Despite its huge popularity, electronic cigarettes have as many critics as they have supporters. They present a dilemma: on one hand, supporters claim that, considering the high death toll caused by tobacco and traditional cigarettes, e-cigs present a safer and healthier alternative, thereby saving millions of lives. Those who are against e-cigs, however, claim that they somehow legitimise the act of smoking, and are even able to lure more non-smokers – even minors and children – to get into the habit of smoking. They will start with e-cigs, and it will only be a matter of time until they decide to try the regular nicotine-filled cigarettes.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is caught between these two opposing forces. On one side are the experts extolling the virtues and benefits of e-cigs. On another side are equally prominent and reliable experts and professional saying otherwise.
In a letter to the WHO, doctors expressed their apprehension about tobacco companies circumventing existing rules and regulations, or working around them in order to legitimise e-cigs and drive their sales up. They also opined the need for tougher legislation regarding restrictions on marketing issues for e-cigs.
Earlier, tobacco companies and cigarette manufacturers released statements regarding their plan to diversify their businesses. This was a cause for concern for those who are opposing the production and sale of e-cigs. After all, why is there a need to diversify when, in reality, the market for tobacco is flourishing?
In several countries where e-cigs are already being produced and marketed, there is a clear increase in the number of e-cig stores setting up shop in areas close to schools and universities. This trend has reached the ears of WHO, swaying them to the side of those who are against e-cigs. This October, WHO will be coming out with a decision on whether or not e-cigs will get the same treatment as real tobacco. This is a welcome development to schools and institutions that are clamouring for guidance on what to educate their students and pupils regarding tobacco and e-cigs.
Let’s go back to the question on whether e-cigarettes are a help or a hindrance. Which is it?
The more than two million e-cig users in the UK that claim to have been able to stop smoking with the help of these e-cigs will definitely tell you that they are a huge help. Since it worked for them, they see no reason why others should not also take advantage of the opportunity to be able to quit smoking.
However, at the end of the day, it would be wise to recognise the fact that you cannot please everyone. There are always two sides of a coin, so you can expect to have opposition. There will always be people who will campaign against e-cigs. But both sides should put more effort into beefing up their arguments, and they can do this by coming up with valid justifications and scientific proof. If they have conclusive evidence on their side, they will be more credible, and people will find it easier to believe them. Of course, there is also the question on whether everyone will believe them or not, but they would just have to cross the bridge when they get there.