Opinion Column

Ignore the alarmists and promote e-cigarettes to save people’s lives

By Brent Stafford, The Duel

Various e-cigarette products for sale are seen at the Henley Vaporium in New York City in this file photo taken December 18, 2013. (REUTERS/Mike Segar/Files)

Various e-cigarette products for sale are seen at the Henley Vaporium in New York City in this file photo taken December 18, 2013. (REUTERS/Mike Segar/Files)


Columnists Laila Yuile and Brent Stafford battle over the issues of the day. The winner of the last Duel on the CBC was Brent with 54%.

This week’s topic:

Should e-cigarette ‘vaping’ be allowed in places open to the public?

I am a smoker. I make this declaration not with pride, but with shame. It’s a horrible habit that certainly has harmed my health, drained my wallet and had deleterious effects on my life.

I wish I had never started, but I did and, like many smokers, I still enjoy it. Nothing beats the feeling of a cigarette between your fingers and taking a long drag. The rush of nicotine and satisfying exhale keeps me coming back for more. I am a defiant smoker, yet I know I have to quit.

Quitting isn’t easy. According to Statistics Canada, 20% of Canadians — approximately seven million — still smoke, and half of those attempt quitting each year. The success rate is dismal, roughly one in 10 succeed, and the overall rate of decline has flattened. Most have tried traditional smoking-cessation products like patches and gum to no avail.

Read Laila Yuile's column

There is a product proving to be effective in reducing smoking — the e-cigarette. According to a 2012 study published in the journal Addiction, of more than 2,000 former smokers surveyed, 96% reported the e-cigarette helped them to stop smoking and 79% reported fearing they would start smoking again if they stopped using it.

Electronic cigarettes are battery-powered devices that vaporize a mixture of food-safe ingredients, including water, vegetable glycerin, nicotine and flavourings. When a user draws on the device, you inhale and exhale a vapour, hence the term “vaping.”

As I write this, I am vaping a Smoke NV e-cigarette, a brand that contains no nicotine. It provides an amazing simulation of smoking a real cigarette — appearance, physical sensation and even flavour — without any of the dangerous side effects to users and bystanders.

Cigarettes are loaded with chemical carcinogens, whereas according to the Harm Reduction Journal, the ingredients in e-cigarettes do not pose any significant health risks. If e-cigarettes can help smokers quit, then they can potentially save millions of lives. Yet e-cigarette alarmists are calling for tougher regulations and bans on vaping in public places.

Opponents say e-cigarettes are “re-normalizing” smoking and are a gateway to smoking for young people. This is nonsense and advocating these extreme positions are as noxious as cigarette smoke.

E-cigarette use should be encouraged and heavily promoted. I adamantly support the freedom to vape in bars, restaurants and other public places. If I’m forced to vape outside in the cold, then there is less incentive to choose the safe alternative.

Brent Stafford is a veteran television news-documentary producer and marketing specialist. You can watch his show at ShakyPolitics.com.




Who wins this week's duel on e-cigarette smoking in public?

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