Guest Post by Mike MacKenzie, MSP.
Six months ago I had genuine concerns that we were going to throw the baby out with the bath water as regards electronic cigarettes. An informal lobby was developing a head of steam urging us to do just that.
As a lifelong heavy smoker who has found redemption and a painless way to quit using e-cigarettes I had a personal axe to grind. I haven’t had a cigarette now for two and a half years but even so I still need the crutch of the electronic cigarettes. Intuitively I think I would find it relatively easy to give up electronic cigarettes but I am a great believer in picking the time to fight such battles. Fighting battles on too many fronts can mean you lose them all and I have a real fear that a ban on e-cigarettes would see me back smoking tobacco.
In any case as a lifelong keep fit enthusiast I am relatively in tune with my body and it is sending me signals that e-cigarettes are not nearly as harmful as tobacco was. I can measure my much better performance on the treadmill and the rowing machine, but my general energy levels are also higher as is my ability to remain alert and focussed for long periods. Medical evidence seems to support this view; that e-cigarettes are at worst benign and many health professionals argue strongly on their merits.
Of course regulation is required. We need to make sure that there is a consistently high standard and that no nasty products lurk needlessly within nicotine fluids. I believe we can do this effectively without denying smokers the opportunity to take the easy route offered to quit tobacco use.
I am reassured in this by talking to colleagues many of whom seem now to agree with me. Following the recent Scottish Government re-shuffle I am now a member of the Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee. You can be sure I will be taking full opportunity to make these arguments when the Committee undertakes it’s scrutiny of any forthcoming legislation.