Today, we found an article on www.ctv.ca by Andrea Janus regarding the electronic cigarette. We love to give props to good articles and even though we are mentioned in this particular article, it is not why this article is (solely) being given props. It is very well written and does offer a bit of information.
Janus spoke with Brock University’s Community Health Sciences Department and quoted Professor Kelli-an Lawrance. Dr. Lawrance is a Co-director of Leave the Pack Behind, a group at Brooks’ University that focuses on getting university students to quit smoking. They currently have almost 50 participating universities who use their program across Canada.
Janus quoted Lawrance as stating “I think that these particular devices are being marketed with the intention of keeping people smoking…They’re not smoking them to try to quit. And so I think that that’s a really big issue.” Please remember, she is an all or nothing kind of gal.
One thing that many smokers who have attempted to quit and failed can agree on is that the NRT’s do not take care of one huge problem that smokers face and that is the ritual involved in smoking. The hand to mouth sensation, the taking a moment to relax, almost a moment of re-centering. For some, having a cigarette is a moment for meditation.
Why should we have to give up something that helps us be focused and centered, if we can have it delivered to us in a far less harmful way than through tobacco? Why should we be forced to chew gum or puff on a nicotine inhaler which does in fact have some serious side effects? It is the failing to quit several times that lead many smokers to one realization: I love to smoke, so why shouldn’t I be able to?
Later, Lawrance does go on to be quoted as saying that “nicotine gum is better as a crutch… because you’re doing yourself far, far less harm, if any, and you’re doing no harm to the people around you”. This brings us to the next question: If the argument for public health lies in the second hand smoke and the electronic cigarette does not produce second hand smoke, isn’t this a step in the right direction? Isn’t it healthier for those around the smoker? (Yes, we are very aware that further tests need to be done on the vapor.)
For those who market these as a smoking cessation device, it’s odd because you continue “smoking” so how are you actually quitting? It would be better to label the e-cig as a “tobacco reduction device” because that’s really what it is. Here at INSTEAD, we still stand that the electronic cigarette is an alternative to tobacco and it should not be seen as smoking cessation device. Does it get you off of the tobacco? Absolutely. Are you still partaking in the action of smoking? Absolutely.
Another item that jumped out of the article for us was the use of the word “abstinence”, three times no less, from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, a division of the US Department of Health and Human Services. What this should read is “abstinence from nicotine”. But wait? What if we don’t want to be forced into abstinence of nicotine? People enjoy their caffeine, their fast foods, the liquor… why not nicotine? There have been studies that show nicotine is good for a variety of mental issues and that nicotine and caffeine have very similar affects on the human body. To lump nicotine into the same category as cocaine, well we all see how well that works with marijuana.
We also wanted to address the concerns stated regarding the amount of nicotine that is dispersed via the electronic cigarette. There is absolutely no proof that the electronic cigarette offers more nicotine than a tobacco cigarette, in fact, Dr. Laugesen, researcher with Health New Zealand suggests in his report of the Ruyan cartridges that the user gets 1/3 the nicotine from the e-cig as they do from a tobacco cigarette. This was also touched on in our review of the NewScientist article on the Electronic Cigarette on February 12, 2009.
Now, we here at INSTEAD note from personal use that 7 puffs from the e-cig with a fully loaded cartridge at the right nicotine level, can produce for the smoker the same satisfaction as a tobacco cigarette. Is Dr. Laugesen, correct in the 1/3? After discussions with other suppliers and users, we are all in agreement that the amount per puff is definitely less than that of a tobacco cigarette. However, even though the experience is similar, it is still different than a tobacco cigarette and minus the “additives” from our tobacco cigarettes, the user is noticing differences on a variety of levels, not just from nicotine.
Another argument is “Who cares?” We know… we know. But seriously. For most smokers, getting over the addictions to the other thousands of additives in their tobacco cigarettes is a fight in its own right. Most smokers know exactly how much nicotine their body can handle and the human body was built with automatic detectors telling you when your own body has hit that threshold. It is up to you to be adult and listen to those warning signs.
Finally, the accounts from Health Canada. It is apparent that Health Canada is taking a serious look at the electronic cigarette as a step in the right direction. Health Canada is focusing on the electronic cigarette as tobacco harm reduction and so we must give Health Canada props for looking at this as not an “all or nothing” deal and we can only hope that the US uses the same philosophies in their review.
From Janus’ article: Health Canada spokesperson Philippe Laroche said the agency is in the process of evaluating e-cigarettes that are not intended to help smokers quit but are merely a smoking alternative “in order to mitigate the potential risks that these products may pose.”
Bravo Health Canada! The electronic cigarette is an alternative to smoking tobacco and while there is still a lot to do in the industry to provide further testing and quality standards, the electronic cigarette offers smokers something cleaner to themselves and to those around them. The lack of ashtrays, ashes, lighters, cigarette butts and second hand smoke is huge! We are so looking forward to what Health Canada has to say at the end of March!
For more information on Tobacco Harm Reduction, a great place for info is the University of Alberta School of Public Health project website on tobacco harm reduction. You may have read our recent post from January 7, 2009 where CBC features the Electronic Cigarette. This is the same group who were testing the e-cig in the pub! We will have a future post on them later this week!
For now: If you don’t have yours already, our mini electronic cigarette works great, produces a load of vapor and is a necessity for any smoker. Get one. Get comfortable with it. Keep smoking your tobacco if you must. Learn to use your electronic cigarette like a tobacco cigarette. Once you are ready, you will see that your tobacco to e-cig ratio goes in the right direction till eventually, you are smoking only e-cig and couldn’t be happier about your brand switch.