According to the Centers for Disease Control, during 2000-2004, "An estimated 443,000 persons in the United States died prematurely each year from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke. During 2001-2004, the average annual smoking-attributable health-care expenditures nationwide were approximately $96 billion. When combined with productivity losses of $97 billion, the total economic burden of smoking is approximately $193 billion per year."
Comparing the health risks of tobacco smoking to the Swine Flu brings out some interesting and thought provoking statistics. According to President Obama's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology on H1N1, "A plausible scenario is that the epidemic could cause between 30,000 and 90,000 deaths in the United States." That puts the comparison of real deaths of 443,000 smokers to a "war games guess" of 30,000 to 90,000 for the H1N1 influenza for which the government recently declared a Health Emergency. That declaration and the shortage of the H1N1 vaccine has caused a panic in the U.S.
No study or statistic has been offered that points to the Swine Flu as being more deadly than tobacco cigarettes in causing death, yet a disproportional effort in preventative measures are currently being channeled to defend against a lower risk health issue. Toxic tobacco smoke contains many additional chemicals, including carbon monoxide and tar which is a sticky substance that accumulates in the lungs, causing lung cancer and respiratory distress. Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in the world and is responsible for more than 5 million deaths each year.
What the flu vaccine is to H1N1 as a preventative, the electronic cigarette may be for the tobacco smoker. An electronic cigarette is a futuristic advancement in science that makes it look, feel, and taste like a tobacco cigarette, as the user duplicates the mechanical motions. It expels an almost odorless water vapor that looks like smoke, but isn't. The e cigarettes are battery-powered with a cartridge that typically contains nicotine in various levels (or none), propylene glycol and tobacco flavoring. In their October briefing, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) in the United Kingdom released a favorable position on electronic cigarettes.
Propylene glycol, the primary ingredient in the electronic cigarette cartridge, may be a powerful deterrent against pneumonia, influenza, and other respiratory diseases when vaporized and inhaled according to a study by Dr. Oswald Hope Robertson. Decades before the e cigarette was invented, a study was conducted by Dr. Robertson of the University of Chicago's Billings Hospital in 1942 on inhalation of vaporized propylene glycol in laboratory mice. A more in-depth article was printed in the 1942 issue of TIME Magazine http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,932876,00.html for November 16th. "Dr. Robertson placed groups of mice in a chamber and sprayed its air first with propylene glycol, then with influenza virus. All the mice lived. Then he sprayed the chamber with virus alone. All the mice died."
The researchers also found that "the propylene glycol itself was a potent germicide. One part of glycol in 2,000,000 parts of air would--within a few seconds--kill concentrations of air-suspended pneumococci, streptococci and other bacteria numbering millions to the cubic foot."
Clinical trials on electronic cigarettes containing propylene glycol were carried out in New Zealand by Dr. Murray Laugeson of Health New Zealand and can be found on the website of SS Choice LLC at http://www.eCigarettesChoice.com under the tab "Media Coverage." Far from posing a threat to our health, the propylene glycol in e cigarettes might just keep us healthy. Further studies should be done on the effects of propylene glycol to determine if it can be used successfully as a virus prevention tool. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the best flu preventative was right under our noses all this time?