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.
It’s going to be an interesting day the first time debates over electronic cigarettes are made in front of the Supreme Court. Not only will it be a defining day for the industry and possibly set the tone for the products for the next hundred years, but it will be another opportunity for Supreme Court Justices to show just how little they understand modern technology.
As covered on the news site Salon, the justices making many of the most broadly impacting decisions in the country appear to lack almost any understanding of modern technology. Although e-cigs aren’t being pushed in front of them yet, the tides seem to be trending towards an eventual Supreme Court decision over what qualifies as a tobacco product, what counts as smoking, and what constitutes a proven and supportable health claim about electronic cigarettes.
Consider 4 years after making a decision about whether Ebay constituted an invention or not, Justice Roberts (59) asked what the difference was between a pager and an email. With the oldest members of the Supreme Court reaching their late seventies and early eighties, it’s no wonder they can’t keep up with the times. And it appears that technology that can’t easily be analogized to help the members understand it tends to suffer in the end.
During the same debates over Ebay in 2006, Justice Kennedy (77), indicated that he was unfamiliar with patent troll as a term — a term which had been around for more than a decade. This was also surprising given the term’s legal implications.
This is all likely to spell trouble for electronic cigarettes. Supreme Court justices have so much trouble understanding new technology, they may be much more likely to simply consider them the same as smoking. And we know that opponents of the devices will certainly argue in favor of that view — even if it means intentionally misleading the justices or outright campaigning for ignorance.
Electronic cigarettes have been and continue to be extraordinarily disruptive to a wide range of traditional fields — including tobacco cigarettes, anti-smoking campaigning, cessation therapy, and even drug delivery. It’s only a matter of time before something forces a piece of the debate so far along that the Supreme Court becomes the arbiter. Let’s hope they have a better capacity to understand vaping than they do emails, cell phones, smart phones, GPS, solar power, software development, the internet, YouTube, search engines, video games, blogs, cable television, and the rotary telephone.
Representative Jackie Speier from California — a democrat — has proposed a bill focused on prohibiting electronic cigarette marketing that might target or appeal to kids. Despite many efforts to spin e-cigs as dangerous tobacco products by opponents, Speier’s bill surprisingly avoids arguing that e-cigs should be treated as tobacco products or that they should be regulated under the FDA’s authority to control them.
The FDA got the majority of its power in 1938 through the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. It’s under this act that the bill claims the FDA possesses authority to control e-cigs — rather than focusing on more recently received authority over tobacco products. This appears to make more sense than regulation under tobacco controls, but raises some very interesting questions.
For one, what aspect of electronic cigarettes makes them a threat to kids? I don’t ask this to argue that kids should be allowed to use e-cigs. I ask this because this would determine how control needed to be established. Is the argument that nicotine is addictive? If so, then potatoes, eggplants, and a variety of other vegetables would need to be reviewed. One eggplants contains about 5% of the nicotine content of one cigarette. This means there would have to be a threshold on what constitutes a dangerously addictive level of nicotine.
If the concern is that kids will use electronic cigarettes as a gateway to smoking (which many experts and studies already agree is not the case), then there would need to be a lot more proof that it is a legitimate concern — especially since e-cigs appear more likely to keep kids away from smoking.
If harm is the argument, there still needs to be a lot of study to justify nearly blanket restrictions on marketing. While nicotine poisoning is possible, the same can be said of caffeine. Two 5 hour Energy drinks contain about 400 mg of caffeine — more than enough to cause caffeine poisoning in a kid. Many are pushing for energy drink sales bans for kids for this very reason. Still, if caffeine is not controlled, it seems like controlling non-tobacco nicotine — may be just as hard.
The company behind Marlboro cigarettes has announced that it is set to launch a new electronic cigarette this year. Phillip Morris International — the world’s second largest tobacco company — said it would be launching its Heatsticks under the Marlboro brand first in Italy and Japan.
There’s a few interesting things to note in this announcement –
Real tobacco heated. Apparently, this new product uses real tobacco which is heated rather than burned or combusted. I’m not sure how that actually works or what that does for the harm of the product, but Phillip Morris is calling it a “reduced-risk” product. They claim the use of real tobacco in the products will appeal more to smokers than e-liquids. Whether this will actually work is anyone’s guess.
Marlboro-branded. PMI is sticking its Marlboro brand on the new devices. This is actually a pretty big deal. This means they’re confident enough to risk some brand degradation on a mostly unproven product. Many analysts have claimed that tobacco companies should avoid applying existing tobacco cigarette brands to e-cigs in order to benefit from the freedoms fresh brands bring. After all, many tobacco-focused restrictions apply to any brand that holds a tobacco cigarettes even if other products fall under it. Perhaps PMI feels it’s time to really start treating e-cigs like traditional smokes.
Invested. According to the announcement, PMI has spent more than $2 billion and 10 years developing the product and will be spending another $680 million building factories for their production in Italy. Clearly PMI has invested a lot in the products and has even suggested that it will apply to sell them in the U.S. as reduced risk alternatives through the FDA. Previous e-cig ventures from PMI didn’t appear as genuine as this one.
It’s like something out of the real estate crash a few years ago. So back in the 90′s Big Tobacco settled with states to give them a piece of future revenues as penance for the damage they had already done and would continue to do. Those states sold bonds that would pay out as long as tobacco kept making money — and tobacco has always been a safe bet.
But the rapid introduction of a competing product to a space that never really had one before is putting these bonds at risk. Since the introduction of electronic cigarettes to the global market, tobacco sales declines — which had stalled in more recent years — are on a renewed path downward. Wells Fargo has even claimed that e-cigs may well surpass tobacco cigarette sales inside the next 10 years. That would take roughly $45 billion a year away from the revenues subject to the payment of those bonds.
The issue was originally covered by Reuters and has been reported by a number of outlets since.
According to a money manager interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, the first bond defaults could be only about 5 years away. Many see the problem really hitting the market around 2020.
Selling tobacco bonds has been a questionable option for states for some time. Although the bonds technically transfer risk to the buyers, many have secondary pledge backing from the states that sell them. This means that if the tobacco industry implodes and can’t pay, the state loses the income from the tobacco companies and still has to keep paying for the bonds. Many believe this can create a pretty significant perverse incentive for states to support and protect tobacco companies from legal and competitive risk.
Even before the introduction of electronic cigarettes, declining cigarette sales where causing some bonds to default. Ratings organizations have even downgraded the longest-term bonds to a junk rating. With e-cigs offering a non-tobacco alternative that appears 99% less harmful and easily half the expense (often less), tobacco cigarette sales are at the tipping point of a near complete free fall.
Rapper and controversial celebrity Rick Ross (pictured) has been picked up by electronic cigarette maker MCig as the company’s global brand ambassador. Presumably the company will be releasing a new line of products using Ross’s latest album title, Mastermind.
You can read about the announcement here.
The choice is likely to draw some controversy. Reebok dropped Ross as a spokesperson last year following outrage over the lyrics in one of his songs appearing to condone date rape. But more importantly to the electronic cigarette community and industry, Ross has been fairly public with his use and endorsement of marijuana.
Much of the community and industry hope to distance themselves from the topic of marijuana — legal or not. E-cigs already have enough trouble being connected to tobacco and smoking. Direct connection to the marijuana industry would only give more ammunition to the kind of stodgy moral high-horse nuts that already fight against e-cigs so vigorously.
There is a close relationship between the standard methods of consumption of both tobacco and marijuana. The relationship means that electronic cigarettes have the potential to remove a significant portion of the harm done by the average consumption method of either.
Still, this is likely to raise some eyebrows around the industry.
This is a big one. A study published in BMC Cardiovascular Disorders this week found that — in all ways measured — electronic cigarettes did not affect acute heart function while tobacco cigarettes did.
The study examined acute heart function in 36 smokers and 40 vapers both before and after smoking or vaping. After just one tobacco cigarette, subjects showed “significant changes in diastolic function parameters.” But by all measures, vaping caused no adverse effects after a solid 7 minutes of activity.
This adds to a litany of other research that all appears to support the idea that e-cigs really don’t cause much harm. A previous study already showed e-cigs had no effect on acute respiratory function. It’s rapidly seeming like expert postulation that e-cigs are 99% less harmful that tobacco cigarettes is becoming proven theory.
Some e-cig opponents continue to claim that there is no proof e-cigs are any less harmful than tobacco cigarettes. Meanwhile, studies like this are becoming harder and harder to ignore — which is why many opponents have moved on to claims that e-cigs act as a gateway or are keeping people from quitting altogether.
All in all, this is a difficult study to argue against.
After months of debate over the budget in New Jersey, the latest agreement doesn’t actually tax electronic cigarettes as had been pushed for by a number of Jersey politicians, including Governor Chris Christie. This is a significant win for e-cigs as the momentum to tax them in New Jersey was rather strong for a time.
Proponents of an electronic cigarette tax argued that it was designed to protect non-smokers from nicotine and reduce consumption of e-cigs by smokers. But ultimately it appeared clear the tax was drawn up mostly to squeeze extra cash out of consumers to make up for a state-wide deficit.
And while e-cig opponents supported the tax, many questioned its validity. Experts claimed the tax likely discourage quitting and run businesses out of town.
Research is continuing to show that electronic cigarettes are extremely viable cessation options for smokers. At worst, they outperform patches by mirroring patch quit rate and getting those that don’t quit to smoke less. At best, they appear capable of completely replacing tobacco cigarettes for around 25% of smokers. Taxing e-cigs would only make it more likely individuals might stick to smoking — which is known to be far more harmful.
As for the business argument, New York is experiencing some pains when it comes to it’s own high tobacco taxes which have led to a healthy black market and common border state purchasing. In fact, New Jersey benefits quite significantly from individuals purchasing cigarettes cheaper there for use in New York. It was likely that a hefty tax — which could have been as much as 95% at a time — would only send business back to New York or across other state lines.
Ultimately this was a big win for electronic cigarettes. Whether the tax was dropped because proponents actually changed their minds or simply because they thought it would make it too hard to reach an agreement on the budget, e-cig businesses and community at large can chop this up as a win.
Dr. Oz responded to criticism recently for his baseless endorsements of various “miracle weight loss cures.” His response to claims that he was hawking crap and selling it as magic were contradictory and generally evasive. John Oliver covered the situation during his show, Last Week Tonight, and the parallels to e-cig debates were surprising.
You can check out the piece right here:
After the committee hearing last week, it’s interesting to watch something like this. Dietary supplements tend to fall outside the reach of much regulation. Politicians deride them from their dubious effects and common complications. There were even some pretty major political fights over what qualified as reasonable regulation of the industry.
In general, I fall down on the side of regulation is good. For e-cigs, regulation would ideally ensure that e-liquids were impurity free, labels were accurate, and devices were of reasonable quality. For supplements, regulation would ideally ensure that, for instance, a third of the products actually had the ingredients in them that were listed on the label.
Still, it’s interesting to see a debate go almost exactly the same about two different products — one which I defend and believe in and one that I am skeptical of at best.
John Oliver could use some better material, but it’s still an interesting watch for those familiar with thee e-cig debate.
This past Wednesday, Jason Healy from Blu and Craig Weiss from Njoy sat in front of a committee hearing where they got nothing short of bullied for about 2 hours. The hearing was with the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and many speakers spent their time simply berating the two for the marketing tactics which speakers believed would lead to a new generation of dying smokers for the sake of profits.
In the face of misleading facts, slanted questions, being called what’s wrong with this country, being told that their only motive is money, and being held accountable for the practices of every e-cig company in the country despite only representing one each, both Healy and Weiss maintained absolutely perfect composure. Neither appeared to get angry, short, or frustrated. Neither interrupted any of the speakers to attempt a correction or argue why they had answered a slanted question in a certain way. And despite all this professionalism and corporate dutifulness, neither actually did anything good for themselves, their companies, or the industry at large.
There’s a perception that if you allow an opponent to drag you down to their level, anger you, or force impassioned words out of you, that you’re somehow falling into a trap and allowing yourself to appear defensive, driven by emotion, and otherwise extremely biased. This couldn’t be further from the truth in many situations. The reality is that anything you give someone is something they will try to use against you. Act with passion, and you’re on a warpath and won’t see reason. Act with complete composure, and you’re a perfect corporate drone that doesn’t actually care about the issues.
But showing too much emotion will always be preferable to not showing enough or any. At least then, you’re being genuine — and people respond to that. Healy and Weiss did not appear genuine at all. Their answers were dull and safe, and they appeared focused on responding in the most non-committal (read weaselly) way possible. I don’t believe that Healy and Weiss intended to be weaselly, but that is likely the word witnesses to the hearing had in mind watching their responses.
I really wanted to see either of them respond with some force. In short, I wanted them to disagree with speakers. When a speaker says that e-cig companies are only motivated by the pursuit of money and would sell tobacco to a kid if that’s what it takes to make a profit, stand up and F@#$ing disagree! When a speaker claims nicotine is just as addictive in e-cigs as it is in tobacco cigarettes when science is suggesting that’s not the case, stand up and F@#$ing disagree! When a speaker acts like the advertising tactics of another company are your responsibility, stand up and F@#$ing disagree!
This wasn’t a refined discussion of science and statistics and best policy. This was a setting for over-zealous anti-smoking fanatics to bully people they perceived as the enemy and pat themselves on the back for doing it. As is, they succeeded in that effort and they appeared to be in the right by many accounts because the two representatives of e-cig interests there didn’t really put up a fight. They answered questions without context and allowed speakers to dictate absolutely all terms of the engagement.
I can only hope that Healy and Weiss learn from this situation. By all means, let opponents bait you with slanted questions and misleading facts — and then beat them up a bit for using them. Above all, don’t be afraid to say, That is an asinine question designed to get a misleading response. And then explain your position.
At least when you let someone drag you into a fight — even an unfair one — you can get in some punches too.