Should E-Cigarettes be welcomed or banned?

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Smoking related infections and diseases result to over 10,000 fatalities every year. People using e-cigars or Nicotine Containing Products (NCPs) in the United Kingdom has continued to steadily rise and currently stand at about one million. Against this setting, a huge opportunity is available for reducing harm that results from smoking tobacco. One of the recently completed studies found that about 1/10th of smokers who had no intention of stopping quit smoking after shifting to e-cigars.

There are also some justified claims of risk for users because of absence of regulations for e-cigar and associated products manufacturers. The tobacco industry players appear united by putting forward a very strong argument that opposing regulation of the e-cigarette version. The industry is also relentlessly calling for reduced focus on restricting tobaccos harmful effects.

Some feel that trending the cold turkey is the sole route for smokers to stop the habit. Others however consider a mild path to allow smokers in some areas while restricting it in others. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recognises that quitting the habit is the best resolution. However, NICE acknowledges that many smokers are unable to use such urgent measures. Reducing harm is a gradual process that commences with short-term abstinence, reducing, and finally plummeting to quit. Products that contain nicotine are very helpful in these efforts. Toning down your smoking is not a guarantee of lowering associated harm. The smoker is however likely to stop the smoking habit.

Some indicate that tobacco consumption regulators emphasise too much on reducing harm. The ones not in conviction about lowering harm from tobacco propose strict regulatory framework for manufacturing, promotion, sales, and even usage of e-cigarettes. Action on Smoking and Health proposes a complete ban on advertisements and calls for great restrictions on the product and its sale. However, others say that complete prohibition promotion, sale and even use should be imposed.

Assessing the situation from a practical point of view, the rise in demand for e-cigarettes continues to grow exponentially; the best route to follow is embracing the product’s benefits and lowering its harmful impacts. This line of thought is however countered by stakeholders who strongly believe that electronic cigarettes will be a pioneering step in encouraging more people to start taking tobacco. Continued concerns have been raised on lack of standards in the e-cig manufacturing sector to measure quality, levels of nicotine, and devices effectiveness. Instances of batteries explosion and others catching fire have also been reported. Because of lack of extensive clinical studies, there is great uncertainty and confusion because none of the claims can be authenticated beyond reasonable doubt scientifically.

For some stakeholders, any combined cooperation with tobacco manufacturing companies is a firm no-no as others strongly feel that encouraging e-cigarettes manufacture is more beneficial. Analysis of available data reveals that smokers want e-cigarettes to be regulated because such efforts will improve devices effectiveness and safety. Presently, the data reveals that only one in every three smokers who try e-cigs continues using them.

Therefore, this debate is very serious. It is prudent that pertinent issues are addressed to determine the main aim of e-cigars; are e-cigars aimed at making the society nicotine free or tobacco free? The debate should also address the issue of identifying methods that bring about the best results, whether regulations should include support for e-cigars, and whether these products hold potential to raise the number of smokers in the society.   Public health is an area that presents such unprecedented challenges. There is need for collective thinking, discussions that are intelligent, and mutual respect for all even when stakeholders fail to agree.

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