Apr 18, 2013

Sex, E-Cigs & Rock 'n Roll

Abstinence Doesn't Work for Sex Any More Than Cold Turkey for Smoking

The argument against e-cigarettes often reminds me of the argument against sex education in high schools. Some people would love to ignore the fact that students in high school (and younger) are having sex. 

Abstinence! That's what we should be teaching our young people! 

Teaching students safe sex can help prevent STD's and unwanted pregnancies.
It just makes sense.

Thankfully, most people realize that many students are going to have sex before they graduate from high school, whether they like it or not. Many parents talk with their kids about the dangers of having unprotected sex, but not all do. Schools are in an excellent position to educate students on how they can protect themselves from STD's and unwanted pregnancies. 

Smoking is like Sex -- Common in High Schools

Smoking -- like sex -- is also a common activity among high school students. 
Over 80 percent of smokers started smoking when they were teenagers, beginning as young as age 15. 

Each day in the U.S., around 3,800 young people under 18 years of age smoke their first cigarette (over 19 percent of all high school students). Nearly one-third of them go on to become daily cigarette smokers. Over 80 percent of smokers started when they were teenagers. 

Why do young people start smoking when we continue to barrage them with information about the dangers of smoking? 

Most smokers started smoking when they were teenagers.
Perhaps it was because they thought they looked "cool," or it was their way of rebelling.

It could be that they're attracted to the 'image' they associate with smoking -- they think they look tough, cool, sexy or sophisticated. 

It could be a form of rebellion, so the more we adults try to persuade them not to smoke, the more they'll want to smoke (I well remember those years when my daughters were teenagers!). 

Or perhaps it's because they want to fit in -- if their friends are smoking, they want to smoke, too. Unfortunately, in some communities, smoking is still widely accepted. 

Denial & Misinformation 

The problem is: denying he fact that young people are having sex and smoking cigarettes at young ages doesn't get us anywhere. We need to get off our moral high ground and DO something. 

"Part of the opposition to nicotine products comes from the same moral absolutism that we see in other abstinence-only efforts on issues concerning such things as alcohol and sexual activity," said David Sweanor, J.D., Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Ottawa. 

"Campaigns based on making better people rather than making people better are driven by moral concerns rather than public health concerns," he said. 

Whether not you are morally against sex before marriage or smoking at a young age (or any age) doesn't really matter. What DOES matter is that we need to arm young people with the facts and the tools to protect themselves -- whether it's a condom or an e-cigarette. 

E-Cigarettes - Like Condoms for Cigarettes 

E-cigarettes are a little like a condom for cigarettes. If people want to stick something in their mouth to look tough, cool, sexy or sophisticated, they now can, without exposing themselves to the 4,000 chemicals and 57 known carcinogens in cigarettes. 

It's a form of protection against the harmful effects of smoking. (However, at this point, e-cigarettes -- even e-cigarettes with no nicotine are only sold to people over age 18.) 

The best e-cigarettes and e-cigarette starter kits have been on the market since 2007. For all the brouhaha about e-cigarette safety, we should at least educate young people about the fact that safe is relative. There's no such thing as completely "safe sex:" there's always a chance that the condom will break, and even birth control pills have a 3 percent failure rate. 

I love this quote from Mr. Sweanor on e-cigarette safety: "Everything has risks, so simply pointing out that something is ‘not safe’ shows a person to be either ignorant or disingenuous. 

The key issue in looking at safety is that it is a relative concept; we need to look at safety of any activity compared to some alternative. 
"Rather than the unattainable standard of ‘safe’ we should be thinking in terms of ‘safer’. 

"Despite the risks associated with soccer, I would, for instance, prefer my children play soccer rather than play with live hand grenades." 

I must say: I totally agree.

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