All posts by Pepe Lepew

Several recent studies put e-cigs in a bad light

Close up of inhaling from an electronic cigarette.

Not one, not two, but three recent studies make it seem that e-cigs are not as benign as the c-cig industry (and e-cig professional shill Michael Siegel, who surprisingly has not offered a rebuttal yet … I’m sure he’s still collating) would have you believe.

One study states that e-cigarettes increase the risk of heart disease and cancer. Another study states that e-cigs increase cigarette use among teens. And the third suggests that e-cigs increase the risk of pneumonia.

I’m sure at some point Michael Siegel, professional e-cig shill, will explain in painfully excruciating and mind-numbing detail why every single one of these studies is bullshit.

Anyway … enough about him. Let’s go one by one on these studies.

The first study, from  New York University, suggests that vaping increases the risk of cancer and heart disease by damaging DNA.

From a Washington News Square article:

An NYU School of Medicine’s study, lead by Dr. Moon-Shong Tang, a professor at the Department of Environmental Medicine and Pathology, found evidence to suggest a link between e-cigarette smoking and increased risk of heart disease and cancer. According to the researchers, these risks may also apply to second hand smoke.

The study exposed laboratory mice to electronic cigarette vapor for 12 weeks. The dose and duration of nicotine exposure in the study, however, was equivalent to 10 years of light e-cigarette smoking in humans. The researchers used their tests to conclude that e-cigarettes can cause DNA damage and may reduce repair activity in the lungs, bladder and heart — all of which could increase the risk of cancer and heart diseases in smoker.

“For us, it’s unambiguous,” Tang said. “The only thing I can conclude is that vaping is harmful, not only to yourself but to bystanders as well, […] because it has the same effect as smoking, maybe less but they also breathe nicotine.”

Dr. Hyun-Wook Lee, an associate research scientist of Tang Lab at NYU Environmental Medicine, said the team is exploring the effects of aldehyde, a carcinogen substance present in e-cigarette vaping.

“Surprisingly, these aldehydes can all [be] involved in gene damage from the occasional smoking or e-cigarette smoking,”  Lee said.

The second study suggests that vaping gets teens hooked on nicotine and could lead to more teens smoking to get their nicotine fix.

From a New York Times article:

The (National Academy of Sciences) panel found evidence among studies it reviewed that vaping may prompt teenagers or young adults to try regular cigarettes, putting them at higher risk for addiction, but that any significant linkage between e-cigarettes and long-term smoking has not been established. It said it was unable to determine whether young people were just trying cigarettes or becoming habitual smokers.

“When it got down to answering the questions about what the impacts on health are, there is still a lot to be learned,” said David Eaton, of the University of Washington, who led the committee that reviewed existing research and issued the report. “E-cigarettes cannot be simply categorized as either beneficial or harmful.”

Adam Leventhal, a professor of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California, and an author of the report, said his group did an exhaustive literature search, reviewing all studies on youths and e-cigarette use from around the world. Of those, 10 studies were deemed strong enough to address the question. But they did not show that using e-cigarettes caused teens to move on to tobacco, only that the use of e-cigarettes was associated with later smoking of at least one traditional cigarette. The report noted that more than 11 percent of all high school students — nearly 1.7 million youths — reported using e-cigarettes within the past month.

“The evidence was substantial that this association was consistent across a number of research methodologies, age ranges, locations, and research groups in and outside the U.S.,” Mr. Leventhal said.

This conclusion is at odds with the findings of the British Royal College of Physicians, which asserts that e-cigarettes are not a gateway to smoking.

“Concerns about e-cigarettes helping to recruit a new generation of tobacco smokers through a gateway effect are, at least to date, unfounded,” the organization notes on its website.

More intriguing was the newest report’s finding of moderate evidence that youths who use e-cigarettes before trying tobacco are more likely to become more frequent and intense smokers.

To be fair, the study also states that vaping is safer than cigarettes. My view has always been … it doesn’t matter whether the delivery system is an e-cig or a cigarette, any addiction to nicotine by definition is a bad thing.

The third study, which just came out today from Queen Mary University in London, suggests a link between vaping and pneumonia. This occurs because vaping makes it easier for the bacteria that cause

From a Daily Mirror article:

Professor Aras Kadioglu, of Liverpool University, and his team then tested the effect of e-cigarette vapour in mice.

They found that inhaled exposure to e-cigarette vapour also increased levels of PAFR (a molecule) on airway lining cells and increased the number of pneumococcal bacteria in the respiratory tract after infection, making mice more susceptible to disease.

The team then studied PAFR levels in cells lining the nose of 17 people. Of these, 10 were regular users of nicotine-containing e-cigarettes, one used nicotine-free e-cigarettes, and six were not vapers.

First, PAFR levels in the airways of all 17 volunteers were measured. Then, vapers were asked to take at least 10 puffs on their e-cigarettes over five minutes. One hour after vaping, PAFR levels on airway cells increased three-fold.

Prof Jonathan Grigg, of Queen Mary University of London, said: “Together, these results suggest that vaping makes the airways more vulnerable to bacteria sticking to airway lining cells.

“If this occurs when a vaper gets exposed to the pneumococcal bacterium, this could increase the risk of infection.”

He added: “Some people may be vaping because they think it is totally safe, or in an attempt to quit smoking, but this study adds to growing evidence that inhaling vapour has the potential to cause adverse health effects.

“By contrast, other aids to quitting such as patches or gum do not result in airway cells being exposed to high concentrations of potentially toxic compounds.”

I continue to be kind of ambivalent about e-cigs. They seem to genuinely help some people quit cigarettes, and while they don’t appear to be 100 percent benign and harmless, if they less harmful than cigarettes, than that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But, it IS a bad thing that so many kids are getting addicted to nicotine via e-cigs and that e-cig companies are being incredibly blatant about marketing to teens.

Imagine Dragons singer in anti-tobacco ad aired during Grammys

I’m not a huge Imagine Dragons fan, but I don’t dislike the few songs of there’s that I’ve heard (hey, I’m not totally square, daddy-o), but this made me like them a lot more than before.

The Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds did a PSA aired during the Grammys against tobacco. Reynolds’ plays a small cameo in the ad which points out that Big Tobacco very much targets lower-income people to addict. And it is a fact that lower income people smoke more than higher income.

Dan is quoted in this Billboard article that one of the reasons he got involved is that he has seen that tobacco along with other drugs (and make no mistake tobacco IS a drug) is too entrenched in the music industry.

From the article:

“They’re (the tobacco industry) taking someone who is already set up to have a difficult life ahead of them, and putting them back even 10 steps further. It’s just heartless,” Reynolds said during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon (Jan. 24). ‘

“I grew up worshiping Bob Marley and Kurt Cobain and the posters were all over my walls, and I feel like a lot of these musicians who’ve passed on, I can’t speak on their behalf, but I think a lot of them if they could…would do all that they could to change the face of this industry as one of substance abuse,” Reynolds said. “I’m down for everything else with rock and roll — the spirit of it, the sex of it, I love everything about [it], except the drug use. And cigarettes seem to go hand in hand with rock and roll aesthetically, and this needs to change. This needs to stop.”

Anyway, here is the ad:

 

CDC Director resigns over ties to tobacco industry stocks

ATLANTA, GA – DECEMBER, 5:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald is photographed at the agency’s headquarters in Atlanta, GA on Tuesday, December 5, 2017. (Photo by Melissa Golden for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Wow, this one really takes the cake. I would say, “even for Trump,” but frankly, no, there doesn’t seem to be a bottom to the Trump sewer.

This kind of got buried by all the other never-ending scandals with the Trump Administration, but it’s a pretty good scandal … and pretty typical for a Trump appointee.

It turns out the head of the Centers of Disease Control, Branda Fitzgerald, traded tobacco stocks — specifically Japan Tobacco  stocks — AFTER being appointed head of the  CDC.

Keep in mind, one of the major roles of the CDC is tobacco control and tobacco education. And you have the head of that agency actually trading in tobacco company stock. If that isn’t bad enough, Fitzgerald also traded in RJ Reynolds, British American Tobacco, Imperial Brands, Philip Morris International and Altria Group before being appointed head of CDC. She’s involved up to her neck in Big Tobacco.

A quote from a  New York Times article (which frankly bent over backward to be fair to Fitzgerald, more than she likely deserved):

“The tobacco-related investments alarmed others. “It’s astonishing that the director of the Centers for Disease Control, which plays a major role in reducing tobacco use, would purchase stock in a tobacco company,” said William B. Schultz, a former general counsel for H.H.S.”

Hah, get this. This is what a sleaze this Fitzgerald was. She is supposedly an advocate for fighting childhood obesity,  but she once took a $1 million payout from Coca-Cola for her childhood obesity campaign. When sugary drinks are one of the biggest causes of childhood obesity.

From the New York Times overly fair article:

As the state’s public health chief, Dr. Fitzgerald made fighting childhood obesity one of her highest priorities. But she drew criticism from public health officials for accepting $1 million from Coca-Cola to pay for the effort. Her program drew heavily from the soda giant’s playbook, emphasizing Coke’s contention that exercise — rather than calorie control — is key to weight loss.

This is no different than Philip Morris financing anti-smoking campaigns, when they spend millions around the world finding ways to get kids hooked to cigarettes.

Are you kidding me? Not only has this sleaze owned tobacco stock for years and was trading in tobacco stock after she was appointed head of the CDC, she also takes money from Coca-Cola for an anti-obesity program?

What’s scary is this is pretty outrageous, but at the moment, this barely get a blip on the Trump outrage metre.

Anne Schuchat, acting director of the Centers for Disease Control

The good news that the acting director of the CDC is well-liked and seems to be good at her job and below the radar for the time being of the Trump Administration’s pro-corporate agenda:

From a Washington Post article:

When the notice finally went out on the CDC’s internal announcement board that the principal deputy director, Anne Schuchat, 58, with nearly three decades of CDC experience, would be taking over (again) as acting director, employees were very happy to hear the news.

“Yes! There is palpable relief that she’s back in charge,” said one analyst who did not want to be identified for obvious reasons. “You’d have joyous celebration if they made her permanent director.”

Early Thursday, Schuchat sent a “Dear Colleagues” email to staff thanking them for their work.

“It is an honor to provide leadership for our nation’s premier public health agency, and all of you, in this role. Please know that I take this responsibility very seriously and care tremendously about our continued excellence and strength,” she wrote.

Cancer rate keeps dropping

According to information from the American Cancer Society, the  cancer rate 2015 dropped 1.7 percent.

While that may not sound like a big number, first, it’s part of a long-term trend in which the mortality rate for cancer has dropped 26 percent  over the past 25 years (which translates into 2.4 million fewer deaths).

And the biggest reasonf for the drop? According to this Washington Post article:

Cancer Statistics 2018, the organization’s annual look at incidence, mortality and survival, tracks the decades-long decline in mortality as driven largely by falling death rates among four malignancies — lung, breast, prostate and colorectal cancer.  Ahmedin Jemal, the group’s vice president for surveillance and health services research, said the decreases largely reflect reduced smoking and advances in prevention, early detection and treatment.

Overall, the cancer death rate has dropped from 215.1 per 100,000 population in 1991 to 158.6 per 100,000 in 2015.

Otis W. Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, said in a statement that the report underscores the importance of continued efforts to discourage tobacco use. While the reduction in cigarette smoking has pushed down mortality rates, “tobacco remains by far the leading cause of cancer deaths today, responsible for nearly 3 in 10 cancer deaths.”

That number is a huge drop — 215.1 per 100,000 to 158.6 per 100,000. Roughly a 36 percent drop. Why? SMOKING has dropped.

The smoking rate in 1991 … about 25 percent. The smoking rate in 2015 … about 17 percent.

The news isn’t all good. Lung cancer remains by far the No. 1 cancer killer.  For men in 2015, 83,000 of all cancer deaths were from lung cancer, out of 323,000 cancer deaths (about 26 percent).

Among women, 70,500 of all cancer deaths were from lung caner, out of 286,000 cancer deaths (about 24.5 percent).

The next highest cancers? For men, it’s prostate cancer at 29,000 and for women it’s breast cancer at 41,000. So lung cancer for men and women combined kill considerably more than twice as many people as prostate cancer and breast cancer combined.

 

 

 

Philip Morris International getting out of the tobacco business? Huh, what now?

Philip Morris International this week made the somewhat shocking announcement that it plans to abandon tobacco altogether as its “New Year’s Resolution” and will focus on “electronic alternatives,” (Apparently, that means e-cigarettes).

This pronouncement raised some serious eyebrows … and skepticism. PMI (a separate entity from Altria, which owns tobacco brands in the U.S.) is a huge player on the worldwide tobacco market. PMI went so far as to create a website: smokefreefuture.co.uk  where people can get information on quitting smoking. And by the way, you can only click on that link if you live outside the U.S. I guess they don’t want to help Americans quit smoking.

Sounds all well and good, right? Well, noooot so fast.

First of all, PMI, the company that sold its customers the disease, is now selling them the cure — e-cigarettes. And in its “we’re quitting tobacco” campaign, the company is pushing its e-cigarette products. So, this appears to be an attempt at simply promoting its e-cigarette brands.

Secondly, if PMI is getting out of the tobacco business, why is the company still fighting plain packaging laws and other restrictions on tobacco marketing worldwide.

From a Daily Mail article:

The Truth Initiative argues that if it were seriously anti-smoking now, PMI would cease sales and production of cigarettes altogether, but evidence suggests that the company may not be in such a hurry to make that happen.

Beginning in July, Reuters published a series of PMI documents that reveal the company’s correspondences and meetings with delegates from various countries, in secret efforts to undermine the World Health Organization’s global anti-smoking Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

Thirdly,  there appears to be zero timetable for dropping out of the tobacco business. As Truth Initiative points out, last year, PMI sold 565.5 billion cigarettes. They aren’t getting out anytime soon.

From the Fortune commentary, written by Matthew Myers, head of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids:

These ads should have run on April Fools’ Day instead.

It is the height of hypocrisy for PMI to proclaim that it is helping solve the tobacco problem while it aggressively markets cigarettes—especially in low- and middle-income countries—and fights proven policies to reduce tobacco use and save lives. This advertising campaign should be seen for what it is: an effort to divert attention from the fact that PMI remains a primary cause of the smoking problem, not the solution.

Not surprisingly, PMI set no deadline for actually giving up cigarettes. If the company is truly committed to a smoke-free future, it should actively support the proven policies to reduce smoking that are endorsed by an international public health treaty, the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. These include significant tobacco tax increases, comprehensive smoke-free laws, tobacco advertising bans, and graphic health warnings on cigarette packs. These policies apply equally to all tobacco companies, and supporting them would not put PMI at a competitive disadvantage.

Instead, the company has led the fight against these policies around the world. A 2017 investigative report by Reuters revealed a massive, secret PMI campaign aimed at “bringing to heel the world’s tobacco control treaty.” From Australia to Uruguay to Thailand, the corporation has filed expensive lawsuits that challenge strong tobacco control laws and seek to intimidate other countries into inaction.

PMI’s latest claims are no more credible. Until the company stops marketing cigarettes and fighting efforts to reduce smoking, its claimed commitment to a smoke-free future should be seen as another public relations stunt, not a serious effort to reduce the death and disease caused by its products.

So, it certainly seems PMI is simply blowing smoke. And not really fooling very many people, either.

 

 

 

 

People freaking out because they can’t smoke on an airplane … how is this still a thing?

Stewardesses smoking on a plane. Nice beehive. I’m guessing about 1967?

Here’s yet another in a long line of nitwits freaking out on an airplane because she can’t smoke.

A woman lost her mind on an airplane because she disabled a smoke detector, then threatened to start killing people on the plane when she was confronted.

Get this, it was a flight from Sacramento to Portland, Ore. Basically a 75-minute flight. She really couldn’t go two hours without lighting up?

Ah the days … when there was no escaping other people’s smoke.

I swear, I come across some article about someone either losing their shit on an airplane or getting arrested for trying to light a cigarette in an airplane restroom at least two or three times a year. At least. Seriously, this isn’t that isolated. Here’s another incident. And another. And another. I could find dozens if I spent enough time.

I don’t get it. It’s been illegal on all domestic flights in the U.S. since the early 1990s and it’s been illegal on ALL flights entering or leaving the U.S. since 2000. So, for the past 17 years, you cannot light a cigarette on any airplane, since 1990 or so, you can’t light up on any domestic flight in the U.S. Smoking has been banned on airplanes throughout much of the world for at least a decade.

So, why is this still a thing? I shrug my shoulders. Some of it, I think it’s some weird phenonenom where people with mental health issues are prone to freakouts on planes and people with mental health issues are often times calmed by smoking so they don’t think about what they’re doing. I’m going to guess the woman on the Portland flight has mental problems.

But, what about the assholes who keep trying to smoke in bathrooms? Knowing they’re in a very confined space with no escape with pressurized air, ie, it’s incredibly fucking dangerous to smoke on a plane which is one of the reasons why it was banned. Is it that hard to get a patch if the nicotine addiction is that bad? (And thank god vaping on a plane is also illegal with vaping pens’ tendency to periodically explode.)

Again … it’s a thing. And will continue to be.

 

Big Tobacco starts airing court-ordered anti-smoking ads

This week, tobacco companies began running ads admitting that cigarettes are unhealthy. This is the result of lawsuit filed by the Justice Department way back in 1999.

A court ruled back in 2006 that the industry had to admit its wrongdoings, but Altria and RJR and British American Tobacco have been appealing that decision for 11 years. They managed to get the language watered down quite a bit from the original ruling that toned down the language.

From a USA Today article:

“It has been a long fight,” Robin Koval, president of the anti-smoking nonprofit Truth Initiative, told NBC News. She added: “Not as much will be seen by young people, who spend less and less of their time watching prime-time television.”

In the ad, fully paid for by the tobacco industry, the industry admits that cigarettes kill 1,200 people every day in the U.S. and kills more people than illegal drugs, alcohol, AIDS and murder combined.

The ad goes on to say that smoking causes lung cancer, emphysema, heart disease, and various other cancers such as leukemia, throat, esophageal, bladder, pancreatic and stomach.” It even mentions cervical cancer and low birth weight for children (I wish it had talked about diabetes, arthritis, and erectile dysfunction, too).

I haven’t seen any of the print ads yet; the industry is supposed to put these ads in major papers over the next several months. I bought a Seattle Times looking for one, but no cigar. They’re apparently being rolled out over several months. But, I’ve seen the ads on YouTube that are airing on TV.

About time. Watered down, but making Big Tobacco pay for an ad telling people that cigarettes kill … priceless enough.

Natural American Spirit finally drops “additive-free” from advertising

Natural American Spirit finally drops “additive-free” from advertising

Years of litigation have finally worked. Natural American Spirit has FINALLY changed its advertising.

For years, this RJ Reynolds subsidiary had gotten away with advertising its cigarettes as being “natural” and “additive free.” Natural American Spirit had agreed in a settlement early this year with the FDA to stop the deceptive advertising, yet I kept seeing ads in Sports Illustrated for “natural” and “additive free” Natural American Spirit cigarettes, somehow giving consumers the idea that their cigarettes were safer and more healthy … which they absolutely are not.

Apparently, the whole issue had to wind through the legal process because in last week’s Sports Iilustrated, I FINALLY saw that NAS had dropped the “natural” and “additive-free” from its advertising.

The new ad simply says: “Real. Simple. Different.” No “additive-free” BS. Though the ad later goes on to state that the only two ingredients are “tobacco and water.” (Never mind the fact that tobacco contains roughly 3,000 ingredients in of itself.)

It’s a minor victory. RJR really had to be dragged kicking and screaming just to make this small change in its advertising. Advocates wanted the name “Natural American Spirit” changed, but the settlement allows the brand to remain. Again, to reiterate, Natural American Spirit started out as a Native-owned cigarette company but several years ago it was purchased by RJ Reynolds and it is a wholly-owned subsidiary of RJ Reynolds. A lot of people still believe this is a Native-owned brand. It isn’t.

A great and informative anti-tobacco video

That’s 30 packs’ worth of tar

This might be the best anti-tobacco video I’ve ever seen. It’s an experiment using cotton balls in a jar and subjecting them to various levels of cigarette smoke, ending at 30 packs. Then the viewer gets to see just how much gunk and tar the cotton balls collect after just a few cigarettes.

Think, that’s the same gunk and tar that collects on smokers’ lung cells. My favourite part is when the guy squeezes all of the tar out of the hoses used in his experiment.

Think about that. Pretty scary, huh? If this video doesn’t encourage smokers to quit, seriously, I don’t know what can.

Look at this and think to yourself, this is 30 lousy packs. That’s basically a month’s worth of cigarettes for a moderately heavy smoker. That’s 1/12th as much gunk that ends up in your lungs as you get after just one year.

Here’s the video:

Japan companies offer an extra week off for quitting smoking

OK, I know most companies offer a health insurance discount to their employees who don’t smoke or who quit. But, here’s a new one to me — an extra week off for being a nonsmoker.

The logic behind this is nonsmokers don’t take the smoking breaks that smokers do, so they’re entitled to more time off. I like the idea. Whatever it takes to encourage people to quit.

What’s especially novel about this is Japan is a very smoker-friendly culture. The country has a fairly high smoking rate, though it is apparently dropping. Japan is still 21st in the world in the highest rate of cigarettes smoked per capita. That’s way, way ahead of the U.S., Canada and most Western nations.

I’ve noticed this is Japanese anime, that they really love smoking in Japan, and still consider it very cool and hip.