E-cigarettes can play a positive role

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Professor John Hastings and Dr Marisa de Andrada, of the Institute for Social Marketing at the University of Stirling, write that “smoke-free laws” provide smokers with a “stimulus to quit”, without providing any evidence of this (Letters, 31 January).

In my case, the arrogance and blatant misuse of statistics on passive smoking by the advisers of legislators had just the opposite effect. I am not alone in this – and the position of people like me should be accounted for in any scientifically conducted survey.

However, nine years on, I have stopped smoking tobacco for the past six months. This has not been the result of any authoritarian “stimulus”, but because someone introduced me to the new generation of Chinese e-cigarettes, more accurately described as glycerine vapour pipes (GVPs). I was down from around 60 fags a day to none in next to no time.

Others I know have drastically reduced their smoking by using e-cigarettes; but this apparently does not satisfy the institute, because my friends are not responding to a “smoke-free stimulus”. 

Similarly, some of the tobacco giants have been diversifying into the market for GVPs. Instead of welcoming this development, the institute sees this as a ruse to prop up the industry’s “core business”; stating, without a shred of statistical evidence, that GVPs will only ever generate “a minuscule fraction of the profit tobacco companies make from tobacco”. Given that the price of tobacco is very low at source, and that most of the money paid by consumers goes on tax, this is far from certain.

The Institute for Social Marketing should investigate the possible health benefits of inhaling glycerine vapour as a cleanser for the lungs in polluted city environments. I have found that a strong eucalyptus vapour is effective in combating seasonal bugs.

The institute might also report on the dubious activities of the pharmaceutical companies, which – far more than the tobacco barons – are having the march stolen on them by the advent of e-cigarettes.

David Hamilton

North St Andrew Street