A Smoke Free Life: Could E-Cigarettes be the Solution?

By Martin Brown

This November 15th is the Great American Smokeout Day, which occurs every year on the Thursday before Thanksgiving.

There is a popular myth in America today that smoking as a health issue is a thing of the past. Nothing could be further from the truth. A couple of simple facts:

First, the famous Surgeon General’s report on the dangers of smoking was released in 1964. At that time, 40 percent of the American population smoked. Forty-seven years later that number has been cut in half to 20 percent. But did you know that 16 years ago, in 1995 the number was reduced to 25 percent. In other words there has been a great slowing in the declining rate of smokers.

Second, smoking is still a leading cause of death in America. An incredible 1,200 people per day die of smoke related illness, principally in the form of heart disease and lung cancer deaths, but cigarettes kill in other ways as well. That’s 400,000 people per year.

Can you imagine what the public outcry would be if 1,334 commercial jets, loaded with 300 passengers each, crashed each and every year. Certainly no one would get anywhere near an airplane. But most smokers slip away quietly in the privacy of their home and family lives. Smoking is the number one preventable cause of death in America and based on the fact that one out of five continues to smoke it is likely to remain so for many years to come.

In truth, most of us are hooked on smoking long before we have the maturity to realize how dangerous a habit we are falling into. The majority of smokers start the habit by age 14 and by age 19, 90% of smokers are solidly hooked on nicotine. The one silver lining in all this is that more effective products are coming out all the time to divert smokers away from this deadly habit and onto a safer substitute.

Probably the most effective solution has been the new line of electronic cigarettes, metal look-alikes that provide nicotine delivery without the harmful tars and gases inherent to tobacco-based products. Dr. Michael Siegel, a tobacco researcher and professor at Boston University’s School of Public Health explains, “Here we have a product (e-cigarettes) that is much safer than regular cigarettes and, by anecdotal evidence, helping literally thousands of smokers to quit smoking. Another major benefit of e-cigarettes is there’s no secondhand smoke. (Smoker exhale harmless steam.) In some ways, this is the product we’ve been looking for all these years.”

Some anti-smoking groups have come out against these new e-cigarettes, but as Siegel explains, “Anti-smoking groups just have trouble saying something good about anything that looks like and acts like a cigarette. And every one of the groups that has come out against e-cigarettes has taken money from or partnered with pharmaceutical companies. If e-cigarettes are successful, they will take over the smoking cessation market from the pharmaceutical companies.”

So if you’re a smoker and you’ve been thinking about quitting for weeks, months, or even years, you owe it to yourself to look for alternatives to this deadly habit. Celebrate the Great American Smokeout Day by learning more about e-cigarettes and other new approaches to kicking this deadly habit once and for all. Everyone who loves you will be so happy that you did.

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Martin Brown is the Heath Channel Editor for SingleMindedWomen.com, and co-author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Finding Mr. Right.

His latest book is Fit in 50 Days.

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