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Smokers Fight For Their Right To Smoke
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The vapoteurs who met on an island in the Seine recently on September 19th had e-cigarettes in one hand and flyers calling people to defend them in the other. On October 8th current year the European Parliament is to vote on a suggestion to control the devices as if they were medical products. Brice Lepoutre, president of the Independent Association of Electronic-Cigarette Users, is infuriated.
He says it is only the beginning of a revolution in the fight against tobacco. He will join with the bog pleasure likeminded people from Europe in Strasbourg at a protest against the proposal before the vote.
Smoking is falling in most developed countries. In Europe seven million people use e-cigarettes, which vaporise a solution containing nicotine without the toxins from burning tobacco. Sales of e-cigs in the USA may increase this year, according to data by Bonnie Herzog of Wells Fargo, a bank. She thinks their use could overtake that of regular cheap cigarettes in a decade. If regulators let them. Health authorities in the entire world are fighting to deal with this new way of getting a nicotine kick. E-cigarettes are sold as leisure products and as such are covered by safety and quality standards wherever these exist and are implemented. But leaving them, like shoes or beds, to such catch-all rules makes some regulators uneasy.
A number of studies say they are safer than normal cigarettes and at least as good at getting people to quit smoking as nicotine patches and gum. They too are based on that addictive substance. These days e-cigarettes are produced from materials from China and elsewhere, and the quality and labelling are different.On the other hand are health care providers who say that e-cigarettes are not safe.
Health care providers are worried that young people will be lured into a dependence on nicotine they would otherwise have avoided. The numbers who had never smoked but have become regular users of e-cigarettes seem to be huge. Another concern is that smokers who might have quit their habit will carry on, switching to e-cigs in places where smoking is banned though a number of studies suggest e-cigs do encourage them to smoke less tobacco.
A third fear is that these strangely trendy products will reglamorise smoking after years of campaigns, tax increases and restrictions have relegated it to the doghouse.
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