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Smoking kills, vaping doesn’t

I know, my two best friends died an agonizing death over it. For you kids, it is not cool to start smoking, it’s stupid.

For those who smoke: Stop. But if you can’t, and it is an addiction that is very hard to forego, there’s a much less harmful alternative: vaping. That’s what e-cigarettes are all about — convincing smokers who can’t stop to shift. They are not, and shouldn’t be allowed to be, designed to attract new smokers, the young; this, to me, is the most important point. E-cigarettes are a much safer alternative for those who must smoke, and government should encourage smokers to shift to vaping.

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Tests of cigarettes versus e-cigarettes show a 90- to 95-percent reduction in exposure to toxins. Tests have been conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO), the US Food and Drug Administration, Health Canada, Public Health England and other countries. They all show the same thing

—that vaping reduces harmful chemicals by 90-95 percent. Tests are still ongoing, however, so more certainty can be expected.

I can’t quite understand why the same severe restrictions as to where you can smoke are being applied to vaping.

E-cigarettes are less harmful and only emit steam with negligible other things. Vaping affects only the smokers, and in a minor way, so why restrict it?

Cigarettes, on the other hand, heat the tobacco and burn it, and it’s the burning that causes all the damage. The cigarette smoke from burning creates some 6,000 chemicals, a number of which cause the illnesses and death smokers suffer. Without the smoke, those chemicals won’t be created.

A burning cigarette when inhaled reaches a temperature of up to 850 degrees Celsius; vaped tobacco is only heated up to 350 degrees Celsius, with most of the tobacco reaching temperatures of about 250 degrees Celsius, way below that required for the onset of combustion. E-cigarettes have no smoke, so there’s no second-hand effect to those around the vapers.

I witnessed a test on a fascinating machine, a Heath Robinson device (look it up on Google) that smoked a cigarette and an e-cigarette. The filter that captured the cigarette output was dark brown, while that from the e-cigarette  was almost colorless.

Thus, e-cigarettes don’t deserve the same restrictions cigarettes do. I’m all for restricting smokers to very limited areas, but not vapers. Maybe in restaurants (although it really wouldn’t cause much harm), but not elsewhere. I don’t understand why the Department of Health has applied the same restrictions to vaping as to cigarettes when it shouldn’t. We want people to switch, so they should be made easier to use. If you can vape in a mall, but not smoke, smokers will switch.

There’s discussion at the moment as to what warning signs should be on the vape packs. Realistically, there shouldn’t be any. But caution and public acceptance say that something is unavoidable. It always amazes me that smokers still smoke despite the horrific pictures on cigarette packs. It only shows how strong the addiction is.

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But those pictures and warnings aren’t justified on e-cigarette packs. The packs are so small you wouldn’t see a picture anyway. Other countries do have warnings, and their messages are strong, but not as severe as on a cigarette pack.

Health warnings should accurately communicate the risks and should not mislead the consumer. They should warn that vaping can damage your health and is addictive, but they should not say “it kills,” because there’s no proof it does. Perhaps the warning that would best suit Philippine e-cigarette packs is: “THIS PRODUCT CONTAINS NICOTINE, WHICH IS A HIGHLY ADDICTIVE SUBSTANCE.  IT IS NOT RECOMMENDED FOR USE BY NONSMOKERS.” This is applied in EU countries as mandated by the EU Tobacco Products Directive.

I see vaping as a transition from death caused by smoking to no one doing either, which is why we need a warning of some sort, as well as a campaign to discourage the young from starting. In the meantime, let’s treat vaping sensibly, as a much less harmful product for smokers.

Email: [email protected]

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TAGS: cigarettes, e-cigarettes, Health Canada, Like It Is, Peter Wallace, Public Health England, smoking, US FDA, vaping, WHO
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