by Ross Walker

A recent report published in the journal Addiction discussed the potential benefits to society of considering less rigid controls over the sale and promotion of e-cigarettes.

Firstly, let me make the point that conventional tobacco smoking contributes to 80% of drug related deaths across the world, 17% from alcohol and only 3% from illegal drugs because they are harder to obtain (yes, the clue is in their title – they are against the law and in my opinion, illegal drugs should stay that way).

Come the revolution and I’m running the show, cigarettes will be completely banned, but, until that time, I am delighted to say that Australia has among the lowest smoking rates at 13% of the adult population.

But it would be much better for the health of our nation if this was zero.

Therefore, any intervention that reduces the intake of conventional tobacco smoking, in my opinion, is most welcome.

So, let’s look at the facts. The evidence clearly shows;

  1. e-cigarettes are not a gateway to encourage young people to take up smoking.
  2. The vast majority of e-cigarette users are current smokers.
  3. The reduction in cigarette use seen over the past two years in Europe, the US and Canada, has been directly linked to the rise in e-cigarette use.
  4. e-cigarettes appear (on current evidence) to reduce the health related issues and cigarette related deaths. It has been estimated that the risk from e-cigarettes is 5% that of cigarettes. Note: this is still suggesting there is some harm in the use of e-cigarettes.

I must, however, bring in some caution to remind everyone that e-cigarettes are a new phenomenon and there are no long-term studies around chronic exposure.

There are 48 known poisons in conventional tobacco smoke, the addictive component, nicotine, being the least poisonous of all of these toxins.

Personally, I would prefer someone to use any form of nicotine replacement rather than slowly kill themselves with conventional tobacco smoke and this includes the ongoing carnage from passive smoking.

Smoking in front of another person is a form of physical abuse and smoking in front of children is child abuse.

If e-cigarettes reduce the carnage from conventional tobacco smoking, including secondary and tertiary smoking, then I would give e-cigarettes my cautious support.