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[Irish Health] E-cigs could 'renormalise' smoking. (04 Mar 2014)

URL: http://www.irishhealth.com/article.html?id=23324

Anti-tobacco campaigner Professor Luke Clancy has warned that the unrestricted availability of electronic cigarettes could undermine the lifesaving achievements of the smoking ban by 'renormalising' smoking in society.

Ireland celebrates the tenth anniversary of the ban on smoking in workplaces next month.

Research published by the TobaccoFree Research Institute Ireland (TFRI) has shown that this historic legislation prevented well over 3,700 smoking-related deaths in the three years following the ban and provided an incentive for thousands of smokers to kick the habit.

Yet all this good work could be undone if strict regulations on advertising, packaging and availability of e-cigarettes are not introduced by the Irish Government without delay, according to Prof Clancy, Director General of the TFRI and a consultant respiratory physician.

He told irishhealth.com that the debate over whether e-cigarettes as a nicotine delivery system are less or more harmful than cigarettes is a 'smokescreen' and not the issue that should cause real concern.

"We've spent a lot of time and effort trying to denormalise the act of smoking and now this device could be used to renormalise it," he warned.

"Proponents want to have the debate about the actual substance - nicotine - and whether being addicted to e-cigarettes would be less harmful than being addicted to tobacco, but the question should be, what is the overall effect of the use of this product likely to be? Is it going to diminish the number of people who are smoking cigarettes? I don't think so."

He said that the workplace smoking ban has proved hugely successful in Ireland. "We're coming up to the tenth anniversary and what this law has helped to achieve, more than anything else, is to denormalise smoking; it has led to people to try to quit because they found it inconvenient not being able to smoke in public areas.

"With the e-cigarette, that incentive has now been removed. It is my view that e-cigarettes tend to neutralise the effect of smoke-free laws and that is a bad thing."

E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices, often designed to look like regular tobacco cigarettes, which heat a liquid containing nicotine, turning it into a vapour that is inhaled and creating a vapor cloud that resembles cigarette smoke.

 

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