Sunday, February 28, 2010

University Health Coordinator Prefers Tobacco Cigarettes

Jennifer Gacutan-Galang, wellness and health promotion coordinator at the Health Center of San Jose State University, implies that tobacco cigarettes may not be as harmful and life-threatening as previously thought, because they deliver a predictable amount of nicotine. Spartan Daily, 2/23/10

Some students who are trying to quit smoking have switched to an electronic cigarette and have reduced their smoking from 1 pack a day to 1/2 pack. She said that, unlike tobacco cigarettes, the products are not FDA approved and might deliver more nicotine than traditional ones.

Actually, Health New Zealand researchers found that, per puff, electronic cigarettes deliver about 1/10 the amount of nicotine delivered by a tobacco cigarette. Recently, researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University tested levels of nicotine after 10 puffs on one of two brands of elecronic cigarettes and found no more nicotine than when subjects puffed on an unlit cigarette.

So Ms. Gacutan-Galang's fears of nicotine overdose are totally unfounded, not supported by any of the known facts.

At least she understands that there is no danger from second-hand smoke. "You're not burning them, so there is no secondhand smoke and this is what people get offended by," she said. "But they are still harming themselves."

In what way might students be harming themselves with nicotine? Tobacco smoke contains tar, carbon monoxide, particles of tobacco and paper ash, hundreds of carcinogens, and thousands of toxins. These products of tobacco combustion are known to cause lung disease, heart attacks, strokes, and many types of cancer.

Nicotine does not cause any of the "smoking-related" diseases. It raises heart rate temporarily--as does exercise. Nicotine does not impair judgment or performance.

How does nicotine affect health? It enhance the user's alertness, ability to concentrate, and short-term memory. Nicotine also can relieve depression and anxiety. Why would a university student consider these effects undesirable, much less unhealthy?

The most dangerous threat to the health of students at San Jose State University is getting bad advice from poorly informed health "experts."

Dr. Michael Siegel has commented on this situation in his blog: The Rest of the Story