Nicotine Notes

Is this what smoking does to you?

According to the Independent (12 December 2017) a 24 year old woman was arrested in the US after she smoked in the toilet on a domestic flight. When confronted by the crew she caused a ruckus and ended up being arrested. Later, when asked why she decided to smoke on the plane she replied, ‘The anxiety.’ The cause of her anxiety was not revealed, but whether it was due to flying or something else, clearly smoking did nothing to calm her down.

One cannot but feel sorry for someone whose need for a cigarette was apparently so great that she would rather risk arrest than wait a few hours until she was back on the ground and in a place where smoking is permitted.

Fatal air travel

Continuing our flying theme, if you were planning to travel somewhere by air and the ticket agent said, ‘I’m sorry to tell you this, but 2.5% of our planes crash’, would you take the flight?

I know what I would do.

In case you’re wondering what this has got to do with smoking, let me tell you.

In 2014 a paper was published in a learned journal called ‘European Addiction Research’ (the article can be accessed by putting DOI: 10.1159/000360220 into your browser) which concluded that, if smoking cigarettes was regarded as being 100% harmful, then e-cigarettes are only 5% harmful. It is frequently quoted that half of all smokers die of a smoking-related disease, hence the 2.5% theoretical fatality rate of using e-cigarettes.

This nice round 5% figure, however, has been disputed (see, for example,  http://nicotinemonkey.com/?p=1267) though it’s nonetheless frequently quoted by e-cigarette enthusiasts.

Unfortunately, this may be no more than wishful thinking, because the reality is that no one can know what the effects will be of sucking e-cigarette vapour into your lungs many times daily for twenty years or more. Common sense tells you that, although vaping (as the use of e-cigarettes is known) may be safer than smoking conventional cigarettes, it’s unlikely to do you any good and could cause serious health problems. Why take the risk?

On a black note…

Today in my inbox I received a politely written ‘quick question’ from someone who identified herself only as Michelle, asking if I accept guest posts and saying they were looking for people to collaborate with. Michelle’s email address indicated she is associated with a company in America called Black Note, which is a brand of e-liquid.

I replied saying in principle I would be happy to collaborate but pointed out that since my object is to help people get the Nicotine Monkey off their back so they can stop using not just cigarettes but nicotine in any form, perhaps I wasn’t whom she was looking for.

Their website contains the usual disclaimer that ‘Black Note products are not smoking cessation products and have not been tested as such…’

True enough, but many smokers are nonetheless being misled to think of e-cigarettes as a way to stop smoking. All that e-cigarettes do is merely to enable smokers to continue in the thrall of nicotine addiction in a way that it is hoped will be safer, as noted above. At present, vapers may be unaware they are unwitting participants in a huge unregulated public health experiment.

The answer to London’s smoking problem

I recently read of an online initiative (Stop Smoking London) that is a ‘collaboration between Professor Robert West, one of the world’s leading experts on smoking’, as he modestly styles himself, ‘and British Websites who specialise in websites to help people achieve healthy lives’ as they repetitively put it.

It seems to be mostly a puff for Professor West’s book about how to stop smoking. I wrote a review about this which can be seen at http://nicotinemonkey.com/?p=75 If we follow Professor West’s link, we find ‘A Message from the Author’, and here are some of the interesting things he says:

There are so many way to stopping smoking, how do you know what will work for you?

Actually, there’s only one way: you just stop!

But then he reduces the ‘so many ways’ to a quantifiable figure: 29.

The SmokeFree formula will provide you with the best available information on 29 ingredients that you can put into your quit attempt.

It’s a pity that it seems no matter how you juggle these twenty-nine ingredients you’ll only achieve a quit attempt.

No matter, because he goes on to say:

[T]here is no such thing as a failed quit attempt – every day you smoke is a plus on the road to lasting success.

He’s right about one thing, though not perhaps in the way he means. Every day you smoke is a plus – not on the road to lasting success (the word ‘lasting’ is redundant) – but, as Macbeth put it, on ‘The way to dusty death.’

Every cigarette a smoker smokes is a demonstration of his or her failure to quit. One either smokes or one doesn’t. The concept of a ‘quit attempt’ is meaningless, as I explain in another post, http://nicotinemonkey.com/?p=683.

Supporting local tool delivery

A wonderful document was published in September 2017 by Public Health England called ‘Models of delivery for stop smoking services’. Let us take just the foreword, written by one Martin Dockrell.

He seems to have a fixation on ‘tools’ and ‘local’.

In preparing this tool…local need…local authorities…family of tools…local decision makers…Local Tobacco Control Profiles…local prevalence…similar localities …every local authority combining local data…diagnostic tool…Which tool fits best…depend on where a locality is…local systems need to identify…groups will be determined locally…etc

And then we have lots of support:

…since that time have supported an estimated 1 million smokers…principle of a universal offer of support…combination of behavioural support…local areas…delivering stop smoking support…to support smokers…the package of support offered by a local stop smoking service…

Could this be could be a candidate for the prize of coming last in a competition run by the Plain English Campaign?

Text © Gabriel Symonds

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