Tag Archives: e-cigs

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.

 

14-year-old kid burned by exploding e-cig on Harry Potter ride

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Olivia Wilde. I’m using a photo illustration because real photos of victims of exploding e-cigs are pretty gross and intense.

A girl was burned when an e-cig in somebody else’s purse exploded while she was riding a Harry Potter ride at Universal Studios in Florida.

So, when these things blow up, they are not only a danger to the person holding the e-cig, but anyone in their general vicinity. The girl was injured badly enough that she had to be taken to the hospital.

I don’t want to overstate the alarm over these things, but I don’t want to understate it either. There have now been dozens upon dozens of incidents, perhaps hundreds now, of people being injured by these things exploding. They’re cheaply made, often times in China, with little or no regulation.

Some spokesman for the e-cig industry in this article claimed in this article that there’s only been 22 documented incidents of e-cigs exploding since 2008. E-cig industry flaks are starting to sound exactly like cigarette industry flaks from 30 years ago. I’m pretty positive I could round up more than 22 articles about exploding e-cig incidents just from Google (In fact, I did this, hundreds upon hundreds of articles about exploding e-cigs) … and that’s just from 2016. This one story from CNN had links to four other recent exploding e-cig incidents.

The person with the e-cig was kind of a jerk, apparently. She split without identifying herself and she’s being sought by police at last word.

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.

FDA finally issues ruling on e-cigarettes

teen using ecig

At long last, after TWO years of deliberations, the Food and Drug Administration earlier this week FINALLY issued a ruling on e-cigarette (and tobacco) regulation.

Unfortunately, this came at a time when I was really busy, plus I wanted to take a few days to digest the news.

My initial reaction to the news was disappointment that the FDA will do nothing to control e-cigarette marketing, online sales or candy flavourings. The biggest obvious change is the sale of e-cig products to minors will be banned. However, over 40 states already ban e-cig sales to minors, so this ruling is a bit cosmetic.

However, then I started reading comments from the e-cigarette industry absolutely FREAKING OUT over these regs, and I started thinking, “wow, if the e-cigarette industry is so pissed off, the regs can’t be that bad.”

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It turns out the FDA ruling is pretty complex, and I’m personally still sifting through it to see what it means, and I fully expect to be writing more posts about this over the next several weeks and months. I saw several headlines that screamed, “E-cigarettes virtually banned.” Here’s what they’re talking about and what turns out might be the biggest effect of this ruling: The FDA will require that all tobacco products (which under the FDA definition includes e-cigs even though they don’t actually contain tobacco — they do contain nicotine) that hit the market since 2007 must be individually approved by the FDA. E-cigs were basically non-existent before 2007, so this affects nearly all e-cig products.

From a USA Today article:

               That means nearly every e-cigarette on the market — and every different flavor and nicotine level — would require a separate application for federal approval. Each application could cost $1 million or more, says Jeff Stier, an e-cigarette advocate with the National Center for Public Policy Research and industry officials.

One million dolalrs each for every flavour? Holy cow, on the face of it, that would cripple the industry. Sure enough, industry leaders are incensed.

From a CNN story:

Ray Story, the founder and CEO of the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association, called the ruling “a complete disaster.” Since 2009, his association has advocated for a change in the law that would require age verification and restrict sales to minors.

“No children should have access to these products. Just like with alcohol, these are adult products,” he said.

What he takes issue with is the FDA requirement for approval on the products, down to the batteries. He said the rule “essentially bans the product across the land.”

Also, from a USA Today commentary, titled the “FDA went too far”:

 E-cigarette shouldn’t be sold to minors, and government should restrict advertising so they aren’t marketed to kids. But the FDA’s drastic overstep today will require e-cigarettes not already on the market by February 2007 to undergo a costly and onerous Premarket Tobacco Application process that holds e-cigarettes to a standard nearly impossible to prove, and one that well-established actual cigarettes don’t have to face.

               By the way, this commentary was actually written by Jeff Stier, who is from an organization called the National Center for Public Policy Research, which is described by Wikipedia as a “conservative think tank.” These are the same kind of “think tanks” that claimed for decades that there was no proof that smoking caused lung cancer or that secondhand smoke was completely harmless. If that wasn’t convincing enough … the National Center for Public Policy Research actually receives some of its funding from Big Tobacco and Big E-Cig (Which is rapidly becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of Big Tobacco). So take this hyperbole with as many grains of salt as you please. I take it was  LOT of grains of salt.

e-cigarette

Now, it could be these industry folks are being hyperbolic as hell. I remember back in the day everyone thought the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement was going to be the death of Big Tobacco. But, I love that the e-cig industry is freaking out. GOOD. They deserve to freak out.

Here’s why. I walk a fine line with e-cigs. I get it that e-cigs genuinely help some people get off cigarettes. There’s mixed data about the effectiveness of e-cigs as a tool for smoking cessation. But, I’ve seen enough anecdotal information online about people praising them for helping to get them off cigarettes to believe that they have a genuine value.

However, here is the problem with e-cigs. It has been painfully clear to people actually paying attention that e-cigs are blatantly marketing their products to kids … using actors dressed up as race car drivers, using women’s panties, even using Santa Clause … to sell e-cigs. Jesus …even Santa Clause? Big Tobacco did this kind of stuff 60 years ago, heck they were still using race car imagery with Joe Camel as recently as 20 years ago.

vaping-girl

They’re using this hip, young, active, savvy, sexy imagery to addict teenagers to nicotine. For all of the benefits of e-cigs, and it appears there are some real benefits, it’s still a delivery system for nicotine. And nicotine is one of the most addictive substances on the planet. And people still don’t know what all is in e-cigarette steam. We know it contains formaldehyde and another chemical called diacetyl, which causes a disease known as “popcorn lung.”

From another very well-written USA Today editorial, this written by the USA Today editorial board of directors, appropriate titled “FDA takes e-cigs out of ‘wild West'”:

               Once before, the nation let an addictive product get by with little regulation. By the time the surgeon general first warned of cigarettes’ deadly dangers in 1964, about four in 10 Americans were already hooked. It has taken more than 50 years and a costly war on smoking to cut that adult rate in half and to bring teen smoking down to about 9%.

No wonder the government and public health advocates are wary of these new “vaping” products, which also contain nicotine, and some of which are made by the same companies that brought the nation Joe Camel and the Marlboro Man.

While advocates for e-cigarettes talk about their potential upside in the future — getting smokers to quit —  they seldom acknowledge the facts on the ground right now: E-cig use among teenagers is exploding. Last year, 16% of high school students used e-cigarettes at least once in the past month, making the devices more popular than traditional cigarettes among teens, according to a national survey by the federal government. That’s up from 1.5% in 2011 — an astounding rise.

Promoters argue that teens are switching to a safer product. Great if true. But some earlier data show that many teens who use e-cigarettes have not smoked traditional cigarettes before. Exactly how many fit that description now is a key question that researchers need to sort out.

Industry players also underscore that their products are only for adults. Their advertising says otherwise: The women who vape are sexy and glamorous, the men rugged and rebellious, the very themes that attracted generations of teens to traditional cigarettes. In stores, e-cigarettes are sold above ice cream freezers, next to candy and in flavors that include Cherry Crush and Gummy Bear. About 85% of youths who had used e-cigs in the past 30 days used ones that were flavored.

Game. Set. Match. Thank you, USA Today.

These rules will not go into effect immediately. I was initially deeply disappointed in the lack of regs over e-cig marketing (I believe the FDA was wary of going here because of fears over First Amendment lawsuits, and guess what, if the FDA loses a First Amendment lawsuit over e-cigs, that might affect the federal government’s ability to regulate marketing of cigarettes.). I don’t get as worked up about the candy flavouring because so many adult users have told me they like the sweet flavours, too, but I know a lot of anti-tobacco advocates hate that e-cigs are allowed to have sugary flavours.

But, this subtle little language about requiring all e-cig products to be approved by the FDA might reel in this out-of-control industry, which is selling a drug and is selling an addictive drug … to kids … with a wink and a nod … “Moi? Not us!”

Now, there is apparently legislation in Congress to push up this 2007 date and grandfather current e-cig products so they wouldn’t require individual review by the FDA. Golly wonder whose lobbyists might be behind that? I hope Obama and any other future Democratic president vetoes any such legislation that reaches his or her desk. The e-cig industry is a multi-billion dollar industry, about 40 percent of which is actually owned by Big Tobacco. It can damn well pony up to have its products approved fair and square.

I will be posting more on this, I promise, as the story develops.

 

 

 

Teen vaping rate continues to climb

vaping-girl

Well, the Pollyanna side of me wants to say, “good news, bad news,” but I think it’s more bad than good.

According to the CDC, the teen vaping rate continued to climb in 2015. That’s the bad news. The good news is it isn’t climbing as rapidly as it was in 2014.

Teen Vaping Rate

The teen vaping rate is now 16 percent; roughly one teen out of six has vaped in the past 30 days. In 2014, it was 13.4 percent. That figure tripled from 2013, when it was just 4.5 percent. So, basically it went from increasing 200 percent in 2014 to about 20 percent in 2015. Is that good news? I don’t know. It could be the teen vaping market is as saturated as it’s going to get.

Hopefully, part of the reason for the slowdown is most states now do prohibit selling vaping products to teenagers However, it really isn’t very hard for kids to order vaping products online, which seriously needs to be banned by the FDA.

teen smoking

The FDA has been dawdling for well over a year now on e-cigarette regulations. And in that time, the teen vaping use continues to climb … though perhaps it isn’t quite “skyrocketing” like it was a couple of years ago. It’s damned frustrating. I cannot envision why it has taken so long to finalize regulations. All I can think of is the lawyers must be making the decisions at this point.

The draft FDA regulations that came out a while ago now were pretty weak, and didn’t do a heck of a lot to address teen vaping use. The FDA proposed banning sales to minors, but as I mentioned earlier most states already do this anyway. That won’t make a dramatic difference.

e-cig ad
A real e-cig ad.

The FDA neglected to ban online sales (you can’t sell cigarettes online), nor did the agency address e-cigarette marketing and advertising — both of these are serious issues that need to be dealt with in my opinion. E-cigarette companies are using the exact same kind of ads making e-cigs look sexy and sophisticated that cigarette companies successfully used for decades to make their products appear cool to kids.

I’m perfectly fine with people using e-cigarettes to quit smoking. When all else fails, I feel they have nothing to lose. And while I certainly don’t trust that e-cigarettes are 100 percent benign (the vapour is known to contain formaldehyde and diactyl) , they are less toxic than cigarettes.

However, I’m not cool with teenagers simply finding  different delivery system to get physically addicted to nicotine to begin with. And unfortunately, that is a big part of the e-cigarette market. The e-cigarette companies can act all innocent all they want … they’ve also put their brand names on women’s panties. That’s not about people getting off of cigarettes. That’s about enticing horny young teens to use your product.

The other good news is largely because of e-cigarettes, the teen smoking rate has basically completely collapsed. I saw one graph that showed that the 12th-grade smoking rate in 2013 is now at a minuscule 6.7 percent. When I started blogging about tobacco about 10-12 years ago, the teen smoking rate was pushing 30 percent.

The CDC report also states that the middle school vaping rate is about 5.3 percent. Again, this is up dramatically from 2011, when less than 1 percent of all middle schoolers were vaping.

 

Legislative round-up — e-cig bans in Wales, Vermont, cigarette taxes in Louisiana

c-cig laws

From purely an SEO standpoint, I know I’m supposed to break out these stories into separate posts, but that’s too much of a pain in the ass, so I’m compiling some legislative updates into one post because I’m feeling lazy.

First off, a major cigarettes tax increase in Louisiana.

Louisiana raises cigarette taxes

 

Bobby_Jindal_2
Bobby Jindal … douchebag

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards just signed a bill raising Louisiana’s cigarette tax a tiny bit from 88 cents a pack to $1.08 a pack. That still leaves Louisiana with one of the lowest cigarette taxes in the U.S. This was done partly out of pure, sheer, unadultered desperation after 8 years of Republican Bobby Jindal’s fiscal mismanagement left the state of Louisiana utterly broke. I hate to bring politics onto the lounge, but Jesus, between Schwarzenegger, Brownbeck, Scott Walker and Jindal, have voters not figured out that Republicans simply cannot govern responsibly? Poor Louisiana, which has never gotten over the fiscal impact of Hurricane Katrina, is painfully broke and looking at all kinds of tax increases just to keep basic state services running.

I don’t get it, why do people keep voting for Republicans when they’ve shown time and again they simply … cannot … govern … or manage a budget responsibly, particularly at the state level. Again, I try to keep partisan politics out of the Lounge, but I honestly don’t get this.

This tax is expected to add $230 million to state coffers over the next five years, which will help a little.

The average cigarette tax in the U.S. is about $1.60 a pack, so Louisiana is still well below the national average.

Wales to ban e-cig use indoors

Y_ddraig_goch

More and more places are banning e-cigarette use indoors, including Wales, which is set to pass a law banning them inside.

I didn’t mind e-cigs indoors for a long time. Their vapour doesn’t smell nor  until I started reading all the stories about the @#$%ing formaldehyde and diactyl in e-cigarette vapour and now I don’t care if it isn’t annoying or irritating, I don’t want to ingest it in any way, shape or form. Not until MORE IS KNOWN about just how dangerous that vapour might be. Now, whenever I’m near someone using an e-cig indoors, I find myself holding my breath or leaning away from them. What it comes down to is … I … simply … do … not … trust … that … vapour. No offence.

From Wales Online:

(Welsh Health Minister Mark Drakeford)  has not dismissed claims that e-cigarettes may help people quit smoking.

He added: “The Bill does not prevent the use of e-cigarettes to help people stop smoking if they believe they will help them. Wherever you can smoke a cigarette you will be able to use an e-cigarette.”

Vermont to ban e-cig use indoors

vermont

Vermont is set to pass a bill that would ban e-cig use indoors and would put restrictions on the sales of e-cig products to keep them out of the hands of minors … ARE YOU PAYING ATTENTION, FDA?

E-cigs would have to be kept out of sight in stores or kept in a locked container. They would also be banned in bars and restaurants. I haven’t kept track of how many states are banning them indoors, but this is a growing tide.

 

 

 

L.A. Times rips into FDA, White House over the delay in e-cigarette regulations

ecig3

Hah, I actually found a story in my archives from nearly a year ago saying that the Food and Drug Administration was expected to issue e-cigarette regulations the following week. That was 10 months ago.

The Los Angeles Times published an absolutely scathing editorial ripping on the FDA and the White House for delaying implementing final regulations on e-cigarettes. The FDA supposedly finalized its regulations in October after receiving 135,000 comments and sent them to the White House Office of Budget and Management in October, where they have been sitting for five months.

In the L.A. Times’ words: “And there the proposal sits while the fast-growing e-cigarette industry operates virtually unchecked.”

The Times wrote the editorial in response to the apparently growing problem of e-cigarettes catching on fire or exploding. You can find a new story on some e-cig fire or explosion on virtually a weekly basis. However, that’s not really the biggest issue with them. That’s still pretty rare.

To quote from the editorial:

At the moment, federal regulators can do little more than shake their fists impotently at faulty electronic cigarettes manufacturers, most of whom are in China. That’s because e-cigarettes are considered tobacco products, and thus fall under the authority of the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA has yet to start cracking down despite the meteoric growth of “vaping,” as the process of using an e-cigarette to inhale nicotine is known.

While researchers haven’t yet settled the question of whether vaping is as harmful as smoking, we do know e-cigarette users don’t breathe in the same kind of carcinogenic smoke and tar that conventional cigarette smokers do. That’s good, but it doesn’t make vaping a benign pastime. No matter how you package it, nicotine is an addictive chemical linked to cardiovascular disease.

The vaping liquids have also been found to contain other chemicals such as Diacetyl, a flavoring associated with a terrifying illness called “Popcorn lung.” But until the new regulations kick in and require the disclosure of all chemicals in those liquids, there’s no way for consumers to know what other substances they may be inhaling.

The L.A. Times is right. It has been FOUR years since the FDA starting working on e-cigarette regulations. Four years during which the use of e-cigs has exploded (no pun intended) among teenagers. This has taken far too long. And I fear the regulations that are finalized are going to be really weak and won’t address e-cig marketing or online sales to teenagers.

 

A spirited defence of e-cigarettes

ecigcuse

Lately, I’ve been posting a lot of negative stories about e-cigarettes and recent studies showing the vapour in e-cigs may not be as benign as c-cig companies would have you believe.

Here’s a column defending e-cigarettes from Helen Redmond, who’s written for Al Jazeera and AlterNet, defending e-cigs as a tool to help smokers quit. I thought it was pretty interesting, and to be fair, I thought it was worth writing about to get the other side of the e-cigarette argument.

In her column, Redmond writes:

Public health organizations and federal drug agencies including the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) argue—despite no adequate evidence—that vaping is a “gateway” to tobacco for youth and that “e-cigarettes are no better than smoking regular cigarettes.” Numerous articles and well-respected, anti-smoking groups refer to e-cigarettes as “tobacco products,” which they clearly are not. The American Lung Association’s website contains a statement that declares: “Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are a popular new tobacco product that have still largely unknown public and individual health effects.” The word “scourge” is usually reserved for heroin panics, but it’s being used to describe electronic cigarettes. Michael Seilback, a vice president of the American Lung Association, said in a press release: “The scourge of e-cigarettes in New York has warranted action and Governor Cuomo’s proposal comprehensively tackles the proliferation of e-cigarettes in New York.”

But you know what the real scourge is?

The real scourge is that 480,000 people die in the United States from smoking-related illnesses every year. And electronic cigarettes—which are the best hope for hundreds of thousands of inveterate smokers to quit and stay alive, and which cause a tiny fraction of the harms of real cigarettes—are subject to a vicious and unrelenting campaign of lies and deception to convince smokers not to use them.

Are the enemies of vaping so implacably and irrationally opposed to it that they prefer smokers die rather than switch to e-cigarettes?

Redmond cites a study done last year in the UK that states e-cigs are about 95 percent safer than tobacco cigarettes  and she also cites some statistics about e-cigarettes helping smokers quit.

She writes:

Electronic cigarettes help smokers quit. That’s why millions of people are using them. The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA) conducted a survey in 2015 of 19,823 its members; 87% reported they quit smoking entirely after starting to vape. In response to an article in Consumer Reports that rejected recommending the use of ECs, more than 1,300 readers responded saying that electronic cigarettes helped them kick the habit. And according to a new study published in the journal Addiction, using ECs led to an estimated 22,000 more people quitting tobacco every year. The researchers found: “E-cigarettes appear to be helping a significant number of smokers to stop who would not have done otherwise—not as many as some e-cigarette enthusiasts claim, but a substantial number nonetheless.”

Redmond also points out that nicotine by itself is not the chief toxin in cigarettes (many people don’t realize that nicotine is not the cause of lung cancer or COPD caused by cigarettes). But, she does concede that nicotine is physically addictive, but she argues that it can be used as a maintenance medication much like methadone.

Redmond’s column got a lot of positive feedback from e-cig users thanking her. I’ve learned not to waste a lot of energy fighting with e-cig supporters; their support gets a little too fanatical for me to deal with, and if e-cigs have genuinely gotten you off cigarettes, then I don’t blame you for loving them.

However, I would take two issues with Redmond’s column. First of all, I think it completely glossed over the growing problem of teens using e-cigs and the oftentime pretty blatant marketing of e-cigarettes to kids, using images of race car drivers and women’s panties to make e-cigs appear sophisticated and sexy. The use of e-cigarettes by teens has tripled over the past three years. This IS a serious issue and to me the biggest problem with e-cigs.

These are not 20- or 30-year smokers desperate to get off of cigarettes. These are 15- and 16-year-olds who have found a new, cheap and easy to purchase online delivery system to get physically addicted to nicotine to begin with. While nicotine is not the most dangerous component of cigarettes, it is incredibly addictive and I would just as soon kids not get addicted to it in any form. Nicotine addiction by its basic definition is a bad thing. There is nothing good that will come out of nicotine addiction, no matter the delivery system. And studies have shown that kids who start off using e-cigs do move on to cigarettes more than kids who never use them.

Secondly, I also think Redmond seriously overstates the effectiveness of e-cigs in getting people off cigarettes. Despite the anecdotal evidence you will read all over the Internet, they are not some kind of miracle cure. Simply put, they don’t work for everyone. I have also talked to a number of people who have told me they didn’t do anything for them. She cites statistics about people quitting smoking thanks to e-cigs, and I don’t question the numbers she quotes, but I can also cite studies stating they are not especially effective in helping people quit cigarettes. Here is another study on that same point. What data that is out there is mixed at best.

E-cigs definitely work for some people. For people who have tried cold turkey or patches and failed to quit, go ahead and try e-cigs, you have nothing to lose. But, please don’t sell them as some of miracle cure for cigarettes. They don’t even come close to being that. They are just another nicotine replacement system that people can try when all else has failed.

In all seriousness, for every person who at times with a certain level of fanaticism tells me that e-cigs have been a lifesaver, I would love to go back to those same people in a year or two and ask them if they are still off cigarettes.  I think it’d be interesting to see.

So, e-cigs are going to continue to be controversial. I’ve made my position clear that if adults want to use them to quit smoking, they should be available and they apparently really do help some people; I don’t care if they’re not 100 percent successful, if they help some people, that’s great. But, the feds absolutely must crack down on the marketing to kids and sales of e-cig products to kid, including online sales.

No more mother@#$%ing vapes on the mother@#$%ing plane

VapingonaPlane_zps7ef94541

Hee, I stole that headline joke from this graphic.

I was shocked to find out that until this week, you could apparently use an e-cigarette on commercial flights (depending on the airline’s policies).

Not anymore. As of now, vaping is strictly prohibited on commercial flights. The U.S. Department of Transportation announced the new rule Thursday. It will take effect within 30 days.

From The Hill:

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said the final rule applies to all flights with both national and foreign airline carriers traveling to and from the United States.

“This final rule is important because it protects airline passengers from unwanted exposure to aerosol fumes that occur when electronic cigarettes are used onboard airplanes,” Foxx said in a news release. “The Department took a practical approach to eliminate any confusion between tobacco cigarettes and e-cigarettes by applying the same restrictions to both.”

Not even getting into the unwanted aerosols issue and the fact that vapour has formaldehyde and diacetyl in it, these things do on rare occasion actually blow up and catch fire. I seriously would not want to be on an airplane with an e-cigarette suddenly erupting into flames. (Jesus, here’s another story about an exploding e-cigarette. There’s literally like one or two or these stories every week.) Just the potential of one of these things erupting on a plane is reason enough all by itself to ban them on airplanes.