Gothamist Article Digs Deep On E-Cigs

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A deceptively titled article on the Gothamist leads to a surprisingly even handed article about electronic cigarettes. The headline reads Unregulated, Addictive, And Enticing: E-Cigarettes Suck In Smokers But Risks Remain. It certainly sounds like an article designed to warn its audience against the dangers of this unchecked market.  However, it ultimately strikes a decent balance falling — if anything —  slightly on the side of electronic cigarettes.

You can read the article here.

The Gothamist is a New York City blog focusing on the lifestyle and goings on in the metropolis.  Electronic cigarettes have grown popular in the city due to the tight quarters, excessive anti-smoking laws, and massive cigarette taxes.  The article highlights these advantages, but focuses most on the arguments being made for or against the open marketing of electronic cigarettes.

Despite the title and a lack of a few details a bit more obvious to individuals familiar with the research being done on electronic cigarettes, the article does a good job of framing the e-cig atmosphere.  That’s not to say that a few bits of the article aren’t missing out on some clarifying details.

The most obvious bit of information missing is a basic understanding of nicotine.  Nicotine, like most drugs, has both positive and negative side effects.  Nicotine is not a carcinogen though it is addictive.  But addictiveness by itself isn’t a serious problem.  Nicotine assists weight loss, improves focus, memory, and reaction time, and relieves stress.  A similar less addictive drug that does much the same is caffeine.

The single greatest point to be made for electronic cigarettes seems absent in the article.  Experts say that by removing the smoke from the use of nicotine, 96-98% of the problems associated with cigarette use go away.  Although the writer mentions the value of reduced harm programming in response to the failure of quit or die programming, this fact doesn’t really seem to be made clear.

I’m inclined to believe the headline was an editor’s way of making the piece something more likely to be clicked on.  At least, I hope a writer, having done as much research as this one did for the piece, didn’t knowingly allow such a misleading headline to run.  This is negligent work — especially in an age where many people online might only read the headline and make decisions without reading the actual article.

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