Dispatch: As Cigs Roll Out, E-Cigs Fly Away From Air Force

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Committed cigarette smokers demonstrate that where there’s a will, there’s a way. In order to continue smoking but also circumvent the recent tax hikes on cigarettes, people have come up with a novel solution: roll-your-own cigarette machines. Found in about 150 tobacco outlets in 20 states, these machines produce a carton of cigarettes in about eight minutes and cost about $21, which explains why people wait up to an hour on some days to use this service.

Smokers that don’t have the patience to stand in line are even buying portable roll-your-own cigarette machines. The at-home cigarette making process is demonstrated in this video.

“This really goes to show that people who want to smoke will find a way to do it,” says ACSH's Dr. Elizabeth Whelan, who just recently became aware of this latest craze.

“It speaks to the folly of cigarette taxes as a way of solving the smoking problem,” observes ACSH's Jeff Stier. “People will find ways to get around it. Taxes are not the solution, but cleaner nicotine delivery, such as smokeless tobacco, and technology developed in the free-market are the ways to go. E-cigs are one important tool but more needs to be done.”

Unfortunately, the Air Force and leaders at Marine Corps Base Quantico don’t agree with Stier’s practical advice. In recent weeks, they have prohibited the use of e-cigs from their facilities, categorizing them as “tobacco products” and claiming they may contain potentially toxic chemicals.

But Stier believes that their logic is flawed. “The Air Force deems e-cigs as tobacco products because the nicotine in them is derived from a tobacco plant,” he says. “Well, if you want to buy into that distorted reasoning, then you have to be consistent and ban Nicorette gum and the patch as well since they also contain nicotine derived from tobacco. Would e-cigs still be prohibited if the nicotine were obtained from another, more expensive source such as potatoes?”

Dr. Whelan is surprised that the Air Force and the American Cancer Society (ACS) — which has recently urged state legislatures to ban the sale of e-cigs — would take such a stance since so many of our Dispatch readers as well as visitors to the Air Force website have credited e-cigs with allowing them to quit smoking for good. “It’s inconsistent that organizations like ACS, which are dedicated to reducing tobacco-related deaths, would also speak out against e-cigs,” she says.

“It’s like a parallel universe where intelligent people dedicated to public health mindlessly and counter-productively work to ban something because it looks like a dangerous thing — a cigarette. But that’s what actually makes it effective,” adds ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross.