E-cigarettes and Smokers' Health: FDA Wants You to Keep Your More Unhealthy Habit
Ever since the e-cigarettes came on the market, health and other government officials in America have been pushing too hard to ban them. Finally, last week they found cancer-causing substances in the vapor of e-cigarettes. They found two substances—one is nitrosamines, carcinogen found in regular cigarettes, and some electronic liquid contained diethylene glycol, the poisonous ingredient in antifreeze. The government even banned some imports of e-cigarette products. (Check out my blog about e-cigarettes.)
Of course the news picked up and the media was happy to announce how dangerous the new electronic devices are. All those news reports were wrong and biased and proved to me that many people in the mainstream media lack the ability to think critically. I once heard a TV journalist say that citizen journalism was no good because people didn’t check all the facts.
Now I’d like to give mainstream media some free critical thinking advice. It’s not just about checking the facts, a ten-year-old can read a government report and make news out of it—I’m talking about good old-fashioned thinking.
How to Think
Think of health care. What’s the first thing that comes to mind? I think money. Because if we leave money aside, I can give you the solution to the U.S. health care system in one phrase: unlimited, full coverage, VIP PPO universal health care for every U.S. citizen and resident. But we know from experience that someone must pay for this dearly. So when we talk about health care or universal health care we can’t just mention money and keep talking. In an article about health care solution you must cover money and do a lot of comparison and contrast.
It’s the same with e-cigarettes. If you talk about e-cigarettes as a smoking alternative and you don’t make the appropriate comparison with their conventional counterpart, you either did a poor job as a journalist, committing the perfectionist fallacy or you are being paid to report biased news.
E-cigarette vs. Conventional Cigarette
Conventional cigarettes contain more than 4000 chemicals when burned. And many of those chemicals can cause cancer and other health problems. Arsenic causes cancer and damages the heart; benzene is linked to leukemia and other forms of cancer; cadmium damages the arteries and kidneys; formaldehyde causes cancer of nasal sinuses and leukemia; and tar, which is a mix of chemicals, builds up in the lungs and causes respiratory problems.
The government report found only two chemicals in e-cigarettes known to cause cancer and those chemicals, mind you, were found only in some brands of electronic liquid. This means that if the electronic liquid is regulated, we might have e-cigarettes that don’t emit carcinogens. No arsenic, no benzene, no cadmium, no formaldehyde and no tar was found in e-cigarettes.
And what about the health benefits for smokers who switched to e-cigarettes. Wheezing and other respiratory problems, as well as smoker’s cough, disappear weeks after switching to e-cigarettes.
Please don’t use the cheapest argument against e-cigarettes—that they provide a pathway to conventional cigarettes for young or underage people. It might be a good speculation but it is a speculation after all.
And even if it’s true, long-time smokers have the right to switch to a less harmful smoking alternative. Because aren’t they the ones who paid the heavy cigarette taxes and supported the tobacco industry and state governments. If the government is so concerned about the health of smokers, why don’t they use the cigarette tax to open a lab to test and make the e-cigarettes safer, instead of trying to kill it and support the big tobacco. Why don’t they ban the regular cigarettes on the first place?
In California the average pack of cigarettes costs about $6 and the tax is $2.37. If you smoke one pack a day, your cost per month is roughly $180. At the same time, a month supply of electronic liquid for a smoker who used to go through one pack of cigarettes a day can cost about $20 (half a 30 ml bottle). So if you smoke one pack of regulars and turn to to e-cigarettes, you will not only reduce the intake of harmful substances and improve your health, but also save enough money to pay your cell phone, internet and cable bills.
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