With anti-smoking aids, as with dieting products, it's wise to be cautious.
Helping people stop smoking, like helping them start, is a multi-million pound business. As many smokers will testify, marketing promises often turn out to be at odds with the Herculean effort of willpower required to kick the habit.
Electronic ciggies – now there's a top invention. Not being a smoker, I was unaware of them until a friend who has wanted to quit smoking for 10 years started singing their praises. He has tried the lot – gum, patches, Allen Carr, gnawing despair – but finally found salvation in the form of a cigarette-shaped piece of rechargeable plastic and metal that can be inhaled like a cigarette, but delivers nothing but nicotine and emits nothing but water vapour. He still looks like he's smoking, he still feels like he's smoking, he can still indulge the ingrained urge to take a drag and even tap off the (imaginary) ash, but it doesn't deliver the carcinogenic fumes and tar associated with so many diseases.
Is he still addicted to nicotine? Yes, but he's started cutting down the use of his e-ciggie, so in time he will be able to phase it out. While he does so, his body is recovering. His new habit also costs 90% less than his smoking habit. He is thrilled.
Some people worry about a lack of information on the long-term safety of this particular type of nicotine replacement therapy. In the US, there has been a flurry of concern that non smokers might develop a penchant for fake plastic ciggies and become addicted to nicotine. Brazil has banned them. In Denmark, where nicotine is classed as medicinal, they may only be sold with nicotine-free cartridges.
In the UK there are no restrictions and as far as my friend is concerned, that's good news – because without e-cigs, he'd be smoking 20 a day.
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