Tag Archives: e-cigarettes

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.”

 

 

FDA to e-cig companies: Stop making your products look like candy

“Candy King” is an actual e-cig product.

The FDA is warning e-cigarette companies in a letter sent out earlier this month to stop making their products look like candy.

This has been one of the big battles against the fledglinge-cig industry — candy-flavoured products. Candy-flavoured products marketed as candy-flavoured products. And most of all, candy-flavoured products that the industry insists are not designed for underaged users.

Some of these products have names like Smurf Sauce, Twirly Sour Patch kids and Nilla Wafers.

Yeah, this is for real, those are e-cig products on the left.

Are you seriously going to try to convince me that any product with the word “Smurf” in it is actually being marketed to adults?

From a Bloomberg article:

The Food and Drug Administration and Federal Trade Commission sent 13 letters Tuesday to companies that make and sell the liquids used in e-cigarettes, warning them for using false and misleading labeling and advertising. The nicotine products resemble juice boxes, whip-cream canisters and well-known candy and cookie packages like Sour Patch Kids and Nilla Wafers.

The move follows an FDA sting operation that resulted in 40 warning letters last week to retailers that sold kids Juul e-cigarettes, the latest craze in underage tobacco use.
The FDA has given e-cigarette makers extra time to comply with certain e-cigarette regulations and is attempting to rein in youth use while it learns more about the products. Antismoking advocates have criticized the agency for not moving to ban flavors in tobacco products. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has said he wants to take a balanced approach to help adults who enjoy the flavors switch from regular cigarettes to vaping.

“Companies selling these products have a responsibility to ensure they aren’t putting children in harm’s way or enticing youth use, and we’ll continue to take action against those who sell tobacco products to youth and market products in this egregious fashion,” Gottlieb said in a statement.

The agency plans “a series of escalating actions” as part of a new plan to prevent youth tobacco use, Gottlieb said.

From a Washington Post article:

FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, in a telephone briefing with reporters, said that it would be hard for “any reasonable person” to examine the products and not conclude that “they are deliberately being packaged and marketed in a way that is designed to not only be appealing to kids” but also to confuse them by mimicking items they frequently consume.

So, something is supposed to hit the fan within three weeks. I’ll be keeping track of this.

I hate to say it. I try to avoid partisan politics on this page, but I am not a fan of Donald Trump and his administration, but I have to admit, this Scott Gottlieb *appears* to actually take his job seriously. I say “appears” because I am by nature a cynical person and I will await to see if the rubber meets the road with him, so to speak.

But, Jesus Christ on a cracker, e-cig flavours based on Oreo cookies, “Smurf sauce” and “Cookies & Milk” and you’re actually going to sit there with a straight face and try to convince me these are products designed for adults? C’mon!

 

What the hell is a “Juul”?

This is a “Juul”

Never heard of these things until a couple of weeks ago. I’m still not 100 percent sure what the big deal is about them.

It sounds to be something like Vaal, from the original Star Trek and  reminds of an old SNL skit about some feminine product where the whole point of the skit was “what is it?”

A Juul is apparently a new kind of e-cigarette that looks a hell of a lot like a flash drive for a laptop. And, apparently, in fact, they can be charged by plugging them into a laptop.

Anyway, the New York Times thought it was a big enough deal to do a huge article about them.

Not Vaal, Juul!

From the Times story:

Resembling a flash drive, Juul conveys a sense of industry — you’re Juuling into your MacBook Air while you are cramming for your test on Theodore Dreiser and thinking about trigonometry — and it is so easy to conceal that, as one mother explained to me, she failed to notice that her daughter was vaping in the back seat of the car as she was driving.

It’s basically just the latest “hip” e-cig. And this is one of the issues I have with e-cigs … is they keep trying to pass themselves off as “hip” and the “latest thing.” And kids love stuff that’s “hip” and the “latest thing.”

From the Times story:

The company’s position that Juul is intended strictly for “adult” smokers as its website repeatedly indicates, is belied by the menu of flavors in which the nicotine pods are offered. These include Mango, Cool Mint, Fruit Medley and Creme Brulee. As Anthony Charuvastra, a child psychiatrist and assistant professor at New York University’s Medical Center put it, “Who over 25 is looking for creme brulee as part of a smoking experience?”

Like all modern tech companies that attract tens of millions of dollars in venture capital funding, Juul believes it is doing something globally valuable, acting as “part of the solution to end combustible smoking,’’ as its marketing material proclaims. A “Mission & Values” statement on the company’s website declares that no minor should be in possession of Juul and argues that the company is working to combat underage use. In August, it instituted an age-verification system on its e-commerce site to try and prevent anyone under 21 from buying Juul products.

“James and Adam recognized a groundbreaking opportunity to apply industrial design to the smoking industry, which had not materially evolved in over one hundred years,” the Juul website also declares, indicating how little Silicon Valley can distinguish between what needs to be disrupted and what simply needs to go away.

When asked about Juul’s use by teenagers, the company said in a statement, “We condemn the use of our product by minors. We are fully committed to dramatically reducing the incidence of young people using Juul.”

Yeah, the “we here at Juul are very concerned about teen vaping” sounds pretty lame and vapid (They gave a similar statement to Women’s Health), especially when it sounds EXACTLY like the Tobacco Industry excuses for their products being blatantly marketed to teens for decades. So, colour me seriously unimpressed with the owners of Juul and their milquetoast response about teens using their product.

Study: Cancerous chemicals found in e-cigarettes

Another negative study about e-cigs.

This one is from the University of California, San Francisco (one of the leading anti-tobacco schools in the nation). It found that vapour from e-cigarettes not only contain carcinogenic chemicals, it also found that sweet, fruity-flavoured e-cig flavours are the worst for delivering carcinogenic chemicals into the lung.

These chemicals do not show up in the “ingredients” of e-cigarettes.

From an NBC story:

The chemicals are not listed on the ingredients of the vape liquid. They’re found under the catch-all description of “flavorings”, the researchers said.

Dr. Mark Rubinstein, of UCSF’s Division of Adolescent Medicine, and colleagues tested 67 teenagers who vape and compared them to 16 teens who both vape and smoke tobacco cigarettes and to 20 teens who do not use either type of cigarette.

They tested their urine and saliva and asked questions about cigarette use.

Those who used both types of cigarette had significantly higher levels of dangerous chemicals, including acrylonitrile, acrolein, propylene oxide, acrylamide and crotonaldehyde, the team reported. And those who used only e-cigarettes had much higher levels than those who used neither product.

“Among our e-cigarette–only participants, the use of fruit-flavored products produced significantly higher levels of the metabolites of acrylonitrile,” they wrote.

Glycerin and other flavorings in both tobacco and e-cigarettes can react with one another or break down into the potentially harmful chemicals.

“Acrylonitrile is a highly poisonous compound used widely in the manufacture of plastics, adhesives and synthetic rubber,” the National Center for Biotechnology Information says on its website.

Acrolein “is toxic to humans following inhalation, oral or dermal exposure,” the Environmental Protection Agency says. Some studies show it can play a part in bringing about lung cancer, although the EPA says there is not enough data to show whether it causes cancer in people.

Propylene oxide and crotonaldeyde are probable carcinogens, the EPA says, while acrylamide’s role in causing cancer is more controversial.

 This is just the latest in countless studies showing that e-cigarettes are — at BEST — not completely benign and really should be avoided by teens … and more should be done to dissuade teens from using them. They might be better than cigarettes, and might be a viable option for a smoker to quit cigarettes, but they should not be used by teens as an alternative delivery system for addictive nicotine. The best choice is to simply avoid nicotine in any form … period.

Another nail in the coffin on the idea that e-cigs are completely safe. Again, I’m a bit ambivalent on e-cigs, but it does bother me — a lot — to see them pretty blatantly marketed to teenagers. Like Medical News Today states … teenagers should not be using e-cigarettes at all.

 

 

 

E-cigs banned indoors in New York

I only got savvy to this story because I get front pages from the New York Daily News.

The main story here is about Bill O’Reilly, but up in the corner, I noticed the front-page headline of e-cigs smoked.

Sure enough, the story is e-cigarettes are now banned indoors in the state of New York.

The irony here is e-cigs were initially marketed long ago as a way to get around indoor smoking bans. I fully remember the Blu e-cig ads with Stephen Dorff and Jenny McCarthy smoking e-cigs at parties and clubs. Well not in New York. And not in a growing number of places.

The biggest issue with e-cigs indoors? Well, while that cloud of nicotine-laced steam might not smell and might not be irritating, it’s still got plenty of chemicals in it beside water vapour, including a potentially large amount of formaldehyde. (The e-cig industry has denounced these formaldeyde studies, but boy it sure sounds exactly like the cigarette companies trying to denounce the ties between smoking and lung cancer.)

I’m at the point where, absolutely e-cig steam does not bother me or irritate my eyes … but that doesn’t mean I personally want to inhale it. That doesn’t mean I want that formaldehyde coming into contact with my lung cells. I’ve found myself holding my breath or turning away from people vaping indoors.

So, yeah, sorry about those ads from three or four years ago, but vaping is being banned indoors. And I’m OK with that.

 

Good news everyone … teen smoking AND vaping both drop

Great news again.

For the first time in five years, not only did teen smoking drop this past year, but the teen vaping rate also dropped … and by quite a bit.

This is according to figures released last week by the Centers for Disease Control.

Teen vaping use had increased dramatically from 2011 to 2015 (from less than 2 percent to 16 percent in just four years). Why? Kids were seeing lots of advertising in teen magazines and on TV making e-cigs look cool and hip … and harmless. In the long run, despite an initial investment, they’re cheaper than cigarettes. And most of all, they used to be really easy to buy — and still are pretty easy to buy online.

From 2015 to 2016, teen vaping actually dropped a bunch, from 16 percent to 11.3 percent. That’s roughly a 30 percent decrease.

Meanwhile, teen smoking dropped to an all-time low of 8 percent (high school students). Man, when I first started this blog over on blogspot 10-12 years ago, the teen smoking rate was still 22.5 percent. It frustrated the crap out of me because year after year, it refused to drop.

Amazingly, 19 years ago, it was over 35 percent! (Thanks, Joe Camel). Now, it’s down to 8. That is roughly a 72 percent decrease in 19 years. And the combined teen smoking/vaping/chewing rate (essentially any tobacco product) is down to 20.2 percent.

Preteen girl tries e-cigarette with her friend

the past couple of years have been frustrating, as well. While it was great to see the the smoking rate among teens dropping dramatically, the teen vaping rate was increasing during that time just as dramatically. What that meant is that roughly the same percentage of kids were still getting addicted to nicotine, but that they had just discovered a new delivery system.

Matt Myers, from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids responds: “This is unimaginable, extraordinary progress. This is a change of a cosmic nature that has the potential to dramatically impact lung cancer, heart disease, asthma and other problems.”

Robin Koval with the Truth Initiative said these latest numbers might be showing that smoking its on its way out for good. Cigarette smoking has really dropped dramatically just in the past five years for a variety of reason — the popularity of vaping, cigarette taxes, the stigma of smoking and smoking bans being the main reasons.

I want to make it clear, I don’t have a problem with adults vaping, especially if it’s helping them quit smoking. I do have a problem with teenagers getting hooked on nicotine to begin with via vaping. And I really have a problem with some of the reckless advertising being done by vaping brands. It’s still nicotine and it’s still one of the most addictive substances on the planet.

Anti-tobacco advocates had a variety of theories behind the dramatic dropoff in teen vaping (one advocate suggested that the experimental allure of e-cigs has worn off). I have a theory that I think more vendors are cracking down on selling vaping products with an ID … and more states are not allowing vaping products to be sold to teens or even to people under 21. This Washington Post article points out that the feds sent out more than 4,000 warning letters to retailers cautioning them against selling e-cigs to minors.

Anyway, it’s looking good for the moment, though the FDA has delayed implementing regulations over e-cigs … and who knows what the Trump administration is going to do on this issue. I have zero trust in them.

 

 

 

 

 

Big Vape thwarted in attempt to water down FDA rules

Preteen girl tries e-cigarette with her friend

As I’ve written about in the past, the Food and Drug Administration passed regulations almost exactly a year ago on e-cigarettes. These regs will likely drive most small companies out of business and further help Big Tobacco consolidate their e-cig holdings (A lot of people have no idea Big Tobacco already controls about 75 percent of the e-cig market … interesting, huh?).

Anyway, Big Tobacco was attempting to weaken these admittedly fairly tame FDA regulations on e-cigs via the budget process. Big Tobacco was lobbying to have these regs apply only to existing e-cig products and to exempt large cigars (including large, candy-flavoured cigars).

These provisions were rejected in the budget, so the FDA’s regs on e-cigs from last year will remain in place … which surprises me a bit, to be honest. I fully expect Trump to try and gut FDA before all is said and done.

What’s interesting about this is a lot of e-cig advocates screamed bloody murder that Big Tobacco was behind these regs so they could drive out the smaller e-cig companies (the regulations require that each and every e-cig product, which includes each individual flavouring, undergo rigorous testing before receiving FDA approval, which is cost-prohibitive to a lot of small companies). Now, it seems Big Tobacco — yeah, keep driving this through your head, dammit — BIG TOBACCO is fighting e-cig regulations.

Do you get it, now? Big Tobacco IS e-cigs. They are not in competition. E-cigs have become a wholly owned subsidiary division of RJ Reynolds, Altria and British-American Tobacco. I’m gonna start calling it Big Vape.

From a Campaign for Tobacco-Free Children (which is more strongly opposed to e-cig than I am) press release:

Tobacco companies waged an all-out effort to insert these provisions in the funding bill. The New York Times has reported that Altria drafted the first of these provisions and that it was endorsed by R.J. Reynolds. Altria and Reynolds gave $500,000 and $1 million respectively to President Trump’s inauguration, and tobacco interests spent more than $4.7 million in federal lobbying in the first quarter of 2017 alone.

The budget agreement also provides $205 million for the CDC’s tobacco prevention and cessation programs, rejecting a House proposal that slashed funding to only $100 million (compared to $210 million in FY2016). The CDC will be able to continue initiatives such as the Tips from Former Smokers media campaign that has been so cost effective at helping smokers quit, as well as its assistance to state tobacco prevention programs and quitlines that help smokers trying to quit.

While this agreement is an important step forward, the tobacco industry is certain to continue its attacks on FDA and CDC efforts to reduce tobacco use – and even expand them. Legislation introduced last week by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) would repeal the FDA’s current authority to regulate electronic cigarettes and essentially allow the e-cigarette industry to regulate itself. Tobacco interests have also filed multiple lawsuits against the FDA’s 2016 rule establishing oversight of e-cigarettes and cigars. Congress and the Trump Administration must continue to reject these harmful tobacco industry efforts.

I get it that e-cigs legitimately seem to help a lot of people quit cigarettes. My biggest gripe with e-cigs is the marketing toward kids, and the FDA regs do little or nothing to reel that in.

 

Wow, video of an e-cigarette bursting into flames

I’ve written a bit in the past about one of the issues with e-cigarettes … that there’s not a whole lot of regulation about how they’re built and they do have a dangerous habit of exploding/bursting into flames from time to time.

At this point, probably hundreds of people have suffered major and minor burns from exploding e-cigs. Granted, a might be a minor issue compared to the overall question of the safety of e-cigarette vapour, but it’s just another reason why I don’t trust these thing.

Watch the video. It’s pretty harrowing. It’s definitely a “holy crap!” moment. Imagine if you will if you were actually holding that e-cig when it erupted into flames.

 

 

Samantha Bee: Big Tobacco and Little Vape — and a criticism of “Full Frontal”

Full Frontal
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee

This is a really funny and fairly sympathetic piece done by Samantha Bee’s “Full Frontal” about the new Food and Drug Administration regulations and its effect on the vaping industry. The piece did miss one big point about the vaping industry, however.

The proposed regs, while missing a lot of important proposals anti-tobacco advocates wanted, like curbs on marketing and Internet sales, would require all vaping products to individually go through a lengthy approval process. Vaping advocates say this would cripple if not completely wipe out the vaping industry because the costs to go through this process would be so onerous. The FDA itself estimates that between 30 percent to 70 percent of e-cig businesses may be forced to go out of business due to the new regulations.

Full Frontal visited a vaping conference and did have a good time poking fun at vapers. For instance, Samantha Bee sends a correspondent to the conference rather than go herself because she doesn’t want to be around vapers, then the correspondent immediately runs out the door as soon as she encounters e-cigarette steam blown in her face. However, the show was fair to e-cigs and did acknowledge that some studies have shown that vaping is far less dangerous than smoking.

full frontal 2

One thing I honestly learned from the segment is that there is a pretty distinct actual honest-to-goodness “vaping culture,” that at least according to the show, has a counter-culture edge. Sort of like cigar culture only with lots of piercings, I suppose. I never realized this culture existed, though, as I thought about it, some of the e-cig proponents I’ve dealt with online are almost messianic in their defence of e-cigarettes.

One thing the Full Frontal segment did get wrong, however, (and they got this like … really wrong), was that suggesting that Big Tobacco has “struggled to compete” in the e-cigarette market. That’s really not true. Vuse E-Cigs (35 percent market share, Blu E-Cigs (23 percent) and MarkTen (16 percent), the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 e-cig brands on the market, are actually wholly-owned subsidiaries of RJ Reynolds, Imperial Tobacco Group and Altria (Philip Morris). In fact, these three brands represent a combined 74 percent of the e-cig market. Seventy-four percent is hardly “struggling to compete.”

Yeah, maybe Big Tobacco wants to crush all the smaller makers through FDA regulations (Though, Altria has expressed its opposition to the FDA regulations), but if that’s the case, the real story is the tobacco industry is already deeply entrenched in and dominating the e-cig industry. Will these regulations help Big Tobacco dominate it even more? Full Frontal didn’t even mention that Big Tobacco owns the three most dominant e-cigarette brands and I really think the show either missed or ignored that dynamic between Big Tobacco and e-cigarettes.