Kicking a Habit



In a recently released episode of the popular Netflix television drama, House of Cards, one of the main characters is the wife of the Vice President of the United States, Claire.  In one scene, Claire is shown in her home smoking an electronic cigarette.  In prior episodes, the Vice President, Francis, and his wife Claire are shown sharing a nightly cigarette together, reflecting on the day and sharing a moment of solitude contrasting the very hectic lives they lead.  In this scene featuring the electronic cigarette, she jests with Francis about how she wishes it were the real thing, and then Francis shows her the stash of real cigarettes he never threw out as intended.  They light up a conventional cigarette and puff away together.  Some habits die hard.

An e-cigarette is a nifty little gadget; especially for those that have been trying to kick a cigarette habit for years.  It is a battery powered device designed to mimic the experience of smoking an actual cigarette.  Some formulas of the e-cigarette release a nicotine formula, others do not.  And they are blue.

The American Association of Public Health Physicians (AAPHP) says that individuals unwilling to quit tobacco smoking or unable to quit with medical advice and pharmaceutical methods should consider products such as electronic cigarettes for long term use instead of smoking.

In today’s Sunday edition of The New York Times, Sabrina Tavernise writes about the public health effects of e-cigarettes.  She says that a researcher at Boston University argues that e-cigarettes could be the beginning of the end of smoking in America (Travernise, 2014).  This sounds like good news.  However, the professor of medicine and this researcher’s mentor is convinced that e-cigarettes may actually erase the hard-fought progress to reduce the number of people smoking over the last fifty years.  How could this be?

Researchers are saying that not many people who are smoking conventional cigarettes are actually switching to electronic cigarettes.  It seems that they are smoking both.  In addition, researchers are contemplating that by smoking electronic cigarettes, smokers may actually be prolonging the habit, by offering a dose of nicotine at times when getting one from a traditional cigarette is inconvenient or illegal (Travernise, 2014). 

Some researchers are saying what is even more damaging is that these clever e-cigs are making smoking look “cool” again.  Questions arise concerning the images that our youth are receiving.  Will the advertisements and images of e-cigarettes in the media attract our adolescents for the novelty of the idea and then lead them into an addiction that they otherwise might have avoided.  It seems as though e-cigarettes are not the perfect answer to a very long problem of quitting smoking, they do offer a better alternative for those that want to reduce their intake of tar, but are unable to completely kick their nicotine habit.

Travernise, S. (2014, February 23).  Hot Debate Over E-Cigarettes as Path to Tobacco, or From It. The New York Times, pp. 1A, 18A.





One comment

  1. The addiction to smoking is very difficult to break. When one watches how long it takes many people, the reality of what an addiction means is very real to see. When my father became a Christian, he threw down his cigarettes and never picked up another one. On the other hand, it took my mother over 10 years and three different tries to quit smoking. You raise important points about “mixed” messages for our young people as well as about our health. Time will tell.

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