Sunday, June 12, 2005

Cigarettes and "Harm Reduction"

This is an interesting NYTimes article:

(you can go to to get an NYTimes login without having to fill out anything)

NYTimes: Incendiary Device

It talks about all the work being done on new filters that tremendously reduce the number of toxins that a smoker takes in while smoking. The technology is still new, but there have been some major advances. Soon they'll have cigarettes that feel exactly like modern ciagrettes but are far less of a health risk. This would be EXTREMELY popular. However, as the article says:
A popular reduced-exposure cigarette is the kind of earthquake that many in the public health field have anticipated, like a team of worried geologists, for several years. According to a number of scientists and tobacco policy makers, PREP's are the single most ethically agonizing and professionally confusing issue they have ever encountered.

You see, many of these early PREPs have a history of increasing the intake of other chemicals. Plus, it's not clear that taking all of the toxins out will make a truly safer cigarette. PLUS, and this is the interesting part, if you really CAN reduce the risks, there is a chance that many more people will start smoking... and the increase in smokers may offset the decrease in risk, and you can still have the same number of people being treated for smoking-related illness each year! OR EVEN MORE!

So it's a really fascinating issue...

Anyway, the first page is really the most important page of the article. The second page has some other details about the bad aspects of such good cigarettes... After that... well... I didn't read anything after that. :)

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