The Rigidity in our Thinking: an Epidemic?

As is so often the case, society’s governing bodies are painfully slow to change. Especially, when that change seeks to disrupt a long-standing tradition of cigarette smoking and massive quarterly earnings. The World Health Organization estimates that there are more than 7 million deaths from smoking and other tobacco use annually, worldwide. More than 6 million of those deaths are the direct result of tobacco use.

The tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced. No product, no activity, has been more ingrained into the fabric of life than tobacco cigarettes and smoking. 20 percent of the world’s population smokes 5.7 trillion cigarettes a year.

And yet, in the face of this alarming data, it is the “e-cigarette” that has been categorized as “an epidemic.”

What qualifies as an epidemic?

Oxford defines an epidemic as a sudden, widespread occurrence of a particular undesirable phenomenon.

The World Health Organization defines a pandemic as:

“an epidemic occurring worldwide, or over a very wide area, crossing international boundaries and usually affecting a large number of people.”

A public health emergency is usually what follows a confirmed epidemic. And yet, it appears that there is more condemnation of “e-cigarettes” than advocacy.

Look around.

Have you ever dropped everything and surveyed the world around you? A lot has changed.

Thirty years ago, the cigarette was much more of a symbol than it is now. Smoking was permitted on domestic flights, in cars where minors were present, and even on TV. The very first regular prime-time television news program was said to have been sponsored by Camel cigarettes.

Now, in today’s society, you’d be hard pressed to find people smoking in public areas, stinking up the shared air. It is this way because of the scientific information concerning the very real dangers associated with cigarette use. But even though smokers are no longer permitted to spark up in many public areas, they are still smoking. Which is a problem.

Health organization say E-cigarettes are a better option.

A recent study published in the Journal of Tobacco Control estimates that 6.6 million smokers could avoid premature death if 10 percent of the smoking population quits each of the next ten years.

The American Cancer Society and Public Health England have released statements advocating e-cigarettes as a method to quitting smoking:

Individuals be encouraged to switch to the least harmful form of tobacco product possible; switching to the exclusive use of e-cigarettes is preferable to continuing to smoke combustible products.”

What are we talking about?

We are having the wrong conversation because we refuse to engage in the right one. Instead, lobbyist and other agenda-driven bodies continue to disproportionately question and then vilify a product as an “epidemic”, when in reality, it has the potential to end one.

As Dr. Sanjay Gupta said in a recent CNN exclusive, “Every time we have something that has potential harm, how do you make sure you’re emphasizing enough of the harm, without completely erasing the benefit.”

The answer is quite simple — you state the facts and state them lucidly.

Especially relevant: last week’s Truth Tuesday

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Andrew Figgs

Photography Major from Western Washington University . I joined MBV back in December 2014 and am happy to be working in an industry focused on helping others.

  • evan says:

    keep those research studies coming!

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