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Thursday, September 4, 2014

CDC report on vaping accused of being “plain deceptive”

It seems there is never a week that goes by without some study being produced that can be used against the e-cigarette industry. This week it was the turn of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) who claim that 43.9% of American teens who use e-cigarettes are likely to smoke regular cigarettes within the next year. As usual the study makes mention of the fact that e-cigarettes can have candy and fruit flavourings that appeal to young people. Their fear is that e-cigarettes are just another way of getting under-18s hooked on nicotine. 

Now this whole business of the e-cigarette industry aiming marketing at under-18s is something that continually crops up whenever industry critics fancy having a moan.  But don’t these critics ever visit shops that concentrate on selling e-cigarettes?  If they did then they might be playing a very different tune. I went for a walk downtown last weekend and saw one shop and three street stalls, all selling e-cigarettes.  None of them had any under-18s as customers and there was one very good reason for that being the case.  They all had signs that said they wouldn’t be selling e-cigarettes to anyone under the age of 18.  Last week we gave you a story about a vaping shop that had a sign on its front door stressing the fact that sales to under-18s would not be taking place on the premises.

So here we have an industry that doesn’t go round selling e-cigarettes to under-18s but are constantly criticized for aiming their marketing at that age group.  It seems rather pointless to be spending money on advertising and then barring selling to them, Of course the fact is that just like under-18s somehow end up drinking beer when they’re under-age, they still manage to get their hands on cigarettes, whatever kind they are.  It’s called experimenting and trying to be a bit adult before your time.

The CDC claim that twice as many teens used e-cigarettes in 2012 than in the previous year. But isn’t that actually a promising sign?  Would you rather have teenagers experimenting with using cigearettes going down the tobacco route rather than using the much safer e-cigarettes now available? Will they use tobacco cigarettes in the future?  Well whether they do or not isn’t really down to the e-cigarette industry is it?  Hopefully those who do want to smoke will read all the positive studies that are published and decide that it’s best to use a product that is a lot safer rather than having immense health problems caused by smoking tobacco cigarettes.

The CDC study has already met with criticism from the American Vaping Association, a trade group that represents the e-cigarette industry. They described the CDC study as “plain deceptive” and calling for the paper’s retraction. Gregory Conley, the Association’s president said: “There is no evidence e-cigarettes are gateways to smoking, and in fact, for millions of Americans they are anti-tobacco protects.”  An analysis of the study concluded that teens who said they would “probably not” try cigarettes were counted as likely future smokers, the association said.  “Even worse, the CDC failed to disclose this in its press release, which led to hundreds of news sources identifying e-cigarettes as a gateway to cigarettes, Conley said. 

It’s so easy to make statistics say exactly what you want them to, even if the truth is distorted. Can’t the critics of e-cigarettes work out that it’s much better to have people using a product that is far less dangerous than tobacco cigarettes?  Can’t they work out that industries that won’t sell to under-18s can hardly be seen to be aiming their marketing at that age group?  Sometimes the accusations that critics of this industry make simply don’t hold water and this is a prime example.

Why do critics ignore the help e-cigarettes give to people?

When the World Health Organisation made their big statement about e-cigarettes this week, it made me wonder just why they don't listen to people. Their policy is to say there shouldn't be any claims that e-cigarettes can help people quit smoking until there is evidence to support this.  It’s a policy that isn’t helping people but putting them at risk. 

So I thought for this latest blog it’d be a good idea to actually go down the route of listening to people and looking at how e-cigarettes can actually change the lives of people who are addicted to smoking tobacco cigarettes.

Robert Llovet has been smoking for years but has used e-cigarettes to help him quit that damaging habit. This is how he says it’s changed his life; “I can actually take deep breaths now instead of just short little breaths. I can actually feel my lungs.”  He used to get through a pack of cigarettes every day but admits doing so meant he “was not feeling good, it wasn't good at all and so I went to e-cigarettes and feel a hundred times better.” Sounds great doesn't it?  A life that was being ruined because he couldn't stop smoking has been turned around dramatically and his life expectancy extended.

He’s by no means the only example that can be used to show the World Health Organisation just how wrong they are.  Lance Light has also used e-cigarettes and says: “I started at a high nicotine level.  I'm almost at zero now, so I've almost completely cut myself from nicotine,”  Now that’s an interesting comment to make because it’s something that doesn’t always get mentioned.  Critics go to town on the fact that e-cigarettes contain nicotine but fail to mention the fact that the levels of nicotine in e-cigarettes vary and there are some that don't contain any. 

More support for the use of e-cigarettes as a way of stopping smoking has come from ASHLine, a helpline in Arizona that works with smokers to kick the habit.  Since January of this year they have received more than 300 calls from people wanting to use e-cigarettes as a way of quitting smoking.

Dr. Cyndi Thomson, Director of ASHLine said their policy is to “let the patient or the client who calls us direct that decision. If they feel e-cigarettes are something they need and something they need to invest in, in terms of being able to quit, we are going to work with them and we are going to provide them the necessary coaching.” Now isn't that the kind of policy that the World Health Organisation should have? If help lines and bodies such ASH and the American Heart Association can state that e-cigarettes can be helpful even if it’s only as a last resort (as stated this week by the American Heart Association), then that should be the way forward. If studies had been carried out that showed e-cigarettes didn't help smokers quit their habit one little bit, then it’d be a different story but it’s simply not the case.

The last words in this article should definitely be said by Lance Light and his views on e-cigarettes. They are words the World Health Organisation should take to heart.  Lance says:  “I would recommend an e-cig to anyone smoking or addicted to any tobacco product.” 

WHO choose to ignore positive research into e-cigarettes

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called for a ban on the use of e-cigarettes indoors and the stopping of sales of the product to children. They also want there to be no claims that e-cigarettes can help people quit smoking until there is evidence to support this and it’s that statement which is the subject of this blog.  

WHO made their comments about the usefulness of e-cigarettes in smoking cessation just as the American Heart Association (AHA) published their first policy statement on the product. It included comments that aren’t quite on the same page as those of the World Health Organisation. While AHA goes down the usual route of complaining about nicotine and calling for the FDA to treat e-cigarettes like other tobacco products (when will they notice that e-cigarettes don’t contain tobacco?), they do make some slightly positive comments about how e-cigarettes can help people stop smoking.

They claim that although e-cigarettes haven’t been established as being better than other products that are currently approved, current evidence suggests at best a modest effect on cessation, likely equal to or slightly better than that of nicotine patches.  They concluded that if initial treatments fail and the user wants to try e-cigarettes to help them kick the habit then it is reasonable to support the attempt, though they should be told that the product has yet to be regulated and it’s not fully known if there are any health risks.

Now that’s not exactly the greatest recommendation in the world but it’s a lot better than what WHO are doing at present.  It’s better than sticking your head in the sand and saying  we shouldn’t be going around making claims e-cigarettes can be used to help smokers quit the habit that is going to seriously damage their health. How can you call yourself a World Health Organisation and make statements calling for more proof about e-cigarettes when plenty already exists? Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association President and Chairman Phil Daman said of the AHA policy statement: “We are particularly pleased that AHA’s report recognizes the magnitude of benefits that vaporizers such as electronic cigarettes offer to smokers as tools that can help reduce cigarette-induced diseases.”

Mr Daman didn’t agree with their view that e-cigarettes have a “modest effect” on cessation. He cited a study by the Society for the Study of Addiction that suggested cigarette smokers have a higher chance of successfully quitting when using vapor products than nicotine gum or patches. Perhaps WHO missed that piece of evidence too? I guess they didn’t also take into account the views of the American Cancer Society who also suggest that e-cigarettes “may be a reasonable option” when other alternatives for quitting have been exhausted. 

It’s just not logical that the World Health Organisation can ignore the research that has already been carried out on this matter. There are plenty more studies that have included positive findings on e-cigarettes and their smoking cessation qualities. Why are those not being taken into account? It’s fairly obvious that a fairer statement would be to say that there have been positive findings but further research is required on the matter.

Why vaping should be both tobacco-free and tax-free

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder continues to be vocal on the issue of e-cigarettes and he seems determined to find a way of not just banning minors from using them but to also place a tax on e-cigarettes. However he’s running into problems getting this compromise to be agreed and is heading for a big argument with Senator Rick Jones. The big problem for the Governor is that while he believes that e-cigarettes are a tobacco product, the Senator disagrees.

The senator says: “They're simply nicotine deliveries just like nicotine gum and nicotine patch. I don't think it's appropriate to add a higher cost to help people get off of cigarettes." Now that sounds like one of the rare examples of a politician actually talking sense.  He managed to get the word ‘nicotine’ into a sentence three times.  Do you realise what the direct link between that first sentence of his and e-cigarettes?  It’s simple really and one that the Governor should take note of. You see the answer is that neither contains tobacco.

The fact that the Senator appreciates the usefulness of e-cigarettes as a tool to stop people smoking is also encouraging.  Why indeed add costly taxes onto a product that can stop people smoking tobacco cigarettes and therefore extend and save lives in the process.  At present in Michigan there’s a $2 tax on tobacco cigarettes, one of the largest levy’s in the States. Adding that cost onto e-cigarettes really isn’t going to help the industry.

Sadly it looks as if the Governor will get his way on this matter and the Senator says: “I will oppose to oppose it however I assume the governor will get what he wants.”  So exactly what are the Governor’s views on the subject of e-cigarettes?  His main view is that “it’s a real issue about the substance itself – is it really a tobacco product or not? And if it is a tobacco product – and it’s largely liquid nicotine, then shouldn’t it be treated that way.”

He already has the support of the State Department of Community Health who want to make e-cigarettes part of the tobacco code.  In no great surprise the call is for sales to minors to be banned and more time to research the possible dangers of e-cigarettes.

The current Bill that is being discussed in Michigan does ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors but doesn’t classify them as tobacco products.  That’s why the Governor and his supporters are so against it and trying to come up with their own compromise. Dr. Fred J. Van Alstine, President of the Michigan Academy of Family Physicians says: “Every single medical community and organization is opposed to that bill.”  He sees e-cigarettes as being addictive and doesn’t “want a whole other generation of addicts.”

Of course classifying e-cigarettes as tobacco products makes it so much easier for politicians to add further laws once regulation does take place.  But still none of the critics of e-cigarettes will come forward and say exactly why a product that doesn’t contain tobacco should be classified as a tobacco product.

Without e-cigarettes there isn’t an alternative to tobacco cigarettes and that means more people getting addicted and exposing themselves to serious health risks. Another reason for wanting to tax e-cigarettes is the fact they are successful and will continue to increase sales in the future.  That increase could cause the sales of tobacco cigarettes to decline and that means vital tax revenues falling too.  .

Definitely against the idea of taxing e-cigarettes is Ken Braun, a former legislative aide in the Michigan House. His view is a refreshing one saying: “E-cigarettes are not tobacco, and the confusion on this point could kill people.” His view is that e-cigarettes are a nicotine product and “vastly less dangerous than inhaling the smoke from cancer-causing leaves.”  He adds: “Smokers who switch to vaping e-cigarettes make a much healthier choice. Dodge the large majority of their old cancer risks and cause zero second-hand smoke.” 

Mr Braun believes recent increases in taxation on tobacco cigarettes in Michigan are down to the desire to raise more revenue. He says: “Despite the ‘public health’ rhetoric, it was always an open question whether lawmakers cared more for the money or saving lives. Now we may find out as they decide whether and how to tax e-cigarettes.” In his view if tobacco taxes are all about public health then “anti-smoking lobbyists should be quite loudly declaring e-cigarettes off-limits to the tax man.”    He stresses the fact that most e-cigarette users are current and former smokers That’s a view backed up by a survey by ASH in the UK showed that smokers are “increasingly turned to these devices to help them cut down or quit.

So the fear Mr Braun has if that e-cigarettes are taxed then it’s likely tobacco smokers will carry on using those dangerous products rather than turning to e-cigarettes. As he says: “Vaping is still relatively trendy and in the price range of middle and higher income smokers, the first people left clinging to their ashtrays will be those low-income smokers on Medicaid.”  He concludes: “Taxing e-cigarettes like real cigarettes will inflict more hideous cancers on more people than would otherwise occur if they switched to vaping, and many of those people will die as a result.”  His message to any ideas the Governor has on taxing e-cigarettes is: “leave e-cigarettes alone and see how many lives he can save. It’ll be worth the price.”

Wise words indeed and hopefully they might just give politicians eager to start taxing e-cigarettes to think again.  If they believe in protecting the health of the voters who put them in their jobs then there really is no other option.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Confusion reigns over the laws relating to vaping

Do you know the rules regarding e-cigarettes and vaping in the area where you live?  It seems every month that votes are being taken which affect e-cigarettes in some way, but this gradual legislative process is in danger of creating total confusion over the issue of what can and cannot be done. What hope do we have when even public officials aren’t entirely sure of the rules? 
There was controversy in Montana recently when county Tobacco Prevention Specialist Frank Rozan realised he didn’t know the rules regarding the use of e-cigarettes. When he saw a customer using an e-cigarette in a new Vaping Outlet store in Butte he told them ‘You can’t do that in here.”  Store owner Phillip Lish told Rozan that his customers were vaping and that’s perfectly legal but the mistaken official still claimed it was a violation of the Montanan Indoor Clean Air Act. An argument ensued between Rozan and the customers who eventually walked out with one of them telling the angry shop owner “Good luck.”
Rozan later found out he was indeed wrong and has had to apologize to Lish but it just shows how confused the laws are in this country when it comes to e-cigarettes.
County Health Director Karen Sullivan says the county is trying to reduce smoking rates and smokeless tobacco use but admits that the use of e-cigarettes is still “uncharted waters.”  She suggested the county needs more information and possibly guidance from federal or state officials before deciding what action to take on the matter.

That’s one of the big problems that are being created by legislative problems across America. You can go from one county to another and cross borders into other States and find differing laws regarding e-cigarettes.  It’s a confusing situation and one that doesn’t need to be happening.
The media love to write stories that make allegations about e-cigarettes and how safe or otherwise they are. Considering the fact stories that claim that a product is safe don’t attract readers, most ignore the good side of e-cigarettes and go for the scaremongering story saying how bad they are for you.  With such stories in the press it leads campaigners to ask for some action to be taken against e-cigarettes. But problems will develop if laws are being passed without the whole story being listened to.
Take the situation in St. Anthony who has already regulated e-cigarettes in the same way as it does tobacco products. They are well on the way to making its regulation of the product official and permanent. This is being done with the aims of preserving public health, protecting young people and guarding against enforcement confusion.
It was last November when a moratorium was placed on e-cigarettes and their accessories. City manager Mark Casey says this puts on hold “the creation, establishment or operation of businesses that sell electronic cigarettes” and imposes the same age requirements and usage restrictions as tobacco.  The moratorium expires this November and was imposed to allow city staff time to research e-cigarette regulations.  Whether that takes a year to do so is unknown but perhaps in that time they’d also try and find out more about the product they seem so keen to impose serious restrictions on.
“Basically, for the public, it treats e-cigarettes just like tobacco cigarettes,” Mayor Jerry Faust explained. “The same requirements apply as far as age and where they can be utilized. It keeps a level playing field for all of our businesses and just basically, the bottom line; it treats it like other tobacco.”

This is a situation that is happening up and down America but conclusive evidence doesn’t seem to be present.  One reason given for legislation against e-cigarettes is always the need to protect youngsters. Claims that e-cigarette companies specifically target youngsters simply don’t hold water.
Let’s go back to Montana and the store opened by Phillip Lish.  It sells more than 50 e-liquid flavors and that’s something critics strongly believe exist simply to attract youngsters.  Also sold at the store are e-cigarettes that contain nicotine.  However, some of the e-cigarettes sold there don’t include nicotine making the product even safer than tobacco cigarettes.
The key point about the store however is the fact that there is a sign on the front door which says that products will not be sold to anyone under the age of 18.  Isn’t that evidence that shows e-cigarettes aren’t being targeted at youngsters?
Why should Mayor Faust be able to go round saying that e-cigarettes should be treated just like tobacco cigarettes?  Can’t he look at the product and see how it can be used to help people stop smoking tobacco cigarettes?  Is it impossible for him to realise that the product isn’t being aimed directly at youngsters? 
Do the Mayor and the many other public officials and elected representatives around the country not read positive comments about e-cigarettes?  It’s not as if they are rare and a new analysis of 81 studies actually supports the view that e-cigarettes are not just a safer alternative to tobacco cigarettes but can help smokers quit.

As the weeks and months go by, more and more situations like this will occur.  Health officials with a bee in their bonnet, who fail to fully take into account the positives of e-cigarettes, will push for legislation treating a product that doesn’t contain any tobacco to be treated like one that actually does. The situation will create more unjust laws and as Frank Rozan discovered more and more confusion over just exactly what the laws concerning e-cigarettes actually are.

Friday, August 15, 2014

EU mistakes on e-cigarettes highlighted by ECITA

One of the major concerns about e-cigarettes is how toxic they are, especially compared to tobacco cigarettes.  The problem is that if   they are described as containing dangerous toxins close to levels in tobacco cigarettes it’s bound to raise concerns and lead to strict regulation.
That’s what is happening in Europe but now new research has shown that the fears that have been spread are in fact way off the mark. Rather than the nicotine contained in e-cigarettes be classified alongside such poisons as strychnine and formeldehyde, it should in fact be classified alongside washing-up liquid.
The French consumer magazine ’60 million Consumers’ claimed that findings by the National Consumer Institute stated that e-cigarettes are “not as safe” as their manufacturers claim and are in fact “potentially carcinogenic”
Carcinogenic molecules in a significant amount were found in the vapor produced in the products. “In three cases out of 10, for products with or without nicotine, the content of formeldehyde was as much as the levels found in some conventional cigarettes,” the report said.
Jordan Bork, who owns an e-cigarette store in New York, dismissed the findings of the report, claiming the method of testing was not "realistic". He felt that their new method of testing had resulted in flawed results.

However as the European Union (EU) discussed what action to take against e-cigarettes including possibly classifying them as medicines, the findings proved a great influence.  One of the major decisions of the EU was to classify nicotine as a highly toxic product in either category 2 or in category 3. That gives nicotine bedfellows such as strychnine (category 2) and formeldehyde (category 3).

Such classifications are obviously not good news for the e-cigarette industry but now those results have been discredited in a new study conducted by toxicology experts, commissioned by the Electronic Cigarette Industry Trade Association (ECITA). 

In fact only the strongest e-liquids (from 2.5% to 5%) can be classified and even then it’d only be in category 4. So instead of having the same classification as strychnine, e-liquid is as toxic as, wait for it, washing–up liquid.  ECITA claim that the EU classification was due to basic mathematical errors, Errors that have already had an impact on EU policy towards e-cigarettes and could influence decision in the US too.

The incorrect classification has already played a major part in the EU placing limits on the strength of e-liquid that can be sold in Europe from 2016. Yet the maximum strength e-liquid will only produce a third of the nicotine delivered by tobacco cigarettes.  They say that what happens in the US will eventually happen in Europe. The fear is that the views of the EU on e-cigarettes could cross the Atlantic.
The actions taken by the EU have already been heavily criticized by e-cigarette researcher Dr Farsalinos. He accused the EU of “once again trying to destroy the e-cigarette as an alternative to smoking product by trying to implement regulations that constitute a ban for the majority of products. He added that the EU actions “ignore science.”

The actions of the EU are bad news for Europe and provide more ammunition for those in the States who oppose e-cigarettes as the FDA prepare to announce how they will regulate e-cigarettes. How can they not be influenced by EU classifications that put nicotine in the same categories as strychnine and formeldehyde?

Hopefully now that the EU classifications have been shown to be inaccurate, their influence on bodies such as the FDA will diminish. Research is welcomed but when it contains errors that lead to politicians taking unnecessary steps, that really isn’t needed.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Is Prejudice against tobacco affecting views concerning vapor industry?

There have been some strong words this week from Scott White, the Board Chairman of the Lexington-Fayette County Board of Health.
The Board are currently looking at ways that they can restrict the use of e-cigarettes in public spaces. They also want to work out how best to educate the public about the dangers of e-cigarettes, most likely without talking about research that talks positively about them.
According to Scott White tobacco companies are “evil.”  He says every day there’s more news about problems with e-cigarettes.  Of course there are also plenty of reports that talk about e-cigarettes in a positive manner but he probably doesn’t read those.
Most of America’s big tobacco companies have purchase e-cigarette companies and White has a history of opposing them.  When he was an attorney he helped lead the state’s efforts to sue tobacco companies in the late 1990s so he brings a fair amount of prejudice into his arguments against those who now wish to be vaping rather than smoking.
White jumped on a popular bandwagon by criticizing flavors of e-liquids, such as bubblegum, which in his opinion are targeted at children.  He says: “if marketing a deadly product to children isn’t evil I don’t know what is.”
Where exactly he’s seen any reviews of e-cigarettes that describe them as deadly has yet to be revealed.
During a meeting of the board on Monday (August 13) he said: “We have enough history with the tobacco industry to know we need to get ahead of this” and “everything is on the table” when it comes to deciding what action to take. Options including amending Lexington's current smoking ban to include e-cigarettes and creating a public education campaign.  White plans to send a letter to Superintendent Tom Shelton asking the Fayette County Public School system to join the board in fighting the spread of e-cigarettes.
Further legislation that sees the use of e-cigarettes restricted looks inevitable. Ellen Hahn, director of Kentucky Center for Smoke-Free Policy at the University of Kentucky, said that it’s considered “best practice” to include e-cigarettes in smoke-free laws because they are a tobacco product and they pollute the air. 

It just seems totally illogical that these officials can go round labelling products that do not contain tobacco as tobacco products.   Yes there are tobacco companies who are entering the e-cigarette industry but that’s logical as they see the increase in use of e-cigarettes and want a share of the flourishing industry. 
More worrying are the views of Scott White who feels he can go round labeling products as deadly without producing a shred of evidence that this is the case.  His past battles against tobacco cigarettes that can and do cause serious illnesses that shorten lives has totally coloured his opinion against e-cigarettes.
Just because there are flavored types of e-cigarettes it does not mean they are being targeted at children.  Evidence has shown that these flavors greatly help tobacco smokers who have turned to e-cigarettes to quit smoking

White also says that e-cigarettes pollute the air but obviously hasn’t read as widely about the subject as he should have. The National Health Service (NHS) in the UK stated that the level of toxins that come from vapors is about one thousandth of that in cigarette smoke.  Tests on traces of these toxins are “reassuring.”  White may have strong opinions on tobacco cigarettes but shouldn’t he be pleased if they can gradually be replaced by something that has a tiny fraction of toxins and no sign of tobacco?  And if he actually bothers to read what the NHS says, how can he go round talking about deadly products? 

Another article states that “E-cigarettes are essentially smokeless and don’t emit the same air-polluting volatile organic compounds that traditional cigarettes do – even the organic kind.

Scott White has to learn that in e-cigarettes he’s dealing with a different product and shouldn’t carry forward his established views against tobacco.

Monday, August 11, 2014

why politicians avoid mentioning positive studies on e-cigarettes?

More than two dozen state attorneys general have urged the FDA to impose strict restrictions on electronic cigarettes. These include the banning of television advertising and the candy and fruit flavors of e-cigarettes that are currently available.

It’s a worrying development as the actions called for are tougher than those that were proposed by the FDA in April of this year. They are keen on banning the sale of e-cigarettes to under-18s but didn’t plan on banning advertising, online sales or flavored e-cigarettes.

The group of 29 attorneys general wrote a letter to the FDA last Friday stating that they wanted the different flavors of e-cigarettes banned to maintain “protection of public health, particularly of youth.”  If the FDA did ban flavored e-cigarettes it would match their actions taken against traditional cigarettes five years ago.

The FDA has been getting quite a lot of post from politicians this week as they also received mail from 13 Democratic members. They also called for stronger measures against e-cigarettes including the marketing of the product to children.  FDA officials declined to comment on the letters received but say they intend to work “as quickly as possible” to review all submitted comments. They probably just want to receive shorter letters I guess.

The marathon letter from the attorney generals included plenty of statistics, one of which so showed how there was a massive increase in the amount spent by e-cigarette companies on advertising. It’s hardly breaking news that an expanding industry is likely to be spending more on advertising their product.

When it came down to just how safe e-cigarettes are, the letter stated that the presence of nicotine makes e-cigarettes “both harmful and addictive.”  They added that youths using e-cigarettes may be a “gateway” to the use of traditional cigarettes.  Note the letter says “may” which also means it may not.

In an attempt to prove this they said: “As noted by the CDC (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention), one in five middle school students who reported using e-cigarettes stated they had never tried conventional cigarettes” while of those students who had used e-cigarettes, 76% had used traditional cigarettes.

Shouldn’t they be optimistic over the fact that people, whatever their age, are using e-cigarettes rather than traditional, more dangerous cigarettes?  And of those who also used tobacco cigarettes, is it not more likely that they’re turning to e-cigarettes as a healthier alternative?

Not wanting to feel left out, the attorney generals had to mention our good old friend propylene glycol when discussing the other harms that e-cigarettes can cause.  It’s quite ironic really that they included that in a letter to the FDA, the very same FDA who has already given their approval to other products that include propylene glycol.

Also mentioned are the problems caused by e-liquids themselves and they mention the claims by the CDC that containers aren’t childproof.  Perhaps they should keep up with the news more because only recently ECITA (The Electronic Cigarette Trade Association) recommended keeping e-liquid out of reach of children and childproof packaging.  So why moan about something that’s already going to be taken care of?

While the politicians spend their time writing lengthy letters calling on the FDA to impose strict regulations on e-cigarettes, one team of researchers have a different view. 

A study by Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, partly funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, believes allowing e-cigarettes to compete with regular cigarettes might cut tobacco-related deaths and illness.

Thomas Eissenberg, co-director of the Center for the Study of Tobacco Products at the university sys “Current evidence suggests that there is a potential for smokers to reduce their health risks if electronic cigarettes are used in place of tobacco cigarettes and are considered a step toward ending all tobacco and nicotine use."  The new study concluded that the benefits of e-cigarettes as a no-smoking aid outweigh potential harms.

As for the risks that are mentioned in the letters those views are countered by senior author, Dr. Hayden McRobbie, from the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine at Queen Mary University of London believes "If there are any risks, these will be many times lower than the risks of smoking tobacco."   He added: “We need to think carefully about how these products are regulated. What we found is that there is no evidence that these products should be regulated as strictly as tobacco, as or even more strictly than tobacco."

McRobbie also doesn’t believe with the views regarding whether using e-cigarettes is a gateway to smoking tobacco.  He says there is no evidence to support this and he believes they can also enable some users to either cut down or totally quit smoking.

The desire to ban flavored e-cigarettes is also wide of the mark. It always seems to be the belief that the different flavors exist to attract youngsters to the product. Yet a survey released earlier this year by E-Cigarette Forum showed that it’s adults who prefer flavored e-cigarettes and it helps them give up tobacco smoking.

We all know that some form of regulation by the FDA is on the horizon but why is it surveys/studies such as those mentioned here never seem to get mentioned by the politicians?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Doctor who knows less about e-cigarettes than he thinks

Supplying a medical column to a website is an important job but one recently published by Dr. Adedayo Onitilo could really have done with a bit more research.
Dr. Onitilo is an oncologist/haematologist at Marshfield Clinic and has just had an article about e-cigarettes published at 

 In his opinion “the nicotine in electronic cigarettes makes them no better than regular cigarettes.”  He’s concerned about the addictive nature of nicotine but goes a lot further than that in his views on e-cigarettes.
According to the Doctor “no proof is available that e-cigs can help a smoker quit.” Well I don’t know what journals he reads but whatever they are he must have been skipping a few pages in the past few years to make such an uninformed statement.
I guess he’s never read about the e cigarette study of 5863 adults carried out by the University College London over a period of twelve months. The survey concluded that “among smokers who have attempted to stop without professional support, those who use e-cigarettes are more likely to report continued abstinence than those who used a licensed NRT product bought over-the-counter or no aid to cessation. This difference persists after adjusting for a range of smoker characteristics such as nicotine dependence.”

Perhaps the Doctor should also take a look at comments made by ASH (Action on smoking and health) in their briefing on e-cigarettes.  If he’d bothered to read the report he’d have learnt how they state that “there is evidence that they can be effective in helping smokers quit.”  Now that makes Dr Onitilo’s statement that “no proof is available that e-cigs can help a smoker quit” look both foolish and ignorant.
Another concern of the rather uninformed Doctor is that “there’s plenty of concern they (e-cigarettes) may be a gateway to smoking for younger people.”  Again he should have read up on the subject, let’s look at what ASH has to say on this subject. They state “The number of children and young people regularly using electronic cigarettes remains very low and their use is almost entirely amongst those who are current or ex-smokers.”
Those children who are using e-cigarettes have already had a taste of the demon tobacco. It’s not the case that they start off using e-cigarettes and then progress to smoking tobacco cigarettes. It’s more a case that tobacco smokers realise the dangers and decide to use e-cigarettes instead. 

Surely his comments can’t get any worse can they?  Oh yes they can!  He’s concerned about the ingredients in e-cigarettes and in particular “such toxic compounds as propylene glycol, a close cousin of automotive anti-freeze.”  Yes that much used link between e-cigarettes and anti-freeze has been churned out yet again.
The Doctor really should pay closer attention not just to the writings of ASH but the FDA. ASH states that “there is little evidence of harmful effects in the short to medium term from repeated exposure to propylene glycol, the chemical in which nicotine is suspended. One study concludes that electronic cigarettes have a low toxicity profile, are well tolerated, and are associated with only mild adverse effects.”
They add that “Any health risks of second-hand exposure to propylene glycol vapour are likely to be limited to irritation of the throat.”

The FDA also state that “Propylene glycol can be ingested over long periods of time and in substantial quantities (up to 5 percent of the total food intake) without causing frank toxic effects.”  They conclude that Propylene glycol is not ahazard to the public.
Right to the end of his article Dr.Onitilo makes statements that haven’t quite been fully thought through. He writes “We finally have made real progress in reducing the number of people who smoke, and who develop lung cancer, a very, very nasty disease that is usually caused by smoking. If people start thinking that smoking is cool again because of e-cigarettes, we may just erase all the gains we’ve made.”
Well perhaps actually if people start using e-cigarettes that don’t contain all the harmful chemicals that cause lung cancer, then that might be a great move forward. But Dr. Onitilo wouldn’t be able to write that because he hasn’t researched his subject has he?
It’s baffling how doctors can make such ill-informed statements about e-cigarettes. Going around writing articles that include phrases such as “no proof is available” when there is plenty of evidence published all around the world really is totally unforgivable.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

E-cigarettes Roswell Mystery

Critics of e-cigarettes will be enjoying the results of a new study which casts doubts on just how healthy they actually are.
Regular tobacco cigarettes contain nearly 600 additives, 69 of which are carcinogenic. As e-cigarettes don’t contain tobacco and also do not contain those carcinogenic additives it was believed that there was minimal risk of lung disease developing.
However,research by the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY claims that they way particles are broken down in e-cigarettes may in time irritate lung tissue and cause disease. Particles in e-cigarettes are just under half the size of those in tobacco cigarettes.
Particles in tobacco-based cigarettes have a median size of 0.3 to 0.5 microns, but in e-cigarettes they are a lot smaller at 0.18 to 0.27 microns. Being smaller the study says they have the ability to travel deep within the lungs and embed themselves in the alveoli, the tiny air sacs in the lung. According to the study this can take place with up to 40 per cent of the vapor particles. 

The findings from Roswell don’t tally with the views of Derek Yach from the Vitality Group, part of South Africa’s largest medical scheme, Discovery Health.  He declared that the levels and types of chemicals in e-cigarettes are similar to those found in approved nicotine inhalers which can be purchased in pharmacies.
“There’s no tobacco in the product, so the potential cancer risk should be dropping toclose to zero. Even if it’s not exactly zero, the consequences of taking tobacco out of people’s lungs and bodies will be huge for cardiovascular disease as well as lung and other cancers.

There are no reports of anyone having contracted lung cancer after using e-cigarettes so that surely must be seen as a positive sign.
Andrew Hyland is chairman of the department of health behavior at Roswell Park’s Division of Cancer Prevention & Population Sciences. He also works as senior editor for the journal Tobacco Control. He has the usual concerns people have about e-cigarettes but says “There’s reason to be hopeful in many ways this is a tool to get people off conventional cigarettes

It seems a bit strange to say that when Roswell then goes out and issues the results of a study that has produced scary headlines around the world.

Yes there is need for more studies into e-cigarettes but there is also the need for more publicity to be given to those studies that give positive news about the product.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Hiding the truth about e-cigarettes

It’s been another week that has seen more moves to introduce legislation against e-cigarettes.  On Tuesday (July 22) Lane County commissioners were discussing possible county regulations that would see tobacco retail outlets having to buy country business licenses.
Dr Patrick Leudtke, the county’s public health officer declared that e-cigarettes and their health effects had not been “fully studied” yet.  He then mentioned some of the negative aspects that some studies have found naming benzene, propylene glycol, formaldehyde and lead as being some of the human carcinogens found in the vapor emitted by e-cigarettes.  He did add though that studies hadn’t yet established whether the chemicals in e-cigarettes reach dangerous concentration levels.
Also testifying to the commissioners was Dr Larry Dunlap who came out with this little gem about e-cigarettes:  “They have nothing to do with cessation of smoking.”  He felt that e-cigarettes will simply cause another generation to become addicted to nicotine and called for e-cigarettes to be classified as tobacco products.
Nutrition instructor Tamberly Powell told the commissioners of her fears that children will see e-cigarettes as “the healthy kind of cigarette.”  Several of the commissioners said they’d support a local ordinance banning sales of e-cigarettes to minors.
It’s the usual kind of evidence that just fails to mention the good side of e-cigarettes and failing to show evidence that disproves other negative claims.  Take the concerns over chemicals found in e-cigarette vapor. It’s ok to mention propylene glycol but why not also let the commissioners know that the FDA doesn’t even consider it to be too dangerous.
Here’s what they have to say about “Propylene glycol can be ingested over long periods of time and in substantial quantities (up to 5 percent of the total food intake) without causing frank toxic effects. There is no evidence in the available information on propylene glycol and propylene glycol monostearate that demonstrates, or suggests reason to suspect, a hazard to the public when they are used at levels that are now current or that might reasonably be expected in future.”
As for all the other chemicals mentioned by Dr Patrick Leudtke, perhaps he should read the report into e-cigarettes carried out by the National Health Service in the UK.  They concluded: “Also, while the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found the liquid and vapour to contain traces of toxins including cancer-causing chemicals nitrosamines and formaldehyde, the level of these toxins is about one thousandth of that in cigarette smoke.”
It added that “tests on animals and a small e-cigarette study of 40 smokers are reassuring, providing some evidence that e-cigarettes are well tolerated and only associated with mild adverse effects (slight mouth or throat irritation, a dry cough).”   Those symptoms sound a heck of a lot better than throat or lung cancer don’t they?
Strange isn’t it how these medical experts seem to be unable to quote such reports?  That brings us to the incredible claims by Dr Harry Dunlap that e-cigarettes have nothing to do with smoking cessation?  Does he ever read any of the studies that have been carried out and published in leading medical journals?
Has he never heard of the study carried out last year and reported in the ‘Addiction’ journal?  It reported that people attempting to quit smoking without professional help are approximately 60% more likely to report succeeding if they use e-cigarettes than if they use willpower alone or over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapies such as patches or gum. reveals new research published in Addiction.
How about the study from ASH-UK that showed the main reason given by current smokers for using e-cigarettes is to reduce the amount they smoke. Ex-smokerssaid using e-cigarettes helps them stop smoking.
The views of Tamberly Powell are also puzzling because surely using something that is healthier than a tobacco cigarette shouldn’t be something to be concerned about.   Better to see someone using e-cigarettes than going down the route of ill-health that is guaranteed for tobacco smokers.
As for the calls to ban the sales of e-cigarettes to minors, many retailers don’t sell them to that age group anyway.

It’s inevitable that the county will pass some legislation against e-cigarettes sometime in the future. But surely those giving evidence to commissioners should have a wider knowledge of studies carried out on the subject.  Having witnesses that don’t seem to be prepared to give details of studies that tell of the benefits of e-cigarettes simply isn’t right. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Adverts seen by children aren’t necessarily aimed at them

The debate over whether e-cigarettes are being actively targeted at youngsters continues. A report by anti-tobacco organization (and not that keen on e-cigarettes either) Legacy believes much of the $39m spent by e-cigarette makers is targeting youth.
Legacy claim that “Overall, these research findings indicate that, despite their publicly stated intentions, some e-cigarette companies are reaching youth with their advertising.”  Anything to do with advertising concerns Legacy because they can’t do anything to stop it.  New York City health commissioner Dr. Mary Travis Basett says “There are some areas where our hands are tied and that particularly is in marketing.”
Meanwhile Los Angeles County Health commissioner Dr. Jonathan Fielding feels more has to be done “to protect kids from the effects of TV.”  Cue a call for federal regulators to take action by restricting sales and limit where people may vape.
Legacy carried out two studies and found that e-cigarette TV ads reached 29.3m teens and young adults from January through November 2013 including 58% of 12-17 year-olds. Their reports state that e-cigarette makers are using tactics that have long been banned for regular cigarettes and the call from Legacy is “"Don’t let them undo decades of efforts to de-glamorize smoking." nbc news
But is this the actual case with the advertising?  Just because an advert is seen by a youngster it doesn’t mean the advertisers are targeting them. An adult can be watching a children’s programme with their son/daughter, if an advert for a toy comes on screen and they see it, is that product also being targeted at adults?
Cynthia Cabrera, executive director of the Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association says:  “If children are watching during that time, it's possible, but they are being marketed to adult consumers, to adult smokers."
Why should e-cigarette companies be accused of targeting youngsters when if you go online to make your purchase you need a credit card or bank account?  There have already been many instances of states banning the sale of e-cigarettes to minors so again, not much point in targeting them is there?
Electronic cigarette starter kits aren’t exactly within the reach of a child’s finances. Then there are the additional replacement costs that come with using e-cigarettes.  If a youngster is intent on using cigarettes they are more likely to take the cheaper option of getting their hands on tobacco cigarettes. It’s also believed that e-cigarettes don’t have the ‘danger factor’ that tobacco cigarettes possess.  Tobacco is the substance youngsters aren’t ever supposed to use, so that’s why children can’t wait to get hold of one and see what the big evil tobacco is really like.  E-cigarettes don’t have that stigma attached to them. CASAA
Should Legacy even be discussing e-cigarettes? They were set up fifteen years ago as part of the Master Settlement Agreement where major tobacco companies agreed to pay more than $200 billion to states and territories. Some of that money went towards setting up an organization dedicated to studying and providing public education about the impact of tobacco.  E-cigarettes do not of course contain tobacco.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

How Politicians can be selective when choosing studies to ‘prove’ their point about e-cigarettes

Giving up smoking is one of the hardest tasks anyone can face. E-cigarettes are a great tool that can be used when trying to give up tobacco but try telling that to State Rep. Gail Haines who chairs the House Health Policy Committee in Michigan.
As the debate continues over legislation the state intends to carry out concerning e-cigarettes, Haines has questioned whether they actually can help people give up smoking.
Writing in the Detroit News, Haines, who wants the state to pass laws that will classify e-cigarettes as tobacco products, quoted the Journal of the American Academy of Otolaryngology who, in June of this year, claimed that data on the use of e-cigarettes for quitting smoking are ultimately inconclusive, unregulated and uncertain in smoking cessation. detroit news
Strangely when Haines decided to mention the comments made by the American Academy of Otolaryngology she failed to tell her readers all of their views on e-cigarettes nor did she mention that the report was only based on research up to and including November 2013. 
So here’s some comments from that journal that readers of the Detroit News weren’t given. “Compared to tobacco cigarettes, available evidence suggests that e-cigarettes are often substantially lower in toxic content, cytotoxicity, associated adverse effects, and second-hand toxicity exposure.”
Again it proves the case that it’s often what politicians don’t tell you that is more important than what they do. 
Perhaps Haines should have mentioned research carried out by researchers at the University of Auckland in New Zealand which showed that e-cigarettes may be as effective as nicotine patches in helping people quit smoking for at least six months. That research also stated that e-cigarettes proved better than the nicotine patches at reducing cigarette consumption in smokers who were not able to quit.  These findings were published in the Lancet and online in September 2013, the American Academy of Otolarynology must have missed that one. Studies that deal directly with people who are actively trying to give up smoking do seem to be giving better indications of how useful e-cigarettes are. Another important study, first published online in March 2013, again showed the importance e-cigarettes can play in helping smoking cessation.
This online survey carried out in the UK concluded that “e-cigarettes are used primarily for smoking cessation, but for a longer duration than nicotine replacement therapy, and users believe them to be safer than smoking.”  74% of participants in the study reported not smoking for at least a few weeks since using e-cigarettes and 70% reported reduced urge to smoke. It added that those using e-cigarettes found that they “were generally considered to be satisfying to use; elicit few side effects; be healthier than smoking; improve cough/breathing; and be associated with low levels of craving.

Details of the study were published in the journal ‘Addiction.’  Perhaps Haines and her supporters should pay closer attention to that journal. when trying to decide whether e-cigarettes can be an important tool for those who have had enough of smoking tobacco. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Shouldn’t a tobacco product actually include tobacco?

Michigan is pretty keen on passing legislation against e-cigarettes but the big question is how far will the new laws go? Recent months have seen votes in favour of passing legislation that will ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors in the State.  Opinion seems pretty clear cut but now there are calls for Governor Snyder to veto that legislation in favour of other laws.

The Governor has admitted that he is indeed considering vetoing the bipartisan legislation but why?  Speaking in Lancing on Thursday (3 July) he revealed that the currently proposed legislation will get “some extra review and attention, because I have concerns about what happens next. One of the real issues is, is it (e-cigarettes) a tobacco product or not and should it be treated like a tobacco product?”

Now it may appear to be insane to go round attempting to classify something that doesn’t contain any tobacco as a tobacco product.  It‘s like classifying milk as alcohol despite the fact there’s none contained in it.

So what’s really happening down in Michigan?  The method in the madness is in laying foundations for the future.  To simply go ahead and pass a law that says minors can’t buy e-cigarettes does simply that.  If however a new law is passed which classifies e-cigarettes as a tobacco product then it can be easier in the future to add additional regulations  such as laws prohibiting whether they can be used indoors or subject to sin taxes.

Dr Matthew Davis, chief medical executive for the Michigan Department of Community Health addressed the possible legislation at a committee testimony earlier this year.  It’s his view that existing tobacco laws should be used: “Using existing tobacco laws to prevent e-cigarette sales to minors will be a great combination of efficient regulation and an effective public health strategy. The public should expect no less.” 

But surely the public shouldn’t be expecting e-cigarettes to be classified as a tobacco product?  E-cigarettes are an alternative to going down the route of smoking tobacco and leaving yourself open to the disastrous health issues that can and do follow.

State Rep. Gail Haines is the chair of the Health Policy Committee in the Michigan House of Representatives and she is also calling on the Governor to veto the current planned legislation. In her opinion “Senate Bill 668 is not good public policy and does not fully address the important issues surrounding e-cigarettes.”

Haines seems to have an obsession with the nicotine that is in e-cigarettes and believes it’s vital that Michigan acts against e-cigarettes now rather than have to wait for the federal government to take action. Her fear is that e-cigarettes will simply lead to “a new generation getting hooked on nicotine” 

Strong words indeed and her comments have led to Ken Braun, a former legislative aide for the Republicans in the Michigan House, to call for her resignation. He’s critical of her obsession with nicotine pointing out the real danger is tobacco which is a “highly efficient method of creating many murderous cancers.”  In his view confusing these problems is like “comparing shoplifting a t-shirt with aggravated murder.”

In his view Haine’s column is “profoundly immoral propaganda that confuses and distracts people with a lethal addiction regarding a life-savingalternative.”  Perhaps Haines should see his mail which has included letters from people now using e-cigarettes rather than tobacco cigarettes. They tell him how they now lead a healthier lifestyle thanks to using the product.
The situation in Michigan is just another example of what happens when people fail to grasp the importance of what’s really happening. Rather than exploring the topic of e-cigarettes further they seem more interested in passing laws that will make it easier to take more action in the future. Classifying e-cigarettes as tobacco products while ignoring the benefits they possess by not including tobacco isn’t the way forward.