E-cigarettes vs. Cigarettes

Brook Anderson, News Editor

E-cigarettes, a battery-powered vaporizer which simulates the feeling of smoking without tobacco combustion, have become a popular item among adolescents. People, parents especially, have become concerned with this. They believe it is unsafe and if they, or their child, were to start using it than they would have the same consequences as they would if they smoked a regular cigarette. Though Linda Bauld, tobacco expert, explains why people shouldn’t be worried.
“Smoked tobacco is a lethal product that kills one in two of its regular users, who lose on average 10 years of life. Smokers die from the tar particles and toxic gases drawn into the body from smoking rather than from the nicotine. However it is the nicotine that is addictive. Many smokers find it very difficult to give up nicotine and will continue to smoke cigarettes without an alternative. That’s why products like nicotine replacement therapy were invented and are licensed as safe to use, including for groups like pregnant women who smoke and children over the age of 12 who smoke.”
E-cigarettes are currently unlicensed, but both the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence and the Medicines Healthcare Regulatory Association acknowledge that their use is safer than continued smoking. This is not simply an opinion; it is an evidence-based statement, and one that is supported by tobacco control organizations in the UK. To imply otherwise is incorrect. This does not mean e-cigarettes are risk free, but few things are. What it does mean is that their use is safer than continued smoking.
There is an ongoing debate about e-cigarette use in public places and the recent case of NHS grounds in Scotland highlights this. Public consultations in Wales and Scotland have asked whether they should be included in smoke free laws. However, it is important to be clear about the health evidence. E-cigarette vapor is not second hand smoke. In fact, it is not smoke at all and there is no good evidence that exposure is harmful to bystanders (particularly outside, as in NHS grounds). To claim otherwise is simply factually incorrect. E-cigarettes simply serve to discourage smokers from trying what appears to currently be the most popular aid to stopping smoking in the UK. These products are a disruptive technology and debates on their merits will continue.