Are E-cigarettes Helping to Reduce Smoking Rates in Australia?

Matt Young reports in Health that” Australia has been accused of falling behind the rest of the world …over its poor results in the decline of
cigarette smokers on World No Tobacco Day”.

Data collected by the
Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association (ATHRA) suggest that despite raising taxes and removing
packaging, Australia has “:fallen off the grid” over annual smoking decline rates.  The figures are quite significant with Iceland at 12% and
Australia at only 0.2% over the period 2013-2016, and even that small change is attributed partly due to migration.

The suggestion is that the progressive countries have adopted new technologies such as other forms of using nicotine to reduce cigarette
smoking and we haven’t.  Yet, a lot of the evidence coming though now shows that all that the new technologies are doing is deferring or
delaying the decision to come off cigarettes and that a lot of people return to smoking cigarettes.  

The supposed benefit of e-cigarettes over normal cigarettes is that the latter releases at least 7000 chemicals due to the massive
combustion caused by the cigarette’s burn, while this is not present in vapour, hence e-cigarettes are thought to be less harmful than
cigarettes, and in some ways, has become a rather ‘cool’ practice.  Note, “less harmful” does not mean “safe”.  There is little evidence to
date that identifies the real dangers posed by these new devices or their effectiveness as a cessation aid. Replacing one addiction with
another one, even if it’s safer makes little sense when there are easier options to get rid of the addiction once and for all.

The Australian government’s
QuitNow website states: nicotine, causes changes in the structure and function of the brain producing both
positive experiences such as feelings of arousal, relaxation and improved concentration and negative withdrawal symptoms such as
nervousness, restlessness, irritability.”  It is also clear that nicotine is a stimulant and as such cannot really relax you.  The relaxing feeling
experienced is psychological and associative as a person smokes when they take a break to relax.

The article talks about the complex interaction that our brains and body have with nicotine, and the difficulty in quitting smoking as
compared with quitting drugs and alcohol.  My belief is that there is a huge element of psychological addiction which makes quitting
cigarettes at a conscious level difficult.  However, when a person is relaxed through hypnosis, working on the subconscious mind can
disentangle earlier programs instilled in the mind and effectively change them and the way people think about cigarettes and smoking.  I
see this repeatedly in the Quit-smoking programs I run in my practice and the experience of other therapists.  

26 September 2018
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