American Heart Association Okays E-Cigs

Believe it or not, the American Heart Association stated this: “Some studies suggest that the use of e-cigarettes to help smokers quit may be equal or be slightly better than nicotine patches. The association will continue to encourage clinicians to use proven smoking-cessation strategies as the first line of treatment for any patient. But it reiterates in the statement that when repeated efforts with conventional treatment fails, is intolerant, or rejected by a patient who wants to utilize e-cigarettes to help them quit, clinicians should not discourage their use by the patient.” There are two important things to note within this excerpt. (If you’re interested in reading the full statement, click here.) First, electronic cigarettes can help smokers quit the analog cigarettes better than the conventional smoking-cessation methods. This shouldn’t come to us as a surprise anymore. Have you chewed the nicotine gum? It’s like biting on tree bark. And have you tried the nicotine patches? Don’t forget to take the patch off before going to bed or you’ll regret it. For the AHA to make such a statement is a big step for electronic cigarettes towards the right direction. But a bigger step for electronic cigarettes comes from the second piece of the excerpt. The AHA is actually okay with electronic cigarette being used a smoking-cessation strategy, but only as a last resort. So when all else fails, such as nicotine patches and gums, electronic cigarettes is the last line of defense.  While electronic cigarettes are not officially recognized as a smoking-cessation tool by the Food and Drug Administration, the AHA acknowledges the potential advantages of e-cigarettes. However, the AHA “calls for comprehensive and continuous research on e-cigarettes’ use, their characteristics, their marketing, and their long-term health effects on individual users, the environment, and public health.” The association’s call for comprehensive research is what every organization that opposes electronic cigarettes should also be calling for. Opponents to electronic cigarettes are judging a book by its cover. Electronic cigarettes may look and feel like analog cigarettes, but the electronic devices do not produce the smoke, tar, or ash that conventional cigarettes do.

I understand that proper research takes some time. For instance, the FDA will not be able to provide conclusive evidence on electronic cigarettes until 2018, at the earliest. But that doesn’t mean we should strike electronic cigarettes with harsh bans and strict regulations. Never pass judgment without proper evidence. Let independent third-party institutes and government agencies conduct extensive research in order to determine possible health effects from e-cigarettes. And once those results are in, then commence creating definitive rules and regulations. Until then, conduct short-term research projects and come up with a quick plan to regulate electronic cigarettes. Among the concerning issues with e-cigarettes, I would imagine that marketing to minors is the biggest concern. If so, then enact the regulations on tobacco marketing onto e-cigarette marketing as well.

We as a society have been making poor judgment on various things because we barely know anything about it so we let our irrational fears get the best of us. Let’s prevent ourselves from falling into our fears and let’s start thinking proactively and rationally.

 

 

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