E-Cigarettes Help To Reduce Harmful Effects Of Smoking June 10, 2014 09:00

Man Smoking an electronic cigarette

In Canada, the principal cause of diseases that are preventable continues to be those caused because of smoking. With an estimated annual direct cost of $4.4 billion, it puts a huge burden on the country’s health care system. However, this cost does not capture the progressive deterioration in health that the smokers experience before they are diagnosed either with heart disease, chronic lung disease or even cancer.

The public have responded very poorly to Canada’s championing tobacco control efforts. This is because the efforts were more focused on encouraging abstinence as well as stigmatizing smokers instead of launching a nationwide campaign with well defined strategies and goals. Those who are responsible for diagnosing, providing care as well as treating illnesses associated with smoking have been adopting not only expensive and aggressive ways, but also dubious methods to manage diseases instead of focusing on prevention. Smokers are often left to fight the addiction all by themselves.

Graphic pictures displayed on packing material, higher taxes and tight restrictions as to where people can smoke have definitely helped to bring down smoking, but they have not been effective in making 4.7 million Canadian smokers give up smoking. Further, the situation has been aggravated by an increase in the number of smokers within the members of the underprivileged community in the society. There would have been more urgency if 20 percent of the adults among the rich Canadians were addicted and afflicted with serious diseases because of smoking tobacco products.

Several facts related to smoking cannot be refuted. Most smokers would like to give up smoking not only because of the cost as well as the stigma associated with it, but also because of concerns about health. Further, nicotine may be both psychologically and physiologically addictive, but it is not nicotine that contributes to the incidence of health problems in smokers, but the toxins that the person inhales when tobacco burns.

Electronic Cigarettes do help Canadians to quit smoking. People get their dose of nicotine through inhalation of vaporized liquid nicotine. E-cigarettes also help people who are not willing or not able to give up smoking to at least bring down impact of smoking on their health. Therefore, e-cigarette can be thought of as the best harm reduction intervention that is available today and more and more people have started using it despite the fact that small entrepreneurs are recommending its use. There is neither any kind of promotion nor regulation.

On the other hand, the skeptics point out that the beneficial effects of e-cigarettes are not proven yet and they may cause adverse side effects. It is true that studies have to be carried out to ascertain and prove beyond any doubt that it is beneficial, but e-cigarettes can help eliminate toxins inhaled through the tobacco smoke by the smokers. Some of the youngsters who try out smoking may now make use of e-cigarettes instead of cigarettes. The good thing is that it is highly unlikely that the youngsters who try out e-cigarettes would change over to the more harmful substance later. We need not trust the tobacco companies, but we should not think that e-cigarettes do not provide any benefits at all because of the contempt we carry in our minds as far as the industry is concerned. Regulation is essential in order to make sure that correct nicotine dose is administered, makers do not add other substances, there are restrictions as far as sales to the youth are concerned and there are health-based limitations on product advertisements.

When it comes to improving the health of smokers, saving the lives of people and bringing down government’s expenditure on heath care, e-cigarettes can contribute to a great extent. However, if we continue to hold on to moralistic arguments that only abstinence presents the right model as far as substance use or abuse is concerned, unwanted fears that it could cause a great deal of health risk to the younger generation and the mistrust being vehemently promoted by the tobacco manufacturers, we may miss the bus altogether. The opportunity being presented to us by electronic cigarettes to bring about a radical change in the incidence of diseases associated with smoking not only in Canada, but also around the world, will be lost forever.