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Friday, September 26, 2014

Blame the Parents, not E-Liquids

Blame the Parents, not E-Liquids
It seems health bodies just love to criticize e-cigarettes without looking at the real problem. That’s the case with the reported increase in nicotine poisoning.  Yet a deeper look at the figures reveals a different culprit.

According to the Center for Disease Control there’s an increase in the number of cases of nicotine poisoning across the States. They also claim that half of the calls involve children and the cause of the problem is the liquid in e-cigarettes.

Wichita Falls- Wichita County Public Health District Director of Health Lou Kreidler (a mouthful of a title if ever there was one) has spoken about the subject and of course goes down the usual route of the differing flavors of e-liquids available and that makes the product attractive to children.

According to Kreidler, the variety of flavors markets to children who may smell an adult’s e-cigarette and try to taste the liquid inside. She added that nicotine poisoning isn’t the only problem because drinking the liquid can cause chemical burns and even become addictive.  She’s called for parents to be alert because the e-cigarette liquid is toxic for children and they should treat the product like they would medication and keep it out of reach of their children.

No one wants to see children hurt in any way whatsoever but the incidents which Kreidler relate to is not the fault of the e-cigarette industry. No e-cigarette manufacturer has ever recommended that people should drink e-liquids, the incidents happening are accidents. 
That fact is confirmed by news from the Washington Poison Center who have reported an increase of 600% in calls about e-cigarettes compared to recent years. At least 83 children have been dangerously exposed to nicotine compared to 50 last year.  

Yet the figures show that 82% of those exposures occur in children ages 3 and under.  So it’s more a case of parents not looking after their e-cigarettes than any actual problem with the product itself.

As for the claim that e-cigarettes are marketed towards children because of the different flavors available, well that simply isn’t true.  For starters, you can’t buy e-cigarettes in Wichita Falls if you are under the age of 18.  So any marketing by e-cigarette companies which she feels is aimed at under-18s is a bit of a waste of time isn’t it?

This whole business about e-cigarette companies targeting youngsters is just so frustrating. Walking down town today I saw massive billboards advertising e-cigarettes.  Now children can see the billboards so is that blatant advertising of the product towards youths?  No it isn’t and I’ll tell you why.  You see at the bottom of the poster was a section that made it fully clear that those under the age of 18 cannot purchase e-cigarettes.  Well if the industry is trying to target youngsters, why on earth would they put that on a poster?   It’s the same with vaping lounges that don’t admit under-18s.

Yes there are under-18s that use e-cigarettes but that use isn’t down to companies advertising. It’s down to the fact that e-cigarettes, just like alcohol and tobacco cigarettes, actually exist. That rebellious streak is always going to be there to go out and try to do something you’re not actually old enough to do.  There are plenty of under-age drivers on the roads but do we hear calls to ban cars?

Actions have been taken by e-cigarette companies to ensure that the kinds of accidents that are happening with e-liquids are prevented. Some e-cigarette liquids or e-juices are packaged in a bottle that requires you to push down and turn the lid at the same time, just like child-proof caps for prescriptions. That’s another example of the e-cigarette industry trying to protect people not poison them.

Kreidler hopes that the health department will help in tobacco education and talks about “teaching teens against tobacco use.”  But why bring tobacco into the conversation?   In fact why doesn’t she start promoting e-cigarettes because if teenagers are going to start using cigarettes, it’s a heck of a lot better for them to be using products that don’t include all the tars and poisons that tobacco cigarettes contain.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Hidden Agenda against e-cigarettes

It’s reaching crunch time in Missouri as Gov. Jay Nixon is doing all he can to persuade the state’s lawmakers to sustain his veto of e-cigarette legislation.
Nixon called in a load of medical experts from lung, heart and cancer associations to highlight what they feel are the dangers of e-cigarettes.  All this happens a week before legislators decide whether to override the Governor’s veto of legislation that would prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to persons under the age of 18.
That’s legislation which isn’t entirely needed considering the fact that e-cigarette businesses I’ve seen have signs up saying under-18s can’t buy their products.
The Governor is dead against the proposed  legislation because it fails to classify e-cigarettes as tobacco products. That’s another example of politicians trying their best to classify a product that contains no tobacco as a tobacco product. There’s a deeper reason for this illogical move to take place.
Nixon (not the greatest name for a politician), wants e-cigarettes to be classified as tobacco products so further regulation and more importantly taxation can be imposed. Perhaps Nixon has his eyes set firmly on the state’s purse strings than actually caring about the health of voters.
This hammering home of the taxation policy the Governor would like to see introduced has been mentioned by his senior policy adviser, Jeff Harris.  He claims that legislators may not have been aware of the tax exemption for e-cigarettes when they voted for it. So are we dealing with politicians who don’t know what they are voting for or don’t know what they’re doing?  Surely such politicians don’t exist? Politicians that clutch at straws most definitely do.
The health professionals predictably mentioned the nicotine that can be found in e-cigarettes.  Of course they don’t mention the fact that the nicotine in e-cigarettes can be at differing levels and some don’t actually contain any nicotine at all.  They also fail to mention the fact that smokers who switch to e-cigarettes will find that the many dangerous toxins that they pump themselves full with when smoking are not present.
Perhaps we should start having nominations for public officials who talk absolute rubbish about vaping and e-cigarettes.  Nominations would definitely include Lucas Buffaloe, assistant professor of clinical family and community medicine at the University of Missouri School of Medicine.
This week he said that e-cigarettes are marketed as a way to stop smoking, or a healthier alternative to traditional tobacco cigarettes. But this rather uninformed assistant professor claims that there is no evidence that e-cigarettes do either of these things.  

How on earth can Lucas Buffaloe hold such views?  It’s just unbelievable that this person can be totally ignorant about many studies and surveys that have shown that e-cigarettes can help people stop smoking. 
Perhaps Buffaloe hasn’t heard about the American Heart Association who last week said that if initial treatments fail and the user wants to try e-cigarettes to help them kick the habit of smoking, then it is reasonable to support the attempt. 
It’s always a good idea to be wary of politicians with hidden agendas and so-called experts who ignore positive evidence. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in Missouri next week and the validity of comments made during the arguments.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Latest report on e-cigarettes riddled with ifs and maybe’s

Another week goes by and another new study is published that casts doubt on just how safe e-cigarettes are. The latest one comes from New England and makes the claim that e-cigarettes, like conventional cigarettes can be a “gateway drug.”
Now the usual claim by critics is that e-cigarette use can lead to smoking tobacco cigarettes in the future. But this study,-published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine, claims that using e-cigarettes can prime the brain to be more receptive to harder drugs such as cocaine.

Surely no one can seriously believe that using e-cigarettes can lead to users trying cocaine sometime in the future. Using hard drugs is more likely to be the result of the company people keep and the type of person they know.
Co-author of the ‘findings’ is Dr. Eric Kandel of Columbia University who says: “With e-cigarettes, we get rid of the danger to the lungs and to the heart, but no one has mentioned the brain.”

Hopefully critics who pounce on this study to further their claims against the use of e-cigarettes will remember to quote the first half of that sentence.  Surely anything which gets rid of danger to lungs and hearts should be greatly appreciated and not subject to heavy criticism?

Apparently it’s down to nicotine again after tests on mice and rats showed that once they are given nicotine, they are more addicted to cocaine after being introduced to that drug.  That’s the view of Dr. Aruni Bhatnagar from the University of Louisville who chaired a 10-member American Heart Association panel on the impact of e-cigarettes.

This theory on nicotine is nothing new and was first reported 39 years ago by Denise Kandel, a Columbia University researcher and wife of Dr. Kandel.  The pair’s view on e-cigarettes is that they “have the same physiological effects on the brain and may pose the same risk of addiction to other drugs as regular cigarettes, especially in adolescence during a critical period of brain development.” Note how they write “may pose”.
They admit it’s not yet clear whether using e-cigarettes will lead to using conventional cigarettes and illegal drugs, they say “that’s certainly a  possibility.”  Or in other words, they’re not actually sure if it will.

Also getting in on the act is Professor Jeffrey Lieberman, chair of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center.  He says:  "The emergence in our society of new recreational pharmaceuticals such as e-cigarettes and legalized marijuana, while justifiable on one level, may have adverse consequences of which we are not fully aware.
Why on earth are e-cigarettes finding themselves being tagged with legalized marijuana?  E-cigarettes are a healthier alternative to conventional dangerous cigarettes. They can also be used as an aid to helping people stop smoking.

Lieberman’s view on the Kandel research is that it “demonstrates such grave potential consequences.”  That’s despite the fact their report is full of if’s and maybe’s and has no concrete evidence of what might actually happen.

It’s easy to create a report that has controversial views that don’t actually include many instances of words such as “will” and “does.”  Do they really believe that someone who decides to use e-cigarettes rather than inhaling all the poisons in tobacco cigarettes may be increasing their chances of ending up on cocaine or marijuana?
Their study doesn’t include any examples of people who have done just that, just some poor unfortunate mice and rats (now hopefully in rehab), perhaps they should just wait until that unlikely event happens and then start scaremongering again.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Positive comments about e-cigarettes critics must not ignore

Positive comments about e-cigarettes critics must not ignore
It was just last week that the World Health Organisation called for e-cigarettes use to be banned in public places and workplaces.  Meanwhile legislators across America seem intent on passing laws that ban sales to minors and treat e-cigarettes as tobacco products.  I wonder what critics of the e-cigarette industry will make of two pieces of very positive comments made this week that heavily criticize the recommendations of the World Health Organisation.
Now usually such studies seem to mysteriously get ignored by those determined to make life hard for the e-cigarette industry but their views on this occasion deserve to be publicized to the hilt.
Perhaps the World Health Organisation will be interested in comments by the University of the City of London (UCL) that declare more than 6,000 lives a year could be saved for every million smokers who switch to e-cigarettes. After all, saving lives is high on their agenda isn't it?
We’re forever being told about the problems caused by the toxins present in the vapors created by e-cigarettes. According to Professor Robert West from the UCL the concentrations of these toxins are very low.
I wonder what the critics of e-cigarettes will say about his comment: “You have to be a bit crazy to carry on smoking conventional cigarettes when there are e-cigarettes available. The vapor contains nothing like the concentrations of carcinogens and toxins as cigarette smoke. In fact, concentrations are almost all well below a twentieth of cigarettes."
That’s where the amazing claim that for every million smokers who decide to switch to vaping, 6.000 lives a year would be saved. Professor West says that if all nine million UK smokers used e-cigarettes instead that would equate to 54,000 lives saved out of the current 60,000 premature deaths.
Surely those are figures that health authorities around the world cannot ignore the next time they discuss e-cigarettes?
How many times do you hear critics going on about the number of non-smokers who are using e-cigarettes?  That’s usually followed by the claim that vaping is merely a gateway to smoking. Well that doesn't quite seem to be the case, the UCL team say the numbers of non-smokers using e-cigarettes is less than 1% of the population of England. That’s the results from the Smoking Toolkit study, a monthly survey of smokers in England.
In fact that report by the Smoking Toolkit study also produces promising evidence about the use of e-cigarettes as an aid to stopping smoking. Their report in June of this year showed more people using e-cigarettes as an aid to stop smoking. It also concluded that their evidence “conflicts with the view that electronic cigarettes are undermining tobacco control or ‘re-normalizing smoking, and they may be contributing to a reduction in smoking prevalence through increased success at quitting smoking.”

Those are comments that make a mockery of the World Health Organisations views on the use of e-cigarettes as an aid to stop smoking.
Back to the UCL study and more comments that heavily criticize the views of many critics of e-cigarettes:
“There are a number of public health advocates who appear to consider electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) primarily as a threat to public health, and bodies such as the British Medical Association and the World Health Organisation (WHO) are warning smokers about their potential dangers.
"Given that smokers smoke primarily for the nicotine but die primarily from the tar, one might imagine that e-cigarettes would be welcomed as a means to prevent much of the death and suffering caused by cigarettes."
Sadly that isn’t the view of many misguided health authorities who continually go on about nicotine. Nor are they the views of legislators who can’t wait to get e-cigarettes labelled as tobacco products and supplying income for them via heavy taxation.
The UCL study isn’t the only good news for the e-cigarette industry this week. An article in ‘Addiction’ journal looks at the comments made by the World Health Organisation last week. and again they are highly critical of their report.
Lead author Professor Ann McNeill from the National Addiction Centre at King's College London, said: "We were surprised by the negativity of the commissioned review, and found it misleading and not an accurate reflection of available evidence.”
"E-cigarettes are new and we certainly don't yet have all the answers to their long-term health impact, but what we do know is that they are much safer than e-cigarettes, which kill over six million people a year worldwide."
Yet the critics still complain non-stop about e-cigarettes, it just doesn’t make sense does it?
The article also raises concerns about the World Health Organisation report saying that concerns had already been expressed by scientists and other public health experts about the recommendations of the report.
Professor Peter Hajek, from the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at Queen Mary University of London, believes last week’s report contains recommendations that “are actually detrimental to public health. The purpose of these recommendations to restrict the use of e-cigarettes and the reason for doing that is to avoid risk. I think any responsible regulator proposing restricting regulation has to balance reducing risks with reducing potential benefits.”
Hajek believes that some of the risks mentioned in the report have been “proven not to exist” and the benefits of e-cigarettes “are potentially enormous.”  In his view “It really could be a revolutionary intervention in public health if smokers switched from cigarettes to electronic cigarettes.”
In his opinion, the criticism of e-cigarettes is like suggesting people should stop using mobile phones and tablets because there’s a 1 in 10 million chance the battery might overheat.
Again some fantastic comments about e-cigarettes and you can bet your bottom dollar that critics won’t be quoting from those anytime in the future.
You won’t be staggered to hear that the World Health Organisation has yet to respond to these views. After all it doesn’t look great for them having their opinions on such an important matter questioned. 

But surely such positive comments about e-cigarettes should be getting mentions by the World Health Organisation, FDA and all the other critics who tell people selective facts about e-cigarettes?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

When will e-cigarettes get the respect they deserve?

What would you consider to be one of the greatest inventions of all-time?  Is it that latest phone that you probably only got because it’d make you look bad in front of your friends if you didn’t have one?  Perhaps it’s the new HD television with brilliant images but unable to improve the script of that really bad show you’re watching.  Or perhaps one of the greatest inventions of all-time is the e-cigarette. A controversial choice perhaps but surely something that can help save thousands and thousands of lives deserves such an accolade?

 ‘E-cigs: one of the greatest inventions ever’ was the fantastic headline of a column written by Patrick West. He’s a journalist who has a lot to thank e-cigarettes for because he was a smoker for twenty years until switching to e-cigarettes and finally kicking that terrible habit. 
His article made perfect sense and really should be shown to every politician that spends their time conspiring against e-cigarettes. The same politicians who with one hand tell you how dangerous e-cigarettes are and you shouldn’t be using them, while have the other hand ready to eventually receive tax revenue from the product.
So apart from a personal reason for support e-cigarettes why would anyone be prepared to make such a bold statement about e-cigarettes?  Well, the simple answer is that there is plenty of evidence to back up such a statement.

How about that report that was recently published in the journal ‘Addiction’ that showed more than 50,000 lives could be saved in Britain every year, if smokers took the decision to use e-cigarettes instead. 
If that happened it would be a magnificent step forward in protecting people’s health. But such moves are continually being hindered by politicians and doctors.  Take the Royal Society for Public Health who called for e-cigarettes to be re-named ‘nicotinesticks.’  They believe this would make the product less attractive to youngsters.
Their Chief Executive, Shirley Kramer, says: "If you called them nicotine sticks instead, it would make them less attractive and would hopefully discourage young people from using them and make them less swayed by all the advertising and marketing."
Does she actually imagine that if these youngsters don’t use e-cigarettes they’ll just give up on the whole idea of smoking altogether?  Course not, turn them away from e-cigarettes and they’ll head straight towards smoking tobacco cigarettes. Let them do that and allow their lungs to be exposed to one dangerous chemical after another, it’s not exactly a great call by a society for Public Health. E-cigarettes don’t contain tar, have fewer carcinogens and don’t deserve the disdain that this body has for them.

Such a move wouldn't be agreed by Professor Robert West, director of tobacco studies at University College, London. He’s said in the past: "If those young people are people who would have smoked but instead they're using e-cigarettes, then that's a huge public health gain.”

Few subjects produce such a wide range of opinions as e-cigarettes. Some comments by their critics really don’t make sense.  It’s incredible that bodies that are supposed to be helping people’s health continually talk out against e-cigarettes.
How can they ignore the comments of smokers who have kicked the habit and started using e-cigarettes instead?  Why do they ignore the fact that e-cigarettes are much safer than tobacco cigarettes?  I doubt they’ll ever describe e-cigarettes as one of the greatest inventions of all-time but hopefully one day they’ll eat their words and realize just how important an invention they are.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Professor who abused vapers loses his job

There are plenty of critics who love to have a daily dig at e-cigarettes but at least most of them keep a civil tongue in their head. That’s not the case with health chief, Professor John Ashton who really does deserve a place in a Hall of Shame.
Ashton was President of Faculty of Public Health in the UK, a position which is independent of Government but one in which he gave advice to ministers on public health. One imagines that he reached such a high and trusted position without using abusive language.
He’s known for his views on e-cigarettes which of course aren't exactly complementary. He feels strongly about the long-term effects of the product but sadly can’t keep his cool over the matter. A characteristic that has caused him to have to stand-down from his position..
Ashton got himself into trouble when on twitter he replied to a supporter of e-cigarette writing: “Have you always been an anonymous c***”.  In another tweet he said:  “These abusive e-cig people remind me of the lads who used to play with themselves behind the bike sheds at school.  They are even more pathetic than that.  Need e-cigs to get aroused.”
He continued his tirade of insults, writing: “I think I have identified a new species of human being this week. Obsessive, compulsive, abusive onanist with e-cig tendencies.”  Another classic statement was: “It's remarkable how many unfettered apologists for the e-cig-tobacco industry axis have no identity .Funny that.”
Delightful comments and of course total rubbish from an official who ought to know better. Such a shame he’s had to stand down from his job. The poor Professor complains that he’s been abused by e-cigarette trolls and accused them of being apologists for the industry.
The Professor has since apologized for his behavior saying (with cleaner language this time) “I very much regret my choice of language to describe some vapers...and any offence caused.”   He has also announced that he’s taking a break from Twitter.
His bosses also apologized saying that Ashton had “used inappropriate and offensive language, which unnecessarily personalized a public health issue, and we do not condone its use. An investigation is currently under way.”

His abusive tweets have been deleted but I thought I’d have a look back at his un-deleted tweets to see just what he’s been saying about e-cigarettes.  Earlier this month he retweeted a tweet by Forbes that publicized a CDC survey. It stated that more than 263,000 teenagers who've never smoked a regular cigarette now use e-cigarettes.  Now this of course adds weight to the claims that e-cigarettes are just a gateway to smoking traditional cigarettes. But surely it’s better to see teenagers making the sensible decision to use e-cigarettes rather than become addicted to tobacco and all its associated toxins.

On September 6th he tweeted: “Shall we be quite clear, as far as I am concerned what consenting adults do in the privacy of their own space is up to them.”   Well if that’s the case then stop moaning about what people are doing in “the privacy of their own space.”
Ashton loves a retweet if he finds anything that comes close to his own views, regardless of how accurate or inaccurate those comments are.  Take this retweet of the bizarre views of Neil Mclaren who had tweeted:  “Depressing email to me just now, "my cardiologist tells me that E-cigs are unsafe...and are worse than smoking”
Is there really anyone in the medical industry who believes that e-cigarettes are more dangerous than smoking tobacco cigarettes?  Surely someone like Ashton should be refuting such claims not promoting them?  And this is someone who has been given a CBE by the Queen!
 Sadly, Mclaren didn't give the medics name but I loved the reply he got to his tweet that read: “Neil, I think you need a new Cardiologist, your current one seems to have brain damage.”
Strangely, on September 5th he retweeted the news about the UCL’s report claiming over 6,000 lives could be saved in the UK if people switched to using e-cigarettes.  How can he do that yet still have such strong anti-e-cigarette views and just days later use vile language against supporters of e-cigarettes?

It’s not that Professor Ashton doesn't revel in having strong views on subjects and none of his views have exactly gathered much support. Three years ago he called for discussions on reducing the age of consent to 15 (this from the guy who doesn't want them using e-cigarettes). He also supports doctors being able to help terminally ill patients die and suggested people only have to work four days a week.  
After his comments made to supporters of e-cigarettes, Ashton will be lucky to be working four days a week in the future.

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?