 2009. Seemingly one certain chemical was discovered, but this was isolated and of course there have been enormous advances in technology in the years since. Any other concerns that they have are nothing more than speculation, so it is deeply frustrating trying to make them accept what is in reality, common sense.

Another body who has dug their heels in with regard to the strategies of harm reduction that can aid tobacco dependency is The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). They do so much good work in other areas of public health, that it seems quite peculiar that they are so opposed to the recognition of good practice that the e-cigarette brings. Hopefully, in time all these organizations will relax their viewpoints and see the product for what it really is.

The manufacturers continue to insist that they are recreational, but that is actually doing them a disservice, as it does not convey the amount of good that they bring to the masses, who struggle with a nicotine craving. Thankfully, the e-cigarette is here to stay. There is certainly no getting away from the fact that these substitutes are a fabulous addition to society, and should be viewed as a blessing, which are proving to be a life changer and could actually be a life saver.

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