Category Archives: e-cigarettes

No ban on vaping flavours — quelle shock!

I totally did not see this coming: Trump backs off proposed ban on e-cig flavouring

I kid — I totally DID see it coming.

All along Trump has been acting like he’s somehow going to crack down on tobacco and the vaping industry and all along, he has been backing off. His original surgeon general, Scott Gottlieb, was actually surprisingly harsh toward both the tobacco and the vaping industry — and of course, he mysteriously resigned from his position to … “spend more time with my family.” (Seriously, that the was the reason he gave.).

So, I’ve been somewhat skeptical all along about all the noise the Trump Administration has been making about cracking down on vaping flavourings in light of the epidemic of teen vaping use and the 2,000 or so people sickened by vaping fluids.

SURE ENOUGH .. my instincts proved to be right. Trump never intended to go through with it.

As soon as the administration got pressure from lobbyists (ie, the tobacco industry, which controls about 90 percent of the vaping industry), they totally caved. There will be NO ban on vaping flavourings.

Honestly, I think the proposal was a bit of an overreaction to the 35 or so deaths from vaping. Not because those deaths aren’t a big deal. They are. But, because they were pretty much exclusively caused by vaping bootleg THC off the street.

What ISN’T an overreaction is the explosive growth in teen vaping — and absolutely I believe having bubble gum, Rice Krispie Treat and Mountain Dew flavourings for nicotine vaping is a factor.

According to CNN, the administration backed down because of fears it “would upset the base.”

From CNN:

A Trump campaign adviser told CNN’s Jim Acosta that Trump’s political aides, including campaign manager Brad Parscale, have warned him that such a ban may not be helpful with his base and that he should reconsider.

Trump was persuaded by advisers to back off the proposal during a November 4 flight to a political rally in Kentucky, the Times said. Following the conversation with advisers, the newspaper reported that Trump canceled the administration’s planned announcement that was scheduled for the next day.

The planned news conference, which would have included Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, was canceled and another meeting was proposed, according to the report.

Personally, I don’t buy that it was “all about the base.” There might be something to that, but honestly, I just don’t see this as a frontline issue with most people, not with impeachment hearings going on and children being thrown in cages at the border. I have a feeling this is really about lobbying.

This American Prospect investigative piece shows how much the tobacco industry has been fighting a ban on vaping flavours all the way back to the Obama Administration.

From the American Prospect:

Juul, already under federal civil and criminal investigation over marketing to children, saw its CEO step down. But the replacement, K.C. Crosthwaite, was formerly a top Altria executive. A second, former Altria regulatory affairs chief Joe Murillo, is also headed to Juul. The alleged antidote to Big Tobacco has transformed into an adjunct of Big Tobacco overnight. And Juul had already been running the Big Tobacco playbook, hiring a bipartisan all-star team of lobbyists, from former Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley to former Trump administration adviser Johnny DeStefano.

This week, the Trump Administration is holding a meeting with industry representatives and public health officials. Guess which side gets listened to?

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.

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.”

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.

FDA releases new rules on e-cigarettes, banning fruity flavours

Even with FDA chief Scott Gottlieb stepping down, the agency went ahead this week with its new rules regulating the sales of e-cig products — the big change being the banishment of most fruity flavours.

From now on, only menthol-flavoured cigarettes will be allowed.

Sales of e-cig products will also be restricted to “adult areas” in stores. I have no idea, and I think few people do, how exactly this would work. It sounds like it could literally be a storage closet in the back with a curtain. This was a huge step back from the  proposal put forward by Gottlieb a few months ago. He originally proposed that e-cig sales would be restricted solely to tobacco shops, not convenience stores. I liked that idea, because there’s about 1/10th as many tobacco shops as convenience stores.

But, the convenience store industry balked at that and now we have this hybrid policy that no one knows how is going to work.

Unfortunately, with Gottlieb stepping down and a very pro-industry Trump administration in power at the moment, I remain cynical whether the FDA will actually go through with these regulations. Don’t be shocked if this all gets mysteriously dropped in the next few weeks. Gottlieb was a huge advocate (in the Trump administration, weird, huh) against teen smoking and teen vaping. Teen vaping has in particular skyrocketed the past five years, as the largely unregulated vaping industry was absolutely brazen about using  friuity, kiddie flavours like bubble gum and Sprite and marketing their products to teens very much like the tobacco industry did 30 and 40 years ago.

FDA: Teen vaping has reached “epidemic” level

Is this the beginning of the end for e-cigs in the U.S..?

It sounds like a hammer might be coming down very soon, one way or the other.

The FDA is really ratcheting up the rhetoric level against e-cigarettes this week, with FDA Chief Scott Gottlieb saying new data that is soon coming out is showing that the problem of e-cigarette use by teens has grown far worse.

They sound serious. I get a little jaded that the FDA will do anything about nicotine products, but I’ve never seen such strong governmental rhetoric against e-cigarettes before.

From a Bloomberg article.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the agency will soon release data that show a “substantial increase” in youth vaping this year compared with 2017. He said the problem had reached “epidemic proportion.”

“I have grown increasingly concerned around what we see as rising youth use in these products, and I’m disappointed in the actions the companies have taken to try to address this,” Gottlieb said in an interview.
The FDA told five major e-cigarette manufacturers Wednesday to come up with ways to address youth use in 60 days or the agency could require them to stop selling flavored products that appeal to children. The products being targeted are: Juul, Altria Group Inc.’s MarkTen, Fontem Ventures’s blu, British American Tobacco’s Vuse and Logic.
Whoa, 60 days, so that will be mid-November.
And they’re going after the big boys. Blu, Vuse, MarkTen are about 75 percent of the e-cig market, not counting Juuls.
This new sense of urgency toward e-cigs appears to be driven somewhat by concerns over the exploding use of Juuls. Juuls are a relatively new kind of e-cig that look like a flash drive and are powered by actually plugging them into a laptop computer. They’re incredibly popular with kids.
From the Bloomberg article:

“This could result in a bullet through the head of Juul, the driver of youth initiation,” said Nico von Stackelberg, an analyst with Liberum in London.

To gain clearance to return to the market, the companies would have to prove that the benefits to adults who use e-cigarettes to stop smoking outweigh the risks associated with youth vaping.

“I certainly am in possession of evidence that warrants that,” Gottlieb said. He declined to disclose the evidence.

Of the 3.6 million middle- and high-school students who said in 2017 they are current tobacco-product users, 2.1 million used e-cigarettes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“There is no question that a lot of the youth use is being driven by Juul,” Gottlieb said.

And From a Washington Post article:

Much of the FDA’s sharp change in course is a result of the phenomenal success of the Juul vaping device, which looks like a USB flash drive. In just three years, it has captured about 70 percent of the e-cigarette market, according to a Wells Fargo analysis of Nielsen sales data. The FDA has pressed Juul in recent months for information about its marketing.

“Juul was a game changer,” said Matthew Myers of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. He listed three reasons the company became so successful: It figured out how to deliver high levels of nicotine in a way that wasn’t harsh; it packaged the product in a streamlined, clever way; and it developed a social media and advertising campaign that made a Juul e-cigarette “cool and hip.”

Keep in mind, this issue here isn’t that e-cigs are as bad as cigarettes. But,they are a nicotine-delivery system and they are effectively getting teenagers physically addicted to nicotine. And nicotine addiction is a bad thing in of itself, regardless of the delivery system. And the issue here is e-cig companies have been BRAZENLY marketing e-cig products to kids for years. I know I’ve been railing about it for years.

So, stay tuned. The end could be nigh for e-cigs.

 

 

FDA thinking about ban on vaping flavours; Juuls on the radar

Oooh, I will DEFINITELY be keeping my eye on this one. The Food and Drug Administration is apparently mulling the possibility of banning vaping flavours and is reviewing any regulations that are needed for Juuls, as well.

Juuls are a fairly new type of e-cigarette that doesn’t look like an e-cig at all. It looks like a little flash drive that plugs into a laptop computer … and they DO plug into laptop computers in order to recharge.

Anyway, for now the FDA is doing anything, but will be starting an anti-teen vaping initiative in mid-September.

From a USA Today article:

This month, the FDA asked four e-cigarette companies for information about the appeal of their products to youths and said it could take enforcement action against the companies based on what it learns.

In mid-September, the FDA will launch a vaping prevention campaign targeting 10 million youths who vape or are open to trying it, Scott Gottlieb said. It will continue enforcement against retailers that sell to minors.

“We are very concerned that we could be addicting a whole generation of young people,” Gottlieb said. “We only have a narrow window of opportunity to address it.”

Instead of committing to regulate flavor, the FDA solicited more research on flavor’s role. Robin Koval, CEO of the anti-tobacco group Truth Initiative, said there is ample evidence that flavors attract teens.

USA Today interviewed a bunch of young college students who vaped. The interview that really jumped out at me came from Kevin Kee.

From the article:

Kevin Kee, 22, took up vaping to give up smoking when he was starting college but found himself going back to smoking again when he noticed the Juul was “more ingrained in my life than cigarettes ever were.”

“With the Juul, you can vape anywhere, 24/7. I went through pods way quicker – I could go through a pod in one day,” Kee said. “My tolerance was higher, and I didn’t want that kind of life coming out of college.”

Kee said he thinks people who vape to quit smoking are a minority and most people “vape just to vape.” Out of college and working, he’s given up cigarettes and vaping but fears a flavor ban would really hurt others.

“It’s become so ingrained in our culture that banning flavored nicotine would be like the prohibition,” he said.

People vape just to vape, not to quit cigarettes. I’m all for people using ecigs to get off cigarettes. What I’m not all for is kids 14-, 15-, 16-year-olds becoming addicted to nicotine to begin with via ecigs or Juuls.

Gottlieb also said that the FDA is keeping an eye on Juuls and for its alleged marketing to teens.

Also from the USA TODAY article regarding the controversial and relatively new Juuls:

A class-action lawsuit filed at U.S. District Court in San Francisco by Juul users alleged that the vaping giant used a two-pronged approach to target adult smokers and teens.

One San Diego teen said she was introduced to Juul by eighth-grade classmates. When her device broke last November, she obtained a warranty replacement through Juul’s website even though she was only 14, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit alleges Juul targeted youth and nonsmokers through ads and “social media blitzes” using “alluring imagery.” Adult smokers were wooed with the promise of a lower or equal amount of nicotine compared with a cigarette even though the product is designed to be more potent and addictive than cigarettes, the lawsuit says.

“On a puff-for-puff basis, this was designed to be more powerful than the gold standard – the cigarette,” said Esfand Nafisi, a San Francisco Bay Area attorney representing Juul users. “That potency was either not disclosed or misrepresented continuously from the time of the company’s inception.”

So, the moral of the story goes … teen smoking has been all but  eliminated, but the struggle continues, and likely will always continue as long as nicotine is a legal product and companies are looking to make billions off of it by attracting new users … be it cigarettes, e-cigs or Juuls. I suspect it will be a never-ending battle.

San Francisco bans flavoured tobacco products

Yup, these are e-cigs … they’re not marketed to kids at all

San Francisco voters, by an extremely wide margin, voted during California’s Tuesday election to ban all flavoured tobacco products.

This include sugary cigars, menthol cigarettes and most importantly, sugary- or fruity-flavoured e-cig products. That is a HUGE deal because most e-cig flavours are fruity or sugary.

68 percent voted in favour of the measure. Just 31 percent voted against it.

San Francisco is notoriously one of the most stridently anti-tobacco cities in the country. And get this, RJ Reynolds spent $12 MILLION to try and defeat this measure. Why does RJ Reynolds care so much? In addition to owning  Newport menthols, the No. 1 menthol cigarette (Lorillard originally bought out Vuse and then RJR merged with Lorillard), RJ also owns Vuse e-cigarettes, the No. 1 e-cig company in the U.S. (Somewhere along the line, Vuse must have passed Blu).

Anti-tobacco advocates have been trying to get menthol cigarettes banned for a few years, with little luck, no doubt because they’re a huge part of the overall market and are particularly popular with African-American smokers (My parents always smoked menthols when I was a kid). While menthols get a pass from the Food and Drug Administration, the feds a few years ago did ban candy-flavoured cigarettes because they were clearly being directed by tobacco companies toward teen smokers.

And this is the one of the issues with all these fruity and candy-flavoured e-cigarette flavours out there. It’s well-known that teen vaping is way up; more teens vape today than smoke, which is one of the reasons why teen smoking is way down.

This is a good thing … and it isn’t. Kids are still getting addicted to nicotine, they’re just finding a less obnoxious and cheaper delivery system than cigarettes. I’m fine with smokers using e-cigs to get off of cigarettes. I’m not fine with teenagers getting addicted to nicotine to begin with via e-cigs instead of cigarettes.  And there’s no way you will convince me that c-cig flavours like strawberry shortcake, bubblegum or smurf grape are actually meant for adults.

From a CNN article:

“San Francisco’s youth are routinely bombarded with advertising for flavored tobacco and e-cigarettes every time they walk into a neighborhood convenience store. It’s clear that these products with candy themes and colorful packaging are geared towards teens,” the American Lung Association stated.

I love this quote, too from Patrick Reynolds, whose grandfather started RJ Reynolds. He’s now an avid anti-tobacco (and anti-vaping) advocate:

Patrick Reynolds, the executive director of Foundation for Smokefree America, said that R.J. Reynolds, the tobacco company that his grandfather started, had spent a lot of money fighting the ban because it’s concerned that if it passes in San Francisco, other cities will follow suit.

The company didn’t respond to messages from CNN.

“Big tobacco sees vaping as their future,” Reynolds, an anti-tobacco advocate said. “They are very afraid this is going to pass and if the voters make an informed decision to side with the health community, it will lead to hopefully a tidal wave of cities doing what SF did because the FDA did nothing. We will start to turn the tide against vaping.”