E-cigarettes are less harmful alternatives

By Joe Bottini

Earlier this week, The Daily Illini published its third piece this academic year critical of e-cigarettes.

Your readers might benefit from an alternative viewpoint. Few substances are more thoroughly studied or are as widespread in their impact than tobacco, with 480,000 national annual deaths from users, 68 percent of whom would like to quit, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

E-cigarettes provide an effective means to mitigate the damage from tobacco use. Although the long-term effects of vaping are not clear, the long-term effects of smoking are. While not engaging in any harmful activity is preferable to engaging, for those who want or need nicotine, vaping is vastly preferential to smoking. Making a less harmful close substitute to smoking should be viewed as great progress, not as one and the same.

Ms. Heather Schlitz’s Monday column used absolute terms such as “safe” and “harmless,” but e-cigarettes never purport to be those things. While the long-term health effects aren’t known with certainty, what is known is e-cigarettes do not deliver tar and tobacco particulates to the lungs, and these items are responsible for the most serious adverse health risks of cigarettes.

E-cigarettes contain nicotine which is addictive, but so are sugar and caffeine. Although the substances must be distinguished, so must the delivery mechanisms: Ingestion is less harmful than inhaling vapor, which is less harmful than inhaling smoke. Caffeine would likely be a more harmful substance if the only method to absorbing it were to smoke coffee beans.

E-cigarettes are a societal benefit in a nation where cigarette use is still common.

I say this not as a smoker or vapor, but as a brother and a friend of smokers who I would much rather see live longer, healthier lives, preferably through cessation, but alternatively with less harmful tobacco products.

Joe graduated in 2016 with a degree in Engineering. 

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