kills. We’ve all heard the public service announcements, seen
the ads featuring hard-breathing people dying from lung cancer.
We’ve all heard about what smoking does to lungs and hearts and
stamina. And this issue is personal for me. My 90-year-old mama
smoked until she was diagnosed with COPD (chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease) more than a decade ago. Until then, she tried
almost everything she could to quit – from the patch to pills
to an ill-advised attempt to stop smoking by smoking brands she did
not like! Smoking kills, and nicotine is addictive. And it hits
African Americans harder than others, although we start smoking later
and smoke fewer cigarettes than whites. Still, smoking is associated
with the top three killer diseases for Blacks – heart disease,
cancer, and strokes. But short of outlawing tobacco, how do we stop,
or reduce, addiction to nicotine?
tax cigarettes as a way to provide a financial disincentive from
smoking. But research shows that those addicted to nicotine,
especially African American smokers, do not adjust their smoking
habits in the face of increased prices. Entrepreneurs and scientists have also responded by developing
market-based smoking cessation products. Nicorette gum, approved in
1984, is an example of the way that the effect of nicotine is
somewhat minimized by delivering nicotine without smoke. Similarly,
Nicoderm CQ is patch delivers nicotine through the skin. Most
recently, Nicorette has developed a mint lozenge. Then there is
medication – the FDA approved Zyban in 1997. Chantix was
approved in 2006, and its price has doubled since 2013. These drugs
have had mixed effectiveness in stopping smoking.
what about e-cigarettes, a way for smoking addicts (they don’t
like it when you call them that) to ingest nicotine in a less harmful
way than smoking? I think they are a great way to ameliorate some of
the effects of smoking. And e-cigarettes don’t have the same
harmful affects of second-hand smoke. With the majority of Black
children being exposed to second-hard smoke that’s reason
enough to consider e-cigarettes. Lot of folks disagree. They think
that selling e-cigarettes promotes smoking, not contains it. They
think that flavored e-cigarettes are attractive to teens and make it
easier for them to begin smoking. They would restrict access to
e-cigarettes because they are convinced that they are bad for public
beg to differ! I think that e-cigarettes are a way for those
addicted to nicotine to minimize the effects of their smoking. I
wonder if my mom would experience fewer consequences from her years
of smoking if she had the e-cigarette option years ago. She was
always clear that smoking killed, and when I was a kid and
experimented with smoking, was forced to eat a cigarette, upchuck the
effects, and be turned off tobacco for life. But as clear as she
was, she struggled with that addiction, and as easily doing a pack a
day when she quit. Would e-cigarettes have eased her pain and help
her manage her addiction? I think so.
sure, using products like the vaping product Juul would have saved
her money. A study from LendEdu says that those who switch from
cigarettes to the vaporized JUUL product save $58 per month from the
Will they eventually stop smoking? There is no research to support
that premise. However, it is clear that vaping is less dangerous
than smoking. That, alone, is a reason to make ecigarettes and other
products that vaporize nicotine available to the public.
to ensure that young people have limited access to e-cigarettes and
other products that vaporize tobacco are appropriate. Efforts to
restrict access to others are ill-advised. If we care about those
who are committed to smokers and addicted to nicotine, then we will
make it easy for them to access alternatives to smoking.
E-cigarettes may change, even save, their lives.
ads that tell us that smoking kills tells only part of the story.
The other part is that nicotine has major negative health effects,
but that those who are addicted can ingest it less harmfully. This
should be of particular concern to the African American community,
since so many are dying from smoke-related causes.
policy should embrace, not condemn, electronic cigarettes. And health
advocates should not be fooled by the hype of vaping prohibition
while smoking addicts are seeking alternatives.