So, what ARE Ecigs all about? They're a quit method, right, like NRT but without all the daft medicinal thing and the stigmatizing "patient" status, yeah?
Well, no. Not really. I mean you CAN decide to quit completely and for good and use Ecigs as the prop to help you get there, but that's not really what they're about. They're not about starting on 20mg nic eliquids and gradually weaning yourself off. In fact, that's a bloody silly thing to do. One word. Relapse. If Ecigs are used like NRT, they'll fail like NRT - stands to reason.
OK, so they're a way of continuing your addiction, not really a way of quitting smoking, then?
Well, no, not really that, either. More and more studies are showing that nicotine, absent the products of combustion provided by inhaling the fumes from lit tobacco, actually isn't the all-addicting substance it has been thought to have been. Indeed, while it may have an addictive potential, it's far below that which is possessed by the smoking of lit tobacco. So, the jury's actually out on that one. Continuing an addiction to smoking? Nope. To nicotine? Hard to say, but less likely.
What Ecigs are is a disruptive technology, a technology that offers people who want to use nicotine a method of using it that is enjoyable, safe enough for most purposes (see the last blog entry for more on that) and, importantly, has no deleterious effects on bystanders. Some folks in Public Health are a bit worried that folks who have never smoked might take them up. And while their prediction may be correct, their worries are ill-founded, and this is something I want every advocate to understand.
Nicotine, it seems, is NOT the issue. Let's quote Michael Russel - "Smokers smoke for nicotine, but die from the tar". At no point did he say nicotine was a bad thing. Tobacco Controllers demonized it as a way of forcing behavior change, but now some of them admit they told lies about it. Some - Prof John Britton being just one amongst many - have posited the notion that nicotine in Ecigs and caffeine are siblings - that neither, in the amounts they're used in, are anything other than relatively benign.
So here's the thing, the question I want to ask. Why do some of the so-called "Vapers' friends" cling to the notion that Ecigs are ONLY for smokers, in order for them to quit smoking?
Here are my notions:
1. Caffeine/nicotine - two sides of the same coin. Nobody gives a hoot about anyone having their first cup of java and continuing to imbibe gallons a month until the grim reaper claims his toll. Why should nicotine be any different?
2. Apparently, studies are now showing that where kids can't get Ecigs, child smoking rates are climbing instead of reversing as they are wherever Ecigs are easily available. That's what Plain Packaging and every other measure tobacco control is currently engaged in is supposed to achieve. If we are to believe the Tobacco Control Industry, then, that must be a good thing. Kids taking up Ecigs tend not to take up smoking.
3. People of all ages take up risky pastimes and a fair old few like to use substances to make their lives a little more bearable - a few little anthropological searches on Google will turn up the facts that it's not just humans, either - but sticking just to Homo sapiens, we've ALWAYS liked a drink, a chew, a snort or whatever. We just do. Get over it.
So, here's the thing. We already know that, subject to a few minor caveats, Ecigs are safe enough for most folks to use. Sure, some folks may have a PG intolerance, or a VG intolerance, or an intolerance for RY4. They'd probably not stick with vaping, then, would they? In my mind, and in my view, there is no convincing reason why anyone, smoker or not, should not have the right to use an ecig should they choose. Do I put an age limit on that? No more than I do about any other substance use - caffeine, alcohol, whatever. I don't see harm reduction starting at 18, if that's what you're getting at.
For me, the bottom line is simple. For every argument against Ecigs I see many rebuttals and counters. For every argument that Ecigs are just for smokers to quit smoking, my counter is "if you honestly think that's for real, you need help".
Ecigs are there to be enjoyed, with or without nicotine. And that, my friends, is what too many people don't like. They need to get over it. That simple.