I’ve just seen your report on electronic cigarettes, and felt compelled to contact you regarding the story.
I’ve been an e-cigarette user for 25 days. For those 25 days, I have not smoked a single tobacco cigarette. I’m breathing a lot better, I’m coughing much less than I ever did since I began smoking at age 18. I just turned 37 two days ago. During the period that I smoked regular tobacco cigarettes, the longest I ever went without lighting up was 2 days. And it was the most hellish 2 days I ever spent.
I’ve tried quitting countless times in the past, and it always failed. Gum, lozenges, patches, pills, you name it, and I’ve tried it. It’s my firm belief that there are more addictive qualities to smoking than just nicotine. You are also inhaling many additives to the tobacco, and I do believe that some of them contribute to the addictive nature of cigarettes. The third addictive quality, to me, is the act, the ritual of smoking. Those three things, to me, help to make smoking tobacco cigarettes one of the most difficult addictions to break, and is the reason that every smoking cessation product on the market has a 95% failure rate with smokers trying to kick the habit.
What the electronic cigarette has done for me is allow me to kick one part of my smoking addiction immediately, the additives that I believe contribute to my addiction to tobacco cigarette smoking. From the first use of my e-cig, I am no longer breathing in the tar, carcinogens from combustion, carbon monoxide, or additive chemicals that are present in tobacco cigarettes. The act of ‘smoking’, or as I refer to it, vaping my e-cig continues to allow me to participate in the ritual act of smoking, and I’m still getting that dose of nicotine that my body feels like it needs. Over the past 25 days, I’ve also taken steps to reduce my intake of nicotine, as well. I’ve stepped down from 24 mg per ml of nicotine in the solution I use to 10 mg per ml of nicotine, and plan to completely remove nicotine from the solution I use to ‘smoke’ in the next 30-45 days.
Which, of course, leaves me with my last ‘addiction’, the physical act of smoking. It’s no lie, I love to smoke. I think most smokers will agree with that statement. The whole act of smoking is very enjoyable to me. I did about 6 months of research on the electronic cigarette before I committed to purchasing my first starter kit. The ingredients of the nicotine solution (propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, nicotine, flavoring, distilled water) are all approved by the FDA to be used for both human consumption and for medical/pharmaceutical usage. And if nicotine, in these dosages, are truly dangerous to humans for long term usage, then I would certainly hope that our government at some point over the last few centuries would have banned its use. When I cut out the nicotine from my solution, then I have no problems continuing use of a product that I feel, through my own research, that is a much safer smoking device than tobacco cigarettes could ever be.
So, that’s how I currently use the device, and how I plan to use the device in the foreseeable future. How does this relate to your story?
In your story, you mention how there is no evidence that these devices are helping others to quit tobacco smoking, and it is said that the fear is that it will lead to an increase in tobacco cigarette usage. With a couple of hours of research on your part, you could have easily uncovered hundreds of stories on the Internet that attribute the electronic cigarette as the device that finally helped them stop, or significantly cut down, smoking after years of trying other methods. And the argument that e-cig use will lead to more people smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes is at the least laughable, and at the most ludicrous. To think that someone would pick up an electronic cigarette and enjoy it so much that they would then decide to add carcinogens, carbon monoxide, tar, and 4000+ chemical additives to their act is absurd.
You also mention this as some sort of ‘gateway’ to smoking for teens and children, because it’s marketed as cool, or fun, and the nicotine solution comes in various flavors. Again, here’s where some due diligence on your part could have kept this misinformation from leaking out over your airwaves. Like I mentioned before, I did several months of research on these devices before I purchased my first starter kit. The average price, depending on reseller and model, starts around 60 dollars, and go on up to 200 dollars, including shipping. This generally gives you enough to begin using the device, including two batteries (one to use, one to charge), one atomizer (the part of the device that vaporizes the nicotine solution), a few cartridges (the part of the device that contains the nicotine solution, depending on the supplier these can come pre-filled with solution or empty), a charger for the battery, and instructions. Outside of that cost, you also have to buy nicotine solution for the device, and this can cost an average of 10-15 dollars for a 10ml supply. Plus, these devices have a limited use time. Batteries and atomizers fail, and you have to purchase spares and replacements for those parts.
First off, the cost of the devices almost completely excludes minors from using e-cigs as their first step towards smoking tobacco. You have to have the patience to order the device, order the nicotine solution, wait for the products to arrive, and then have the patience to learn how to use the device and the solution properly. How many teens would opt for this route as opposed to getting their 18-year-old buddy to grab a 5 dollar pack of smokes for them from the local convenience store? In most cases, it’s cheaper for a child to smoke cigarettes, chew nicotine gum, use nicotine patches, use snus or snuff, get nicotine lozenges, than it is for them to begin a habit with electronic cigarettes. Now I’m not saying that the enterprising teenager won’t be able to get their hands on this product, but I can’t see how a rational person can believe that these devices will be just as easy for teenagers and children to purchase and use as it is for tobacco, alcohol, and porn, which are all regulated as items only allowed for person 18 or older, and in the case of alcohol, 21 and over.
And what about those flavors that seem to be enticing to children? Can discerning adults not choose to smoke a product that tastes like coffee, or cherry, or banana, or chocolate, or must we be relegated to only tobacco flavors? Part of the appeal to me with these devices is that I no longer smell like a tobacco factory, and my taste buds work a lot better than they ever have over the last 20 years, so why would I want to continue tasting tobacco? And the last time I looked, the nicotine gum and lozenges already available in most retail stores across the nation come in a great variety of flavors to choose from, so wouldn’t those be just as enticing to a child? It would seem to me that those products would be much easier for a child or teen to use, if they really want to begin using nicotine without starting with tobacco cigarette smoking.
And although it has worked up to this point in time as a smoking cessation device for me, this device isn’t primarily marketed as such. I know of numerous individuals who continue to use nicotine using this device, but use it in place of traditional tobacco.
So, what it comes down to is this: your story was very biased in its presentation, and didn’t present an alternative to your experts and their opinions on the subject. Their arguments were weak, and amounted to the typical ‘think of the children’ mentality that overruns most calls for removal of a product, or movie, or television show, or album, or whatever happens to be the hot topic of the minute where a clear, concise argument for its removal, censoring, or banning isn’t available.
Don’t get me wrong. I welcome more study in the long-term use and effects of this device and the associated nicotine solution. I do think that more scientific research is necessary and warranted. And yes, it should be only available to those of smoking age in this country, but a vast majority of suppliers already adhere to this age limit. What I don’t believe, however, is that these devices present a danger to our society and need to be removed from sale and made unavailable to those who are currently benefitting from it, nor do I believe that they should be unavailable to those who they could truly help as a substitute to tobacco smoking and nicotine intake.
I’m sure there are things that I have missed in my email, just as there are numerous things you missed in your report. The biggest difference is that it took me 15 minutes to write this message, and I’m sure you had days, if not weeks, to prepare your story. I certainly hope you take the time in the future to set the record straight, and bring to light other facts and opinions in regards to e-smoking and e-cigarettes, and its users.
Thanks for your time,
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