by David T Sweanor
DEATH, MOST OF us can agree, is best delayed. But cigarette smoking is a major impediment to achieving such a delay. Indeed, cigarettes kill over 100 people in Ireland on a weekly basis, or about 30 times the still horrendous toll of Irish road deaths.
With cigarette smoking being by far the leading cause of death in the country, rushing such a product towards its own doom should be a national priority. All the more so if we could do so relatively easy while empowering rather than punishing people who currently smoke.
Well, the time to begin to finally stub out cigarettes might have arrived. It is based on three very straightforward facts and the application of some of the political vision that has brought us a host of past public health revolutions.
People smoke for the nicotine but die from the smoke
First, people smoke for the nicotine but die from the smoke. Cigarettes are a very dirty delivery system for a relatively low risk drug. They are the equivalent of getting caffeine by smoking rather than brewing tea leaves, or heating a building with an open fire but no chimney. The repeated inhalation of smoke, not the pursuit of nicotine, caffeine or warmth, ultimately kills.
Second, it is now entirely possible for people who currently smoke to get their nicotine from consumer acceptable products that obviate the inhalation of the products of combustion.
Vaping, also known as electronic cigarettes, is already very popular as a substitute for lethal cigarettes. These products are getting constantly better, and are used by ever growing numbers of people who seem to appreciate the advantages in saving both money and years of life. But there are many other options that could also be available.