The Great American Smokeout: A good day to discuss e-cigarettes

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It s the American Cancer Society-sponsored 37th annual Great American Smokeout today an appropriate day to take a moment to spare a thought for the 44 million Americans in the grip of a deadly addiction, ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross writes in the pages of the American Spectator. Over half of all smokers tried to quit last year, and an estimated 443,000 died from cigarette-related illness.

Dr. Ross is also published today in AEI s The American, detailing how e-cigarettes could be used to stem the toll of tobacco-related death and chronic illness but close-minded public health authorities from around the world meeting this week in Seoul, South Korea, seem instead interested in banning the devices.

What the critics see as a bug is actually a feature: e-cigarettes can work as a public health tool precisely because of their resemblance to the real thing, Dr. Ross writes. That similarity especially the nicotine, the addictive substance smokers crave is what is best about e-cigarettes. The nicotine hit they supply matches, more or less, that of inhaling cigarette smoke, as do the behavioral mannerisms of holding the thing as though it was their familiar friend, the conventional cigarette.

The meeting of delegates who are revising the World Health Organization s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in Seoul is also the topic of an op-ed Dr. Ross has in a widely read English-language South Korean blog called Marmot s Hole. He s a busy one, that Dr. Ross!