Dr. Sally Satel is a psychiatrist specializing in addiction treatment and also an American Enterprise Institute resident scholar. She wrote a piece in response to the article at New England Journal of Medicine that called for US military to reject smoking service people.
Alternative Tobacco Products Must Be Allowed
A reasonable health rationale was offered by the NEJM writers in eliminating cigarettes from US Military. If this move is approved by the Congress, service branches should allow electronic cigarettes and snus to be used by recruits wishing to serve the country.
There are gums and patches that smokers could use, but these tools alone will yield very low success rates. Intervention could be offered by the military to wannabe soldiers. Yet, the military could be a stronghold f enlightened harm reduction by offering snus, which are tiny pouches of tobacco place between the gum and the cheek.
Nitrosamine levels are also very small when using snus so the tobacco-related cancer rates are also low. Snus originally came from Sweden, the only country in Europe where snus is legal. For the last 50 years, snus use by the men in the country has been linked with low smoking rates and smoking attributable deaths in the world.
Those who want to quit should also be offered another boon, which is electronic cigarette. The device burns no tobacco because it contains no tobacco. Tobacco combustion is the source of toxins, gases and particulates that cause diseases. The devices are fairly new that the long term effects of using them are not yet known.
Eliquids that ecigarette devices warm and vaporize are often opposed due to their propylene glycol. Yet, PG is regarded by the US FDA as a safe ingredient that is commonly used in commonly used items like toothpaste, foods, cosmetics and asthma inhalers.
While ecig vapors were found with traces of nitrosamines, they were only at levels comparable to those of medicinal products such as nicotine gums and patches at concentrations that are 500 to 1,400 times lower than in regular cigarettes. Nickel, lead and cadmium might be there too, but only at levels thought to be non-toxic.
Ecigarette provide nicotine, an addictive substance. Yet, the health effects of using nicotine are usually not malignant. Many dispute that ecigs are probably great ways of quitting, but there are simply no epidemiologic data to support it.
They also worry that ecigs are serving as gateway to smoking real cigarettes. Critics consider this prospect as more than adequate reason to prohibit the marketing and the availability of the devices.
It was revealed by the National Youth Tobacco Survey that ecig use among the high school students almost doubled from 2011 to 2012 (1.5% to 2.8%). Yet, the same survey showed that traditional cigarette use also declined from 14.6% to 11.8% during the same period.
There are no reliable signs to prove that a small group of teenagers who were known to use ecigs are indeed moving on to traditional smoking. Data shows that increased ecigarette exposure is not encouraging more teenagers to take up the smoking habit. The number of smokers is still very small that it is untimely to make any definitive relationship between vaping and smoking among teens.
Ecigs are also more advantageous than nicotine gums and patches. They offer quicker fixes due to the pulmonary route, the fastest way of delivering nicotine to one’s brain. Moreover, ecigs address the tactile, visual and gestural similarities to combustible cigarettes.
Satel said that the military needs every brave men and women it can get. If these people are qualified in all ways except their smoking habits, then there are sensible methods that can be used to accommodate them such as alternative tobacco products.
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