Fremskrittspartiet (FrP) went into government with big promises of many a change. Because of this many feel disappointed and betrayed - and unfortunately smokers also have every reason to do so. The ban on electronic cigarettes are of FrP characterized as a "whistle ban" but it does not seem like FrP is doing anything in particular to remove or alter this ban. To repeal this ban would probably provide a greater benefit to public health and general welfare than to allow use of the Segway – one of FrPs main objectives in parliment. |
To allow use of the Segway is not a measure that helps "ordinary people" very well, any one can not afford to buy one of these. But there is a little fun about it.
Equally fun it is not the damage smoking causes both society and the individual - not to talk about the smokers relatives and acquaintances whom may experience both disadvantages and concerns.
From several prominent Fremskrittspartiet politicians it was claimed that both the prohibition of licorice pipes and electronic cigarettes were silly and should be repealed. Head of Standing Committee on Health and Care Services believes for example, that the ban on electronic cigarettes is inappropriate for public health.
Electronic cigarettes could be contributing to reducing the adverse effects of nicotine use, but it seems as though the Norwegian politicians in this important matter choose to sit on the fence.
The fight against smoking and smoking has lasted for a long time, and we now have a situation where smoking is prohibited in many places - and it seems as if more and more sites are covered by such prohibitions. Despite this, still somewhat below 20% of the Norwegian population are daily users of ordinary cigarettes. The figures are not so different elsewhere in Europe - and the goal is clear, the number of smokers should be further reduced. It is "Vision Zero".
The tobacco industrys lack of response might be due to a worldwide increase in the number of daily smokers - Africa is one of the continents that contributes to this. So for the tobacco industry the situation is currently not so bad, it is worse for the traditional European tobacco retailers, and for those who want to go into this industry. Now also in some cases with improvement of public health as motivation.
That the various measures against smoking has had an effect, little doubt about that, advertising bans and bans on the use of different places has probably been strong contributors to this effect - the same has probably the following "stigma" of smoking and smokers. Meanwhile we have also seen what some call an explosion in the use of smokeless tobacco among young people, especially in Norway and Scandinavia, where the regulation of tobacco and nicotine products is extensive and standing strong. Snuff may seem like a cleaner alternative to cigarettes, and this might appeal to today's young, probably without fulfilling any desire of cleanliness. Anyway, Snuff it severely limits the damage to the lungs from nicotine use, although the same might not be said about the oral cavity.
It may seem as if "stimulants" of type tobacco or nicotine appeal for use in the population. It is possible that tobacco and nicotine could be replaced with other substances in this equation, that there is a general appeal to the "use something" in the population. Perhaps especially among young people. Whatever may be the answer, it seems that the most important one can do in a public health context, is to offer more innocuous ways of nicotine use. Snuff is the one example of this, but we should not stop here - nicotine can be consumed in even less harmful ways, also as chewing gum.
Electronic cigarettes with nicotine may prove to be less harmful than nicotine-containing chewing gums. Indeed, electronic cigarettes may be less harmful than regular soda. But we do not know yet. What we almost certainly know, is that electronic cigarettes are considerably less harmful than regular cigarettes, this is the opinion of WHO, the World Health Organization. And their requirements are strict, to use soda as an example again - it is not certain that soft drinks had been allowed on the marked if they were to be evaluated in the same manner as the WHO and Govermental authorities consider electronic cigarettes.
From a "social-medical" perspective, it seems therefore advisable to prohibit the sale of regular cigarettes and rolling tobacco, and to allow the sale of other nicotine products, especially now when electronic cigarettes also are an alternative. It can be fascinating with "smoke" and now it's harmless. Prohibiting regular cigarettes could be an somewhat unpopular stance to adopt in relation to many smokers, but many smokers want to quit the habit - and this could probably be of help. Without any comparison btw, we shift from horses to cars when it came transport, and it should be possible to switch from smoking to steaming (vaping) when it comes to the use of nicotine via the respiratory organs - ie lungs. Smoking regular cigarettes is not appropriate anymore, we know too much about injuries from them - but many still want to have both nicotine and clouds of "smoke".
In this light it is therefore strange to see that electronic cigarettes are not part of the ongoing discussion. FrP promised so. Norwegian press- and interest groups in this context is neither big or strong, but electronic cigarettes are a part of what is happening, and it is strange that no health politicians take this up to any significant extent. Or maybe it is not so strange, this might be the "licorice pipe effect", all reminiscent of smoking are hot potatoes to avoid (In Norway it is allowed to sell licorice pipes, but not to display them or advertise for them).
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