Tuesday, May 14, 2013

To Many Anti-Smoking Advocates, Nicotine is the Problem, Rather than Disease and Death

According to an article in the Toledo Blade, electronic cigarettes have helped many smokers to quit, producing profound health benefits among patients with COPD and cancer who were unable to quit using traditional methods.

While this seems like something to applaud, the article notes that health officials are frowning upon, rather than praising, the tremendous health benefits that smokers have achieved from quitting or cutting down on tobacco cigarettes.

According to the article:

"Health officials argue the long-term effects of the unregulated products are unknown and require more research. “There are fewer chemicals in e-cigarettes and no carbon dioxide is emitted. Those certainly would be a reduction in harmful inhalants,” said Holly Kowalczk, a registered respiratory therapist at Promedica St. Luke’s Hospital. “However, some of the brands still contain harmful chemicals, such as diethylene glycol, which is used in antifreeze.” Ms. Kowalczk, who also is a certified tobacco treatment specialist, said it's unlikely that using e-cigarettes as a means to quit smoking will cure a smoking addiction. “Nicotine addiction has always been the problem. People trying to use e-cigarettes aren’t really addressing that issue,” Ms. Kowalczk said. “They’re still putting nicotine in their bodies and they’re still engaging in smoking behaviors.”"

The Rest of the Story

This is an open admission that illustrates the blind ideology that is leading many anti-smoking advocates and groups to oppose an innovation that is saving thousands of lives.

These advocates view nicotine as the problem, not disease and death. It is the addiction to nicotine that seems to bother these health officials, rather than the actual health effects of smoking. If research subsequently showed that nicotine has no serious long-term health effects, these advocates would still consider electronic cigarette use to be an evil and to consider it to simply be a "smoking behavior" because it involves nicotine use.

How ludicrous, however, for a health practitioner to argue that if a smoker quits smoking using e-cigarettes, that ex-smoker is still "engaging in smoking behaviors." No the person is not.

What do you call a smoker who substitutes electronic cigarettes completely for tobacco cigarettes?

The answer ...

... an ex-smoker.

Would this health practitioner also argue that someone who quits smoking using the nicotine patch (and continues to apply the patch for many months) has not actually quit smoking?

An additional problem with this practitioner's statement is that she asserts that electronic cigarettes still contain diethylene glycol. There is no evidence that this is the case. All of the lab testing of electronic cigarettes during the past two years of which I am aware has not detected diethylene glycol in these products. The practitioner is citing outdated data that only applied to one brand and probably resulted from the use of non-pharmaceutical grade propylene glycol, which is no longer in use by virtually all e-cigarette companies in 2013.

Why not simply state that you don't know, rather than pretend to be an expert on a topic about which you know very little? Why risk giving the public misinformation, which this practitioner is doing.

The rest of the story is that this admission illustrates the basic ideology that is leading anti-smoking advocates to oppose electronic cigarettes. As I stated previously, the health of smokers is not the paramount concern of all of our health professionals. Instead, the ideology of opposing anything that "looks" like smoking has overtaken in prominence the concern over the best interests of the health of smokers. The health of smokers is being sacrificed to the blind adherence to the ideology that anything that looks like smoking is evil.

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