• Posts
  • RSS
  • ◂◂RSS
  • Contact

  • In Favor of Electronic Cigarettes

    August 29th, 2014
    health, smoking  [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:

    Some reasons to work on productivity and velocity

    A common topic of discussion among my close friends is where the bottlenecks are in our productivity and how we can execute more quickly. This is very different from what I see in my extended social circles, where people commonly say that velocity doesn…

    via Posts on Dan Luu October 15, 2021

    EDT with updating double counts

    I recently got confused thinking about the following case: Calculator bet: I am offered the opportunity to bet on a mathematical statement X to which I initially assign 50% probability (perhaps X = 139926 is a quadratic residue modulo 314159). I have acce…

    via The sideways view October 12, 2021

    Meditations on newborns

    [Content: death.]I wrote most of this a couple of months ago when Nora was a newborn, but the first few months are not that conducive to finishing blog posts. New babies put you into a liminal period, both in your own experience and in how others treat yo…

    via The whole sky October 3, 2021

    more     (via openring)


  • Posts
  • RSS
  • ◂◂RSS
  • Contact