Sunday, July 21, 2019

On Vaping

These are some of the slides by Dr. Colin Mendelsohn during the 7th ALSFC and 17th WTA Conference in Sydney last May 24-26, 2019, panel on Plain Packaging & Tobacco Harm Reduction. Dr. Mendelsohn is a tobacco treatment specialist and Conjoint Associate Professor, School of Public Health and Community Medicine at the University of NSW, Australia.

Then I just saw this article by a friend, Nick Sallnow-Smith, former Chairman of the Lion Rock Institute, Hong Kong. Then a recent paper by Peter Wallace. Reposting portions here.

Live and Let Live
Nick Sallnow-Smith  31/10/2018

… Let’s take a current example in Hong Kong; the CE’s proposal to outlaw “vaping”. The reaction from commentators in the media, both here and abroad, typically centres on the technical details. Is vaping “safer” than smoking? Does the damage from tobacco come from the tar, not the nicotine? Might it lead to youngsters moving on to cigarettes later? Shouldn’t we have years of testing to establish whether it is “harmful”. (No doubt there will be many arguments about what “harmful” means in this context.)  And so on.

What none of this does is apply the social test of my title. Why not live and let live? If someone wants to vape, what basis is there in a truly free society for stopping them? Many will argue that “we” (who is that group?) should protect the “vapers” from themselves. But it is none of the business of anyone to “protect” other citizens from their own decisions. I possess my own body (otherwise I am a slave), why therefore should I not be free to inhale anything into my body that I choose?  It is the height of arrogance for anyone to claim that their own judgment about whether vaping is a “good thing” or not, is a superior judgment to that of the person they are, in effect, judging. Yet few people discuss the matter in “live and let live” terms, rather they are keen to explain why they are in favour or against the ban, without even considering whether it is anyone’s business except the”vaper”.

In fact the vaping debate is even worse than that. The proposal has naturally triggered some eager souls to claim that smoking tobacco should also be banned, because obviously tobacco smoke is more harmful than vaping. In other words, the vaping proposal did not so much trigger a debate about whether government bans too much, rather people look for more activities to make illegal! This is often the consequence of a highly regulated society. Few resist the existing level of regulations; most people simply argue for more. Assuming the position of the “anointed”, they propose that any set of activities that they happen to dislike in others should be banned (for the benefit of others of course). The list of activities ripe for regulation is endless.

One great benefit of a “live and let live” approach (which Hong Kong used to enjoy), apart from the personal freedom that it would allow, is that it would neutralise ( “vapourise”?) much of the political dissension in our city. So many political issues arise from one “anointed” group attempting to impose their policy ideas on the rest of us. Whether this involves the public school curriculum, regulating cyber currencies, imposing a minimum wage, forcing property owners to sell what they do not wish to do so; to select just a few of recent debate,  the inevitable consequence of denying free market choices in any of these areas is political infighting over which “policy” is to be imposed, when in fact no policy is needed.

I suggest that all of us, when hearing of yet another “public policy” proposal, apply the following test; why not “live and let live”?

Smoking kills, vaping doesn’t
By: Peter Wallace  / 05:08 AM July 11, 2019

I know, my two best friends died an agonizing death over it. For you kids, it is not cool to start smoking, it’s stupid.

For those who smoke: Stop. But if you can’t, and it is an addiction that is very hard to forego there’s a much less harmful alternative: Vaping. And that’s what e-cigarettes are all about, convincing smokers who can’t stop to shift. They are not, and shouldn’t be allowed to be designed to attract new smokers, the young. This, to me, is the most important point. E-cigarettes are a much safer alternative for those who must smoke. And government should encourage smokers to shift to vaping. Not make it just as different to do.

E-cigarettes are far less harmful than cigarettes. They heat the tobacco, not burn it and it’s the burning that causes all the damage. Tests of cigarettes versus e-cigarettes show a 90-95% reduction in exposure to toxins. Tests have been conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO), the USFDA, Health Canada, Public Health England and other countries. They all show the same thing vaping reduces harmful chemicals by 90% to 95%. But tests are still on-going so more certainty can be expected. So I can’t quite understand why the same severe restrictions as to where you can smoke are being applied to vaping. An e-cigarette only emits steam with negligible other things. Vaping affects only the smokers, and that in a minor way, so why restrict it.

The Cigarette smoke from burning creates some 6000 chemicals a number of which cause the illnesses and death smokers suffer. Without the smoke those chemicals won’t be created...

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