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October 19th, 2016:

Commentary: E-cigarettes, Effective Smoke Cessation Tools Together With Willpower, Support

There is widespread debate about promoting the use of e-cigarettes and whether they can be endorsed as an effective cessation tool. On one side, there are those who say that e-cigarettes just increase nicotine intake as they are readily available to the general public. A person who vapes is more likely to consume larger amounts of nicotine as it is sourced from two sides: e-cigarettes and regular tobacco cigarettes. Hence, e-cigarettes do not help people quit smoking, but on the contrary, encourage them to increase nicotine consumption and feed their addiction.

On the other side of the debate is the belief that nicotine addiction is a habit that can be kicked through the use of e-cigarettes. Vaping and e-cigarettes are nicotine replacement therapies that can help in reducing or even eliminating tobacco smoking habit entirely. Smokers are not idiots, they know the dangerous effects of smoking on their health and to others. However, nicotine is a substance that they need or perceive to want, because it keeps alertness levels high, relaxes and stimulates the body and creates pleasure.

E-cigarettes satisfy these cravings from delivery of nicotine to the physical activity of holding something in the hands.

However, it should be noted that e-cigarettes and vaping alone will not eliminate tobacco smoking for good. An important factor that plays a significant role is willpower. Thus, tobacco smokers should want to get rid of the habit as without it, no amount of nicotine replacement therapies will help without the voluntary desire and willpower to abandon the vice completely.

Another vital component when giving up smoking is social, family or group support to make the smooth transition from smoking a pack of cigarettes a day to reducing it to half and eventually, zero intake. When withdrawal symptoms kick in, it is imperative that social support is in place to help the user get through a difficult and often traumatic experience of quitting.

To conclude, the use of e-cigarettes as an effective smoke cessation tool should not be discounted. It is less harmful to smokers, others and the environment. If combined with the burning desire/willpower to quit and proper support, it has a tremendous potential to help tobacco smokers quit for good and in the process save lives as well as reduce burden on the health-care system.

Emma Mills is a writer with a passion for good, healthy living and exercise. She can be reached at

Tobacco companies ‘exaggerating need for small retailers to sell cigarettes’

Tobacco companies are exaggerating the need for small retailers to sell cigarettes and the impact it has on footfall and profits, according to Action on Smoking and Health (Ash)

A new study (link is external) found corner shops made an average profit of just £242 a week on tobacco products compared with £2,611 from everything else they sell – or less than 10 per cent of their total weekly profits.

Retailers’ average profit margins were just 6.6 per cent for tobacco products compared with 24.1 per cent for all other products, the Ash and National Addiction Centre at King’s College London study found.

The report said falling tobacco sales meant that 79 per cent of all small retailer transactions did not include the purchase of tobacco products.

A survey of 591 local newsagents included in the report found that 69 per cent “acknowledged that they do not make much profit from cigarettes compared to other products”.

Newcastle-based small retailer John McClurey, who has been a member of the Ash Advisory Council for the past four years, said: “I have little choice to sell tobacco as many of my customers still smoke. But tobacco makes me very little money while tying up plenty of cash in stock. Tobacco is a burden to me.

“The decline in the market, the disappearance of cigarettes behind gantry doors and the shift to plain packaging have made the traditional approach to selling tobacco out-dated. A better alternative for retailers is to reduce stock, shift the gantry and free up space for products that actually turn a decent profit.”

Ash chief executive, Deborah Arnott, said that tobacco companies rely on the sales from corner shops.

“Nearly half (45 per cent) of smokers buy cigarettes from corner shops, so for the tobacco industry it is essential that it puts a lot of effort into persuading retailers to maintain the profile of tobacco sales in those stores,” she said.

“Tobacco is a high-cost, low-profit product and money spent on tobacco is money not available for other more profitable purchases.

“Our report invites retailers to see the long-term decline in smoking as an opportunity, not a threat.”

Alyssa Best, Cancer Research UK’s tobacco policy advisor, said the report offered reassurance to shop owners that were worried about the effects falling tobacco sales may have on their profits.

“Contrary to tobacco industry claims, small retailers do not make large profits from selling cigarettes,” she said.

“The billions in profit are made by the large multinational companies who produce these lethal products.

“Shop owners can feel confident that their businesses will not suffer from measures to help people quit smoking, like the ban on Point of Sale displays of tobacco, and they can use this space to sell alternative products that will earn them more profit.”

MP Bob Blackman, of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on smoking and health, said that the report questioned “the core messages promoted by tobacco manufacturers that tobacco is essential to retailers’ success”.

“I hope that the findings will support and encourage small retailers to consider whether the traditional approach to selling tobacco in small shops remains in their best interests,” he added.

“A new approach to selling tobacco will benefit our corner shops, and ensure their continued place at the heart of our local communities.”

Can Flavour Make E-Cigarettes More Toxic?

The use of e-cigarettes is promoted as the healthy option when compared to traditional smoking methods. But vaping and e-cigarettes are a new experience and the evidence they might not be as safe as they are promoted is growing as researchers look closely at vaping — both the devices and the constituents of the e-liquids consumed.

Research shows that long-term users risk regular exposure to respiratory irritants and toxic substances — and as more teams look into vaping, more health related issues could be uncovered. Chemical studies indicate that the aerosol generated in vaping contains lower levels of toxins and carcinogens that are present in traditional cigarettes.

Hence the recommendations that they are preferable to cigarettes and could be used by smokers to cut down on the levels of toxins they inhale.

ENDS products and vaping

However, the rapid growth of vaping and its numerous products is too fast for regulatory bodies and clinical studies to keep up. With so many different flavours and flavour chemicals being used, users really have no idea about the potential inhalation toxicity of the products they are using and the damage that might be caused to cells.

Vaping using e-cigarettes — or to give them their technical name electronic nicotine delivery systems or ENDS — use a heating system to generate a vapour or aerosol that the user then inhales. This delivers the nicotine hit, usually in a synthetic flavour. The nicotine and flavouring are carried in an e-liquid — which usually contains propylene glycol as the main carrier.

Now a team from the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY has carried out research that suggests some flavourings are more toxic than others. In a paper published in the British Medical Journal Tobacco Control they show that flavourings used in e-cigarettes may induce inhalation toxicity in some cells — and that strawberry flavour was the most toxic flavour tested.

Air-liquid interface culture (ALI)

The team used a testing method known as ALI — which allows the direct exposure of cell to the aerosols generated by the ENDS. Six different ENDS were tested along with five different flavours of e-liquids. The team exposed human bronchial epithelial cells to puffs from ENDS aerosol, tobacco smoke and an air control. The nicotine levels were measured using gas chromatography — the use of GC in health research is discussed in the article, Volatile Organic Compound Determination in Health-related

Research: A Review.

The tests confirmed that conventional tobacco smoke had a greater negative effect on the cells than the ENDS aerosols. But the ENDS aerosol had a negative effect on the cells when compared with the air control — with the strawberry flavour having a greater impact on the cells than the other flavours tested. Interestingly, they found that it is not the nicotine that affected the respiratory cells but the added flavourings.

In an unregulated market — can you be sure what you are exposing yourself to?