(I would like to thank Char from VapeMate for bringing the podcast to my attention.)
I’ve just finished listening to a CBC podcast: The rise of E-cigarettes: Helping to quit or encouraging to smoke? It was oh so fairly moderated and presented opinions from various Edmontonians, a smoker turned vaper, an owner of a non-nicotine e-cigarette company and a London Drugs pharmacist, as well as an non-smokers rights activist from Ottawa. The interview with the pharmacist from the local stringer was the only place where the media side seemed to be a wee bit rabid about the affair.
Other than the ex-smoker there seemed to be a strong agreement that nicotine is the devil’s tool, that we need big randomized control studies before we let people near the nicotine e-cigs, and that the only goal worth pursuing was ridding the world of nicotine with only the faintest nod in the direction of improving public health. In fact one of the greatest howlers was when Melodie Tillson of the Non-smokers’ Rights Association described herself as part of the health community. This from someone who is fighting tooth and nail to keep e-cigarettes out of the hands of smokers. (By the way, superlative examples of those big trials exist showing how ineffective nicotine replacement therapies are, not to mention how dangerous Champix is, and given the ringing endorsement of these as “proven cessation therapies” I hate to think what kind of evidence would be needed to get e-cigarettes approved.)
But I diverge.
This reminded me of something I have been thinking about for some time and that is once you remove any substantial health risk from using nicotine (as in vaping or using smokeless tobacco) it will cease to matter whether or not you use nicotine. It would be like the old days where whether someone was a smoker or not did not imply anything about their character and it certainly was not a sufficient reason for barring them from employment.
And once whether you use nicotine or not ceases to matter, then quitting becomes moot.
So back to that article subheading: helping to quit or encouraging to smoke? It doesn’t matter. (Of course if they mean many vapers for reasons that only make sense to tobacco control advocates would drop their relatively safe habit for one with proven health risks, which stunk up their clothing and breath, caused them to hack, and which would make them (at least in Canada) stand outside alone in the cold just to get their nicotine. Isn’t that a little like discouraging people from using seatbelts because using them would make it more likely that they would want to drive without them?
But before I use up the typical online reading patience let me present point two.
Once we have finally driven home the point that nicotine and the health effects associated with inhaling burnt matter are two different things then research on nicotine itself can move forward.
Its no secret that whenever a substance or a plant has negative connotations it is difficult to get funding unless you are exploring the negative potentials. We can then do the same studies we do with caffeine or alcohol. We’ve already gotten hints that nicotine might be useful in the treatment of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and ulcerative colitis. For all we know nicotine users might be better off in the long run than abstainers.
Once we finally get it that nicotine is a safe enough drug which a lot of people seem to get a lot of benefit from and that burning tobacco is one of the worst ways to go about getting it and once public health gets it as well, that the focus should be on health and not about whether someone is holding a tube to their mouth inhaling and then blowing something out, once we all get that then we can dismiss it as yet another interesting thing that a lot of people like to do and then we can move on to more important issues.