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COMMENT: A cloud of suspicion

Monday, 3rd October, 2016 7:57am

Story by Jack Gleeson
COMMENT: A cloud of suspicion

Electronic cigarettes are now a common sight in Dublin.

COMMENT: A cloud of suspicion

Electronic cigarettes are now a common sight in Dublin.

LAST week in this column, Dublin People Group Editor, Tony McCullagh, mentioned a colleague who swears by electronic cigarettes.

He went on to describe his co-worker as somebody who no longer considers himself a smoker, “despite the ominous, sizzling sound every time he inhales and the light mist that follows”.

The colleague is me, and Tony’s observations on my vaping habit reveal a suspicion I’ve become used to since I successfully kicked my damaging addiction to cigarettes.

It’s not surprising Tony’s not convinced about the merits of vaping. After all, there’s been a lot of conflicting media coverage, and even health officials can’t seem to agree on the issue.

From my own perspective, I had tried several times using various methods to give up smoking, all without success. Part of the problem was I didn’t really want to quit, so when a replacement materialised in the shape of e-cigarettes, I jumped on it.

Having been off cigarettes before, I know how it feels to be a non-smoker, and within a month of vaping that’s exactly how I felt. My breathing was back to normal, I no longer stank of cigarettes and I had a renewed appetite for life.

Then there was the added bonus of still enjoying a puff with my morning coffee or over a pint, without even having to venture outdoors. 

When I began vaping the habit was a curiosity that attracted mostly positive attention. But over the years initial public support for e-cigarettes has been replaced by suspicion.

Giving up cigarettes is supposed to be difficult, so how come more and more ex-smokers were actually enjoying these electronic devices? Out of suspicion grew hostility and despite there being no evidence whatsoever that ‘second-hand vape’ was any more harmful than steam from a kettle, bans have been enforced.

It reminds me of the widespread protests over mobile phone masts two decades ago when ungrounded fears prevailed over scientific evidence and common sense.

So what is the evidence? Last month a widely respected, global non-profit group called Cochrane summarised its findings on over 1,700 medical and scientific reports on electronic cigarettes to date.

It’s what they do, so people like doctors and government officials can make unbiased decisions on healthcare issues.

Cochran’s review found e-cigarettes help people quit smoking, there’s no evidence of any serious side effects in the short to mid-term and switching to them can lead to changes in blood and breath consistent with changes in people who give up smoking altogether.

Sadly, despite no evidence of harm, the bans and suspicion will continue and helplessly addicted smokers will be deprived of official support for a lifesaving device.

 

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