The American Surgeon General published the very first government report linking smoking and ill health 50 years ago. The report also demanded that the United states government take acceptable remedial action to lessen the damage brought on by smoking.
Since then the amount of Americans who glow has fallen from 42% to 18% and in some states the amount of regular smokers can almost be counted in single figures. Similar reductions have occurred elsewhere. Nearly half the UK population smoked in 1974. Now, less than a quarter do. The figures around australia are even healthier.
This is very great news because smoking causes a variety of diseases and is the key reason for preventable deaths in numerous countries. Indeed, smoking might have killed as many as 100m individuals the twentieth century and the World Health Organisation estimates that the figure for your modern day could be a mind-boggling 1 billion.
About 50 years ago another significant “smoking related” event happened: the very first e-cigarette was patented. It was a product that produced vapour from tobacco without combustion. For most decades “vaping” remained a minority activity. But within the last few years these not-quite-so newfangled nicotine delivery devices are becoming rather popular. And concern has become raised over their use and particularly uptake among young people. While figures from Ash suggest a negligible number of best vape pen, a recent US-based study learned that the proportion of middle and high school students in the united states who had ever used an electronic cigarette a lot more than doubled between 2011-2012. Some analysts have even predicted that vaping may become more popular than smoking within a decade.
Modern e-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that vaporise nicotine for inhalation. They normally contain a cartridge containing liquid nicotine and a heating element created to produce an aerosol. Many include flavourings like menthol – a fact which was criticised on the grounds that flavourings might make e-cigarettes more appealing to children.
Although vaping (and passive vaping) may be safer than smoking (and passive smoking) a number of toxicological analyses have revealed that e-cigarettes contain many dangerous chemicals. The good news is that e-cigarettes are primarily utilized by people as a popular smoking cessation aid. But it’s far away from clear how effective e-cigarettes will be in helping men and women to stop smoking in the long run. More worryingly, some studies have shown that several “never smokers” have tried vaping. This really is of particular concern because e-cigarettes could act as a “gateway drug” to conventional cigarettes.
The relative absence of evidence about the safety, effectiveness and ultimate impact of e-cigarettes has triggered the adoption of radically different methods to the import, production, sale, distribution and advertising of those devices. Some countries, including Argentina, effectively prohibited them. But a majority of jurisdictions allow e-cigarettes to be sold and consumed subject to varying levels of regulation. The EU, as an example, is taking a relatively hard line, yet it is unclear at this point what impact these new rules will have.
Ethically speaking, it might seem a good idea to be skeptical. E-cigarettes might not represent a modern Trojan horse, nevertheless the recent interest shown by tobacco companies within these devices should give us all pause for thought. This does not necessarily mean that vaping ought to be entirely proscribed. Quite apart from the proven fact that our liberty rights dictate otherwise, there is certainly, as noted above, good reason to think that e-cigarettes are less dangerous than regular cigarettes so the net effect on health (and longevity) might htkcbf positive.
But given the serious risk that vaping might re-glamourise smoking, especially between the young, a cautious regulatory approach is warranted. This will include a ban on the sale of e-cigarettes to children and a The Big Apple-style ban on vaping in public places indoor spaces and private offices. It also seems eminently sensible to set up regulations to ensure the marketing of e-cigarettes is fixed to current smokers.
Many will complain this too many restrictions on the sale and consumption is going to be counter-productive. Some experts have even claimed that quality control regulation is, essentially, all that is needed, and that vaping may make smoking redundant. But this approach seems overly lax. After all, there’s (usually) no vapour without fire.