Sales of many smoking cessation products appear to have been on the decline since electronic cigarettes joined the market at large. Some studies and many consumers suggest that electronic cigarettes work better than “approved” methods of cessation (even though they can’t be marketed as such). Even for those smokers that don’t quit, e-cig use appears to regularly help them reduce their total smoking by half or more.
Meanwhile, many smokers have become pretty jaded about approved quitting methods. Studies show only a thin improvement in quit rate between cold turkey (9%) and products like nicotine gums, lozenges, patches, and various drugs (often 10-12% at best). However, more recent research suggests that smokers that quit almost always (99% of the time) return to smoking eventually. So these 10-12% quit rates only really apply at the 1 year mark. Beyond that, real success rate is far lower. Even quitting cold turkey has this problem.
This has led a lot of smokers to give up on giving up smoking. A great many are simply tired of spending hundreds or even thousands on all the various ways someone might manage to quit with little to no success. E-cigs sit in a wonderful limbo between quitting and smoking which allows smokers to replace the act with 99% less harm and without requiring a user to give up any of the accompanying habits or rituals. This very fact meant that by July of 2013, 25% of all smoking quit attempts in the UK were done with e-cigs. That percent is likely to be much higher now.
According to a report from Reuters, GlaxoSmithKline (the pharmaceutical giant behind a number of smoking cessation products including Nicorette, NicoDerm, and Zyban) has been suffering significant drops in their cessation product sales. The the report doesn’t say by how much, but it is enough that the company felt the need to comment on the changing market and why they aren’t attempting to get in on the booming e-cig industry. While that might appear to be a good idea for them, they seem content to view the industry as too controversial. In fact, they’ve been lobbying against the industry for some time now.
According to its chief executive, GSK considered getting into the industry for “a few days” but decided there wasn’t enough evidence of risk and benefit yet to “play” (as he put it). It’s possible they want the industry to sound like an illegitimate participant in an otherwise legitimate market. If GSK was really interested, they’d do the studies necessary themselves. However, it seems likely that they don’t want to participate in a market unless it is so hosed with regulation that only a small number of ultra-large companies can compete (a la the pharmaceutical industry at large).
It’s possible this statement from GSK was a necessary one to respond to investors asking why the company is passing on an industry that has been doubling in size annually for more than 5 years now. While they can’t be expected to be involved in everything, they should have a pretty good reason why they’re letting their cessation sales plummet.
Just before the turn of the new year, I had the pleasure of being a guest at Cherry Vape’s end of year and 5-year anniversary party. Cherry Vape was one of the earliest vapor products companies around, and I’ve known the owners for nearly two and a half years now. They got their start primarily making and selling custom drip tips and have since branched out into selling full devices and juices. Just this past year, they opened their first vape shop — CV Vape Den in Port Chester, NY.
In that time, they’ve quickly and clearly become a meaningful part of their local community. Even at the state level, they drew the attention of Senator George Latimer — who is an ally to the industry due in large part to the efforts of Cherry Vape and others in New York to educate state leadership. Latimer even brought a state certified certificate to commemorate the end of the company’s 5th year (picture below).
All in all, a wonderful crowd enjoyed a very pleasant night which few shops could (or would) offer at the end of the year. Even if a shop might do something like this, there are few that have the customer admiration and support to draw such a refreshing crowd. Imagine going to a holiday party at your local barber shop or hardware store (I’m sure it happens somewhere, but it’s certainly not the norm).
What all this points to is just how much vape shops can and are becoming a meaningful community staple. Those vape shops that do it right are more than just a small retail establishment — they are a welcoming social atmosphere where people can meet and hang out. Those shops that make their patrons both comfortable and well educated are likely to reap long-term benefits of both fierce customer loyalty and a smarter user community.
This is not an easy thing to create these days. The closest shop experience I can relate to these is that of game stores which offer tables for customers to play Magic: The Gathering, Dungeons & Dragons, and other various games I would mention, but the average reader probably wouldn’t recognize. But these shops are exceedingly difficult make profitable. The overhead cost of a physical location pushes the price of games higher than that which can be purchased online. A game which costs $50 to $60 in a game shop often runs closer to $35 to $45 online.
Though similar issues may plague vape shops, the ability to sell product regularly and consistently to repeat customers will likely diminish this issue. And rather than tables and folding chairs (a la the game shops), many vape shops sport far more comfortable couches, cushioned seats, and the refreshing scent of various vaporized flavors.
Though smoking remains a social act in many ways, the days of purely social smoking are all but gone. Without the ability to do it indoors almost anywhere, smoking is relegated to quick runs outside (especially in cold months). Meanwhile, vape shops offer all the benefits of smoking — including the social aspects — without much of the social, financial, and medical drawbacks.
As much as e-cigs and vaping products are replacing smoking, vape shops may soon replace what’s left of smoking lounges, cigar clubs, and smoker-friendly bars.
More Troubles for Lorillard/Blu as It Now Must Fight University of Kentucky for Right to use “Blu Nation”
UPDATE: This dispute appears resolved. Blu will be allowed to use its Blu Nation trademark.
Back in May, it appears that Lorillard filed for a trademark of “Blu Nation” which it planned to use for its Blu electronic cigarette customer loyalty program. Now it seems the University of Kentucky is fighting the application as it claims the trademark will infringe on their “Big Blue Nation” trademark — which they’ve had since 2004.
The fight could be a tough one for both sides.
While UK’s trade mark has existed for longer, it is often very difficult to defend descriptive word trademarks. Big Blue Nation could apply to any large national group that uses blue as its signifying color. It’s be like owning a store called the Large Hat Store and then suing anyone that creates a Hat Store.
At the same time, Blu Nation is, one might argue, reasonably different in both spelling and use. They also apply to completely different campaigns — a primarily sports based fan phrase versus as fairly confined consumer loyalty program. Trademarks are allowed to overlap if they apply to different areas. So there can be a Bob’s Retail Outlet and a Bob’s Hair and Nail Salon at the same time. Want a real life example? How about Njoy — which is used by both an electronic cigarette brand and an adult toy company.
But the UK is focusing on the argument that the new trademark will dilute the value Big Blue Nation and possibly even tarnish it by associating the two together. This could be a successful argument if the arbitrators accept that relating electronic cigarette use to something does in fact “tarnish” its value. Thus far, there’s no evidence e-cigs deserve this kind of treatment — though Lorillard as a primarily tobacco cigarette company probably does.
Meanwhile, Lorillard may have a difficult fight as well. Often trademark fights are simply determined by who got there first. And no matter how neutral the arbiters might suggest they’re being, it may be difficult for them to side with a tobacco company over a university in any dispute without angering a great many educational and anti-smoking advocacy groups and citizens. Even a compromise might be spun as a win for Big Tobacco.
You can read more about the fight right here.
The Warrington Wolves is a rugby team based in Warrington, England. Some time ago, leadership (like that at many sports clubs) decided to ban electronic cigarette and vapor device use as part of their anti-smoking policy. But with the signing of a new sponsorship deal with e-cig company Truvape, the club rescinded its decision and is now both allowing vaping on the premises and is selling Wolves-branded electronic cigarettes in its shops.
Club representatives focused primarily on the health aspects of the decision rather than the financial upside for the club. In short, allowing smoking fans the option of e-cigs would cut down on the harm they do to themselves and any bystanding non-smoking fans.
According to the Wolves’ commercial manager, “We are firmly committed to helping our fans make informed choices, particularly when it comes to health and fitness. Obviously the best option is to never smoke at all, but as a percentage of our fans are already smokers, we are pleased to be able to encourage them to consider switching to alternatives…”
Though he admitted the original ban was set as a just in case precaution against the new industry, leadership at the club has since learned more and believe allowing the purchase and use of e-cigs is ultimately a good thing for their fans’ health. I’m sure Truvape made sure the club knew everything there was to know about the products before jumping into the deal. Meanwhile, it can’t hurt that reportedly more than 2 million people in the UK have switched to electronic cigarettes.
This is not the first club to allow vaping nor is it the first to place a ban and then rescind it. But now that marketing and advertising budgets for the industry are becoming more robust, it’s likely more changing like this will be made in the future.
Of course it’s easy to view this change skeptically and critically and assume it’s all about the money. Perhaps the Wolves leadership just have dollar signs for eyes. But even if this is the case, profit can be a great motivator to do the right thing — in this case, providing fans with a less harmful alternative to smoking. Meanwhile, the club is likely to breed less ill will among smoking fans as it shows there is a compromise alternative available.
A lot of states are starting to salivate at the thought of taxing the rapidly growing electronic cigarette and vapor products market. Some aim for a nearly 100% tax on the products. Often the argument is that the products should be taxed to reduce use smokers and prevent consumers from becoming new nicotine addicts. Meanwhile, most critics call these tax proposals nothing more than a shortsighted money grab.
The latest state to join in on the money grab appears to be Indiana. New legislation proposed there would not only treat e-cigs as tobacco cigarettes for the purposes of marketing and use bans and restrictions, but would also tax all wholesale transactions of the products by 24%. State Attorney General Greg Zoeller is backing the bill and has already told reporters that he hopes it will “stop the trend in its tracks.”
The bill is sponsored by State Reps. Edward Clere (R-New Albany) and Charlie Brown (D-Gary) — which is unusual. Often, hefty regs for e-cigs are a partisan topic — democrats for tight regs and republicans against. In this case, a democrat and a republican are working together on the bill. It seems likely they both expect to win points with constituents by claiming they’re saving kids and fighting the tobacco big bads.
You can read more about the bill here.
Most recently, Washington state leaders began pushing for a 95% tax on the market. Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Vermont have all considered or are considering such a tax. Meanwhile, New York, Michigan, Ohio, and North Carolina have all enact some type of tax aimed at electronic cigarettes, vapor products, or the nicotine sold for their use. So this is not an uncommon push.
The reasoning isn’t as sound as the backers of these bills might hope. Those looking to snuff out the industry are unlikely to do so with these taxes. Similar taxes on cigarettes haven’t stopped very many from smoking and often send smokers to other places — including the black market — for their fix. Historically, sin taxes and harsh regs against things otherwise up to free adults to use don’t go over very well.
At the same time, there isn’t really any evidence that the industry needs to be stopped. So far, market research and scientific studies show that an open market for electronic cigarettes results in a reduction in smoking and a significant decline in the harm caused by nicotine use. If anything, helping the e-cig market seems likely to dramatically reduce smoking — by helping smokers quit and keeping those that would begin smoking from doing so by offering a safer alternative.
Here’s a word of warning for those out there that drive and use electronic cigarettes or personal vaporizers at the same time.
A driver in Utah nearly traded his life for his e-cig this week. He was driving in the early afternoon and dropped his e-cig on the passenger side floorboard of his car. While reaching for it, he swerved into oncoming traffic and collided with a Chevy Tahoe pulling a trailer.
Quite luckily, no one was injured and no other vehicles were involved in the crash. This remains, however, an example of how quickly things can go bad when our habits get the better of our attention.
Not long ago, the first instances of drivers being pulled over for using e-cigs popped up. The argument (at least in New York) was that e-cigs counted as portable electronic devices which are not to be used while driving. However, these laws were created and are written explicitly with cell phones, laptops, and tablets in mind. As e-cigs were not specified in these laws, applying them to e-cigs is dubious work.
However, if incidents like the one in Utah become more prevalent, it’s very likely states will start trying to add e-cigs to these laws. This might be difficult in places where smoking while drive is not also prohibited — since that is a more similar act than use of a cell phone.
Another argument used to make e-cig stops is that individuals might be using illicit drugs with them. This has not been a terribly productive avenue as anti-drug efforts are rarely thought out enough to work. But then again, if the incident in Utah becomes more common, this won’t need to be an argument.
You can read about the crash right here.
During the third quarter of last year, Lorillard’s electronic cigarette sales fell by nearly 40%. This followed another drop in sales the previous quarter and has led a few to question whether the company’s e-cig branch was worth the investment.
Lorillard bought its way into the e-cig market with its purchase of Blu eCigs in April of 2012 for $135 million. Blu was then arguably the biggest and most recognizable brand of electronic cigarettes on the market. It almost immediately began plunging millions into an aggressive advertising, marketing, and distribution strategy that landed Blus in almost every convenience store in the nation.
Granted, the company still pulled in $38 million in electronic cigarette sales during the third quarter of 2014, but the trend is definitely sending sales further downward.
There are a few reasons this could be going on. It’s like to be related to two major trends in the US vaping and e-cig market. First, it appears most e-cig users naturally progress to personal vaporizers and higher level equipment over small models (or simply start with the more powerful devices).
The second likely factor is that Lorillard’s role as a tobacco provider keeps many e-cigs users from purchasing Blus. There remains a good deal of distaste for tobacco companies. For Lorillard, it’s no different (especially given that they’re being purchased by Reynolds).
When the purchase of Lorillard by Reynolds was announced, some questioned Reynold’s decision to sell Blu (along with some other brands) to Imperial Tobacco. However, with sales plummeting as they have been, this decision shows some serious foresight.
Every January, the Global Language Monitor puts out its list of most used words of the previous year. This year, Vape has made its first appearance on this list ranking as the third most used word of 2014. The only “words” to beat it were the heart emote (<3) and the hashtag symbol (#).
This isn’t much of a surprise. The past year has been a meaningful one for electronic cigarettes and vaping devices. In addition to being named Oxford’s word of the year, Vape was also added to Websters Dictionary. As well, the politics and arguments surrounding the industry hit a fever pitch as evidence is beginning to suggest that teens are picking up e-cigs now more than tobacco cigarettes. It also looks like the industry nearly tripled in size over the last year (maybe more).
Meanwhile, it’s hard to beat things that one might hardly call words. Hashtag landed the third spot in 2013 only losing to Fail and 404 (again, an unusual “word” which landed the top spot).
There’s a lot to be said about the evolution of language with regards to symbols landing the first and second slot, but it is notable that vape is the highest ranked word that isn’t normally used as a symbol. It highlights just how much this new innovation has infiltrated our lives and the enthusiasm with which individuals on both sides of the debate use and reuse the word.
Ranking words that fell behind Vape for 2014 include nano, photo bomb, transparency, sustainable, clickbait, and comet.
As a final post for 2014, Carl Phillips made a bold and encouraging statement. By his calculations, somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 (likely around 16,000) Americans that were likely to have already died of tobacco-related illness are alive today because of electronic cigarettes and vaping devices. That’s quite the statement.
These numbers are based on figures Phillips has been following since 2009. If they continue, by then end of 2015 some 400,000 Americans will have saved themselves from eventual death (pre- or post-2015) by tobacco by switching to or quitting with the help of electronic cigarettes. Given that roughly 440,000 Americans die each year from tobacco-related illness, that is no small feat.
In case you don’t know, Phillips is an avid supporter and prolific researcher of electronic cigarettes. He’s also the Scientific Director for CASAA (the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives).
He goes on to argue that if the FDA had its way in 2009 and managed to completely ban e-cigs from the market, more than 10,000 Americans would not be alive today. That number should be rubbed in their face every chance one gets. Is there someone you know on the teetering edge of death by tobacco that has quit with the help of e-cigs? If so, the FDA’s failure to ban e-cigs may have saved their life already.
Even individuals that continue to smoke despite using e-cigs are better capable of cutting down on their smoking (many by half or more). This is the great thing about harm reduction being an option for smokers. When total abstinence isn’t possible (which is often), reducing total harm should be the very next goal. By getting rid of the smoke, e-cigs significantly cut the harm (many experts say by 99%) of nicotine use.
So if you’re a smoker and transitioning to e-cigs isn’t already one of your New Years resolutions, maybe you should add it to the list.
As of January 1st, the price of cigarettes in South Korea will jump by nearly double. The country is taking great pains to demolish the smoking epidemic there. In addition to the price hike, smoking in bars, restaurants, and cafes will be banned, and graphic decaying teeth warnings will be applied to packaging. Individuals that break the smoking ban will be fined 100,000 won ($90 US) and shop owners will be fined 5 million won ($4,550 US).
The jump in price has spurred a run on nearly every cigarette pack in the country before they double in price. At least two incidents of violence occurred as a result. One man got violent when told by convenience store staff that there was a limit on packs per customer. Another man hit a store manager twice in the face just for saying that they were sold out. Perhaps the nicotine withdrawal is already getting to people.
Meanwhile, it seems these regulations don’t really apply to electronic cigarettes (or they apply to a lesser degree). This has caused a massive surge in vaping device sales and could bode well for the e-cig market there. According to Korea’s biggest online shopping site, sales of e-cigs are 1,614 percent higher than they were this time last year.
Not just e-cigs, be all things smoking cessation and tobacco alternatives have been flying off the shelves. People want to quit before it gets a lot more expensive.
Smoking has been a big problem in South Korea. Around the world, the likelihood of being or becoming a smoker is significantly higher for individuals in the military. South Korea has a mandatory 2-year stay in its military for all male citizens. It’s during this time that many of them become smokers. So about 40% of the nation’s men smoke while only about 5% of its women do. They’re hoping to change that.
You can read more on this story right here.
With Vape being Oxford’s word of the year and popularity of the devices skyrocketing, it’s likely that there’s more than a few people hoping to quit smoking with the help of electronic cigarettes and vapor devices. While companies remain unable to make claims about the products and their potential as cessation options for smokers, the evidence is mounting that e-cigs do work to the end of smoking cessation.
A little on that first. A number of studies have found that e-cigs are more successful than current accepted methods of quitting. Even more promising, those that don’t manage to quit smoking entirely still show a significant decline in tobacco cigarette use. In all ways, the existence of electronic cigarettes on the market appears to cut smoking rates and reduce overall harm of nicotine consumption. Experts believe the devices to be easily 95 to 99% less harmful than smoking. So any amount of smoking replaced with e-cig use is a really good thing. Some even argue that a lifetime of nicotine consumption via electronic cigarettes may be no more harmful than several months of smoking (not unlike our caffeine addictions).
Here’s a few tidbits on making the transition from smoking to vaping a little easier and more likely.
Educate yourself. Learning a little about the industry, the science, and the products is an important step. It help you understand why they work and better make use of them. It also helps when people start spouting off the pseudo-science alarmist crap local news stations regularly push about e-cigs. Here’s some really quick points that may come up while you try to make the transition.
- The smoke from cigarettes causes about 99% of the total harm they do. Without smoke, electronic cigarettes deliver nicotine with very little harm by comparison — but they are not harmless and no one is trying to say that they are.
- Lingering smoke remains for about 20 minutes while lingering vapor remains for less than 15 seconds. Some experts do believe that secondhand vapor does not cause any harm to bystanders.
- Overuse of nicotine is not uncommon in those attempting to quit smoking using electronic cigarettes. They might “power vape” for hours and no be aware of how much nicotine they are actually consuming. It can cause a feeling of the jitters as well has trembling and nausea.
- It is not uncommon to get a heavier cough or come down with a cold when making the transition. Most smokers’ bodies aren’t used to living without a ton of smoke in them and the sudden change can be not unlike a second puberty (including increased sex drive).
- Because of health regulations, e-cig companies and sellers are not allowed to claim anything about e-cigs with regards to health or cessation ability. If you have questions, your best sources are often online communities and other vapers — but these are not experts. Actual studies are not difficult to find. I also suggest following certain pro-vaping scientists.
Aim for the first 48. Many ex-smoker vapers I’ve chatted with made the transition in a very stark and immediate way — in 48 hours. The common story is that they stocked up on a lot of e-cig supplies and used the device or devices to a ridiculous degree for about 48 hours straight (managing to avoid cigarettes for the entire time). In just that amount of time, their sense of smell and taste would come back to such a degree that a single cigarette tasted absolutely vile. Many even found that their flavor preference by the end of that time would change dramatically. Beyond that first 48, some vapers never need to look back to smoking.
Diversify and stock up. Unlike many “approved” cessation methods, electronic cigarettes are not that expensive. Add in that approved methods rarely work (9-12% success rate and nearly 99% remission rate after a long enough time), and they can seem like quit the money furnace. While one could easily spend hundreds on vaping stock, the ultimate cost per puff is quite low. In particular, it may be worth picking up a wide variety of flavors. The moment one starts getting tired, switch it out for something new. If you have a vape shop in your local area, many of them will let you try nearly their entire stock to find flavors you’re happy with. The last thing you want is to feel that your only option for nicotine is a pack of smokes from the convenience store down the street.
Don’t go alone. Making the transition is not easy, but having support can always help — especially from other vapers and those that have already succeeded. Not only can they offer support and encouragement, but discussing flavors, devices, vaping toys, and more can make the habit into more of a hobby. Show off your favorite flavors, sport cool accessories, and more. Have fun! Embrace vaping! Don’t cling to it!
Don’t get discouraged. Quitting smoking is the hardest thing some folks have ever done. But if smokers in their 60s, 70s, and 80s can break 1, 2, and 3 pack a day habits with the help of e-cigs, you should have a pretty good chance too. Even if you don’t completely quit, again, any amount of vaping instead of smoking will be better for you. Will it be the same? No. Is it preferable? Not for everyone. Will it have an almost immediately positive effect on your health, social life, finances, and mood if you can make the change? Most likely.
All in all, it’s probably worth taking a shot.
Disclaimer: The information above is based on personal experience. I am not a medical professional. I’m barely a professional. Factual statements are based on studies I’ve read and experts I’ve spoken with.
Advertising regulators in the United Kingdom recently decided to ban several electronic cigarette ads. The list of reasons was fairly numerous, but the main points were that the ads reglamorized smoking, encouraged vaping among non-smokers, and appealed to children despite the product only being for those 18 and older. Despite what the regulators think, none of these arguments are reasonable and nothing they’re doing is actually protecting the public.
Here’s a version of one of the ads that was banned. A tamer version appeared on television, but still ruffled some feathers.
It’s no surprise that a sexy ad for an electronic cigarette or vapor product sends up red flags among advertising regulators. While electronic cigarettes and the companies behind them aren’t guilty of anything just yet, the past sins of the smoking industry are easily seen in their actions. Making e-cigs look cool immediately makes family, anti-smoking, and public health groups cringe. But the understandable knee jerk reaction to complain and demand the ads be banned — and possibly that the advertisers be fined or penalized — is not based at all on actual reason or evidence.
Though electronic cigarettes look and act like smoking, evidence suggests they are about 99% less harmful than tobacco cigarettes. It even appears that they make traditional cigarettes obsolete by offering a more customizable and reliable experience without the harm. At a national or global level, the existence of electronic cigarettes on the market appears to reduce total cigarette consumption. This reduces the impact of secondhand smoke and first hand use.
In fact, according to a supplier in the UK, the National Health Services’ smoking-related costs have gone down since electronic cigarettes entered the market.
All this matters because advertising freedom should allow e-cig and vapor product suppliers to demolish the antiquated, out-dated, and deadly tobacco market. The product already pushes out tobacco use. Even in consumers that use both electronic cigarettes and traditional cigarettes, their use of traditional cigarettes declines substantially — usually by half or more (again, reducing the overall harm caused by the user’s addiction). Add the ability to make the products more competitive through advertising and marketing freedoms, and we could see the end of the tobacco industry as we know it.
If banning e-cig ads is what advertising regulators are going to do anyway, they might have a bit of a fight on their hands. At a minimum, they may need to come up with better justification for the restrictions. As is, they’re saying we regulate smoking ads this way, e-cig use looks like smoking, so we’ll do them the same too. If this were true, advertising for orange juice, soda, beer, whiskey, and liquid cleaning agents would have to be treated the same way too. Without evidence that electronic cigarettes are due the same restrictions as tobacco cigarettes, there is no justification for treating them the same way. We already know that e-cigs are more likely to replace smoking than reglamorize it, and that they don’t act as a gateway to smoking for non-smokers.
Meanwhile, squashing e-cig advertising efforts only prolongs the traditional cigarette market’s ability to compete with it. It also sends the message to the public that e-cigs use and smoking are the same thing. This might even further drive those that could quit using e-cigs to remain smokers.
More than on the regulatory front, the battle over advertising for electronic cigarette and vapor products may be the true decider of how and when the tobacco market falls.
Washington Governor Jay Inslee is pushing for a statewide tax on electronic cigarettes and vapor products. The number being kicked around for said tax: 95%. This isn’t much of a surprise since Washington is among the most harsh states for tobacco taxes and Inslee is a Democrat.
Inslee is looking for ways to make some money for his state while patting himself on the back for doing good by the public’s health. Meanwhile, many addiction and tobacco experts are beginning to argue that unhindered access to electronic cigarettes and vapor products is exactly what the market needs to see conventional tobacco products fall to the wayside.
Washington would not be the first state push for a tax like this. Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Vermont have all considered or are considering such a tax. Meanwhile, New York, Michigan, Ohio, and North Carolina have all enact some type of tax aimed at electronic cigarettes, vapor products, or the nicotine sold for their use.
So far, all efforts to tax e-cigs and vapor products have been called money grabs with only the flimsiest of reasoning to support them. Without evidence that these taxes are actually necessary or that they would be beneficial to the public at large, most states are putting a hold on further discussion.
Even if there should be concern about the products to the degree that a sin tax would be legitimate, many financial and political experts now agree that sin taxes don’t help anyone. In addition to more adversely affecting the poor (who can be just as addicted as the wealthy), sin taxes often reinforce black markets and simply encourage use of lower quality and more dangerous substitutes.
Those looking to make their thoughts heard on the subject of the new tax can contact his office the following ways:
- Send Gov. Inslee message through his governmental website
- Call his office at 360-902-4111
- or, mail his office at
- Governor Jay Inslee
Office of the Governor
PO Box 40002
Olympia, WA 98504-0002
- Governor Jay Inslee
Jacob Sullum: “The evidence so far indicates that more vaping means less smoking, not the other way around.”
Jacob Sullum has become a regular voice of reason in the debate on electronic cigarettes. His latest contributing piece for Forbes is no different. In it, Sullum takes down the arguments that claim electronic cigarettes are a gateway to smoking. In particular, he argues that recent statements by Stanton Glantz are simply wrong.
You can read Sullum’s comments right here.
The most important are those taking down arguments that electronic cigarettes might be gateways to smoking. Recent studies that have ignited these claims yet again only show that e-cig use continues to rise while tobacco cigarette use declines to historic lows for all age categories. “If e-cigarettes were a gateway to smoking,” Sullum says, “you would expect to see people try them first, then move on to traditional cigarettes.” Instead, the devices appear to be compete with smoking rather than reinforce it.
Sullum is quite right. In many smaller markets where electronic cigarettes have taken hold, smoking rates have fallen at greater rates than the average. In fact, the decline in smoking in years passed had mostly stagnated until electronic cigarettes entered the market. According to Sullum, “The evidence so far indicates that more vaping means less smoking, not the other way around.”
Meanwhile, individuals like Glantz claim that electronic cigarettes are definitely gateways to smoking — saying that there’s “no question.” But there doesn’t appear to be evidence to support this. Of the few individuals that try electronic cigarettes and then move on to smoking, it seems they were likely to become smokers regardless of their experience with electronic cigarettes.
But for most, electronic cigarettes seem to be an alternative rather than a detour. If an individual that would smoke begins using electronic cigarettes, the likelihood that they’ll become an addicted smoker appears to plummet. For all involved, a lifetime of electronic cigarette use is more desirable and far less harmful than a lifetime of smoking. Anti-smoking nuts have trouble wrapping their heads around this though. To most of them, any thing at looks like, acts like, or is smoking should be fought tooth and nail.
Sullum has been involved in the debate on drug and addiction related policies in the past. He authored Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Use — in which he argue against the war on drugs and the all-or-nothing tactics used to fight drug use. His comments are worth reading.
The Cochrane Review is a research network that tracks the effectiveness of current and new health interventions. Their most recent subject of review has been electronic cigarettes — particularly whether they can succeed in helping smokers kick the habit.
The group reviewed two randomized trials (involving some 662 smokers) and 11 observational studies. From these studies, they found that 9% of smokers using standard e-cigs managed to quit as of the one year mark. Meanwhile, about 4% managed to with a “placebo” e-cig (one with no nicotine).
But perhaps more promising than that is the reduction in smoking among those that didn’t manage to quit. This is a common theme in many e-cig studies. Among those that didn’t quit entirely, 36% managed to cut their smoking by 50% or more. Even 28% of those that used the placebo did the same.
The researchers behind this review were very quick to say that more evidence is needed to make definitive claims about electronic cigarettes and cessation. That sounds a little silly, though, given that some experts say there’s been more than 10o studies into e-cigs already (like this one, or this one, or this one).
Still, reports and reviews like this one can only help. You can read more about it right here.
A new report from the University of Michigan and backed by the National Institutes on Drug Abuse has some good things to say about the state of teen drug use in the country. It seems that use of alcohol, marijuana, and cigarettes among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders are all continuing to fall. Meanwhile, electronic cigarette use appears to have surpassed that of conventional cigarettes among teens. Despite what anti-smoking alarmists might say, this could prove to be a very good thing.
The study is part of an ongoing effort to track the use and abuse of various substances ranging from alcohol and Ritalin to crack cocaine and bath salts. You can check out the bulk of the results right here.
From 2013 to 2014, the percentage of 12th graders that smoked daily dropped from 8.5% to to 5.7%. In the last four sets of data (going back to 2011), this was the first to be a statistically significant drop from the year before. The same trends can be seen throughout the data as it pertains to smoking.
Meanwhile, this was the first year the study looked at electronic cigarette use at all. Even then, the only metric researchers collected was what percentage of the teens had used an electronic cigarette at least once in the previous month.
The rates of past month e-cig use were much higher in 8th and 12th graders than past month smoking. In 8th graders it was more than double and in 12th graders it was roughly a quarter more. Among 10th graders, past month smoking was higher, but not by very much.
This does not necessarily prove that electronic cigarettes are more popular than tobacco cigarette even though that’s the interpretation many choose to go with. It is distinctly possible, however, it is also possible that trial is much higher among e-cigs while on-going use could be far less. After all, recent studies suggest that tobacco cigarettes are far more addictive.
Still, if electronic cigarette have become more popular and the go-to product for a bit of nicotine and rebellion, this could be a very good thing. Studies already show that electronic cigarettes are far less harmful and far less addictive. Some researchers have said that if everyone that smokes used electronic cigarettes instead, the smoking deaths per year in the US alone would drop from more than 400,000 a year to somewhere around 4,000 a year. That would all have to start with getting teens to use e-cigs instead of smoking.
These stats suggest that exactly that might be happening.
The Statistical Significance of the First Infant Death From E-Liquid Nicotine Poisoning to Occur in the US
Let me first say that the death of a one-year-old in Fort Plain, New York as a result of nicotine poisoning is an absolute tragedy. My heart goes out to the family and I hope that this can be a wake up call for others to keep their e-liquid away from children.
Not surprisingly, the event is being grabbed by many and toted as a signal of the dangers of electronic cigarettes and the nicotine inside them. Granted, e-liquid is not that toxic, but even a smoking adult that consumes it orally may end up extremely sick. Kids certainly risk a lot if exposed to nicotine in concentrated amounts (though not to the degree previously thought).
Again, this one event is being and will be toted as a flagship story in almost all discussions about electronic cigarettes moving forward. This will likely be a excuse many use for attempting to keep e-cigs even out of the hands of otherwise free adults. Meanwhile, the actual statistical significance of this story will be overlooked.
In the US, over 300 children ages 0 to 19 are treated in an emergency department every day as a result of being poisoned. The majority of these poisoning come from cosmetics, personal care products, cleaning products, and pain medications. Two children each day (approximately 730 a year) die as a result of poisoning.
Although electronic cigarettes and e-liquid have been on the market at large for roughly 3 years, this is the first known e-liquid poisoning death to occur. Meanwhile, cosmetics and cleaning supplies continue to harm more than 100,000 a year in the US alone. No one seems to be suggesting that we ban those as a result. We simply put warnings on them and educate people about the dangers.
The moral of the story is that this should be treated as an opportunity to raise awareness — not alarms.
The National Health Service conducted a survey of adults in England and found that only 3% are using electronic cigarettes. Of those that do use electronic cigarettes, most are either current or former smokers. This isn’t really a surprise, but it always helps to have real numbers when discussing e-cigs.
The survey drew responses from 8,800 individuals of age 16 and up. Of them, 29% of smokers and 6% of ex-smokers had used an electronic cigarette. Meanwhile, only 1% of all other respondents had ever used an electronic cigarette. Not only does this mean that e-cig use occurred predominantly among individuals that could benefit from a reduced harm alternative to smoking, but also suggests that e-cigs do not act as a gateway to smoking.
This is not the first study to find similar results. In general, the lion share of vapers tends to be current or ex-smokers, mostly in their mid-thirties to mid-fifties. This mostly comes from a desire to quit smoking.
According to Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health, “While it is clearly important to continue to monitor smoking rates and the use of electronic cigarettes in adults and children, so far there is no evidence that use of electronic cigarettes is proving to be a gateway into smoking.”
You can read more about the study right here.
A group based in Comex Valley, British Columbia is working to assist homeless and low income persons to get into better financial shape. On the docket of to-dos: get them bank accounts, provide them with sleep, addiction, and depression assistance, and turn the ones that smoke into vapers.
According to coverage of the effort, a carton of cigarettes can run upwards of $100 while an equivalent amount of electronic cigarette use runs close to $5. That alone can help low income and homeless individuals addicted to smoking save a little more money for food, shelter, and more. That alone is a good reason to switch, but the reduced health risks associated with e-cig use could also make for healthier living.
This is a surprising move for a group which appears focused on fighting addiction, depression, co-dependency, and entitlement. The common response for many groups like this is to view electronic cigarettes with a fair bit of alarmist ignorance — calling them little more than an alternative way for Big Tobacco to get or keep their hooks in consumers.
This group, however, appears to appreciate the value of reduced harm options when fighting addiction. When someone is going to consume a drug (like, say, nicotine) regardless of the consequences, offering a way to consume it that causes less financial, medical, and social harm can often be the only way to improve the situation. For low income and homeless individuals, the financial savings could be far more important than any debated health upside anyway.
We wish them luck.
There is a growing trend in which some schools, cities, and police are deciding to treat electronic cigarettes and vapor devices as illicit drug paraphernalia. In most cases, this is because the devices can be modified and used to deliver THC (the active ingredient in marijuana).
This is our response:
Just recently, a mother was forced to fight the suspension of her daughter from high school. Her daughter was caught with an electronic cigarette — which the school chose to treat as an illicit drug device — thus the hefty penalty for possessing something it was not illegal for the teen to possess.
In other places, new ordinances are attempting to group in e-cigs with all drug paraphernalia. While this might not mean that a given e-cig is automatically considered illegal, someone stopped with one might be treated as a criminal until the device can be tested for drug residue.
We hope that more level-heads prevail.
A new study from Penn State’s College of Medicine is showing what many had suspected all along — that the addictiveness of electronic cigarettes is distinctly lower than that of tobacco cigarettes. The study looked at the e-cig and tobacco “dependance scores” of more than 3,500 individuals with histories of using both products. Every individual that exhibited high dependance on electronic cigarettes exhibited a higher dependance on tobacco cigarettes.
According to Jonathan Foulds, Ph.D., professor of public health sciences and psychiatry at Penn State’s College of Medicine:
We found that e-cigarettes appear to be less addictive than tobacco cigarettes in a large sample of long-term users.
He goes on to add:
We don’t have long-term health data of e-cig use yet, but any common sense analysis says that e-cigs are much less toxic. And our paper shows that they appear to be much less addictive, as well. So in both measures they seem to have advantages when you’re concerned about health.
You can read more about the study right here.
The researchers suggest that this reduced addictiveness may be related to the products’ inability to deliver nicotine as effectively. While this is almost certainly true, other researchers and preliminary evidence suggests that, in the absence of smoke (and many other constituents found in tobacco cigarettes), nicotine just isn’t as addictive when delivered via vapor.
The study shows promise not only for those hoping to quit, but also for those that start using electronic cigarettes without using other tobacco produces. There is significant concern that electronic cigarettes may lead the way to a new generation of addicted nicotine consumers. Evidence is already suggesting that a lifetime of nicotine consumption with electronic cigarettes has the potential to be no more harmful that a lifetime of caffeine use. Some experts have even claimed that a lifetime of e-cig use could be no more harmful than 2 months of smoking.
So for those that accept that part of the science, the argument becomes that addictiveness on its own is enough to warrant age restrictions, flavor and usage bans, and counter marketed. If that were truly the case, then caffeine, cheese, and video games would be more tightly controlled too. Now, it appears likely that those consuming nicotine exclusively via e-cigs may be more capable of quitting if they decide to do so. So even that argument is becoming hard to make.
A new study from the Department of Psychiatry at Yale’s School of Medicine has investigated why many teens try electronic cigarettes and why the stop using them. Surprising almost no one is the fact that basic curiosity and appealing flavors played the largest roles in getting teens to try the devices. This sparked researchers to urge the limiting of electronic cigarette flavor availability to reduce trial among teens — which will likely be parroted by anti-smoking zealots and nanny groups.
The study conducted 18 focus groups across one middle school, two high schools, and two colleges in Connecticut. They followed up with surveys across two additional middle schools, four additional high schools and one more college. Those studied could provide multiple reasons for their decision to try or quit electronic cigarettes.
Ultimately, researchers found that curiosity was a reason for trial among 54.4% and that appealing flavors was a reason among 43.8%. These were the top reasons followed by peer influence at 31.6%. This shouldn’t be surprising nor concerning — and it certainly shouldn’t be justification for banning flavors in the space. Despite some voices out there attempting to claim that flavors don’t matter to kids, they do. That doesn’t mean that we need to live in a world where electronic cigarettes are restricted to only tobacco and menthol flavors (as is the goal for some regulators).
You can find the study right here.
Like anything else primarily for adults, we have to balance the benefits against the drawbacks and act appropriately. If the entire next generation uses electronic cigarettes because we allow a variety of flavors on the market, it could be well worth it if it means smoking (which is argued to be 99% more harmful) goes obsolete.
The study also shows that curiosity plays a bigger role in trial than flavors. This means that even without flavors, there will be a significant portion of teens that will try the products just to see what it’s like. The only way to prevent curiosity would be to prevent teens from even knowing electronic cigarettes exist. Again, like other things reserved for adults, we have to strike a balance between protecting kids and allowing adults the freedom to consume.
Alcoh0l is a good analogue for the debate. There are certainly some out there that would love to see all alcohol prohibited or more heavily restricted — and kids do get their hands on it and try it out of curiosity, because it sounds cool, because they are told they can’t have it, and because it comes in a variety of enticing flavors. But ultimately, to allow for consumer freedom, we allow enticing flavors of alcohol to exist and simply penalize those that allow alcohol to get into the hands of the underaged.
More information is always helpful and this study is no different. However, the decisions we make based on the these results should be based on a wealth of knowledge, not a few cherry-picked pieces that make the arguments we would like to see proven.
Legalization is happening. States are rapidly realizing that a legal cannabis market holds a number of benefits including massive tax revenues, reduced black market sales, and open access to a drug for individuals that can actually benefit from it. Even in states lacking legalization (New York for example), there is movement towards decriminalizing possession and reducing it to a hefty fine instead.
But that movement is now being attacked for what might happen in the future because of it. Former Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy is attempting to raise a ruckus over the possibility that “Big Marijuana” will likely market its products to children and teens. Already, he argues, marijuana shops sell candies, cookies, and lollipops which appeal to and attract kids. Big Think has a brief article on his statements here. He goes on to claim that Big Tobacco is likely to step into the industry and get up to its old tricks again attracting kids to its products with sleek ads and questionable marketing campaigns.
In short, he’s attempting to claim that any legalization should be halted so that this can’t happen. And while he’s a fairly solitary voice at the moment, you can bet someone will decide that he’s got a point and others will begin parroting his concerns.
Kennedy may simply be looking for attention given his obscurity now that he’s not even a Congressman. He certainly knows enough about drug use to speak on the industry — having admitted to tangling with cocaine as a teenager, illicit drugs and alcohol abuse in college, and OxyContin abuse as recently as 2006. His experience with addiction has made him an advocate against marijuana legalization. But if history shaped his beliefs on illicit drug policy, one certainly wonders what company marketing campaign convinced him to take up cocaine as a teen.
In any case, we’re not trying to make a direct statement on legalization (though it’s hard not to), only that these statements sound eerily familiar to anyone following debates on electronic cigarettes. The existence of candy, fruity, and exciting flavors among electronic cigarettes is treated as an affront to all basic human decency. The cost of maybe attracting kids is automatically assumed to be too high compared to the benefit of offering freedom of choice to adult consumers. But this argument has trouble standing up in a reality where kids will use the devices regardless of the flavors available and the marketing that surrounds them.
I, for one, have spent time with 20- and 30-something year old stoners several orders of magnitude less mature than your average 14-year-old (that’s basically what the second half of college ends up being for a great many). It’s not unexpected that they might send hours watching cartoons power snacking on S’mores Pop-Tarts and special brownies (here’s where I claim that I was only there for the cartoons and S’mores). Isn’t it possible that marketing with drawn characters, candy flavors, and bright colors might appeal to “adults” — and that when these images appear only in adult-focused atmospheres (gas stations, magazines, and e-cig companies’ own websites for instance) that they maybe aren’t designed to catch kids?
The same attacks were made against an electronic cigarette e-liquid company not long ago when political advocates used EJuiceMonkey’s logo to claim that the industry at large was trying to attract kids with cartoon figures. At the time, said logo would only ever be seen by those already on the company’s website or those connected to the company via Facebook — both groups of which were made up primarily of adults looking for e-liquid to purchase. To this day, the EJuiceMonkey‘s logo remains blacked out in protest of the ridiculous claims about their image.
Ultimately, it seems possible some irresponsible companies (in both industries) might produce imagery that appeals to a younger demographic than we’re all comfortable with. That’s the goal of almost any successful marketing endeavor, and there should certainly be controls and penalties set in place to prevent egregious missteps. However, the possibility that kids might find something cool that is reserved for adults (option the first criteria for what’s cool) should not be enough to place us at complete odds with that industry — especially when there are benefits to be had by its presence.
Yet again, there are some significant similarities in the tales being told by both the budding electronic cigarette industry and the boiling marijuana industry. And as much as both sides seem eager to distance themselves from one another, it seems likely that strides for either will be strides for both.
A crowdfunding effort on Indiegogo has been seeking the funds necessary to make possible a fairly extensive study into the impact of temperature on electronic cigarette vapor. The project is 3 days from ending and needs less than $20,000 to succeed. We’re hoping that it does.
The project is being helmed by Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos — one of the first and more prominent researchers to tackle the science of electronic cigarettes use. His work has already assisted in showing that electronic cigarette use isn’t anywhere near as harmful as tobacco cigarette smoking.
For those not in the know, Indiegogo is a fairly simple funding platform for whatever projects someone might fancy. It allows small increment donations towards projects from large numbers of people. This will actually be the second crowdfunded e-cig study from the same people. The first sought $23,000 and obtained more than $33,000. That one ended back in February of this year.
In this instance, funds for the research project are collected even if it doesn’t reach its goal — which currently stands at $72,000. Even if they miss their goal, those funds are going to go towards research efforts that will likely improve the vaping industry and community as a whole.
With enough funding (most of which they are hoping will come from the industry rather than the community), Farsalinos plans for an extensive review of every way in which vaporizing temperature influence the health impact, effectiveness, and use of electronic cigarettes. This results of such extensive work are likely to influence conversations going on in media, political debates, legal proceedings, and more.
The impact of vaping temperature is rapidly becoming a hot topic (pun, sadly, intended). New devices and hobby equipment are making it possible for vapers to control the temperature of their electronic cigarette’s heating coil. Knowing how this might change the chemistry of e-liquids as they vaporize can only be helpful. Preliminary evidence already shows that higher temperatures and faster heating devices appear to release more harmful constituents (formaldehyde, metal particulates, and more). So far, no matter how bad these extra constituents could be, it still pales in comparison to that of tobacco smoke.
We hope to see this project hit its goal.
Republicans and Democrats are going at it over the topic of electronic cigarettes which has turned out to be a surprisingly partisan topic. Front and center in the discussion is whether the FDA should move forward with its proposed regulation of the vaping and e-cig industry. Said regulation would require pre-market approval for any e-cig design that didn’t exist in 2007 along with hampering the marketing and advertising freedoms of the companies looking to sell the devices.
On one side, Democrats are arguing that e-cigs are just another tobacco industry ploy to ensnare impressionable youth into a lifetime of nicotine addiction. They go on to say that without proof that they are harmless, the government should regulate them with the assumption that they are harmful. Despite (quite literally) hundreds of studies showing e-cigs are nearly harmless, anti-smoking nuts (who tend to sit on the liberal side) refuse to accept any proof — nor will they accept the argument that a lower harm but effective alternative is better than no effective alternative for smokers.
On the other side, Republicans are commonly arguing that market freedom and consumer choice should take precedence over the potential harms of a device thus far proven to be undue harsh, bloated, and costly regulation. They, like much of the industry, aren’t saying there shouldn’t be any oversight, just that it should be appropriate to the risks and costs of the products. While tobacco cigarette smoking ultimately kills half of all smokers (and so is regulated harshly), electronic cigarettes appear to bring a net benefit to the nicotine use equation by helping smokers quit, reducing the harm nicotine consumption normally does, and even cutting down on secondhand harm (of which there appears to be none).
FDA regulators are standing mostly on the side of harsh regulation first and harsher regulation later. I’ve said before, and I’ll say it again. When you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail. To the FDA, the booming e-cig industry represents a new way to grow and expand its powers. The very idea that an essentially health-related product exists in the market without their control is beyond unreasonable.
But the problem doesn’t come from the FDA’s simple desire to regulate the industry. By and large, consumers and business leaders within the industry would like to see appropriate regulation happen. For consumers, it means safer products. For companies, it means an even playing field and the expulsion of competition that cuts corners, rips off consumers, and takes short term profits at the expense of the long term health of the industry.
But ultimately, the FDA is an organization designed to stifle and slow innovation. They place extremely high standards of proof on what can come to market and place exhaustive and expensive hurdles between companies and their profits. While this often keeps unsafe products from coming to market and harming consumers, it also slows innovation to a near dead crawl. All this happens so the FDA can review new innovations at the pace and frequency of Galapagos tortoise sex.
One telling point was made to me some time ago by Boston University professor and vaping advocate Michael Siegel. He said that under current controls, it would have been impossible to ever get aspirin (a veritable wonder drug) to market. Even the smallest steps in pharmaceutical advancements often require someone to dump million or (more likely) billions on research. Ultimately this prevents any but the biggest of companies from opening new markets and improving on old, obsolete technologies. In essence, innovation is only for the big dogs when the FDA is involved.
But as much as electronic cigarettes are a health-impact product (even absent health claims, it’s safe to assume they do impact a user’s health), they are more just a simple bit of innovation brought to something that hasn’t hardly changed since 1865 with the invention of cigarettes. Since arriving mostly around 2009, electronic cigarettes have been upgraded and customized perpetually now ranging in size, shape, and quality as much as both consumer electronics and foods combined. This means they are, in every way, the exact opposite of what the FDA is equipped to deal with — a rapidly evolving electronic device which people demand access to right now.
Thus the FDA’s plan to halt all innovation in the industry since 2007 and make companies start applying for market approval. In this instance, though, they’re way too late. People have caught a glimpse of what a world with electronic cigarettes and personal vaporizers can do to the smoking epidemic. It doesn’t look like e-cigs will be slowing down. Perhaps the FDA will have to catch up.