Thursday, 30 October 2014

E-CIGARETTES - Around 95% Less Harmful Than Regular Smoking


Around 95% Less Harmful Than Regular Smoking

Stes de Necker

From the ripe age of about six years and starting your school career in grade I, chances are very good that the first organs in your body you learned about, were the lungs.

Which of us haven’t seen, or were expected to learn, the following diagram of the human lungs:

After this initial introduction, chances are that, save for a few incidental references to the physiology of the human lung, you will hardly ever again hear about the workings of the lungs.

That is until that inevitable first time that you will be confronted with the evils of smoking!

Oh my goodness, and what a terrible day that was .......

Pictures of the most rotten lungs you have ever seen; People lying in hospital with emphysema; Patients hooked up to oxygen tanks and whatever other frightening pictures you can think off. Enough to stop any potential smoker dead in his tracks.

But has anyone up to now actually explained to the fear stricken smoker or potential smoker, what the real dangers are and what actually happens in the event of smoking? Chances are slim that this has happened.......

So what are the facts?

Let me first hasten to say that I am no doctor or specialist on the issue of tobacco smoking. What I wish to share with you is my personal experience when I was confronted with the possibility of having some lung defect.

After some time of regularly waking up with a rather bad cough and a rather large amount of phlegm in my lungs, I decided that it was time to visit a doctor and thanks heaven for the fact that he referred me to a medical technician for a Lung Function Test.

In essence this test measures the amount of air passing through the lungs and the efficiency of the lungs to absorb the amount of oxygen from the air in the lungs.

The results of the test are presented in a graph format looking as follows:

Where the blue dotted line represents the normal condition and the red line the test object’s results.
In other words, the more damage there is to the lungs, the less air can move through the lungs and the less oxygen can be absorbed by the lungs, causing a feeling of tightness in the chest and having to breathe faster in order to get enough oxygen from the air in the lungs.

1. Smoking

Traditional cigarettes are responsible for many illnesses and conditions and the harmful effects of cigarette smoking is well known. What is possibly not so well known though is that it's not the raw contents of the cigarette that are dangerous - it's the burning of the contents.

Smoking a traditional cigarette burns tobacco, and when tobacco is burnt it releases a dangerous cocktail of around 4,000 chemicals including Carbon Monoxide, Tar and even Arsenic, to name but a few. At least 80 of these chemicals are capable of causing cancer and hundreds of others are actually poisonous.

2. Tar

The main culprit for the damage caused to the lungs, is the tar content in the smoke that is being inhaled when smoking.

Tobacco contains an ‘oiliness’ which, when the tobacco leaf ‘burns’ is deposited in the form of a dark coloured tar. So the more ‘oil’ there is in the tobacco, the more tar will be deposited. That is why in most instances, the tar content of a cigarette is indicated on the cigarette package as a weight in milligrams. (ie. Tar content 9mg)

Tar being inhaled by the smoker obviously enters the lungs and because the lungs cannot dispose of the deposited tar, the tar then starts to remain in the ‘alveoli’ of the lungs and begins to accumulate thus blocking the alveoli ‘wall’ so that oxygen can no longer be absorbed from the air by the alveoli.

The more tar that consequently builds up within the alveoli, the less the alveoli are able to function and oxygen must now be absorbed by the next ‘tier’ of lung ways, which are the ‘bronchi’ and the process continues itself now in the bronchial tubes.

3. Nicotine

Nicotine in the tobacco smoke can, unlike the tar, be absorbed by the lungs.

Nicotine itself is of course a highly addictive drug and many smokers actually want to stop smoking but are unable to break this addiction.

However, nicotine plays no role in the damage caused to the lungs by the smoke!

Nicotine is absorbed in the blood and this is the drug that causes the brain to send out the ‘signal’ that it now wants more; in other words causing the ‘craving’ to smoke.

4. So how can the damage to the lungs be stopped?

The only way to stop any further damage to the lungs would be to remove the tar and other poisonous contents from the smoke before it enters the lungs.

And short of stop smoking all together, there is only one way to do this and that is by means of the so-called Electronic Cigarette.

 5. The Electronic Cigarette

The concept of the electronic cigarettes has been around since the early 1960's but it's only in recent years that manufacturing has been able to produce reliable working models. In 2003 the Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik developed the basis for the modern version that's widely in use today. He did this after the death of his father from lung cancer. The huge demand and popularity of electronic cigarettes has driven vast improvements in the last few years with many different models now available. 

In a nut shell an electronic cigarette, or e-cigarette, is a device that simulates the act of smoking traditional cigarettes by producing a vapour instead of smoke. For this reason, "smoking" an e-cigarette is often referred to as "vaping". Vaping offers a genuine alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes by providing the same sensation and nicotine content (if required) but eliminates many of the harmful side effects of smoking.

The vapour that's produced by an e-cigarette has the appearance of cigarette smoke and can also share the same flavour and nicotine content of a traditional cigarette. The difference really is in the detail though; the vapour that's produced by an e-cigarette does not smell like smoke and more importantly, does not contain the 4000 or so toxic chemicals that are produced by a smoking a traditional cigarette, including Carbon Monoxide, Tar and even Arsenic 

Image of a typical Electronic Cigarette.

Are Electronic Cigarettes Safe?

new report published in the U.K. has concluded that e-cigarettes are nowhere near as harmful as smoking. 

Carried out by Public Health England (PHE), the report found that e-cigarettes are “around 95% less harmful” than smoking tobacco, and that the National Health Service should consider recommending them to help people quit smoking all together.

They have also concluded that there is “no evidence” that they offer young people a gateway into smoking.

The review suggests that e-cigarettes may be contributing to falling smoking rates in the U.K., as 2.6 million adults are now thought to be using the product. 

They also found that almost all of these adults are ex-smokers, providing evidence that many people are not starting to use the devices after having never smoked in the first place, and instead are using them to either quit or cut down on tobacco.

“E-cigarettes are not completely risk free but when compared to smoking, evidence shows they carry just a fraction of the harm,” explained Professor Kevin Fenton, Director of Health and Wellbeing at PHE. “The problem is people increasingly think they are at least as harmful and this may be keeping millions of smokers from quitting. Local stop smoking services should look to support e-cigarette users in their journey to quitting completely.” 
The report also goes some way to dismiss the fears that e-cigarettes act as a route into smoking for young people and non-smokers. This reasoning is partly behind the Welsh government's recent move to ban e-cigarettes from all places in which smoking tobacco is also banned, arguing that they normalize the habit, and could encourage young people to take it up.

“Fears that e-cigarettes have made smoking seem normal again or even led to people taking up tobacco smoking are not so far being realised based on the evidence assessed by this important independent review,” said Professor Linda Bauld from Cancer Research UK. “In fact, the overall evidence points to e-cigarettes actually helping people to give up smoking tobacco.”

It’s estimated that currently 80,000 people in England die each year as a result of smoking, but if everybody who does smoke were to switch to e-cigarettes, then this figure is predicted to drop to just 4,000.

The evidence, according to the report, is clear: Smoking e-cigarettes is much less harmful than smoking tobacco cigarettes. And if used in conjunction with stop smoking support services, they offer a much better chance at quitting altogether. 

E-cigarettes do not burn anything, so they quite simply sidestep this serious health issue.

Another major benefit of smoking electronic cigarettes is the considerable financial savings that can be made. It can be up to 80% cheaper to use e-cigarettes versus traditional cigarette smoking. 

A word of caution

While every effort to help people stop smoking all together should remain a priority, many people either do not wish to stop smoking or (like me) find it very hard to do so. For this group, I believe that there is no better product that can deliver nicotine in such a safe way, without the harmful components like tar and the rest, found in tobacco.

Most of the diseases associated with smoking are caused by inhaling smoke which contains thousands of these toxic chemicals.

By contrast, nicotine is relatively safe. I've yet to hear of someone ‘overdosed’ on nicotine!
Or destroyed his own life or the lives of other's like in the case of alcohol abuse.

Therefore, e-cigarettes, which deliver nicotine without the harmful toxins found in tobacco smoke, are likely to be a safer alternative to smoking.

In addition, e-cigarettes reduce second hand smoke exposure since it does not produce actual smoke.
The wonderful thing about e-cigarettes is that you have complete control over the amount of nicotine that you use.

You can choose to reduce your nicotine intake by using ever weaker ‘e-liquid’. It's even possible to use e-liquid that has zero nicotine content, should you still struggle to break the physical habit completely.

It's important however to understand that electronic smoking can still be addictive if nicotine is used though.

Before changing to electronic cigarettes I would still recommend however that you contact your GP/Doctor for advice.

6. Note

I want to reiterate, I am no doctor or any kind of expert on these matters, but I am merely sharing with you my personal experience over the last few months.

I've been smoking for 49 years and during this period I only stopped on two occasions. Once for a week and once for three weeks.

I've switched to smoking an electronic cigarette and for the last eight months, I haven't touched a cigarette!

So if I can do it, so can everybody else. 

And the irony is, I'm still smoking..........

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself - Who is my Neighbor and How must I Love him/her

"Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself"  
Who is my Neighbor and How must I Love him/her

Stes de Necker


In Matt. 22: 39 Jesus commanded us: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself"

In the English and Hebrew Bibles, the word "neighbor" is used, while in other Bibles the word ‘nearest’ is used like in the Afrikaans Bible.  

The question is so often asked: "So who is my neighbor?" or, “Does it refer to the person or persons living in the house next to me?”

The Hebrew word for "neighbor", as used in the Torah is "rei-acha" meaning the Jews' immediate families or fellow Jews. The word "rei-acha" include concepts such as "your children" or "your brothers”.   

The Hebrew word for the person living next to you and what we would normally refer to as neighbor is "shachen", while the word used for husband or wife (spouse) is "rei-ah".

The correct Hebrew translation of the word "neighbor" is "rei-acha" which consequently means only the Jew’s immediate family.

Meaning of the word "neighbor"

If it was not for the Old Testament, we would have had a serious problem, because then it would have meant that only Jews were commanded to love one another!

But fortunately we find the rest of the meaning of the word neighbor in Lev. 19: 33: “And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him."  And then continues in verse 34: “But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

It follows therefore that the Lord Jesus' reference to "thy neighbor" in the New Testament (Matthew. 22: 39), refers to all people living in any community, Christians as well as non-Christians.

Meaning of the word love in the Bible

The next question so many people ask is: "What does it mean when the Bible says we must ‘love’ our neighbor?"

The biblical meaning of the word "love" does not mean we should walk arms around everyone we meet!       

In the Old Testament text of Leviticus, the Hebrew word "ahava" or "Ahab" is used. In Hebrew, there is another word for the concept of love and that is "hesed". The word hesed presupposes a hierarchical structure where someone on a higher level of the hierarchy, "hesed" (love) a person further down the hierarchy. It refers to God's love for man, and therefore man's love for his fellow man and his children. The word "hesed" do not refers to a child's love for his parents, or one's love for God.

The word "ahava" or "Ahab" is therefore the only Hebrew word for the concept of love as we would normally understand the term ‘love’. In the Hebrew style, the word ahava actually have two meanings, namely (a) I do, and (b) love. In Lev. 19:18 in the Hebrew Bible, the word "ve-a- hav-ta” which actually means “you have to give love ":
            לא תקם ולא תטר את בני עמך ואהבת לרעך כמוך אני יהוה: Lev. 19:18

Throughout the Hebrew translation of the New Testament, the word "ahava" is used for the concept of love in general. So for example. We read in Matt. 22: 39:
                            לא תקם ולא תטר את בני עמך ואהבת לרעך כמוך אני יהוה
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

In both the Old and the New Testament, the word "ahava" or "Ahab" (ואהבת) is used when the Bible speaks of love.

When we look in the Greek translation of the Bible (Septuagint) at the New Testament text from Matthew, we see that the Greek word "agape" is used in Matt. 22: 39.  
In Greek there are four different words that describe love, namely:
• agape
• Eros
• Philia
• Storge

The word agape (agape ἀγάπη) means unconditional, sacrificial, compassionate love. In the Greek translation of 1 Cor. 13, as in the rest of the New Testament, the word agape is constantly used to describe the meaning of love.    

The word s'agapo (Σ'αγαπώ) that "I love you" does not refer to the love between husband and wife or between a boyfriend and girlfriend. This kind of love is referred to as Eros, that intimate, passionate (including sexual) love. Hence the word ‘erotic’.

The remaining two words Philia and Storge refers to the emotional love, for instance, between brother and sister or the love that exist between close friends (Philia), or the affection we will have for a pet or a motorcar (Storge).  

When Paul, in Rom. 12: 10 says "kindl brotherly love for one another", he refers to ‘Phileo’ (verb of Philia) and when Jesus instructs us to love our neighbor as ourselves, Jesus uses the word ‘Agape’.

So what does Jesus command ‘to love thy neighbor as thyself’ means for us Christians today?

From all the different meanings of the term "love your neighbor", English, Hebrew and Greek, there is only one meaning for the word ‘love’ as it is meant in the Bible, and that is the unconditional love that asks nothing in exchange.

But we also know that for us, sinful and wayward creatures, it is difficult, if not downright impossible, to give such love. Even within marriage, ‘Agape’ love is not always possible. “I love you, but you must love me.”

Jesus instructs us in Luke. 6: 27-31 (27) "You must love your enemies; do good to those who hate you; (28) bless those who curse you; pray for those who mistreat you; (29) If someone strikes you on one cheek, offer him the other one; If someone takes your outerwear, also offer him your underwear; (30) To everyone who asks something, you must give; if someone takes your stuff you should not claim it back; (31) Treat others as you yourself want to be treated"

This certainly sounds as if our Savior is expecting too much of us!

But isn’t that exactly how we love ourselves? We are often our own worst enemy; sometimes we hate ourselves; sometimes we curse ourselves; we blame ourselves; we torment ourselves; we treat ourselves badly; we want to be treated like we think we should be treated! Despite all these emotions, we still love ourselves.

So when Jesus tells us we must love our neighbors as ourselves, that is exactly what he meant, "as we love ourselves", because that's how He loves us.

In John. 15: 9 Jesus said "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. You must remain in My love. "And further in verse 10:" If you obey my commands, you will remain in My love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. "

John 15: 12 "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I love you."

Unconditional agape (love) is only in and through Jesus Christ possible; In ourselves we can never have that love.   

In the world that we live in where we hear every day of the atrocities and murder that is going on in the Middle East and where there are currently 45 wars going on around the world, one wonders involuntarily if the loved ones and families that are affected and left behind by these conflicts, can really follow Jesus' command that we should love our enemies (Matthew. 6: 44).

Can Christians really, in such circumstances, still forgive and forget and love each other?

It is within this context that Jesus tells us in John. 15: 16 says "So Father will give you whatever you ask in my name."

Forgiveness and love is and always will remain possible if we seek it, not within ourselves, but in the power and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Humanly it is not possible.

So we find these almost incomprehensible paradoxes in the Bible that -

We must ask God for the faith that we must have to believe in Him;
We must ask God for the love we must have to love Him;
We must ask God for the faith (hope) that we need to trust him;
We must ask God for the love for our neighbors so we may love them as we love ourselves.  

So whenever we have doubt if we will ever be able to meet the requirements to comply with God's will, then we have this wonderful consolation:

"As the Father will give you whatever you ask in My name."