Your average small storefront brings about a half million dollars into a local community in the form of sales, taxes, payroll, rent, and more. Empty storefronts are unsightly wounds on a local community’s economy. But that doesn’t keep locals from raising alarms and starting fights when someone brave enough comes along to put a vape shop in at one of these locations.
There remains a problem with the United States economy — one that may never get fixed. It is nearly impossible for most traditional (i.e. non-offensive) small store businesses to make enough money to survive. This includes hardware, toy, stationary, and specialty grocery stores. But less traditional (i.e. more viable) businesses are fought by locals when they want to move into an otherwise vacant space. This includes massage parlors, tattoo shops, and recreational (bars, dispensaries, etc) outlets.
People really don’t buy stuff in small stores anymore. Superstores like Walmart, K-Mart, Target, Home Depot, and more have made small outlets nearly obsolete. What they haven’t put out of business, online options have. All in all, there’s very few ways to make a storefront profitable these days. This is an old argument, but it’s flaring up again in light of the new opportunity vape stores now offer.
The need to fill a vacant store front and the benefit of a new business to a local economy doesn’t keep locals from complaining if the new business isn’t to their liking. That’s exactly what’s going on in San Fransisco where a young couple if fighting for their right to open an electronic cigarette shop and hookah lounge. Locals are fighting to keep this business from opening in an area that already possesses (according to one local) a shady massage parlor, a cannabis dispensary, a billiards joint, and a tattoo parlor.
Another argues that the corridor is in jeopardy because we are not attracting neighborhood services that we need — hardware stores, stationary stores, toy stores, specialty grocery stores and many more. Notice anything about what is there versus what they claim they want there. What’s there is what’s still profitable and can’t (or won’t) be replaced by big stores or online sales. What they want there are businesses that almost certainly can’t survive and — more than likely — aren’t at all necessary.
So on one side, you’re arguing for an amoral business front and profits before the health of locals (if you know nothing about e-cigs, that is). On the other side, you are anti-business and would rather a storefront be empty forever than allow a promising new product be sold in your area because you’re too close-minded to see the opportunity. This is the problem with everything needing to be 100% one way or the other. Like everything else, can’t we offer the freedom of consumers to choose, but then the controls that require only a certain age buy the product and the known risks be openly stated? That’s what we do with tattoos, alcohol, and driving a car.
But that’s what would-be vape shop owners are fighting against — locals that would rather a vacant shop stay vacant than a vape shop move in. These kind of scorched earth tactics help no one and only slightly de-ruffle the feathers of people who love to have ruffled feathers.
Nova Scotia’s Health Minister Leo Glavine introduced regulations recently which will hammer electronic cigarettes in almost all ways that tobacco too is controlled. This includes prohibiting sales to anyone under the age of 19, disallowing stores from displaying, advertising, or promoting the products, and banning the sale of all flavors other than tobacco and menthol.
However, recent amendments to the proposed regulation now grant electronic cigarettes a pass on the flavors ban. This means that sellers there won’t be restricted to only offering tobacco and menthol flavored e-cigs and e-liquid. It appears, though, that there will still be controls set on how sellers can market and advertise whatever flavors they sell.
Many electronic cigarette opponents are calling the change a big win for Big Tobacco. They argue that flavors — particularly sweet ones like candies and fruits — target and appeal primarily to teens. As teens are the demographic on which future tobacco profits are founded, it certainly sounds like a reasonable grievance to those that don’t know anything else about the industry.
But in reality, this is anything but a win for Big Tobacco. The availability of a wide range of flavors has already been shown to better allow electronic cigarettes to snag smokers away from tobacco. Flavor variety also appears to be a crucial component in helping smokers quit smoking entirely through the use of e-cigs. Simply put, it makes transitioning to e-cigs more likely.
When the regulations were first brought forward, John Haste of Canada’s Electronic Cigarette Trade Association called the proposal a “knee-jerk” reaction based on incomplete science. Perhaps those behind it are starting to realize that there is possibility among these mostly alien (to them) products.
St. Edward’s University is a liberal arts Roman Catholic university in Austin, Texas. Its local student paper is Hilltop Views which had a fairly surprising editorial this week on the issue of smoking and electronic cigarettes. The crux: ban tobacco cigarettes and allow e-cigs.
You can read the editorial right here.
What’s surprising is that St. Edwards is still a smoke friendly campus — an increasing rarity in this age. So anything that moves the campus towards meaningful action against smoking is a good thing. Still, it’s hard to change things when smoking is such an ingrained part of our culture (even now). But it seems electronic cigarettes offer a unique opportunity in this sort of debate — the ability to ban cigarettes will still allowing something that mostly sates the needs of users.
The editorial makes a few surprisingly good points. The writers argue that e-cigs offer far less primary and secondary harm (including citing a couple studies). Beyond that, however, the editorial also points out that users of electronic cigarettes are predominantly current and ex-smokers.
What the writers finally settle on, is that smoking should be free to be done by anyone provided it doesn’t impact the health of those around them. Electronic cigarette offer that and more.
A relatively new voice in the debate over electronic cigarettes has emerged with a fairly impressive resume. The E-Research Foundation (ERF for short) is a non-profit (pending) organization dedicated to funding, promoting, and disseminating research which helps us better understand electronic cigarettes and vapor products.
Their new website is going to be a housing location for existing knowledge on vapor products and a launching ground for new research. Generally this will be peer-reviewed and published studies from credible sources. Already, the site has a list of studies totaling 92 at the time this post was published. It certainly makes it hard to take anyone seriously when they claim there’s no research into electronic cigarettes or vapor products.
That’s not to say that there isn’t a need for more research. For opponents to the products, it seems there is no amount of research that will be enough to convince them maybe these products have something to offer. But ERF isn’t going to be getting involved in advocacy and lobbying. They exist to be a neutral player in all this. They fund research and share it with the world regardless of whether it supports the industry or not.
Certainly there will be claims that they are biased — after all, their leadership includes prominent e-cig advocates Lou Ritter (American E-Liquid Manufacturing Standards Association), Cynthia Cabrera (Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association), Peter Beckett (Electronic Cigarette Industry Trade Association in the UK), Linc Williams (We are Vapers) and more. However, the organization itself is designed with a singular focus on advancing medical and scientific research. Though commentary on each of the 92 studies it currently has listed would help provide a clearer picture of current research, the organization is comporting itself like a scientific entity first and a media outlet never (something that the industry has been lacking thus far).
All industries need entities like this. Although some create them purely as propaganda machines — and ERF may be called that and worse — it always helps to have something out there focusing on the science so that it can move at a pace faster than agonizingly slow. And that’s the pace you end up with if you leave things in the hands of regulators.
Here’s an interesting note to end on. ERF is also an acronym used for Extreme Reaction Force. This is a riot squad which responds to detainee problems in military detention centers like that in Guantanamo Bay. They are always suited up and ready to respond when things go bad. Now ERF (the e-cig one) might not exactly be the shock troops of the industry when it comes to regulatory advocacy and public relations, but they will certainly be a good source of the science that always needs to be on hand when these fights break out.
It seems that in the last 12 months, the number of electronic cigarette shops in Spain has plummeted from around 3,000 to just about 300. These numbers come from the country’s national e-cig trade organization ANCE. The reason: pharmaceutical company lobbying and media attacks against electronic cigarettes.
ANCE vice president Alejandro Rodríguez chimed in on massive decline of the market. “There has been a very intense attack by pharmaceutical companies which has generated bad publicity in the media.”
This wasn’t the only reason for the sudden decline however. It appears the number of e-cig shops grew a bit too much in very little time. At 3,000 stores across the country, Spain had roughly one store per 65 square miles. Focusing further on city environments, one could even find areas with two or three shops in rather close proximity.
The combination of the two has hammered the industry there and presumably even sent some e-cig users back to tobacco cigarettes. You can read more about the decline right here.
Spain’s government has not issued any formal regulations for electronic cigarettes, but for some time, their popularity there has been exploding. This seems to have led to some fairly heavy-handed anti-e-cig efforts by pharmaceuticals companies that were losing sales of their smoking cessation products.
Numbers across Europe have indicated that electronic cigarettes are causing a decline in smoking cessation sales. Though cessation products are supported as “approved” by many government regulatory groups, it appears the general public is starting to realize that they don’t really work. Studies have found that their success rate in real world situations is no more than that of quitting cold turkey and long-term smoking remission is close to 99%.
If nothing else, this seems to have led pharmaceutical companies to fight e-cigs as aggressively as possible.
Within the vaping community — particularly among business owners — there is a bit of a debate over whether the term “smoking” is acceptable when talking about the use of electronic cigarettes. While some don’t see the potential problems, others wish to distance the industry from smoking as much as possible. To them, the small connections (like terminology) are just as important as the big ones (like regulatory consistency between tobacco and electronic cigarettes), and all should be fought against.
Vapers always have plenty to argue with outsiders about. If it’s not whether electronic cigarette use should be allowed in public, it’s whether a wide variety of flavors should exist, whether the products actually help with smoking cessation, and whether they really do less damage than tobacco cigarettes.
But this is a debate going on primarily within the community. And though it mostly comes from business owners hoping to differentiate their stock from tobacco products, it can still be a contentious topic. One vape shop owner I’ve spoke with has and will fire employees who repeatedly use the term smoking.
There’s not a lot to be said in favor of use of the term. Mostly, people will relate e-cigs to smoking whether you like it or not. The term smoking is so ingrained in our vocabulary that it sounds weird and almost intentionally evasive to call an act so like it anything but. (I, for one, still find the term vaping somewhat awkward to use in casual dialogue.)
There is, however, a long list of reasons why smoking is problematic terminology for electronic cigarettes. First off, they don’t create smoke. The vapor that electronic cigarette replace tobacco smoke with is the reason these products are so much less harmful (99% less harmful according to many experts).
But beyond that, there is a public relations and education component to keeping tobacco and electronic cigarettes as separated as possible. With individuals that are willing to listen, arguments about e-cigs can often be made very effectively. On a broader scope though, people make judgements with their gut. If something is called smoking — even if it is distinctly different — people may view it with all the anger and frustration with which they view actual smoking.
This also makes it all the easier for politicians to argue that legislation should treat anything that looks like smoking, acts like smoking, and is called smoking as smoking.
Meanwhile, there are quite a lot of businesses out there that use some derivative of smoke or smoking as part of their brand. Even one of the earliest companies in the industry was Smoking Everywhere. There is an ease of branding when you use words with which people are already quite familiar. But again, opponents to the products relish every opportunity to say See!! Even they say it’s smoking and smoking is deadly!!
Like most things, there isn’t exactly a “right” answer (other than perhaps moderation). Given ten or twenty years of growth, smoking may no longer be a term that belongs to an obsolete combustible product which kills half its users. It may simply be a colloquial for predominantly harmless nicotine consumption through electronic devices (a possible future for the e-cig market).
Till then, the terminology debate continues.
India’s Health Ministry is officially pushing for a total ban of electronic cigarettes and their kind. According to health minister Harsh Vardhan, recent research findings by experts have concluded that e-cig use is no less unsafe than smoking. As such, an effort to ban them entirely is in the works.
You can read more about this right here.
Where said research is coming from is anyone’s guess. Studies across the globe have already shown that electronic cigarette cause far less harm than their conventional counterparts. Many experts even argued that even the most rudimentary understanding of the harm caused by smoking would show that electronic nicotine devices would be far less dangerous.
Most experts in the know now agree that e-cigs are roughly 95 to 99% less harmful than tobacco cigarettes. Beyond that, they are rapidly showing themselves to be helpful to those hoping to quit smoking. So again, it’s anyone’s guess what research Vardhan is looking at.
Smoking is a hot topic in India where the habit dates back to around 2000 BC. Today, nearly 1 in 5 males deaths in the country are smoking relating and around a million people die each year from the addiction. So India has a lot to fight for. Just recently, the country passed legislation reserving 85% of tobacco cigarette pack space for graphic warnings about the dangers of the products.
It appears the electronic cigarette market is far newer there than it is in many other countries. So who knows — they might eventually catch up to some of the science on the products too.
John Haste: Nova Scotia’s Proposed E-Cig Regs Are “a knee-jerk reaction based on incomplete science”
Nova Scotia’s Health Minister Leo Glavine introduced regulations recently which will hammer electronic cigarettes in almost all ways that tobacco too is controlled. This includes prohibiting sales to anyone under the age of 19, disallowing stores from displaying, advertising, or promoting the products, and banning the sale of all flavors other than tobacco and menthol.
All the same excuses many of us are used to hear are coming with these suggested policy changes. Presumably, electronic cigarettes are growing in popularity among youth and evidence shows them to be dangerous. Smoke-Free Nova Scotia is calling them a gateway to smoking. At the same time, Glavine says there is little evidence that the products work for cessation. There’s arguments against all of this.
John Haste of Canada’s Electronic Cigarette Trade Association called the proposal a “knee-jerk” reaction based on incomplete science. While most agree that age restrictions are a reasonable move, Haste argues that there are at least 200 studies that show e-cigs are harm reduction products (i.e. their existence reduces the damage done by nicotine consumption). Many other studies also show that e-cigs don’t act as a gateway, are predominately popular among middle-aged and older current and ex-smokers, and that they work to the end of smoking cessation.
“The regulators need to stop cherry-picking studies,” says Haste.
You can read more about the policies here.
There had been a misconception that electronic cigarettes were entirely illegal within Canada’s borders. When e-cigs first came to market, Health Canada issued an advisory telling Canadians not to purchase or use electronic smoking products. The advisory argued these products may pose health risks and have not been fully evaluated for safety, quality and efficacy by Health Canada. Many took this to mean that e-cigs were banned in Canada.
But now the country’s politicians are seeing e-cigs as an open landscape on which to set their flags and claim successful implementation of policy. They might be in for more of a fight than they expect.
A number of states have considered or are considering imposing a sin tax on electronic cigarettes. In some cases, this would tax e-cigs at upwards of 70%. The goal is to discourage use and — in cases where use happens anyway — get a piece of the action. This arguably makes sense for conventional tobacco cigarettes, but does it really make sense for electronic cigarettes?
Advocates of a sin tax often push two major arguments. First, that making something more costly will force individuals to cut back on or quit the product or activity. Second, the tax is argued to make up for future and current costs the activity inflicts on a government or community. In the case of tobacco cigarettes, some states tax them by as much as $4 and $5 per pack. The hope is to reduce smoking and recoup inevitable future health costs the state will incur taking care of individuals that have smoked themselves into hospitalization.
A sin tax levied against electronic cigarettes ignores two very important things. First, sin taxes are widely disliked and considered a poor tactic for government intervention in the activities of individuals. Second, discouraging electronic cigarette use is more likely to send users back to smoking rather than forcing them to quit altogether.
On the first point, sin taxes are often considered bad policy regardless of the product or activity being taxed. In many cases, a sin tax fails to influence the fundamental consumer behavior being taxed and instead encourages use of the lowest quality, highest concentration version of a products. In the worst case, use of smuggled or black market goods could become rampant. This is particularly the case when neighboring communities exhibit large discrepancies in final market prices.
Sin taxes also raise some fundamental arguments that are seemingly endless. Some feel it shouldn’t be the government’s place to regulate through taxes something that is otherwise an individual’s choice — especially with seemingly unproven social consequences. On average, the life of a healthy individual costs the government more than the life of a smoker, obese individual or alcoholic (who all have statistically shorter lives). Under the second argument for a sin tax (recouping medical costs), cigarettes, sugary sodas, greasy cheeseburgers, and alcohol shouldn’t be taxed at all. Maybe vegetables, yoga classes, and doctor’s visits need a longevity tax instead. But I digress.
On the second point, electronic cigarettes are hardly a sin to tax. Although the research shows that electronic cigarettes do cause some harm, that harm pales in comparison to the harm caused by smoking. Some researchers believe that a lifetime of electronic cigarette use is less harmful that 2 months of smoking. A great many individuals that use electronic cigarettes firmly believe that in the absence of the devices, they would return to smoking. Many individuals that used electronic cigarettes to transition away from smoking an ultimately quit believe they couldn’t have done so any other way.
In short, a tax discouraging use of electronic cigarettes would be an entirely inappropriate use of the idea of sin tax. It would more likely keep smokers smoking than keep new users from taking up the habit of e-cig use. States are being woefully misinformed of the effects electronic cigarettes are having on the market. Anti-smoking individuals still refuse to see anything resembling a cigarette as a promising new alternative. According to a recent report from Morgan Stanley, tobacco cigarette sales declined 4.5% from that which was expected in early 2013. They credited one major change with the bulk of this decline — the massive growth of the electronic cigarette industry.
After all the efforts by anti-smoking groups, the FDA, and various individuals to stop electronic cigarettes, this industry still put a serious dent in the world of smoking. Just imagine what this industry could do with the support these groups were they to get over the emotional response they have to smoking itself.
Arizona is far from the first state to consider it, but legislators there have begun discussing the possibility of an electronic cigarette tax to help the state cover its budget. Though there are no details on how large the tax might be, it certainly won’t be enough to make much of a dent on the state’s supposed $1 billion budget deficit expected to hit in 2017.
This would make Arizona the third state to enact such a tax. Minnesota enacted a 95% tax on e-cigs not long ago — and while the state reaps the benefits of such a high tax, many experts say it only sends e-cig users back to smoking traditional cigarettes.
Even Arizona Representative John Kavanagh argued that a tax on the products might discourage people from using them for to quit smoking. This is exactly what many public health experts are worried about when it comes to tight regulation of e-cigs.
Thus far, it doesn’t appear that legislators have attempted to argue that a tax on these products is due to protect the public — an argument made regularly elsewhere. The idea of a “sin tax” on e-cigs hasn’t gained momentum elsewhere and often just infuriates consumer freedom advocates.
New Jersey politicians looked at doing something similar earlier this year. At the time, they argued it was to protect the public from products little is known about. However, it became pretty clear the proposal only existed to increase the state’s income. The e-cig measure was eventually dropped.
At the moment, Arizona’s only restriction on e-cigs is to keep them from being sold to teens. According to the state’s Attorney General, the Smoke Free Arizona Act does not currently apply to e-cigs.
An article from Jacob Sullum, a contributor over at Forbes.com, completely nails why flavor bans for the sake of teens should be a non-starter in regulatory politics. Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine and a regular contributor for Forbes. His topic of choice: the ridiculousness of the war on drugs and political posturing through misleading anti-drug campaigns.
In it, Sullum tackles the idea that flavored electronic cigarette bans (most recently proposed in New York City) and marijuana edibles bans (proposed out in Colorado) are necessary to protect kids from these products. According to Sullum, “This argument, although couched in the language of moderate and sensible regulation, should be a non-starter in a free society, because it reduces adults to the level of children.”
A more cynical observer might think that these proposals have nothing to do with protecting kids and everything to do with helping the interests of certain companies. After all, larger operations (particularly tobacco companies) benefit most from making it harder for smaller businesses to compete. There is almost no better way to do that than to take away product variety.
Sullum has long been a defender of free choice in the world of drug politics — as evidenced by his book Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Use. Supporting legal use of recreational drugs and products (including alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, and marijuana) improves the quality of what’s available, makes contraband networks less powerful, affords the ability to tax the product, and more. But more than anything, it is a necessary part of living in a free society where — provide you aren’t hurting anyone — what you do is your own business.
This is not the first time Sullum has tackled this issue. One of the most telling tidbits he throws in this time is that when tobacco cigarette flavors were banned in 2009, a single exception was made — Menthol. This was due in large part to lobbying by Philip Morris. Menthol is the underage smoking flavor of choice. Cloves, strawberry bidis, and the like only ever made up 0.1% of the underage market at the time.
Any ban on electronic cigarette flavors makes a similar exception for Menthol. Yet again, a cynical observer might think these bans have nothing to do with kids.
Here’s an interesting bit of politics this week. The Clinton City Council in South Carolina was told by city staff that it should extend local smoking bans to include electronic cigarettes. According to local coverage there, the council often backs the recommendations of city administrative staff and passes bills with almost no discussion whatsoever.
But apparently electronic cigarettes were a different case there. City Manager Frank Stovall argued that the products cause similar health complications to that of tobacco cigarettes. A council member argued that he had seen studies showing e-cigs produce secondhand smoke.
Both of these arguments are mostly invalid — e-cigs are said to be 99% less harmful than tobacco cigarettes and the secondhand effects appear to be completely harmless according to various studies and experts. However, it is common to see these arguments lead to quick bills that treat electronic cigarettes as tobacco for the purposes of smoking bans, sales restrictions, and even advertising controls.
The council went a different way, however. Mayor Bob McLean argued that without the precedent of other South Carolina cities passing similar regulation, it was not his wish to be caught up in trailblazing an issue that might lead to courtroom costs defending the bill. What’s more, the city manager stated that city staff had yet to receive any complaints about electronic cigarette use. So it certainly didn’t appear to be an issue worth digging in on just yet.
Another council member argued that without more information, a vote might be premature.
You can read about the debate here. It’s good to see people approaching the issue with at least a little rationality. Presumably, the issue will be revisited in November.
Can these numbers really be right?
A study conducted at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute and published in the Journal of Adolescent Health looked at e-cig use among teens in Poland. The results go beyond surprising all the way to unbelievable. If nothing else, it all makes one wonder what the culture of smoking is there and whether the survey sample actually represents the teen community at large.
The study surveyed 1,970 students of age 15 to 19 across 21 schools. This followed a similar study in 2011 with 1,760 students across 17 schools.
According to the study, 61.1% of those surveyed have tried electronic cigarettes. This was up from 16.8% in 2011. Meanwhile, 29.9% of students surveyed were revealed to be current e-cig users (up from 5.5% in 2011). Not only that, but use of tobacco in the same period has jumped from 23.9% to 38% (again, according to this study). When all use of tobacco and electronic cigarettes is taken together, a whopping 72.4% of teens are users according to the researchers.
There is much to question about these numbers. Many other studies are showing that e-cigs generally lead to reduced use of traditional cigarettes and that they don’t appeal as much to teens as they do older individuals looking to quit smoking. This study seems tailor-made to counter these statements, but there’s a few things that might be wrong with it.
First, the sample is extraordinarily small. According to 2013 numbers, the youth population of 10 to 24 year olds in Poland is 6.7 million. So the population of 15-19 year olds can be guessed to be around 1.8 million. This means the study sample covers about one-tenth of a percent of the population it represents. There’s also well over 2,000 secondary schools (for ages 11-18) in Poland — meaning only about 1% of the schools were represented. While it is possible that the sample does represent the numbers for the whole country, it seems dubious to call these conclusive results.
Second, Poland has long been one of the worst places for smoking prevalence in the world and might be exactly the place to find unbalanced numbers for e-cig research. Roughly 46% of men there smoke and about 31% of women. From 1970 to 2000, the smoking rate only decreased by about 19% — compared to far more significant decreases elsewhere. In 1990 (for example), more than 5% of 35 to 69 year olds in the country died to smoking related complications. While those figures appear to be improving, Poland has never been a good place to see hope in the fight against smoking.
You can read more about the study here. Well known electronic cigarette opponent Stanton Glantz has already chimed in claiming that this further shows that e-cigs only exist to reinforce the nicotine addiction business model of tobacco companies.
The Pennsylvania Medical Society recently called on the American Medical Association to lobby regulators to tell the entertainment industry that celebrity endorsements and product placement of electronic cigarettes should be prohibited. This is quite a chain of pressure likely leading to almost no real impact, but it’s certainly worth noting that it’s happening.
What’s a little silly here is that the AMA has already taken a fairly hard stance against electronic cigarettes arguing that they should be regulated and controlled similar to that of tobacco.
What’s more, celebrity endorsements of electronic cigarettes have mostly occurred with individuals few teens even recognize. Most of the celebs noted when alarms are raised are names from 90s culture like Courtney Love, Jenna Jameson, and Stephen Dorff. The of e-cig companies seems mostly focused on 30′s and older smokers.
As for product placement, there has been very little thus far — and none has occurred in anything remotely interesting to the average teen. This call for lobbying seems to mostly be Penn Medical Society doing things so they can claim they’re doing things. But telling a group to do stuff they’re already doing isn’t really what we’d call progress.
Even so, there is hardly any real evidence that celebrity endorsements or product placement of electronic cigarettes is or will be a problem. Some experts have even argued that a successful marketing push against tobacco cigarettes by e-cigs could be the final nail in the coffin for an industry that kills roughly half its consumers. It’s also been said that a lifetime of nicotine use without the smoking component could well be harmless under the right set of circumstances — and e-cigs appear to be those circumstances.
Yet again, a group argues against e-cigs, but they appear only to be firing blanks.
Phillip Morris announced back in June that it would be producing a heated tobacco electronic cigarette for the market. Rather than vaporizing a liquid nicotine solution like most e-cigs though, the device will heat and burn actual tobacco. Despite very little information on the new devices, it appears one idea Phillip Morris might go with is a charge-by-the-puff method of selling the devices.
Presumably, this would mean that rather than just paying for a refill cartridge or loose tobacco, you’d get hit with a nominal fee based on the amount you inhaled from the device. Already, the spin machine is saying that this is a way to help smokers by discouraging constant use. Arguments can certainly be made that charging by emission value makes a bit more sense than charging by the refill.
But there is little to suggest that charging by the puff would help anyone but the tobacco company. By paying per puff, a user might find that he or she is more likely to over use — as the cost of a single use appears negligible. Meanwhile, the company can almost certainly charge for the air a user breaths, inflating what they claim to offer.
Almost certainly major tobacco companies are looking for ways to catch individuals looking to transition away from smoking — and at the same time they want to make the same amount they make off conventional cigarette sales to that user. This seems like an effort to do just that.
The World Health Organization is discussing a Global Tobacco Tax which would see prices of conventional cigarettes here in the US skyrocket. The WHO event in Moscow is closed to the public and even media — creating quite a lot of frustration — with the intention of getting things done rather than just talking about getting things done.
According to the Washington Post, if the global tobacco tax succeeds, a pack of cigarettes here in the US could easily cost $33 or more. This would force most smokers to either quit of cut down on the habit tremendously — which is exactly what the WHO is hoping for.
Being the global politics and policy experts we are here at ECA, our understanding is that the WHO is granted authority to tax tobacco globally through the power of magic. To be clear, we don’t know why the WHO has this power — and we assume Big Tobacco will fight it. Others might fight it as well for fear that the WHO might place global taxes on everything unhealthy from fast food to alcohol.
But really, tobacco is the biggest global culprit by far. The global tax would nail it for roughly 70% of retail value. By the time to product gets to the user, that could easily end up tripling the price. But if this does happen, e-cigs could be even further reinforced as the nicotine delivery option of choice for the future.
You can read more on the tax here.
A hearing is planned for October 23rd in New York City to review a proposed bill from City Councilman Constantinides. If enacted, the bill will ban flavored electronic cigarettes and e-liquid throughout the city with the minor exception of the few remaining (grandfathered in) tobacco bars. This means even vape shops would not be able to sell flavored e-cigs and e-liquid.
The meeting is set to take place here:
Thursday, October 23, 2014 1:00 pm
Council Chambers, City Hall
City Hall and 250 Broadway, New York, NY
You can find more details on the hearing right here.
This bill is being presented as legislation designed to protect kids from the allure of flavored e-cigs which may ensnare them in a lifetime of addiction to nicotine and possibly smoking.
There are a few problems with this argument however. To be brief, there is no proof flavors cause more harm through attracting non-smokers than the benefits. Research thus far suggests that flavor variety is an integral part of what allows smokers to transition to e-cigs — and thus dramatically reduce the harm nicotine consumption does to a user.
This bill wouldn’t just make it harder for e-cigs to help smokers in New York, it would further provide smoke shops with an advantage over vape shops — most of which might even close outright without the ability to offer variety over convenience stores and pharmacies. Alternatively, they may simply move beyond the boarders of the city.
If you live or do business in the area, it may well be worth it to attend this hearing.
Information on how to contact the bill’s sponsor, City Councilman Constantinides, can be found here.
According to our friends at SFATA, a hearing in Ashland, Massachusetts is scheduled for 7:00 PM tonight (October 17th) which will review whether electronic cigarettes should be considered tobacco products.
The hearing is set to take place here:
Town Hall Meeting Room B-C
101 Main Street, 1st Floor, Ashland MA 01721
The proposed ban would prohibit e-cig use anywhere that smoking is also prohibited and outlaw the production and sale of flavored electronic cigarettes in the area.
If you live or do business in the area, the following information will assist in contacting decision-makers regarding this proposal.
Ashland Board of Health General Number: 508-881-0100
Board of Health General Email: email@example.com
Board of Health Members
Jon Andrew Featherston (Clerk)
Edward P. Hart (member)
Charles L. Legassey (Vice Chair)
Mary F. Mortensen (Chair)
Mark Oram (Director)
Laura Clifford (Secretary)
The Scottish government is considering actions which would introduce some major rules to the books when it comes to smoking and electronic cigarette use. If passed, sales of electronic cigarettes to anyone under the age of 18 will be prohibited. Not just that, but smoking in a vehicle with a kid inside might also be outlawed.
Beyond that, regulators may push rules prohibiting adults from purchasing e-cigs for teens and may even place restrictions on product marketing and advertising. At the moment, these proposed bans are waiting on input from the public. So far, Scotland appears to lack any regulation of e-cigs (not unlike most countries).
A team at the National Addiction Centre there conducted an analysis of electronic cigarettes and found generally good things to say about them.
According to lead researcher Peter Hajek:
In this case the risks are unlikely, some already proven not to exist, while the benefits are potentially enormous. It really could be a revolutionary intervention in public health if smokers switched from cigarettes to electronic cigarettes.
So killing benefits, which are huge, for risks which are small is like asking people to stop using mobile phones and tablets, or restrict their use and further development, because of a one in 10,000,000 chance that the battery might overheat in your device.
Scotland appears to be yet another nation taking a sound approach to the regulation of electronic cigarettes.
A new study from the Office of National Statistics in the United Kingdom has placed the 2013 adult smoking rate there at 18.7%. This is more than a full percentage point less than 2012′s 19.8% figure and appears to be the lowest smoking rate to be accurately recorded in the UK’s history.
In many countries, including the UK, smoking rate declines stagnated around 20%. Only in recent years — coincidentally, since electronic cigarettes entered the market — have these rates started to plunge again. Researchers are saying that this data shows fears that e-cigs will turn people to tobacco are largely unfounded. One step further, this and other research suggests that electronic cigarettes may actually be killing the combusted tobacco market.
The 1940′s was the last time the smoking rate appeared to be this low in the country. However, some experts believe those figures to be incorrect and place the actual smoking rate at the time closer to 50% (with nearly two-thirds of men over 16 being smokers at the time) based on tobacco industry figures. So this appears to be the lowest smoking rate to occur since the smoking epidemic came to be viewed as an epidemic.
Smoking in the UK has long been a part of its culture. Even now, 80,000 individuals die each year as a result of smoking. For this reason, regulators in the UK have been going after harsh anti-smoking policies for a long time — including usage bans, plain packaging, and high taxes.
Meanwhile, the country (barring a few anti-smoking zealots) appears to have approached electronic cigarettes primarily with a learn first, regulate second strategy. A Smoking Toolkit Study from Smoking in England found primarily good things for the products. While growth in e-cig use appears to have stalled a bit, use for quit attempts continues to grow. E-cigs have also been blamed for declining use of “approved” smoking cessation options — many of which experts now agree don’t really work.
Meanwhile, use of electronic cigarettes by individuals that have never smoked remains extremely rare and the idea that they will “remormalize” smoking or act as a gateway to it appears entirely bunk at this point.
You can read more about the study right here.
Up until now, electronic cigarettes existed in a weird advertising limbo in the United Kingdom. Although advertisements for the products were legal, an electronic cigarette could not appear on-screen during them. This made for some creative advertising, but didn’t make the most sense in the world.
Well now the Committee of Advertising Practice — the group that writes and updates the rules for appropriate advertising in the UK — is saying that this is being changed. Electronic cigarettes were not in existence when tobacco advertising rules were set — namely, when all tobacco ads were banned outright. As such, e-cigs fell into a weird space which meant they could be advertised but couldn’t appear.
As of November 10th, that will change and on-screen advertising of electronic cigarettes will be legal provided ads adhere to a few rules. The rules require that the ads not appeal explicitly to youth and youth culture, they not encourage use by non-smokers, they not claim to be safer or healthier than smoking, and they not make claims to be approved by any medical regulatory group.
These rules could certainly be a hindrance to companies — in particular, almost any ad could be argued to appeal to teens. Still, the amounts to a loosening of the rules rather than a tightening of them, which suggests the CAP plans to play fair with the industry. Certainly is seems unlike that an ad for e-cigs won’t take 14 months to get approved the way this one did. Even after 14 months of work with regulators, the ad was quickly banned after being aired.
But as the research of electronic cigarettes, the regulation of them, and the rules surrounding their sales and marketing change, it seems likely these rules may eventually change as well. While stating that e-cigs are safer than smoking isn’t kosher right now, that may change in a matter of years. They may also receive the approval from medical regulatory and watchdog groups in the same time.
The simple fact that the CAP went a different direction with e-cigs than it did with tobacco is very promising. They could have just as easily dug in and said no e-cig ads ever and made it into a serious fight. But ultimately, they chose to give the industry a chance.
The latest study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on electronic cigarette use is being used yet again to raise alarms. The study finds that use of electronic cigarettes among non-smoking teens roughly tripled from 2011 to 2013.
In 2011, CDC research suggested that about 79,000 non-smoking teens had tried electronic cigarettes that year. As of 2013, that statistic increased to 263,000 — more than triple the 2011 figure. The research also found that 90% of non-smoking teens had been exposed to some degree of electronic cigarette marketing. All this is being used to argue that e-cigs are ensnaring teens.
You can read more on the CDC’s research here.
There’s a few issues with these number being used to raise alarms. For starters, use of electronic cigarettes by teens has yet to be proven to be a concerning trend for any reason. In fact, it seems possible that e-cig use by teens could be a good thing if it helps eradicate smoking.
Research suggests that nicotine consumed not through smoking is not nearly as addictive. Some experts have even suggested that a lifetime of nicotine use can occur without significant harm to the user (similar to using caffeine in coffee). In almost all coverage of the numbers, e-cigs being a bad thing is taken as a given.
Beyond that, these numbers do little to show anything other than that teens who might otherwise be smoking are using electronic cigarettes. Some of the numbers even support the idea that e-cigs might be replacing cigarette use.
Of those teens that had never smoked but did try e-cigs, 43.9% indicated interest in smoking. Of teens who had never tried e-cigs or smoking, only 21.5% showed interest in smoking. This means that e-cigs might be beating out conventional cigarettes and keeping young adults from becoming lifelong smokers.
A bill proposed today (Tuesday the 7th) by Councilman Costa Constantinides of Queens bans all fruity flavors in electronic cigarettes. Constantinides argues that fruity flavors entice kids to pick up the habit, and only exist to further reinforce the addictive aspect of smoking and nicotine.
The American Vaping Association and others have already shot back against the bill arguing that the existence of flavor variety has already proven itself an invaluable piece of the smoking cessation equation for e-cigs. For many smoking adults, flavors provide an intense alternative experience that rapidly replaces the taste of traditional cigarettes. The argument is difficult to make, however, when the products are still unable to be sold as cessation devices.
Constantinides is making an emotional case for the bill — using the classic think of the children tactic. In reality, e-cigs appear no more appealing to teens than their smoky counterparts. Arguments can certainly be made for letting kids get away with e-cig use if they might smoke otherwise. Some experts have already said that a lifetime of e-cig use may pose no significant long-term risk to users. It would be similar to the caffeine culture we already induct kids into more and more aggressively.
Not unsurprisingly, Constantinides feels he has the moral superiority in this case. “These guys are not in the quitting business. They’re in the addiction business.” He, like many, seems to truly believe that e-cigs offer absolutely nothing other than a financial gain for the businesses behind them.
New York City policies have come under increasing scrutiny in recent years for being entirely too coddling and controlling of its population. Private citizens and business owners alike fought against a citywide ban on large sugary drinks — mostly arguing that if businesses are willing to sell them, and customers are willing to buy them, then what is the problem?
You can read more about the bill right here.
The United Kingdom-based electronic cigarette company Totally Wicked just won its first victory in the fight against the EU’s efforts to regulate electronic cigarettes as tobacco products. The company has been given the okay to challenge the latest EU tobacco products directive in open court. While this is a long way from stopping the new rules from going into effect, it does mean that they have some legitimate arguments worth reviewing.
The EU’s tobacco products directive is set to go into effect in 2016 and would create significant problems for the electronic cigarette industry through the EU. In addition to forcing e-cig companies to jump through the same hoops as tobacco in order to sell their products, the directive will tightly control where the products can be sold and how they can be marketed. Although many are in favor of some kind of regulation, the fact remains that research is showing e-cigs to be 99% less harmful than smoking and so should not be subject to the same level of regulation.
Among other things, the directive would also place heavy restrictions on the amounts of nicotine that can be found in electronic cigarettes and might completely ban custom devices.
Hearings for the challenge are not likely to happen until sometime next year — moving at the same pace most regulatory progress is made. Even so, this could spark other countries looking into regulation to reconsider what they’re doing. Without evidence that electronic cigarettes actually pose any of the risks opponents like to suggest that they might pose, it may soon be impossible for countries to push through regulations at a national level without getting dragged into court first.
You can read more on the challenge here.
Tobacco has quite a lot of enemies in the medical care and hygiene world. Not only do they ruin lung and heart function, but they ruin good skin, have degenerative effects on the eyes, and wreak havoc on a patient’s smile. This makes for curiosity in just about every field of care — not the least of which is the dental care field.
Well, a continuing education program by Dentalcare.com and sponsored by toothpaste brands Crest and Oral-B has set its sights on electronic cigarettes. Though the course uses some very outdated information (including an FDA study from 2009) and focuses on some of the less valuable tidbits for other sources, it is not entirely focused on making the products look bad. Not surprisingly, it does ultimately argue that more information is necessary.
One would hope that the FDA study from 2009 might be considered out of date at this point — for no other reason than that e-cigs today are nothing like what they were 5 years ago. They even use Polosa’s work (which mostly shows that e-cigs do work for cessation) to show that some e-cig users (less than 10%) experience some minor side effects like throat irritation or coughing.
While this course certainly isn’t as slanted as many pieces of literature we’ve seen, it still mostly avoids sharing any evidence that seems remotely in favor of electronic cigarettes.