“We must not be so easily lured by the illusion of a safe substitute for cigarettes that we yield precious ground in the war against tobacco.” So writes Michael Stanbrook, Deputy Editor, Scientific for the Canadian Medical Journal in a recent oped.
You get the feeling from these tireless campaigners for an unending battle that even were tobacco removed from the planet they would next fight to remove all pleasant memories of smoking or the aromatic smell of a pipe.
The main theme of the article is a call for medicalization of e-cigarettes. He is afraid that people might be able to vape openly which will undo all the good work done so far (by good work he means harassment and stigmatization of smokers). It is this marginalization that has won the gains so far and this thus justifies the tactic. In that context, a person enjoying a vape and suffering no harm is just wrong, or worse, a fifth columnist.
He is particularly pissed that the tobacco companies are jumping on the bandwagon and because they are not immediately dropping the tobacco trade he suggests they think that e-cigs are a Trojan horse to rehook the population. And why exactly would a company drop a lucrative line before another dominated? And those tobacco companies are so evil as opposed to the lily white pharmaceutical companies.
In an article on CTV News, and based on this oped:
One of Stanbrook’s major concerns is that increasing use of e-cigarettes could undermine the tool he credits most for having driven down smoking rates in Canada — the restrictions on smoking in workplaces, in restaurants and bars and many other public settings. These policies have made it harder for smokers to smoke, and have turned public perception against the habit.
“It was to make it more and more inconvenient to continue their addiction so that they were finally motivated to quit, as the overwhelming majority of smokers want to do anyway but can’t,” said Stanbrook, who practises at Toronto Western Hospital.
“So anything that reverses that most effective tool we’ve ever invented is of concern.”
Stanbrook acknowledged that e-cigarettes probably do help some people quit smoking. But he worries that — unlike nicotine patches or gum — the devices have a cool quotient that could appeal to youth and spur them to start consuming nicotine.
“The gum isn’t cool for youth to use in clubs. No one’s going to make that sexy. No one’s going to make sticking a nicotine patch on sexy and trendy. But here’s something that looks to a casual observer exactly like smoking, can be made trendy, can be expanded to people who never smoked. That’s where the concern comes in.”
Harm reduction works best when it is cool.
Imagine if helmets were only allowed to be manufactured if they were guaranteed to make you look like a dork. (Oh sorry bad example…that actually is true).