• Posts
  • RSS
  • ◂◂RSS
  • Contact

  • In Favor of Electronic Cigarettes

    August 29th, 2014
    smoking, health  [html]
    Smoking kills 6 million people per year, cutting lives short by 13 years on average. While it's less common in the US than it was, cigarette consumption is still 40% [1] of peak (1960s) usage. Because smoking so addictive and the health effects are delayed by decades it's been very hard for people to stop. The effect of smoking is also much stronger on poorer people within the US and people in poorer countries, making it a substantial economic justic issue.

    Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) give people the option to take nicotine in a way that feels similar to smoking, but without inhaling smoke from smoldering dried leaves. Nicotine in liquid propylene glycol and glycerine is vaproized and inhaled like you would traditional cigarette smoke. They're only a few years old so we don't have the decades of collected evidence we have with cigarettes, but from what we know about how they work they should be much safer, both for the smoker and people around them. Almost all the known health effects of tobacco come via effects of smoking plants as opposed to the nicotine consumption.

    Opponents of e-cigarettes argue that "people are using them to enable smoking habits, not to quit," but this isn't a bad thing! Smoking tobacco is so deadly and so hard to quit that if someone switches to smoking vaporized nicotine that's a huge improvement. We have this idea that alternative nicotine products should be for smoking cessation only, but that's entirely unjustified. As smokers switch to e-cigarettes we expect millions fewer deaths every year, which makes e-cigarettes one of the biggest public health breakthroughs in years.

    The current US legal position of e-cigarettes is a mess, and we should enact european-style regulations, making sure they list their ingredients and contain only substances generally recognized as safe. But we need to be careful not to restrict or tax them in ways that will lead to people continuing to smoke traditional cigaretts instead of switching to the far less dangerous electronic ones.

    (I still don't think consuming nicotine or similar substances like alcohol or caffeine is a good idea.)


    [1] It makes me sad to link to infoplease, but they're being very useful here. They reproduce and the data from the USDA's Tobacco Outlook Report that was discontinued after 1997, and the link on the USDA's website is now broken.

    Comment via: google plus, facebook

    Recent posts on blogs I like:

    More on the Deutschlandtakt

    The Deutschlandtakt plans are out now. They cover investment through 2040, but even beforehand, there’s a plan for something like a national integrated timetable by 2030, with trains connecting the major cities every 30 minutes rather than hourly. But the…

    via Pedestrian Observations July 1, 2020

    How do cars fare in crash tests they're not specifically optimized for?

    Any time you have a benchmark that gets taken seriously, some people will start gaming the benchmark. Some famous examples in computing are the CPU benchmark specfp and video game benchmarks. With specfp, Sun managed to increase its score on 179.art (a su…

    via Posts on Dan Luu June 30, 2020

    Quick note on the name of this blog

    When I was 21 a friend introduced me to a volume of poems by the 14th-century Persian poet Hafiz, translated by Daniel Ladinsky. I loved them, and eventually named this blog for one of my favorite ones. At some point I read more and found that Ladinsky’s …

    via The whole sky June 21, 2020

    more     (via openring)


  • Posts
  • RSS
  • ◂◂RSS
  • Contact