Opinions about Vaping

Posted 10th June 2016 by Dave Cross
Nothing appears to polarise rational debate within the medical, legislative and research communities more than the humble electronic cigarette. While calls are made to focus on the science and proven facts, all too often it veers over into hyperbole and conjecture.

Steven Rosenberg is a psychotherapist and hypnotist and he has strong feelings about vaping in his letter: “I applaud the Food and Drug Administration's recent ruling to ban e-cigarette sales to minors and require safety reviews for vaping products. Like traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes contain nicotine, an extremely addictive substance, and e-cigarette products have been found to contain harmful chemicals than can cause respiratory disease.”

Rosenburg claims that in his thirty-year career he has “helped more than 40,000 people quit smoking and beat their addiction to nicotine. It isn't easy, and it isn't without hardship. Pick your poison? I'd rather opt for picking your health.”

But then the Skeptic Dictionary points out: “While it is true that some hypnotherapists can help some people lose weight, quit smoking, or overcome their fear of flying, it is also true that cognitive-behavioural therapy can do the same without any mumbo-jumbo about trance states or brain waves.”

John Manna’s contribution to a reader’s letter page contains similar fear mongering: “E-cigarettes have not been subject to thorough, independent testing of what users are inhaling and exhaling; we therefore do not know how their use could affect the health of users and those around them.”

The trouble is that although Manna claims no thorough testing has been carried out he is happy to state emphatically: “We do know e-cigarettes emit unknown toxins that could cause cancer and the use of e-cigarettes in public places could endanger the health of both users and non-users.”

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It’s a contradiction and an example of the facts cherry picking frequently found in arguments used against vaping. “Everyone deserves clean air,” finishes Manna, who happens to ply his trade with the American Cancer Society in New York. New York? Clean air? Maybe he hasn’t looked at a New York air quality map recently – or maybe he just doesn’t care to put things into perspective.

The previous opinions contrast sharply with Marewa Glover’s, a co-director of Tobacco Control Research Tūranga in New Zealand. “If a person smokes, then switching to vaping nicotine is estimated to be at least 95% safer (Public Health England report). It's a very useful question to ask about the potential benefits of vaping nicotine for people managing memory loss,” she tells the readers of Scoop Health Independent News.

Glover focuses on facts rather than opinion when she adds: “Nicotine has been shown to have some beneficial preventative, and I think current, effects on Alzheimers, Parkinson's and some dementia-type disabilities. Some people, for example, with a family history of these, use nicotine gum as a preventative.”

For as long as the likes of Rosenburg and Manna indulge themselves in unbalanced rhetoric we are unlikely to see the debate moving forward. Some would go further and question whether Rosenburg and Manna want to engage in discussion or are content to repeat a mantra until it is accorded the status of conventional wisdom.

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker
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