Disease Warnings on Every Cigarette!
Courtesy of that august organ, ASH Daily News, on 5 June 2023 we learn that the UK government is in a bind. On the one hand, ‘Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, this week announced measures to reduce vaping among teenagers’, and on the other hand, ‘Health officials believe that vapes can be a useful tool to help smokers quit tobacco.’ (My emphasis.)
It thus appears that the Prime Minister believes it’s all right for teenagers to vape as long as the extent is reduced to a certain level. Well then, would the Right Honourable Mr Rishi Sunak be so good as to tell us what level of vaping among teenagers he is aiming for or thinks is acceptable.
But since health officials believe that vapes can be a useful tool to help smokers quit tobacco, as long as they continue to use tobacco, they will be in need of a useful tool to help them quit.
It’s not just the usual Symonds nitpicking to point out that smokers won’t be in need of a useless tool to help them quit, so the word ‘useful’ is redundant, but with such an approach to the smoking problem, the word ‘useless’ is all to obvious.
Smokers typically smoke for years or decades, and then, with the greatest difficulty they may ‘try’ to quit. This means failing to quit. And what tool, useful or otherwise, does the government suggest? Another way of continuing in thrall to nicotine addiction, albeit one that it is believed or hoped to be less dangerous than smoking, which could last for the rest of the former smoker’s life. And this assumes – and it’s a big assumption – that the smoker manages to switch completely from one way of putting the poison nicotine into his or her body to another, allegedly safer, way.
Isn’t this ridiculous, or isn’t it?
All right then, Dr Symonds, what do you suggest?
First, let me digress to what I would not suggest, and that is the latest wheeze in tobacco control from Health Canada.
If there were a consumer product that damages your organs, causes cancer, harms children, causes impotence and leukaemia, and contains poison, the question would immediately arise of why such a product would be allowed to be sold.
The true statements about damage to your organs, causing cancer, etc., are the health warnings – they should really be called disease warnings – that are soon are to be printed directly onto each and every cigarette sold in Canada.
I suppose the idea is that smokers, on seeing these warnings, will recoil in shock and horror, throw the pack of cigarettes unused into the dustbin (trashcan), and thenceforth follow the path of righteousness by becoming and remaining for the rest of their lives, non-smokers.
Now for what I would suggest. In fact, as readers of my blogs will be aware, I have repeatedly suggested it.
The obvious solution is for the government to enact legislation to make tobacco products unavailable by banning their manufacture and sale. (The nicotine in e-cigarettes (vapes) is also derived from the tobacco plant, but let’s leave that aside for the sake of argument.)
Yes, yes, I know, then there’ll be a black market, organised crime will step in, there’ll be riots and blood in the streets, and western society will collapse. Look what happened with prohibition in the US in the 1930s. Frankly, I don’t believe this. The only result is that there would be vastly fewer smokers.
But if the government lacks the bottle to do this, then here is an alternative. Smokers who consider themselves intractably addicted would be able to obtain cigarettes only on prescription from licensed suppliers, and no one else would legally be able to buy them. I describe this scenario here.
Another approach is that e-cigarettes would only be available on prescription from licensed suppliers for smokers who want to use vaping as a quit smoking tool, though it’s unclear whether this would turn out to be useful. And all other promotion and sale of smokeless tobacco products, including vapes, would be banned.
Text © Gabriel Symonds