In Defense of E-Cigs: Professor Insists Heavy Regulations Could Be Harmful
While the majority of the media works to demonize and discredit electronic cigarettes, there have been a few brave researchers and health professionals to speak up in defense of e-cigarettes. The latest is Professor David Nutt, a renowned psychiatrist with a history of working as an advisor to the UK Ministry of Defense and Department of Health. In a radio interview with BBC’s Shelagh Fogarty, Professor Nutt spoke out about how crucial e-cigarettes could be for public health around the world.
Nutt explained to Fogarty that e-cigs represent a viable harm reduction strategy that could save millions of lives. Currently, tobacco cigarettes claim six million lives each year. That represents more deaths than we see from AIDS, Malaria, Meningitis, and Tuberculosis combined. With such a vast number of people losing their lives due to addiction to cigarettes, Nutt insists that e-cigs could be the solution, offering the “greatest health advance since vaccinations.”
When questioned about research to back his claims, Nutt said that e-cigs had only one real risk factor and that was nicotine. While nicotine does carry some cardiovascular risks if used long-term, he said research has shown that nicotine can actually create a positive cognitive response in elderly patients and those with schizophrenia. Just because electronic cigarettes contain nicotine, it is certainly not grounds to put them under heavy regulation that would counteract the potential benefit they offer to smokers.
Professor Nutt insisted that new regulations should be designed to insure safety without impeding use. If e-cigs are treated as contraband and heavily restricted, many vapers could go back to smoking cigarettes, a tragedy for health. “These electronic cigarettes should not be controlled as medicines – they should be controlled more lightly than cigarettes in order to encourage people to switch.”
With a background in psychiatry and drug research, Nutt has spent years studying how various drugs impact neurological functions. He has also done extensive research on addiction. After looking at the facts from a critical standpoint, Professor Nutt feels strongly that how public health officials handle e-cigarettes is crucial for the future health of smokers. Rather than treating the devices as an enemy, they should be embraced as an effective harm reduction option.
For the past six months, heavy debated has surrounded e-cigarettes throughout Europe and in 2013, UK officials announced intentions to treat the devices as medications and regulate them as such by 2016. As the future brings new regulations and restrictions for vapers, Professor Nutt is spreading an important message in defense of e-cigs. They truly have offered many smokers an escape from tar and tobacco and that alone is reason to consider e-cigarettes as beneficial.