Flavoured vaping fluid to be banned

An 18-year-old teen sickened by e-cigs

OK, by now, you’ve heard the huge news  … shockingly yesterday, the Trump Administration has proposed banning flavoured e-cigarette fluids in light of e-cig illnesses that have struck hundreds of people and killed 6 people so far.

Weirdly enough, I wasn’t completely surprised by it — the tide has been turning against e-cigarettes for months now — but I was shocked at how quickly the decision came and with how little warning there was that something was afoot.

I can’t really add a lot to the reams of articles I’ve been reading the past couple of days about this other than to add my thoughts about this move.

First of all, I would not be remotely shocked at all if Trump and his administration completely reverses their decision. It wouldn’t be the first time. This is a virulently pro-business and anti-regulation administration … I mean they’ve all but completely gutted EPA rules and regulations over the past three years.

And this is a very anti-business move. The e-cig industry is a multi-billion dollar industry and Trump has effectively gutted it overnight. AND keep in mind, the e-cig industry IS the tobacco industry. Roughly 90 percent of the e-cig market is controlled by Big Tobacco (RJ Reynolds, Altria and British American Tobacco).

I imagine Big Tobacco either won’t be happy with this move or they’re willing to sacrifice the e-cig industry in the name of public relations, thinking all those nicotine-addicted e-cig users will simply go back to cigarettes.

Secondly, I have mixed feelings about this. From talking to myriad e-cig users, I respect that they have genuinely helped millions of people quit smoking. Yeah, people are getting sick on e-cig fluids, but this appears to be stuff people are buying on the street and most of the time, it appears to be marijuana vaping. This isn’t Juul or Blu behind this.

So, is this just going to drive adult vapers back to cigarettes? Will there just be unflavoured vaping fluids now? Is the flavouring part of the appeal of vaping for grown-ups? We’ll see.

Yes, teen vaping is a HUGE issue, I’ve been railing about it for two or three years now. The flavourings are part of the issue. It pisses me off to no end to see bubble gum flavoured e-cig products with nicotine. Or cookie dough flavour. Or Rice Krispie Treat flavour. My reaction when I see some of the flavours out there is: “You have got to be shitting me.” The industry is CLEARLY trying to get kids addicted.

So, in that sense, I do agree something has to be done. It’s well past time. It’s too bad more can’t be done to keep these products strictly in the hands of adults.

Thirdly, I’ve seen a number of people make a very valid point about “Six people die from vaping, Trump takes action. Thousands killed by guns … nothing.”

Yeah, fair enough, I can’t really argue with it, though I would say it’s not necessarily an “either or” situation. You can care about both vaping and guns.

Again, I’m pretty cynical that Trump is actually going to follow through with this. I just get the sense that Big Tobacco lobbyists are working round the clock to get this either reversed or watered down.

 

 

 

Michigan bans e-cigarette flavouring

Michigan becomes the first state in the country to ban the sales of e-cigarette flavouring, joining the city of San Francisco, as it becomes more and more blatant that flavoured e-cig juices are intended to entice teenagers.

From an Associated Press article:

The federal government and states ban the sale of vaping products to minors, yet government survey figures show that last year, one in five U.S. high school students reported vaping in the previous month. Top government health officials, including the surgeon general, have flagged the trend as an epidemic.

“This is a health crisis that we’re confronting, and it would never be permitted if it was cigarettes. We’re letting these companies target our kids, appeal to our kids and deceive our children,” Whitmer told reporters. Michigan’s chief medical executive determined that youth vaping constitutes a public health emergency.

Man, this is insane on this e-cig graphic I pulled up online of some e-cigarette flavours — pancake mix, strudel, watermelon bubble gum, blueberry, and Rice Krispie treats.

Wait … RICE KRISPIE TREATS?

Rice Krispie Treats. And you’re telling me these AREN’T being used to entice kids? Seriously? When I see shit like this, I have ZERO sympathy for the e-cig industry and the regulatory morass that is coming for them. They literally BEGGED for it. Jesus. Are people using e-cigs to quit smoking REALLY wanting pancake mix and Rick Krispie Treat flavoured e-cigs?

From the AP story:

Nearly 80% of underage teenagers who use e-cigarettes and other tobacco products cited flavors when asked why they took up the habit, according to government research.

Think about that. 80 percent. See if any other jurisdictions start banning e-cigarette flavouring.

The rise and possibly fall of Juul? — Juul under investigation

Ro, ro, Shaggy.

Wow, this really interesting. This story blew me away. Apparently, some state and federal agencies and some state attorneys general looking into the company’s marketing practices. Could this be the fall of mighty Juul?

The attorneys general of Washington, D.C. and Illinois (and four other states) are investigating just how Juul became so popular with teens, literally within months of Juuls hitting the market.

I know one thing Juul did was very smartly (in an evil way) use Instagram and other social media to market Juul to mostly young people … who are on Instagram. I also know they totally came out of NOWHERE to completely dominate the e-cig market (they control about 75 percent of the market).

From a Los Angeles Times article:

A senior Illinois law enforcement official described to the Associated Press a wide-ranging inquiry being conducted by the office of Illinois Atty. Gen. Kwame Raoul that is centered on whether Juul violated state consumer fraud laws and other statutes by designing and marketing its products to appeal to underage teens. The official was not authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity.

Marrisa Geller, a spokeswoman for District of Columbia Atty. Gen. Karl Racine, confirmed in an emailed statement that an investigation of Juul is underway. She said Racine is concerned about “the dramatic increase in the use of vaping products by district youth” as well as the policies and practices employed by e-cigarette manufacturers to prevent minors from using their products.

The attorneys general in Colorado, Connecticut and Massachusetts have announced investigations of Juul related to concerns over underage use of its products. North Carolina’s attorney general filed a lawsuit against Juul in May, asking a court to limit the company’s sales and marketing in the state.

I’m wondering here just how much shit Juul is actually in, but it sounds like possibly a lot. It sounds like there could be RICO statutes involved. This trouble isn’t going  to go away anytime soon and it certainly begs the question of whether this might be the beginning of the end for the company.

Interestingly, Juul actually donated $3,000 to the election campaign of the attorney general of Illinois, but he refused it on ethical grounds. Good for him.

Juul also has a bottomless pit of financing to fight the attorneys general. Remember, they are partly owned by Altria, which owns Philip Morris and Marlboro cigarettes.

I’ll definitely be keeping on eye on this story to see if anything comes of it.

Juul prepares to fight San Francisco

Remember the douchy Juul CEO who is so awfully, terribly sorry that teenagers use his product?

Well, while researching douche-bro, I found out he’s preparing to go to war with San Francisco.

San Francisco a few weeks ago was the first major city in the U.S. to ban sales of e-cig products.

Ironically, Juul, the No. 1 e-cig company in the world (it is actually partly owned by Altria, which makes Marlboro cigarettes), is based in San Francisco.

Douche-bro CEO Kevin Burns, who is so awfully sorry teens use his product after his company aggressively marketed Juuls on social media for years, said Juul is not leaving San Francisco.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

  • As San Francisco officials prepare to consider a bill that would suspend the sale of e-cigarettes in the city, the CEO of Juul Labs — the controversial, homegrown company that sells the majority of e-cigarettes in the U.S. — said he’s committed to keeping the business and its fast-growing workforce in San Francisco.

“Yes, we’re staying,” Juul CEO Kevin Burns said Thursday in a wide-ranging interview with The Chronicle’s editorial board. “San Francisco is our home. We want to be in San Francisco. We have 1,200 employees in San Francisco, a huge talent base in San Francisco. We want to be a resident, and I’m hopeful we’ll find a way to be a resident.”

And beyond that, Juul is going to fight the city’s ban on selling vaping products. The company is sponsoring a sneaky voter initiative that is being presented as an anti-tobacco initiative. What it really is is a backdoor attempt to override San Francisco’s ban on e-cigarette sales.

From the Chronicle:

Juul wants to place an initiative on the November ballot that would essentially override [San Francisco’s e-cig sales ban], if it is passed, by ensuring that e-cigarettes could continue to be sold in San Francisco. The ballot measure is being framed as an attempt to further restrict tobacco sales to minors, but most of those restrictions are already in place under state law.

Tobacco industry critics say Juul has used deceptive language, trying to frame the initiative as the last word in tobacco regulation in San Francisco by including the words “Comprehensive regulation of vapor products … the provisions of this initiative may only be amended by a vote of the people.”

Juul said the ballot measure, if passed, would prevent the Board of Supervisors from enacting an e-cigarette ban in the future — but it would not negate tobacco laws the city has already enacted, such as a ban on flavored tobacco that voters passed last year.

Oh, sneaky, sneaky, sneaky bastards, using the same sneaky doublespeak techniques that their overlord Altria and Philip Morris have used for years.

UPDATE: Man dies from vaping illness

It appears at least one person has died in the surge of vaping-related illnesses, mostly in the Midwest.

An Illinois man who came down with a sudden respiratory illness after vaping died. All told, at least 193 lung illnesses have been identified as being related to vaping. There are dozens more cases under investigation that might be tied to this outbreak.

It appears that there was a contaminated or purposely poisoned batch of vaping fluid. And it appears it was being sold on the streets. Reportedly, it’s both nicotine and marijuana involved, though all the stories I’ve read seem to be hinting that this is mostly happening with THC vaping fluid.

From an NBC News story:

In Wisconsin, a 26-year-old man started to feel ill and was hospitalized after taking a couple of hits from a new vape cartridge. Dylan Nelson of Burlington, Wisconsin, eventually had to be put into a medically induced coma after his lungs started filling with liquid.

He has since been released and is recovering.

His brother, Patrick DeGrave, said that Nelson purchased the cartridge off the street and not from a reputable shop.

“You don’t know if you’re buying something from a middleman that picked it up from a dispensary or if you’re buying it from somebody who has tampered with it and made their own mixture,” he said. “You literally don’t know what you’re inhaling into your body.”

Juul’s owner is so awfully sorry

Juul CEO Kevin Burns

This happened a while ago, but I’m just now getting to it. I really got a kick out of it. And it pissed me off.

The owner of Juul actually apologized for the role his company played in helping to popularize e-cig use by teenagers.

It totally came off like an old Monty Python bit … “I’m so sorry, so awfully sorry I murdered all those people …  Gosh, I’m sorry …”

Yeah, he’s sorry he’s a billionaire, too, I’m sure.

From a USA today article:

“First of all, I’d tell them that I’m sorry that their child’s using the product,” said Kevin Burns, who joined Juul in late 2017. “It’s not intended for them. I hope there was nothing that we did that made it appealing to them. As a parent of a 16-year-old, I’m sorry for them, and I have empathy for them, in terms of what the challenges they’re going through.”

Oh, baloney, Kevin Burns, especially his bullshit about “I hope there was nothing that we did that made it appealing to them.”

Teen girl using a Juul

Juul was one of the vaping companies that most aggressively and successfully used social media to advertise its products, including Instragram “influencers.” Jull very quickly came to dominate the e-cig industry, gaining control of over 70 percent of the industry. This guy Burns is so full of it. He apologized because he got called to testify before congress and because lawsuits are piling up against Juul over addicting kids to nicotine (it turns out Juul pods are considerably more powerful with higher amounts of nicotine than other e-cig companies). This really takes the cake as one of the phoniest “apologies” I’ve ever seen. The L.A. Times even wrote an op-ed piece called, “Let’s call it a Juuling epidemic.”

From the USA Today article:

Yet Juul’s critics point to the company’s initial advertising campaign, which featured bright colors and young looking models, as evidence that Juul fueled the surge in teen vaping. Co-founder Adam Bowen said in retrospect the ads were “inappropriate.”

“When we launched Juul, we had a campaign that was arguably too kind of lifestyle-oriented, too flashy,” he said. “It lasted less than six months. It was in the early days of the product introduction. We think it had no impact on sales.”

The Campaign for Smokefree Kids thought the same of Burns’ apology as I did.

From their press release:

Once again, Juul is following the tobacco industry’s playbook: Proclaim loudly that they don’t want kids to use their product, while never admitting that their marketing targeted and attracted kids. Like its partner Altria, Juul still refuses to admit that the company’s marketing targeted kids or has played a major role in youth use of its e-cigarettes – despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

This is a deceptive, self-serving gesture by Juul given their complete refusal to take responsibility for creating the youth e-cigarette epidemic. It is a blatant attempt to deflect attention from the company’s wrongdoing while it opposes meaningful government regulation to prevent it from continuing to addict kids. There can be no doubt about Juul’s role in the current youth epidemic: It marketed a sleek, cool, high-tech product that comes in sweet flavors that appeal to kids, delivers a massive dose of nicotine that can quickly hook kids and was launched with social media marketing that a Stanford study found was patently youth-oriented.

This is one more example that Juul is more interested in repairing its image and expanding its sales than preventing youth use. Juul is following the tobacco industry’s playbook to the letter: Addict kids, deny responsibility for doing so, run slick PR campaigns to fool policy makers and the public, and fight real solutions to the problem.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Netflix to cut smoking — even on ‘Bojack’?

An oblivious Bojack blows smoke in little Sarah Lynn’s face.

Netflix announced this week that it’s cutting smoking in some of its shows.

One of the shows that has taken a lot of heat for portaying a hell of a lot of smoking is Netflix’s “Stranger Things.” The sheriff in that show is constantly smoking and Stranger Things has been specifically targeted by anti-tobacco advocates.

Personally, I’ve sure noticed that Netflix’s Bojack Horseman has a lot of smoking, but then again, it’s a show about an alcoholic, self-destructive, pill-popping, clinically depressed horse, so smoking kind of fits right in with his character. Bojack even smokes as a child after seeing Secretariat smoke on TV. His abusive mother catches him and forces him to smoke the entire cigarette just to show him that she hates him.

Bojack recalls this terrible memory of his mother’s cruelty as he’s smoking a cigarette … which he clearly isn’t enjoying.

Baby Bojack smoking his first cigarette after seeing Secretariat smoking on TV.

There’s a scene in another show where Bojack is blowing smoke right in a little girl’s face and making her cough, but he’s such a narcissist he doesn’t even notice. The scene takes place from the 1990s, when some people were still buttheads about smoking around kids.

Another interesting sidenote about Bojack Horseman. His mother smoked constantly in the show and in the end, she dies of Alzheimer’s. I wonder if the people in the show even know that studies show a connection between smoking and Alzheimer’s and if they gave that some thought.

Interesting , the rise of smoking on TV is happening while depictions of smoking is on the downswing in movies. Disney (which is also Marvel and Star Wars) has a specific policy that no smoking is allowed in its movies. (There is one really brief cigarette scene in the extreme hard R-rated “Deadpool 2”. Deadpool literally uses a cigarette to kill himself. In the commentary on that movie, Ryan Reynolds said it just made more sense that since Deadpool is killing himself, he should be smoking a cigarette, not a joint.

Bojack’s mother, Beatrice, who died of Alzheimer’s after a lifetime of smoking.

Other shows mentioned in this article are “Orange is the New Black,” and the “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.”

The Truth Initiative, which monitors tobacco depictions in the media, has noticed the increase in smoking onscreen in its “While You Were Streaming” report.

Teens getting mysterious lung disease from vaping

Long time since an update. I have been very busy and spend most of my spare time outdoors, hiking and trying to get back in shape this summer.

So, there’s a TON to catch up on. I will try to do this over the next few days.

First things first

Mysterious vaping illnesses

At least 150 teenagers around the U.S. have been admitted to emergency rooms with some mysterious lung disease caused by vaping.

They weren’t necessarily vaping tobacco; some of the teens were vaping marijuana.

The one common thread between all the illnesses. All of the victims were vaping. The other common thread, most of them appeared to have bought their vaping products on the street rather than legally through a store.

From an NBC News article:

“One patient came in with full respiratory collapse and essentially had to be on life support,” said Dr. Jacob Kaslow, a pediatric pulmonary fellow at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville.

Kaslow told NBC News that his hospital has treated four cases of vaping-related respiratory illness over the past six months. Tracking the cases has been tricky, as patients tend to have a variety of symptoms, including severe pneumonia and coughing up blood.

“We’re only discovering this now because we’re asking, ‘is there any history of vaping or electronic cigarette use?'” said Kaslow.

No deaths have been reported. But some patients have developed severe, progressive lung disease, and have required ongoing mechanical breathing assistance.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working with states to try to pinpoint an e-cigarette ingredient, e-liquid, device or purchase method linking all of the cases.

It’s unclear whether there was some kind of contamination of the devices or e-liquids that led to the 149-plus cases.

Some patients reported buying their vapes off the street.

“The evidence continues to point to street-bought vaping cartridges containing THC or synthetic drugs as being the cause of these illnesses,” Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, wrote in a statement to NBC News.

So, again, lots of questions about vaping and the contaminants that are found in vaping fluids. This isn’t the first illness tied to vaping. Vaping is already believed to be tied to a disease known as “popcorn lung” (the name comes from the fact that it was first tied to workers in popcorn factories).

San Francisco considers completely banning ALL e-cig sales

 

The city of San Francisco has HAD it with vaping!

San Francisco is considering banning the sales of ALL e-cigarette products, Period.

The city has been leading the charge against vaping. San Francisco has already banned the sales of fruity e-cigarette flavours. That ban was upheld by San Francisco city voters. Now, a San Francisco County Supervisor.

From an NBC News article:

San Francisco Supervisor Shamann Walton introduced legislation banning the sale of e-cigarettes in the city unless they get an FDA review. Supporters say that if the measure is approved, it would be the first such prohibition in the country. Its chances are not clear.

“We have people addicted to nicotine who would have never smoked a cigarette had it not been for the attractive products that target our young people,” said Walton, a former president of the San Francisco Board of Education.

Anti-tobacco activists say e-cigarette makers target kids by offering products in candy flavors and using marketing that portrays their products as flashy gadgets.

San Francisco was the first city in the United States to approve an outright ban on the sale of flavored tobacco and flavored vaping liquids, which voters upheld in 2018. The city prohibits smoking in parks and public squares and doesn’t allow smokeless tobacco at its playing fields.

The FDA has been talking about cracking down on e-cigarettes because of the exponential increase in teen vaping use. However, FDA administrator Scott Gottlieb, a strong opponent of vaping and the tobacco industry, recently resigned (and I believe he was forced out by the tobacco industry and the GOP), throwing FDA efforts to regulate e-cigarettes into flux.

Washington to raise smoking, vaping age to 21

Washington is the latest state that will be raising its smoking and vaping age to 21. The Washington State Senate just passed a bill and Gov. Jay Inslee quickly signed it earlier this month.

This is a push going on nationwide in cities and states. Washington is the ninth state in the nation to raise the smoking/vaping age to 21.

This is something I’ve long had slightly mixed feelings about. I think there’s a valid argument that if you’re old enough to vote, join the military and go to adult jail, you’re old enough to smoke and vape.

From a Seattle Times article:

During debate over the measure, Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, pointed out that 18-year-olds can make major life decisions such as joining the military, and called it hypocritical to stop them from smoking if they wanted.

“The nanny state is alive and well, and this is another example,” said Padden.

However, I also hear the argument that this is a tool to stop the rapid increase in teen vaping. If you have to be 21 to buy vaping products it makes it that much harder for some 15-year-old kid to do it in a convenience store.

There are bills in other states, such as Virginia and Texas, to raise the smoking age, but I have no idea if there is any chance of passage in these states.