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None is better when it comes to smoking

Efforts to help prevent disease in any society should be liberally discussed, even as we should be circumspect of the cost of such solutions.

Dr Jeremy Lim provides an interesting juxtaposition between solutions for decreasing HIV/Aids among Australian substance abusers and Thai sex workers and their patrons, and solutions to reduce the disease burden of smoking (E-cigarettes: Neither ban nor permit, but reduce harm; June 19).

It is fair to say that hardly anyone voluntarily wants to sell her body for sex. It is dictated by the circumstances.

Prostitution is not an addiction but a vice that is perhaps created by the ills of society. Hence, its attendant health-related problems must be morally addressed by all.

This is not so for smoking.

Even when cigarettes were found to be anything but healthy, producing carcinogens that caused a plethora of diseases, the tobacco industry continued to try to delude us with safer low-tar and filter-tipped cigarettes, and even genetically modified or chemically enhanced tobacco that were supposedly kinder on smokers. But these just brought further complications.

Now, the e-cigarette industry would like us to buy the notion that by decreasing the delivery of toxic chemicals like formaldehyde, diacetyl and propionyl compounds through vaping, users are spared some of smoking's ill effects.

It is touted as a safer alternative, especially for those who want to stop dependency on cigarettes.

I don't buy this. If less is good, then none is better. This is the philosophy that should be in place for those who genuinely want to be helped.

Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 24, 2018, with the headline 'None is better when it comes to smoking'. Print Edition | Subscribe