In the field of the fight against smoking, Michael B. Siegel is a lone wolf. The Professor of Public Health at Boston University disagrees with most of his colleagues on a very specific issue: The e-cigarette.
« It's beyond me that so many public health groups can try to block e-cigarettes Says Siegel. « However, cigarettes are highly toxic and kill 400.000 people a year, while e-cigarettes are not particularly harmful and help many people quit smoking.".
During her internship at the Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Michael Siegel noticed that most people were admitted to hospital for preventable causes including smoking, alcohol, drugs, unhealthy diet and lack of exercise. « We could advise every patient who wanted it on smoking " he said, " But would not it be more effective to have mass public health campaigns to reduce smoking? This has an impact much more important about public health ».
That's what led Michael B.Siegel to a scholarship in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Office of Smoking Prevention. " This experience convinced me to pursue a university career in public health. Smoking cessation has been Siegel's passion since he was a student at Brown. It was there that he lobbied to make Rhode Island the 13th state to ban smoking in the workplace. During his medical school, he also lobbied to bring in tobacco control laws in Connecticut.
Siegel believes that e-cigarettes can make a big impact on public health. Users inhale a nicotine or non-nicotine e-liquid that is vaporized from a device operating on a battery that sometimes looks like a cigarette. There is no tobacco, nothing burns, there is no smoke, only steam. Hon Lik, a Chinese pharmacist and former fat smoker, invented the e-cigarette in 2003 as a smoking cessation device after his father died of lung cancer. Since the products arrived in the United States in 2007, the FDA regulated them in the same way as tobacco products. For Siegel it's hopeless because it undermined the good image that the e-cigarette could have.
« More than 90% of smokers trying to quit fail". " The e-cigarette does the work for them, because it simulates the behavioral movement of the smoker, throat hit, the holding of the cigarette and even some social aspects. You can totally vape with, in a group or in a meeting Said Siegel.
Sadly, devices are not approved by the FDA for smoking cessation and commercials can not claim that " Vapoter is safer than smoking or e-cigarettes can help smokers get rid of tobacco«
« You have a product that could help the public, and you're not allowed to tell them what they are doing"Said Siegel. « Nobody disputes the fact that e-cigarettes must be regulated. The question is, how? « .
To sell their products, e-cigarette manufacturers use the same advertising themes as tobacco companies, using sex, freedom and independence. And for Siegel, it sends smokers who want to test the e-cigarette a message that this product is no different from tobacco.
For Siegel, labeling the e-cigarette with the same label as tobacco products means losing an opportunity for smokers to make a transition.« Obviously, the best thing is to stop smoking altogether but very few people are able to do it. For the rest, Siegel argues that e-cigarettes are far less harmful than tobacco. « You are no longer inhaling tens of thousands of chemicals found in tobacco smoke, including more than 60 known carcinogens.«
But Siegel does not claim that e-cigarettes are totally harmless. " Nicotine alone may present cardiac risks. We are talking about risk reduction for those who wish to smoke for life".
In 2015, a study published in BMC Medicine has proven that smokers who switch to e-cigarettes show a marked improvement in their respiratory functions and respiratory symptoms that they may have. A recent study in " The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health Even showed similar results in smokers with asthma who switched to the e-cigarette.
« There is an ideology deeply rooted in tobacco control: first, anything that can be equated with the act of "smoking" clearly can not be approved, and then any dependence must be considered terrible"Said Siegel.
The only question on which Siegel and his colleagues agree is with children. The Anti-e-cigarettes argue that its products should be banned or severely restricted so that children can not obtain them. "I'm sure they will ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, and for me it makes sense. This decision would make sense ".
But this is the only middle ground between Michael Siegel and his peers. The Anti-e-cigarettes claim that the vape is addictive to nicotine and so is a gateway to smoking. " The majority of young people who use e-cigarettes are already smokers. But there are some who are non-smokers who simply want to experiment with these products ".
Siegel's opponents want e-cigarettes to become invisible to children. For his part, Michael thinks that it is necessary to explain to what they serve the children and especially to stop putting them forward in a "sexy" way.
« If you do not see children using patches or nicotine gums,because they do not know that these products are destined for smoking cessation and that it is not something cool. «
source : yalemedicine.yale.edu (Full translation by Vapoteurs.net)