It feels like the FDA proposed deeming regulations for electronic cigarettes just yesterday. Already though, the deadline for the comment period, is tomorrow. It would have been a month ago, but the FDA saw fit to push out the comment period by 30 days.
If you have a comment to make, now’s the time!
Here’s a bit on the deeming proposal. Just this week, we found out that the application required for new tobacco products is likely to take around 5,000 man hours to complete — plus studies, clinical trials, and chemical testing.
Here’s a quick rundown of the primary concerns with the proposed regulations:
- Small e-cig businesses will be priced out of the market by expensive application and compliance processes.
- Massive tobacco and pharmaceuticals companies will be able to buy or destroy the e-cig industry as they please because they’re the only ones with enough money to participate.
- Keeping e-cigs out of the hands of would-be quitters or taking them from individuals that have quit only sends them back to smoking.
- Preventing the e-cig industry from advertising and marketing competitively takes away the one great market advantage the products have.
You can submit comments right here.
The FDA proposed a new set of rules for tobacco products some time ago which, among other things, requires companies to apply for market approval of any tobacco product that wasn’t already on the market by February of 2007 or which has been updated since. Under said rules, all versions of electronic cigarettes used today would require a premarket tobacco application (PMTA for short) which many believe is nothing more than a red tape gateway designed to demolish innovation and protect tobacco and pharmaceutical companies.
The FDA received a massive heap of comments and complaints about the new rules and ultimately saw fit to extend the public comment period by a full month (which now ends Friday of this week). Concerns that the PMTA process would be virtually impossible for small businesses to complete now seem more justified than ever.
The FDA has said that the applications will likely take around 5,000 man hours to complete and may require companies to conduct studies, clinical trials, and chemical testing on the products for which they are applying. This is going to do just what many were worried about — hand the industry over to the companies that can afford to complete the application. In this case, those companies are Big Tobacco and Big Pharma. Small operations — the ones that got the industry going in the first place — won’t have much of a chance. The tobacco industry in particular is very used to jumping through hoops for the FDA and is well equipped for this kind of trouble.
So confident is the FDA, that they’ve even guesstimated that they will only receive 27 applications — one cigar, one pipe, and 25 electronic cigarette applications. Even if the FDA gets a lot more applications than that, they have almost no obligation to get to and resolve them in a reasonable amount of time. What few companies can complete applications are likely to be stuck waiting for approval for eternity.
If you want to jump in on a vaping-focused crowdfunding project, you should check out the Evoke. It’s a sleek vaping mod that, according to the creators, uses induction to heat e-liquid rather than direct heating through a coil. Presumably, this makes for a purer vapor cloud and probably less unknown constituents in the vapor itself.
If you do want to jump in though, you only have a few days. The Indiegogo project ends August 8th. The standard funding level for the project — the level at which you get an Evoke of your own — will set you back 99 bucks.
The video gives a pretty clear rundown of the product. Basically, the technology uses a heating method that keeps the coil separated from the wick. This means no red hot coil — which inevitably burns liquid and causes a variety of chemical reactions that chance the vapor being formed.
We certainly aren’t saying that this device is any better than others out there. The induction thing could simply be a bit of snake oil which makes almost no difference other than to convince people to pay more. But it still looks and sounds pretty good. Until some real reviews are done, it’s a leap of faith jumping in on the project.
But much of the vaping community is made up of early adopters. The project is approaching 1,500 backers and close to $190,000. The success of the project is probably already inspiring a litany of copycats.
A new study produced by Queen Mary University of London and published in Addiction has quite resoundingly claimed that, based on the results of more than 80 other studies, electronic cigarettes reduce tobacco-related deaths. The researchers argue not only that current evidence suggests e-cigs are far less harmful than tobacco cigarettes, but also that no amount of current “unknowns” could change this.
It’s very common for opponents of electronic cigarettes to claim that we need more research. This is often the case for any group that finds itself arguing against a view that appears supported by the science. It is half a stalling method in hopes nastier information will come to light and half a campaign for ignorance against those without time or interest enough to look into who’s actually right.
This and previous reviews of the evidence continues to support the belief that electronic cigarettes are more than a little less harmful than tobacco cigs. Many experts — even some formerly opposed to electronic cigarettes — agree that e-cigs are somewhere around 99 and 95 percent less harmful than tobacco smokes at worst. Almost all of that difference in harm has nothing to do with the constituents in them and everything to do with the fact that smoke is 99% more harmful than vapor.
This could be yet another major blow to those advocating for harsh regulations against electronic cigarettes throughout the European Union. Already, a letter from a litany of nicotine and smoking addiction experts to regulators argued for a reasonable approach to what could be the solution to the smoking epidemic.
You can read more about the study right here.
The average particle in tobacco smoke ranges in size from 0.3 to 0.5 microns (one millionth of a meter). More recent research has found that similar particles in electronic cigarettes average in size ranging from 0.18 to 0.27 microns. Not surprisingly, this has sparked a number of arguments about why smaller particles are a bad thing — most of them seeming to come from the same voices that always argue against electronic cigarettes.
The argument goes that the smaller particles are better capable of penetrating the lungs’ defenses. This means than these particles embed deeper in the lungs and may — as the argument goes — create a burden on the lungs even if the particle in question isn’t actually toxic.
Obviously, more research is required. But one wonders how detrimental the size of these particles really is when taken as a part of the total harm structure of electronic cigarettes — particularly when compared to tobacco.
Studies have already found that what few concerning constituents occur in both tobacco and electronic cigarettes tends to occur 10 to 1000 times less in e-cigs than in tobacco. So while the smaller average particle size may be a knock against the products, it seems unlikely to out pace the benefit of consuming dramatically reduced or removed toxins.
I’m more inclined to think that particle size is a net neutral game. Larger particles may not get as far, but they seem more likely to gum up the works — and likely to breakdown into just-as-harmful smaller particles. Meanwhile, smaller particles might penetrate defenses more, but the body is probably more capable of ignoring and enduring their overall effect.
A poll conducted by Doctors.net.uk has given a pretty decent gauge of the feelings United Kingdom doctors have towards electronic cigarettes. While a whopping 40 percent felt e-cigs should only be available over the counter at licensed pharmacies, another 31 percent felt the products didn’t warrant any restriction on sales. This means that 71 percent in total are in favor of the average citizen having fairly unhindered access to electronic cigarettes.
The poll actually found only a small portion of doctors (16%) felt that the products shouldn’t be available at all. The remaining 13 percent felt that e-cigs should be available, but only on a prescription basis.
While a pharmacy sales restriction would likely come with additional regulations, this still implies that most doctors see the products as a promising addition to the market. Already, market reports and anecdotal evidence is suggesting that electronic cigarettes are having a wildly detrimental effect on the sales of most smoking cessation options (like gums, lozenges, and patches).
In fact, many people and experts around the world are starting to recognize and argue that those “approved” cessation methods simply don’t work. Not only does the science supporting them appear dubious and conflicted, but longer term studies appear to support arguments that smoking remission following a quit attempt rapidly approaches 100% the longer you follow the quitter.
Thanks to a connection made via the electronic cigarette Reddit section, I was privileged enough to meet Jerry. Jerry is an employee at a prison somewhere in the United States (he prefers it not be named) and he’s taken an active role in helping inmates understand electronic cigarettes.
Jerry managed to quit smoking with the help of electronic cigarettes about 2 years ago. Now, he shares his knowledge with the inmates at his prison to help them understand electronic cigarettes and hopefully — most likely once they return to civilian life — make the transition.
There’s not much more to say, but there is more to show. Jerry found demand for information so high that he’s since put together this document.
Not only does the three-page document provide answers to many questions, but it also shares Jerry’s own experience with smoking and e-cigs. It even gives a nod to the wildly supportive community at Reddit.
The document is by no means an official or refine piece of literature, but it stands as a wonderful example of just how helpful and encouraging members of the e-cig community can be to those around them — incarcerated or not. Jerry walks through the document with inmates and gives copies of it to those that ask. Some even pass it on to family and friends during visitation.
In short, Jerry sets a good example.
A small study of 18 to 35 year olds in Hawaii found that 43% have tried electronic cigarettes. Twenty eight percent of that group had tried them within the last 30 days. Some actually believe that the prevalence of e-cig use by young adults throughout the islands is already higher than smoking prevalence for the same group.
The study was conducted by the University of Hawaii’s Cancer Center. “Right now, it seems like electronic use is even higher among younger adults than cigarette use,” said an assistant professor within the department and lead author of the study. For the purposes of the study, young adult means anyone 18 to 35 years of age.
You can read more about the study here.
A Honolulu city councilman already chimed in with a statement of concern arguing that the products could be a gateway and need to be controlled. According to the councilman, “Once people get hooked on the nicotine, they’ll switch over to regular cigarettes, which are extremely dangerous.”
There is already a good bit of evidence that this isn’t the case.
Pallav Pokhrel, the lead author, ran a similar study last year. That study showed promising results for the devices. In it, 13% of participants used electronic cigarettes to quit smoking. As well, smokers that used e-cigs reported higher motivation to quit, higher capability to quit, and a longer quit duration than other smokers.
While opponents will likely use this data to raise alarms about e-cigs, it is difficult to say that they aren’t helping. Every time an e-cig is used instead of a tobacco cigarette, an individual is doing far, far less harm to their body, exposing bystanders to far, far less toxic constituents, and producing far, far less litter.
The Huffington Post (an online news aggregator) has run some fairly slanted pieces against electronic cigarettes in the past. July last year, a Huff piece argued that electronic cigarettes were costly, appealing to kids, and likely to be a gateway to smoking. The December before, a roundtable interview positioned two established anti-electronic cigarette doctors against one outmatched e-cig company CEO.
But a piece that ran on the site this week was surprisingly positive in its spin on electronic cigarettes. Tony Newman, the director of media relations at Drug Policy Alliance, contributed a piece arguing for honesty when it comes to talking to youth about tobacco and electronic cigarettes. The rather short read is a very sobering one — arguing, quite simply, that youth aren’t stupid and that we shouldn’t model policy based on what they might interpret from it.
Perhaps the best line in the entire piece is this: “We should never let politically expedient sound bites trump interventions proven to minimize the health consequences of drugs.”
Drug Policy Alliance has been a progressive voice in the fight against drugs. It recognizes that the war on drugs is largely a failure. It pushes for harm reduction — a strategy many fight against but which is a proven necessity if the goal is to help addicts rather than punish them. “Elected officials and anti-smoking advocates need to re-think their knee-jerk reaction and hostility to e-cigarettes and vaping,” says Newman.
Newman even argues that the strides in reducing tobacco trial and use among teens in the last few decades has come primarily from honest messaging. Teens are wise to bullshit and scare tactics. Having an honest conversation about the dangers of smoking and the opportunity for e-cigs to help smokers can prove far more valuable than telling them everything with nicotine will kill them.
The Missouri legislator would have passed a bill (Senate bill 841) recently that would ban retailers from selling electronic cigarettes to teens. Unfortunately, Governor Jay Nixon vetoed the bill and now, retailers in Missouri aren’t just allowed to sell e-cigs to minors, but may feel validated in doing so.
Meanwhile, the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, and Tobacco Free Missouri have all commended Nixon for nixing the bill. It’s like the Twilight Zone had a baby with opposite day and named it anti-smoking campaigning.
The reasoning? The bill would have exempted electronic cigarettes from state-level tobacco regulations moving forward. This reasoning seems dubious at best.
From the bill:
Alternative nicotine products and vapor products shall only be sold to persons eighteen years of age or older, shall be subject to local and state sales tax, but shall not be otherwise taxed or regulated as tobacco products.
Anti-smoking groups have been fighting legislation like this for some time. And while these efforts have resulted in many stalled debates throughout the country, this appears to be the first time a governor actually vetoed an age restrictive e-cig bill which their legislator thought good enough to pass.
Often the argument is made that these bills make exceptions for electronic cigarettes which protect them from harsher regulation. No one seems willing to point out that there has yet to be any proof that harsher regulation is necessary. Nor do they want to accept that future amendments and bills could hammer the industry if regulators deemed it necessary.
More than likely this comes down to something else. These groups are concerned that if age-restrictive bans are in place against electronic cigarette sales, then people won’t likely see the need to push heavier restrictions. Kids can’t have them right? they’ll say. Then why are we bothering adult consumers who should be free to use what they like?
Either way though, this sends a message that letting kids buy e-cigs for the foreseeable future is better than compromising even a little with adults that you believe are wrong.
A woman in the United Kingdom escaped a blaze in her house this week which was started by a charging electronic cigarette. The full story makes a catastrophic ending seem virtually inevitable however.
It seems the woman’s son lost the e-cig’s charger. Then, not only was the electronic cigarette charged using a USB charger for a different device, but it was left unattended for an undetermined amount of time while the son went out. Eventually, a smoke detector went off — alerting the woman to the fire. The blaze itself heated up an air horn that was in the same room. That air horn exploded, doing significant damage to the house.
It is fortunate that no one got hurt in the blaze and explosion. However, it further underscores the ongoing problems occurring when individuals leave electronic cigarettes unattended while charging or use incorrect equipment. An article in the Daily Mail (a UK-based media outlet) even provides a rundown of 6 recent incidents — not all of which necessarily involved user error or negligence.
It is surprising though that the investigator which spoke on the issue focused primarily on use of cheap and incorrect chargers rather than hammering against electronic cigarettes. “The message is do not buy cheap or unbranded chargers for use with e-cigarettes, mobile phones or any other devices,” he said. “They are invariably dangerous and illegal.”
Still, opponents of the devices are likely to point to this event as another cause for concern with regard to electronic cigarettes. Smart money even says some won’t even read the whole story and will claim that it was an electronic cigarette that exploded in this case — rather than the air horn.
Hopefully, stories like these will convince more people to be careful with their devices.
According to a police blotter from the Chicago Tribune, a juvenile has been charge with possession of an electronic cigarette as part of a drug possession arrest. Some places have instituted bans on juvenile possession of electronic cigarettes — but often these codes are hazy and not terribly well defined. Certainly, this is the first time I’ve seen said code enforced with a formal charge.
You can read the police blotter here.
As the full story goes, a 20-year old was were arrested and charged with possession of a stolen vehicle, identity theft, possession of cannabis, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of alcohol by a minor. There were two minors there — both charged with possession of cannabis and possession of drug paraphernalia. But wait! One had an electronic cigarette and has been charged with possession of said device.
Illinois is one of many states where it is illegal to sell electronic cigarettes to minors. Some communities have even created fines for minors found in possession of the devices. In Mount Prospect, for instance, a minor can be fined as much as $500 for possession of an electronic cigarette. Though I couldn’t confirm that Wauconda has a similar code, it seems that they — or at least that the arresting office believes that they — do.
One certainly wonders if this charge will stick or even matter in the face of drug possession charges. Similarly, I wonder if police would have charged the teen if an e-cig was the only thing he or she had.
Some random facts for you: Wauconda was named for Native American Chief Wakanda. Wakanda is a fictional African nation in the Marvel comics universe. Pieces of the movie The Blues Brothers was also filmed there. Wauconda roughly translates to Spirit Water.
The Knox County jail in Iowa seems to be the most recent correctional facility to begin offering electronic cigarettes to inmates. At $14 a pop from the commissary, local sheriffs are hoping the devices will cut down on contraband and possibly even fighting in the smoke-free jail. Sheriffs plan on trying the devices out in the environment for about 3 weeks before deciding whether the option should become permanent.
This is far from the first jail to attempt such a plan. By 2010 more than half of U.S. states had banned smoking in prisons. It thus far appears the only effect these bans have is to increase contraband and fights among inmates that need their nicotine fix. In fact, one of the earliest jails to begin offering electronic cigarettes saw a noticeable decline in contraband and fighting almost immediately.
Despite the relative complexity of electronic cigarettes, they appear unlikely to be used to create weapons. For one, the devices sold in jails are primarily plastic disposable units. Second, because the units are disposable, inmates are required to return the trash or risk reprimand — or worse, inability to get more nicotine.
This is rapidly making electronic cigarettes the go to smoking alternative for jails. That the jails can make a profit on the devices only helps more.
The Orange County Department of Education in California launched a website against electronic cigarettes at the address NotSoSafe.org. It appears the site launched within the last few months and it’s primary goal seems to be little more than to scare everyone away from e-cigs.
Though the site seems funded primarily by the Orange County Department of Education, it appears a young marketing firm called INK (founded in 2007 by one Todd Henderson) orchestrated the site itself. INK’s own website boasts proudly about the company’s involvement with NotSoSafe.org.
From INK’s website:
E-cigarette and vaporizer use among teens is an epidemic in the making. While the dangers of tobacco cigarettes are well understood, every year more and more teens take up e-cigs and vape pens under the mistaken impression that if there’s no tobacco, there’s no harm. We partnered with the Orange County Department of Education to preempt a public health disaster, with a very simple message: vapor isn’t just vapor. In fact, when you “light up” an e-cigarette, you’re probably inhaling many of the same chemicals found in old-fashioned tobacco cigarettes.
Though the site focuses primarily on implying that e-cigs are dangerous and deadly, it seems the reasoning for the site is to protect teens from becoming would-be vapers.
The homepage itself is simply a revolving list of compounds and chemicals that has been found in e-cigs at least once. It lacks any explanation to the amount found, how it compares to smoking, or even what the chemicals actually do to the human body. It simply poses a constituent and a comment on it that implies great harm.
Here’s a few examples:
- Lithium. It’s not rocket science. It’s rocket fuel. Literally.
- Arsenic. Also found in bug stray. Tasty, tasty bug spray.
- Cadmium. Like in batteries.
- Silver. On the bright side, at least it’s not bronze.
- Rubidium. You might know it as the stuff that turns fireworks purple.
In all cases, these compounds were found in at least one electronic cigarette at one point. So far, dangerous constituents have repeatedly been shown to occur at higher levels in tobacco smoke than in e-cigs.
That doesn’t stop the continued campaign for ignorance in the war against e-cigs. Even as e-cig sellers continue to clarify that e-cigs are not completely harmless, groups like this continue to act like the only voices behind e-cigs are claiming that they lack all harm.
This website is nothing more than a purposeful use and encouragement of ignorance.
E-Cigarette Forum recently completed a 75-question survey of its membership with a whopping 10,000 responses. The survey was conducted over a 2 week period from June to July and is being dubbed Big Survey 2014. The information it collected may prove quite useful in arguments for the electronic cigarette and personal vaporizer industry. Already, Forbes and U.S. News have covered it and are taking the results pretty seriously.
Among findings — which you can check out here, here, and here — ECF organized some wonderful and simple infographics which make understanding the information far, far easier than we’re used to. Check the links to see all these infographics.
Let’s be clear before digging into this. This is not a study that proves electronic cigarettes work for cessation or that the breadth of e-cig trial ends in success (that data is elsewhere). It is a review of the habits, activities, sensibilities, and expectations of individuals that have already launched into e-cig and personal vaporizer use. Moreover, it focuses on individuals that are more engaged (and probably better educated on e-cigs) than the average gas station e-cig buyer by the very virtue that it surveys active members of the ECF community.
Below you can see what we consider some of the more meaningful notes from the survey.
The more complicated the e-cig an individual uses, the less likely they are to remain a tobacco cigarette smoker. While roughly half of disposables users that responded still smoke, less than 8% of large and mechanical mod users continue to do so.
The vast majority (>93%) of those surveyed use high level devices ranging from egos to mechanical mods. Less than 1% of the respondents actually use disposable electronic cigarettes.
Most vapers use non-tobacco and non-menthol flavors primarily. 65.5% of non-smoking vapers surveyed said that having flavors other than tobacco was an important or very important factor in helping them quit. This is a powerful point against those that argue flavors only appeal to teens.
The amount of nicotine used by vapers is steadily declining. Other studies suggest e-cig use is linked to a declining dependence on nicotine. ECF suggests that improved devices with a better capacity to deliver the nicotine in them may also be contributing to the declining concentrations.
Despite much belief to the contrary — even by myself — it turns out that Reynolds American is selling off Blu eCigs following its purchase of Lorillard. The purchase of the third place US tobacco giant (Lorillard) by the second place one (Reynolds) was confirmed this week after about 3 months of rumors about the deal.
You can read about the $25 billion deal here.
Lorillard bought its way into the electronic cigarette world with its purchase of Blu in April of 2012. That purchase led to it controlling about 50% of gas station e-cig retail. The company went on to purchase Skycig in the UK and rebrand it as Blu to further expand its reach. Although it had already been suggested that Reynolds would sell off Blu following the deal, many (again, including myself) questioned whether it would actually happen. E-cigs (especially Blu’s model) seemed like the perfect hedge bet against declining tobacco sales.
It seems Reynolds isn’t as worried as many others are though.
Reynolds is also selling Lorillard’s Kool, Salem, and Winston brands. The buyer of all this is Imperial Tobacco — a UK-based tobacco company which appears to be making a play for third in the US now that Lorillard is no longer there. Even before the purchase though, Imperial was the fourth largest tobacco company in the world behind Philip Morris, British American, and Japan Tobacco.
The full cost of Blu, Winston, Salem, and Kool will come to approximately $7.1 billion.
After almost three months of rumors, it seems Reynolds American is going through with plans to purchase Lorillard. Reynolds makes up the second-largest tobacco company in the US while Lorillard is the third. Combined, they hope to stand up to the current leader Philip Morris.
Reynolds sells Camel, Kool, Pall Mall, Winston, and others while Lorillard currently controls U.S. sales of Newport, Kent, and others. But neither can stand up to the goliath that is Philip Morris’s Marlboro brand.
In the U.S., Phillip Morris controls around 46% of the tobacco market. In 2011 that accounted for the sale of some 135 billion cigarettes sold. Meanwhile, Reynolds American holds a distant second with around 25% of the market and Lorillard an even more distant third with about 14%. With this purchase, Reynolds will control around 39% of the U.S. tobacco market.
Of the three though, Lorillard is the only one making serious waves in the electronic cigarette world — having purchased Blu eCigs for $135 million in April of 2012. That buy has since landed them roughly 50% of gas station e-cig retail. Reynolds and Philip have both pushed their own e-cigs — Philip most recently announcing a Marlboro branding e-cig that vaporizes real nicotine — but neither appears able to penetrate the market to any significant degree for the energy and money they’re putting into it.
All said, this could prove a good move for those with interest in Lorillard. Whether the newly grown Reynolds can compete with Philip is yet to be decided. But what is known is that cigarette sales are continuing to slide. It seemed unlikely that the Big Tobacco companies could continue doing business as usual without suffering. This might have been the right time to abandon ship.
The purchase could still prove quite valuable for Reynolds though as purchasing Blu through the purchase of Lorillard may have been the only way to grab a foot hold in an industry both Reynolds and Philip are behind on getting into.
This infographic comes complements of Ashtray Blog.
Before you ask, Johnson & Johnson’s Nicorette Quickmist is basically a mouth spray with nicotine in it. It’s designed with the idea of nicotine replacement for individuals looking to quit smoking. When you have the urge, use the mist to sate it. Studies suggest that nicotine mouth sprays work twice as well for cessation as willpower alone.
This doesn’t actually mean that they work well. And although Quickmist has been around since 2011, it doesn’t seem to have grabbed much attention. It seems a little too overt a therapy for many that may prefer the stealth of gums and lozenges. Many experts still argue that nicotine replacement options don’t work well when they don’t provide the experience of smoking in addition to the nicotine.
A new ad campaign from Johnson & Johnson is pushing for its Quickmist to be an alternative to vaping. What’s more, the campaign suggests that vaping instead of smoking doesn’t actually count as quitting. We would certainly disagree.
Perhaps Johnson & Johnson thinks that the rapid growth of electronic cigarette use in the last few years means that smokers are ready for the nicotine mouth spray as an option for quitting. Maybe they realize that it’s no longer a secret that they’re working against e-cigs. Maybe they’re just scared.
E-cigs are so rapidly succeeding in the marketplace that some recent studies have seen a decline in cessation product sales which can be blamed on nothing else.
You’ve probably heard more than once about the extreme toxicity of the nicotine liquids used in electronic cigarettes. Often this comes from anti-tobacco groups, crusading politicians, or public health organizations backed by pharmaceutical companies which make a pile on failed smoking cessation products. They often point to no more than the nicotine content as solid proof of the danger these e-liquids pose.
There have even been sparse stories of poisonings involving both pets and infants. These stories are likely based on some truth. But many experts have argued — since before electronic cigarettes entered the scene — that nicotine is not nearly as dangerous as many believe. It is thought by some that toxicity levels of nicotine are actually about 10 to 50 times lower than has been assumed to be the case for decades.
The lack of additional constituents in e-liquid has already led many experts to argue that its toxicity in vaporized use is less than 1% that of regular tobacco smoke. A new report — which you can read right here — backs that up. A solid rundown of the report itself can be found over at Ashtray Blog.
The short version is that dermal (skin) and oral (mouth) toxicity of e-liquid is actually close to (and arguably lower than) that of washing up liquid (a Brit term for dish washing liquid). In European Union standards, this would make e-liquid a category 4 product which wouldn’t require formal hazard warnings.
Instead, e-liquid around the EU is being classified as a category 3 (similar to formaldehyde) or even category 2 (similar to strychnine). About 100 milligrams of formaldehyde has a 50% chance to kill an adult. One to two milligrams of strychnine has the same chance. Either is wildly overstating the dangers of e-liquid. It’s now believed that the same toxicity from nicotine is only achieved at 500 to 600 milligrams (far less if the victim uses nicotine regularly).
Harsh regulations based on this wildly inaccurate view of e-liquid toxicity could soon prove legally actionable.
An incorrectly reported story from Reuters led a widespread misconception that the FDA was investing a mountain of money into finding out more about e-cigs. According to the article, $270 million in research grants from the FDA was being funneled towards studies looking into various aspects of electronic cigarettes. The primary goal of said funding was to nail down exactly how much harm the products cause, the impact they might have on public health, how companies were marketing the products, and how best to regulate the industry moving forward.
In truth, the $270 million is being broken up between many studies and not all of them are focused on electronic cigarettes. The funding is to go through the Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science (TCORS) and should cover the costs of all research for the next 5 years. This was all actually outlined when the TCORS were first announced in September of last year.
The full list of 48 studies which the TCORS will research can be seen right here.
- Cardiovascular Toxicity of Tobacco Products
- Cardiovascular Injury Due to Tobacco Use
- Perception of Tobacco Use in Vulnerable Populations
- Toxicity Testing of New and Manipulated Tobacco Products
- Consumer Acceptability Testing of New and Manipulated Tobacco Products
- Exploring Tobacco Microbial Constituents and the Oral Microbiome of Tobacco Users
- Analytical Lab Methods for MRTP Evaluation
- Human Lab Methods for MRTP Evaluation
- Randomized Control Trial Methods for MRTP Evaluation
- Quantitative and Qualitative Methods for MRTP Evaluation
- Enhancing the Economic Impact Analysis used in FDA’s Rules for Tobacco Products
- Testing Tobacco Ad Restrictions and Counterads in a 3D Virtual Retail Store
- Conducting Consumer Behavior, Risk Perception and Media Research on Novel Tobacco Products
- The Impact of Changing Tobacco Product Use on Tobacco-Related Disease and Healthcare Costs
- The Role of Risk and Benefit Perceptions in Tobacco Control and Product Usage
- Smokeless Tobacco Use among Rural High School Males and Resulting Nicotine and Carcinogen Exposure
- Quantification and Biomarkers of Short-Term Pulmonary Effects of Tobacco Smoke Exposure: Infection-Related Acute Lung Injury
- Cardiovascular Assessment of the Effects of Tobacco and Nicotine Delivery Products
- Low Nicotine Cigarettes in Vulnerable Populations: Childbearing Age Women
- Low Nicotine Cigarettes in Vulnerable Populations: Opioid Abusers
- Low Nicotine Cigarettes in Vulnerable Populations: Currently Depressed
- Information and Misleading Information about Tobacco Products in the “New” and “Old” Public Communication Environment: Measuring Its Presence, Estimating Its Effects, Recommending Regulatory Responses
- Belief Echoes: Interventions to Correct Misleading Information about Tobacco Products
- Effects of Implicit Messaging by Cigarette Pack Color on Smoking Behaviors
- Effects of Flavors on Nicotine Choice and Central Reward Mechanisms
- Menthol’s Effects on the Nicotine Reinforcement in Smokers
- Flavors and E-cigarette Effects in Adolescent Smokers
- Economics, Experiments and PATH Data: Creating Knowledge for Tobacco Regulation
- Switching to Progressively Reduced Nicotine Content Cigarettes in Smokers with Lower Socioeconomic Status
- Reduced Nicotine Cigarettes in Smokers with Mood and Anxiety Disorders
- Free Radical Exposure and Oxidative Stress from Conventional and Reduced Nicotine Cigarettes
- Diffusion of Marketing Messages about Tobacco Products through Social Media
- Maximizing Retailers’ Responsiveness to FDA Regulatory Authority in Minority Communities
- Adolescent Smoking: Vulnerability to Tobacco Use and Marketing across Life
- The Texas Adolescent Tobacco and Marketing Surveillance Study (TATAMS)
- Tobacco marketing and Alternative Tobacco Use among College Students
- Informing and Correcting Perceptions Regarding Tobacco Products in Young Adults
- Communicating the Risks of Harmful Cigarette Smoke Constituents
- Effective Risk Communication on New and Emerging Tobacco Products
- Enhancing Source Credibility in Tobacco Regulatory Communications
- Urban and Rural Male Youth Cohort Study of Tobacco Use
- Understanding Adolescent Trajectories, Exposures and Susceptibilities
- Diversity of Tobacco Products Used and Purchased
- Comprehension of Health Risks in More and Less Arousing Affective Contexts
- The Effects of New and Emerging Tobacco Products on Lung Hydration and Inflammation
- The Effects of Tobacco Exposure on the Airway Mucus/Mucin Integrity and Proteome: Determining the Tobacco Mucomarkers
- Mouse Models of Smoking-related Diseases: What is the Best Mimic of Human Disease?
- Translational Studies to Identify Epithelial Biomarkers of Smoke Exposure
Not all of these studies will look at electronic cigarettes specifically. It’s likely that any which mention MRTP (Modified-Risk Tobacco Products) or emerging tobacco products will have some focus on electronic cigarettes. But even those which appear entirely focused on more traditional forms of tobacco use and marketing seem likely to have some effect on the industry in the long run.
EDIT: It turns out that the Reuter’s article which first broke this story was incorrect. The $270 million is being spent over 5 years on studies into a variety of topics including non-e-cig related ones. I am working to get more precise information now.
As reported by Reuters this week, it seems the FDA is investing quite the heap in finding out more about electronic cigarettes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is plunging some $270 million into 48 different studies looking into just about every aspect of the products. The focus is on building a foundation of knowledge that will allow the organization to design (and defend) appropriate regulation for the industry.
The studies are looking into anything that might matter for the purposes of regulation. This includes the impact of e-cig advertising on youth, whether availability of flavors will hook new users, how much of a health impact the products actually have, and whether they will actually work for tobacco cessation. Thus far at every point, more research has proven a boon to e-cigs more than a detriment. This could prove to be a very good thing in the long run.
Many are skeptical of the FDA’s motives however. There does appear to be a bias behind many of the studies that assume guilt before the data comes in. Some even seem tailored specifically to give the FDA data it can use to defend unnecessarily harsh regulations. The ones we know about seem to focus on ways to prove that e-cigs entice teens, addict users, and deal damage to the body — even if all these factors are true at several orders of magnitude below that of tobacco cigarettes.
Without seeing a full list of the commissioned studies, one wonders where this will go. While there is certainly a study determining whether flavors like butterscotch, chocolate, and Gummi Bear attract kids to e-cigs, there should be another that determines whether the existence of the same flavors provides more adults with the ability to kick traditional cigarettes — which thus far appears to be true.
Still, more research has always proven beneficial to this industry. What’s more, it sounds like the FDA only anticipates receiving the ability to regulate e-cigs this year. Actual regulation could be upwards of 4-5 years away if those arguing for e-cigs can convince the decision-makers that making the right decision with all the information is far more important than making whatever decision seems popular now.
James Dunworth over at Ashtray Blog has launched an interesting new contest which will take place for the next 5 days. It’s called The Great Vaping Internet Treasure Hunt.
Each day, Dunworth will post a question with the answer housed somewhere at another vaping website which he’ll direct you to. If you get the question right, you’ll be entered for a chance to win a prize. There will be 30 in total given away.
The first day’s question will point you back towards EcigAdvanced.
Check back right here each day for you chance to learn and win.
The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention released a Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report recently with some interesting new figures in it. It seems more than a fifth (21.3%) of adult Americans use tobacco products daily or semi-daily. That amount jumps up to more than a quarter (25.2%) if you include individuals that use tobacco rarely.
Holy crap! 25% of American adults use some amount of tobacco products!?!
Anti-tobacco advocates and public health organizations love to pat themselves on the back for having done such a wonderful job fighting tobacco. Certainly rates have declined, but clearly there is still quite a long way to go.
What’s more, that figure is probably a little higher for the general populace as the sample does not include institutionalized individuals (which have a high propensity for smoking). As well, smokers generally score lower on measures of agreeableness and seem less likely to participate in a random phone survey — which is how the CDC got its information for the report. Both of these factors mean that the actual prevalence of tobacco use might skew a little higher and the amount consumed by the average user might be a good bit more.
There’s quite a double standard when it comes to surveys on tobacco and electronic cigarette use. Many surveys by the CDC and others consider even one use of an electronic cigarette within the 30 days previous to the survey to be current use. They also tend to refer to trial of e-cigs (use once and then never again) simply as use or prevalence. Meanwhile, rare use of tobacco products in this case is pushed deeper into the background as if it doesn’t matter.
You can read the CDC’s report here.
So following an interview with Blu UK’s CEO Jacob Fuller, freelance journalist Andrew Cave wrote an article that got a fair amount of coverage and then — according to Blu’s PR department — turned out to be false. The article was a scope claiming that Blu was working with Lady Gaga to place its products in a video for international exposure.
The news inspired a good deal of drama as opponents of electronic cigarettes like to slam any celebrity endorsement as intentionally targeting kids. It doesn’t matter that teens don’t know who Stephen Dorff, Courtney Love, or Jenny McCarthy are. It only matters that these people are celebrities and could appeal to kids — even if the individuals these names would matter to most happen to be in their 30′s. Still Lady Gaga is far more recognizable than those three.
After the news broke though, Blu damage control went into high gear reassuring everyone that Lady Gaga was not on Blu’s marketing plan at all. According to communications from the company — both UK and US divisions — Fuller was mistaken and misinformed. However, the quotes from Cave which he claims to have recorded and notated appear to pretty clearly state that the company intended to do a video with Gaga at some point.
So what happened? My money is on plans for a Gaga campaign getting scrapped following the rather nasty beating Blu’s US-based CEO took at the hands of a Senate committee not to long ago. It seems the company wouldn’t want to give even more ammunition to those likely to go so far as to attempt to fine or sue the company for tactics they might argue target teens.
It is possible that Fuller was mistaken, but it’s also rather unlikely giving the clarity of the statement. According to Cave, Fuller said specifically, “In the US, Blu is working with Lady Gaga on a video with Blu in it.” If Fuller is a remotely capable CEO, this is not the kind of statement he would make lightly. Perhaps his information was simply outdated or it was a way to safely test the news and see how people would take a Blu and Lady Gaga deal. Perhaps Gaga herself torpedoed the idea.
Either way, the Blu PR engine did exactly what it should in that sort of situation — say that it’s not the case and shut-up about the whole situation. Speaking as a reporter though, Fuller at least owes Cave a phone call.