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Ignore the Anti-smoking advocates - Electronic cigarettes can save lives

by CanadaEcigs.ca on 10/29/13

Anti-Smoking Advocates

Studies Show That E-Cigarettes Save Millions of Lives written by: Alex M There have been many victories and feats for the world of anti-smoking advocates. The public is now more aware of how harmful cigarettes are, which has created a stir that makes it difficult for people to start or continue smoking. Because of this ripple effect, smoking rates are now down. However, the anti-smoking crowd still isn't satisfied, as they have now set their sites on a safe product that has saved millions of lives; the e-cigarette.

E-cigarettes, also known as electronic cigarettes, are a safer and less harmful alternative to cigarettes. This is due to the fact that electronic cigarettes work by heating a liquid (usually water containing nicotine and other flavoring), which then produces a water vapour, thus giving the illusion of real smoking, without the harmful effects that come with tobacco-based cigarettes.

Dr. James Aw, a medical doctor from Toronto, Canada and director of the Medcan Clinic, isn't so convinced that e-cigarettes are safer, as he presented recently in his writings. However, he neglects to recognize that e-cigarettes are an important breakthrough in harm reduction technology for those who are wishing to quit smoking, and that e-cigarettes have the potential of life-saving technology that can help millions. But it doesn't matter to Dr. Aw. There are three reasons for his wariness:


1. The marketing campaign

Dr. Aw addresses that e-cigarettes have been heavily pushed by internet marketing, thus making smoking seem "cool" again. However, in response to this reasoning, e-cigarettes are ground-breaking, and of course would be heavily pushed by online manufacturers. In fact, if this new technology can get people to quit smoking, the word needs to get out there. Out of the over 250 companies that are currently making e-cigarettes, there is only one American tobacco company that is in the market. So therefore, it is common sense for the heavy marketing due to the competition.

Dr. Aw's argument is that the intense marketing will encourage young people and children to try smoking. But there is no concrete evidence that even suggest that e-cigarettes are a gateway drug to traditional cigarettes (also called "analogue cigarettes" by e-cigarette users). In fact the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC) conducted a study on e-cigarettes among the youth population and were not able to find a single adolescent of a non-smoking background who became a smoker after trying e-cigarettes. Also, there is no evidence of e-cigarette manufacturers targeting young children in their ad campaigns. Unfortunately, Dr. Aw wasn't able to provide any proof to support this claim.

Because electronic cigarettes come in a variety of flavors, Dr. Aw also believes that this is meant to get young people addicted to nicotine. There is another flaw to this logic as flavored smokes are very popular amongst smokers. The more variety in flavors, the more likely smokers of various backgrounds and tastes will switch over to e-cigarettes. Simple as that.


2. Don't fall into the hype

A 2011 literature review that was published in the Journal of Public Health Policy concludes that there is evidence that suggests that e-cigarettes are a much safer alternative to traditional cigarettes. While there are only a few claims that e-cigarettes are completely safe, there is no doubt that they are much safer than smoking tobacco.

But Dr. Aw is concerned that e-cigarettes are being spun and promoted as smoking cessation products (like the patch or gum) that provides smokers a safer way to indulge in their unhealthy habits, when they haven't been shown to be completely safe. To support his claims, he brings up a study from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that found carcinogens in only 18 samples of e-liquid (that part that is vaporized in e-cigarettes). In fact, these samples contain no more trace levels of carcinogens than other nicotine-replacement products like the patch or gum.

Now, Dr. Aw stands strong on the fact that using e-cigarettes will lead to one to quit smoking. To support his claim, he uses a study that stated that e-cigarettes are as effective as the patch, which isn't actually a bad thing, nor does it support his argument. In 2011, another study was published in the journal called, "Addiction", found that 79% of e-cigarette smokers were able to successfully quit over other methods. It seems that e-cigarettes are an improvement over traditional pharmacotherapy for those who want to quit smoking, and this should be considered a win for advocates of public health if e-cigarettes convince more people to quit smoking.

The previously mentioned CDC study likes to get abused by Dr. Aw, by stating that the study showed an increase in numbers of young people who are trying e-cigarettes. But what Dr. Aw failed to acknowledge is that the study only considered the number of kids who tried the product, it doesn't show whether they started using e-cigarettes on a regular basis or not.

Finally, according to Boston University School of Public Health professor, Dr. Michael Seigal, he states that the majority (90.6%) of young people who experimented with e-cigarettes were already smokers. Which goes against Dr. Aw's claims of electronic cigarettes being the gateway towards traditional cigarettes. If majority of young people were already smokers when they tried e-cigarettes, then it is not a bad thing if the water vapour product can reduce the chances of these young people growing up to be cigarette addicts.


3. Complement instead of supplant

Finally, Dr. Aw is worried that smokers will use electronic cigarettes to complement and supplement their habits by using them in places where smoking is not allowed (ie. restaurants, bars, etc.). Again, according to Dr. Seigal, there is no evidence to support that "dual users" of electronic and tobacco cigarettes increased their consumption of nicotine. On the contrary, users of electronic cigarettes, even if they are dual users, lower their overall nicotine consumption.