Here’s What’s Wrong with the Latest “E-Cigs Don’t Work” Study

September 24, 2014 by · 3 Comments 

smoking_oxygen_425x350A new study published in the medical journal Cancer argues that electronic cigarettes do not work for the purpose of smoking cessation. The study focused in on cancer patients who continue smoking despite the diagnosis — most of who have already failed to quit countless times before.

The study was a fairly simple one. It followed more than a thousand cancer patients across 2012 and 2013 for a 6 month period — surveying them at the beginning and at the end. If one of the candidates had gone without cigarettes for the previous 7 days as of the second survey, that candidate was considered to have had a successful cessation attempt.

As is often the case, Boston University professor and regular e-cig advocate Michael Siegel has already hammered out a fairly succinct rundown of what’s wrong with this study. Most significantly, Siegel takes issue with the particular community the study chose to follow — cancer patient smokers, some of which had already tried to quit using electronic cigarettes. This is perhaps the single most resistant community to cessation and therefore any quitting whatsoever would be a surprise. The likelihood of a quit rate different enough to be of statistical significance would be almost impossible.

smoking photoBut there is another fairly major issue that this and other studies fail to address when it comes to dealing with smoking and smoking cessation. The study does not highlight the amount of smoking the candidates did from one survey to the next — even though it is a staple question in these types of studies. One of the promising aspects of electronic cigarettes is their ability to reduce harm by replacing any amount smoking a candidate would otherwise be doing without e-cigs.

While total cessation is an admirable goal, when looking at a group of highly resistant smokers, simply reducing the amount that they smoke can help tremendously. A study comparing e-cigs to the patch for the purposes of smoking cessation found that — although both had similar quit rates — e-cigs more often resulted in reduced total smoking for users even when that user didn’t quit.

In short, this study may possess valuable data within its pages, but the researchers seem far too focused on making e-cigs look bad.

Tips for Cutting E-Cig Use

September 23, 2014 by · 2 Comments 

Daryl CuraAlthough the research continues to show that electronic cigarettes do very little harm compared to tobacco cigarettes, many vapers who manage to quit smoking with e-cigs find themselves seeking ways to cut their e-cig use. For some, it is simply an aspiration that they no longer need to use nicotine even if they choose to once in a while. For others, it’s simply an effort to spend less on that habit.

Some research is even showing that in the absence of smoke, nicotine appears to be less addictive. This would explain why vapers appear more capable of quitting e-cigs than traditional cigarettes. While more research is certainly needed to say anything conclusive, the anecdotal and preliminary evidence is quite promising.

Still, there’s a couple tips we’ve picked up in the community to help those looking for ways to cut their vapor habit down a bit. A recent conversation on the electronic cigarette Subreddit even tackled this a bit. Some of these tips tend to apply regardless of the addiction at hand.

Disclaimer: We aren’t addiction or cessation experts. This is only what we’ve heard helps from our conversations and experience within the community.

e-ad1. Don’t attempt to go cold turkey.
Trimming addiction in steps tends to work better than in strides. Fortunately, e-cigs offer a variety of trimming methods. While vaping less seems like the obvious first step, gradually reducing the nicotine content of the e-liquid you’re using may be much, much easier to handle. As nicotine loses its grip, cutting down the act becomes more likely.

2. Break up the routine.
It’s common for vaping to happen automatically at certain times. Often, this is right when you wake up, after meals, anytime you step outside, and so on. Most cravings — regardless of what they’re for — last about 15 minutes. If you can wait, either the craving or the opportunity may pass. This can be empowering against a habit that otherwise seems second nature.

3. Get support from the community and friends.
Cutting down on anything is easier when you have friends and family to remind you why you’re doing it and offer support. This is especially helpful from individuals that have been through the same thing. Even better is when you can find individuals who are also trying to cut down.

4. Don’t rush it.
The financial, medical, and social damage caused by electronic cigarettes is generally far less than that of traditional cigarettes. If stepping away takes more than a few weeks, don’t fret. The lack of urgency may be exactly what you need to keep from spiraling back — which can often happen with other therapies used to quite smoking.

modbug5. Add lots of variety.
Breaking up your vaping habit with a variety of flavors, types of devices, and levels of nicotine make further detach e-cig use from being a habit. By making it more of a hobby, you may just find that you control it more than it controls you.

6. Appreciate the small victories.
Just like being willing to take your time, don’t feel defeated if you don’t progress as much as you would like. Even if you have a rough day and end it in a cloud of high-nicotine frustration, give yourself a break. You’re not being graded on this.

We believe in you. :)

Teen Smoking in North Carolina Reaches Historic Low While E-Cig Use Increases

September 22, 2014 by · 3 Comments 

welcome-to-north-carolina-signIn 2013, only about 13.5 percent of high schoolers in North Carolina were current smokers. This was down significantly from 15.5 percent only two years earlier. In the same period though, electronic cigarette use jumped from 1.7 percent to about 7.7 percent.

These are the results of recent data from the North Carolina Youth Tobacco Survey and represents a historic low for high school-level tobacco use in the state. You can read more about the survey right here.

Despite the good news about the lower smoking rate, Dr. Ruth Petersen was quick to called the increased e-cig use rate concerning. Petersen is chief of the chronic disease and injury section in the North Carolina’s Division of Public Health.

north_carolina_flagThis survey, like many others, still uses a rather misleading metric for what makes a current smoker. For the purposes of the survey, a current smoker is anyone that used a cigarette within the last 30 days. And while these statistics can still be helpful, they do qualify some individuals that tried a cigarette once as current smokers even if that was the only cigarette the individual ever did or ever will try.

But the data does seem to suggest something contrary to what the researchers would like us to believe. It seems that as use of electronic cigarettes increases, use of conventional cigarettes decreases. While smoking rates in most places seem to stop declining at around 20% regardless of the efforts against smoking, the advent of electronic cigarettes appears to be making a further dent in the rate.

While health experts continue to debate the long term health effects of electronic cigarette use, few continue to argue that they may be as deadly as tobacco cigarettes. Many experts even believe that a lifetime of e-cig use will only damage an individual’s health as much as one month of smoking will. So even if teens are using e-cigs, if that habit is replacing smoking which would be occurring otherwise, it’s hard to say that’s a bad thing.

FDA holding Workshops and Webinars to Move E-Cig Efforts Forward

September 19, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

6a010535f33a5b970c01a3fcada280970bThe FDA is still sorting out the details on how it expects to regulate electronic cigarettes. In an effort to learn more and educate the public a bit, the organization has scheduled a series of workshops — the first of which won’t happen until December. Perhaps this means the FDA expects certain news to be public by then.

The workshop is going to be held on the 10th and 11th. Presumably, the goal of the workshops is to gather scientific information and stimulate discussion about electronic cigarettes and the public health.  The first will focus primarily on product science, packaging, labeling and environmental impacts. This already sounds like it will be slanted a bit against e-cigs.

You can read the full announcement for the first workshop right here. They’re even offering individuals that wish to present an opportunity to request time.

Let’s hope this is not similar to previous panel-style e-cig discussions. Organizers are notorious for asking almost nothing of real experts and researchers and instead laying the hard questions on small company representatives and private citizens ill-equipped to answer. The best we can do is prepare everyone as much as possible.

The FDA is also hosting a webinar next Tuesday on tobacco compliance. Though this isn’t necessarily directly related to electronic cigarettes, it seems possible the FDA hopes to apply the same restrictions to the e-cig world.

ASH: Though E-Cig Use by Teens in England is Increasing, It is Still Rare

September 18, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

ASH-Logo_full1Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) — an England-based anti-tobacco group — recently reviewed some data on teen and child tobacco habits in the country. What they found and shared generally argues against the alarmist view of teens and e-cig use. In short, though e-cig use is increasing among teens, it still remains rare and primarily occurs among teens which already smoke.

The announcement — which you can read here — hammered on some fairly simple points.

  1. Only 1.8% of children are regular e-cig users.
  2. Of those that do, 90% are already smokers or ex-smokers.
  3. Over 80% of young people are now aware of electronic cigarettes.
  4. Despite high awareness, 91% of young people haven’t tried an electronic cigarette even once.

This means quite a lot where, like in the US, roughly a fifth of all teens end up becoming smokers before graduating high school. Meanwhile, electronic cigarette use, just like among adults, seems to primarily occur among teen smokers and ex-smokers. For many, this is likely to dramatically reduce the damage nicotine use will do to them in the long run.

It’s always surprising when an anti-tobacco group speaks out in a balanced way about electronic cigarettes. While the US’s FDA and CDC are both very quick to raise alarms that teen e-cig use is on the rise, the statistics ultimately show that total teen e-cig use is still extremely low.

Some experts have even argued that, in the right circumstances (e-cigs potentially being one of them), a lifetime of nicotine use can be achieved without significant harm to the user. After all, it’s the smoke that causes all the problems.

Still, statistics like this make it hard to argue that e-cigs need to be crushed to save 1.8% of ex-smoking teens from doing less damage to themselves by using e-cigs.

Jamaica’s Health Ministry: E-Cigs Not Banned, But Not Allowed Either

September 17, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

5527901608_24c2089047_zAfter rumors circulated that Jamaica’s Health Ministry had banned electronic cigarettes, the organization responded to say that it had not done so. Instead, it said that electronic cigarettes (imported or otherwise) require permits and that given that no permits have been authorized, there are no currently legal sources for electronic cigarettes in the country.

According to the Health Ministry, there have been four electronic cigarette permission requests in the last 3 years. However, none of these requests were completed. All instances were blamed on the importers’ failures to complete follow-up documentation.

This would not be the first time that a regulatory group made something possible in theory but more impossible in execution. Similar issues seem to be going on in San Diego where e-cig regulations are likely to require a seller to obtain a permit from the police — but with little information on what it takes to get said permit.

You can read more about the statement here.

This is perhaps the easiest way for the Health Ministry there to impede local e-cig sales without acting at such a level that might return lawsuits.

San Diego Is Having It’s Second Vote on E-Cig Regs Today

September 16, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

SanDiego-downtown-nightAfter approving an early version of electronic cigarette regulations back in July, San Diego’s City Council made some changes. If a vote passes the regulations today, the bill will be sent to mayor Kevin Faulconer to be signed. The bill will require shop owners to obtain a police permit in order to sell e-cigs and will prohibit e-cig sales through vending machines. As well, use of e-cigs will be prohibited anywhere that smoking is too.

Though the bill is likely to hurt e-cig sales in the city, the current version does cut a bit from the July version which would have dramatically restricted the marketing and advertising of e-cig products. But this minor concession seems unlikely to reduce what may ultimately hurt both e-cig sellers and smokers in the city.

You can read more about the bill here.

It’s unclear what will be required to obtain the police permit necessary to sell electronic cigarettes. It seems likely to be an intentional hazy gateway for sellers which effectively bans sales without having to say that it does. This has happened in other places where permits are required and the process to get them is lengthy and costly. It allows lawmakers to say that they aren’t banning something even when the effect is that something is no longer sold. Even if some sellers do get the permit, it seems likely to cut availability of the products significantly.

Even the marketing and advertising concession made on the bill appears likely to be revisited. The City Attorney’s Office has indicated that after further study of the issue, it may well present an adaptation to the bill that circumvents some recent court decisions which make advertising and marketing controls problematic to implement.

It seems likely that the current version of the bill will pass.

Israel’s Health Ministry Moves To Ban E-Cigs Almost Entirely

September 15, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

smk54A proposed government bill from Israel’s Health Ministry will prohibit the production, import, marketing, and advertising of electronic cigarettes and related products across the country. Following a draft released in March and months of studying the issue in depth, the ministry decided that e-cig are dangerous products regardless of their ability to replace traditional cigarettes or help smokers kick the habit.

You can read more about the new bill here.

In addition to citing chemicals in the devices as a danger to public health, the ministry hammered on the death of a toddler which occurred one year ago in the country. Presumably, the toddler passed away after ingesting an undisclosed amount of nicotine liquid designed for used in electronic cigarettes. Tragic as this incident was, can we really blame the product?

israel-flag-graafix-blogspot-com-flags-of-86079The CDC estimates more than a million poisoning injuries a year here in the US. When children are involved — as is often the case with cleaning and cosmetic supply poisonings — we don’t generally say then don’t own the product. We generally focus on keeping the product out of the child’s hands.

Smoking in Israel is a fairly heated topic. One in five adults smoke there. It’s even worse among Arab citizens of which more than two in five smoke. And although the country passed laws banning smoking pretty much in all public or semi-public places, it appears few follow the rule and it’s not well enforced. Those that do smoke in Israel also appear to smoke more than the average cigarette user as well.

Just like in the US, smoking is big business in Israel where more than 1000 cigarettes are consumed per person in the country per year.

It is still possible this bill won’t pass. And even if it does, is also seems likely it won’t be enforced like the tobacco bills there. Either way, we’ll keep an eye on things there.

British American Tobacco’s Voke Nicotine Inhaler Approved as Medicinal Product

September 12, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

12fbeecBritish American Tobacco (BAT) just received approval to sell and market its Voke Nicotine Inhaler as a medicinal product in the UK. The Voke is a cigarette-shaped inhaler that sprays a nicotine mist into a user’s mouth rather than using heat and electronics to produce vapor the way electronic cigarettes do. With a license as a medicinal product, the Voke can be sold explicitly as an approved medical product and can be prescribed by doctors.

Analysts expect the Voke to hit the market in the first half of next year. You can read more about it here.

Nicotine inhalers have had very little success in the past. They appear to be capable of offering a more precise dose of nicotine than electronic cigarettes — though this is a very debatable argument. However, the lack of anything remotely smoke-like entering or exiting the mouth and lungs means they don’t really simulate the experience of smoking the way e-cigs do. And while this inhaler is shaped like a cigarette, there is more to quitting than just handing something shaped like a cigarette to a would-be quitter.

Voke2_zps6cbfdfcdOne wonders how long BAT has been seeking medicinal product licensing for the Voke. At a glance, early mentions of the product that I can find go back to as early as July 2012. This could easily mean that BAT has been working on this for close the 3 years or more. This also means the Voke could already be 3 years out of date.

Licensing as a medicinal product likely means a couple things. One, it’s likely to be expensive — not just because the process to become approved is expensive, but also because they can claim hey, you don’t know anything about the other stuff, whereas we’re approved! Second, it’s likely to provide such a sterilized experience and be so branded as a Therapy that it will turn off many smokers who are tired of being berated with anti-tobacco efforts that treat them like helpless addicts.

But really, the biggest issue I have with this is the double-edged benefits BAT will get out of addicting people to smoking and then selling a product that helps them quit. This is like a candy company offering dentistry or an oil drilling outfit getting paid to clean up its own oil spill.

Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute Claims 75% of Barcelona’s E-Cig Users Continue to Smoke

September 10, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

05-IDIBELLThe Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) in Spain recently announced the results of a study of Barcelonan electronic cigarette users. That study found that about 6.5% (83,000) of Barcelona’s citizens have tried electronic cigarettes. And while this detail tells a real story, the organization focused first on a different tidbit: that 75% of e-cig users in Barcelona remain smokers.

You can read the initial announcement about the study here (though it may need some translating for you).

This is yet another study in which researchers seem pretty focused on making electronic cigarettes look bad. The lead researcher Jose M. Martinez-Sanchez argues that evidence of dual use (using both e-cigs and tobacco cigarettes) and a low satisfaction rate for e-cigs compromises any effectiveness they might have in helping users quit. In fact, of those surveyed, only 20% said they were fully or fairly satisfied with e-cigs.

downloadAll these statistics sound pretty rough for the e-cig industry in Spain. However, it does appear that these statistics are based on individuals that tried e-cigs ever or at all — not just those that are active and on-going users.

So if you flip these statistics around, they actually look pretty good. This would mean that 25% of Barcelonan e-cig users have discontinued smoking and that 20% of all trial results in a reasonable level of satisfaction with the devices.

We’re not familiar with the e-cig market in Spain. It is possible that it is behind that of some other countries and that the products users are getting a hold of aren’t the same level of that available in other places. Still, it appears the market is growing and anti-tobacco there is getting concerned.

Sheridan, Wyoming Police Have Begun Citing Teens For E-Cig Possession

September 9, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

HMSThere’s not many details because it involves a minor, but it appears police in Sheridan, Wyoming are enforcing a new city bill which makes possession of electronic cigarettes by minors illegal. This has led to the citation of one teen simply for having an electronic cigarette in his or her possession.

You can read about the incident here.

There are a number of reasons that e-cig possession by teens has been outlawed in various cities and towns. For some, it is a effort to fight what they consider drug paraphernalia. For others, it is simply a fight against a new method of smoking which they believe to be just as dangerous as the real thing.

Young woman smoking e-cigaretteUnfortunately, town and city politics are rarely influenced by science and reason when it comes to anything remotely emotional in nature — as often are smoking, our kids, and drug use. It certainly doesn’t help that parent groups, public health groups, and anti-smoking watchdogs are out en masse to get these kinds of bans pushed though.

And while kids generally shouldn’t be buying e-cigs, it seems unlikely a teen would even be cited for possession of the far more deadly tobacco cigarettes. Point of fact, if a teen is using e-cigs who would normally be smoking instead, he or she is doing themself a favor (more on that here).

Cops citing teens for possession of e-cigs might just be ensuring that those same teens smoke instead.

 

R.J. Reynolds Sends 119-Page Submission to FDA Advising Ban on All “Open” Vapor Products

September 8, 2014 by · 7 Comments 

0CB48E6C-8944-4CDB-AFE4-47E5C38CA2CA_w640_r1_sReynolds American just fired quite a shot against all things mod and vapor. In a 119-page submission to the Food and Drug Administration, the company advises that all open vapor products be banned. This would include all mods, tanks, refillable cartridges, e-liquid, and basically anything that isn’t a closed disposable unit.

The submission argues extensively that open vapor products — those which allow the user to control and modify their experience — should be banned in all forms. They even go so far as to argue that stagnating sales of cigalikes prove open models are hurting the industry. The submission also argues that, among other things, open systems allow for use of illegal drugs, pose high risk for user error, and higher risk to kids and teens that might get their hands on them.

Reynolds-AmericanThe financial upside for this sort of ban is significant for Reynolds. Open systems are far more effective at replacing traditional cigarettes for smokers. As well, they are demolishing cigalikes. The natural progression for most e-cig users is to eventually settle on more advanced products than disposables and semi-disposables. This means that small units — those which Reynold’s sells — are paving the way for sales of the more advanced ones.

Reynolds doesn’t want to get into the open vapor products market. A ban on them would only reinforce the standing of traditional cigarettes. And while Reynolds has produced a line of electronic cigarettes, it is mostly a placeholder in the industry. If nothing else, it further reinforces the idea that e-cigs should be treated just like tobacco cigarettes. That would further quarter off the industry for only the largest tobacco companies which can afford to buy their way into the market.

This certainly isn’t the first time a tobacco player has pushed against the more advanced units on the market. But this was a significant “official” push — beyond the public statements and press releases.

Read more about the submission here.

Researchers Argue WHO is Misinterpreting and Misrepresenting E-Cig Data

September 5, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

ΠΟΥ ΠΑΓΚΟΣΜΙΟΣ ΟΡΓΑΝΙΣΜΟΣ ΥΓΕΙΑΣ ΛΟΓΟΤΥΠΟThe World Health Organization recently put out a letter arguing for stiff regulations against electronic cigarettes around the world. The letter voiced concern about the products and advised that they be treated as tobacco products. According to the tobacco researchers and experts, though, the WHO-commissioned review contains errors, misinterpretations and misrepresentations.

Experts argued that policymakers are being mislead to believe that electronic cigarettes pose no benefits and that they are worse than they actually are. Perhaps the most significant oversight is how little the review compares the effects of conventional tobacco cigarettes to that of electronic cigarettes. This is a major component in the argument for support of the products. If e-cigs can reduce the harm of smoking — as it appears they do — then they should be helped rather than hindered.

You can read about the expert input here.

260359054The motivations for the WHO to get things wrong in this case is pretty clear. While the WHO appears mostly balanced in the face of controversy, it — like any other public health group — thrives on the existence of public health villains. And there is none bigger than tobacco. When you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail. The WHO is acting just like every other group that can’t see e-cigs as anything other than another type of smoking.

And that’s the problem these experts are shining light on. While there is evidence e-cigs can cause a barely measurable amount of harm, the benefits of a replacement product for traditional cigarettes that works are far to great to pass up.

For this reason, these experts find it appalling that the WHO would recommend making it harder to bring e-cigs to market while tobacco cigarettes remain so widely available.

“There are currently two products competing for smokers’ custom,” one said. “One – the conventional cigarette – endangers users and bystanders and recruits new customers from among non-smoking children who try it. The other – the e-cigarette – is orders of magnitude safer, poses no risk to bystanders, and generates negligible rates of regular use among non-smoking children who try it.”

Study Supports Nicotine As Gateway to Hardcore Drugs, E-Cigs Get The Heat

September 4, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

estate_special_gateA new study from the New England Journal of Medicine has found supporting evidence that nicotine may be a gateway to harder drugs. Though evidence for the study dates back to the 70′s — a good 40 years before electronic cigarettes would be a regular thing — coverage of the study and commentary by authors focused attention on e-cigs as a potential gateway to hardcore drugs.

Among other bits of data, the study reviewed sources which found use of nicotine appeared to lower a user’s (in some cases, a mouse or rat’s) resistance to the addictive effects of cocaine. So this suggests that nicotine users are more likely to become addicted to hardcore drugs when they use them. It also finds that individuals who smoke are also more likely to use hardcore drugs.

But this doesn’t prove that individuals who use nicotine use drugs because they use nicotine — only that individuals who use one are likely to be using the other. The idea of a gateway effect has been greatly debated for years. Certainly evidence can’t already support that e-cigs are a gateway. Evidence based entirely on tobacco use just isn’t the same. Some preliminary research even suggests that nicotine delivered without smoke has different and less addictive effects on the human body.

In short, this study does nothing to prove e-cigs are a gateway. They hardly even show a real gateway effect for nicotine itself.

 

A Little Info On Chromium — A Substance Recently Found In Some E-Cig Vapor

September 3, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

8209626367_30a29e2bae_zA recent study out of the National Institute of Cancer Research in Milan, Italy found the presence of chromium in some electronic cigarette vapor samples that they tested. Given that chromium isn’t normally found in traditional cigarette smoke, this news has already garnered some attention from groups that were already seeking ways to demonize e-cigs.

And let’s not be unclear. Chromium is potentially bad stuff. It’s been a known carcinogen since research in 1890 showed workers at a chromate dye company had an increased chance of developing cancer. Beyond that, chromium is moderately toxic.

But while the worst versions of chromium have been known to be as toxic as acetone or sulfuric acid, more common versions are far less troublesome. Point of fact, chromium is used in a number of dietary supplements — which thus far appears to pose no real risk. Chromium also occurs in small amounts in many water sources.

chromium1The chromium, like nickel and some other metal particulates which often found in electronic cigarette vapor, is likely to come from the electronics in the device. Pieces of the heating element in particular are likely to get drawn into the vaper when the device is used.

So yes, chromium in electronic cigarette vapor is potentially something to worry about.

But there is an upside to all this. The same study (like others before) still found less toxins overall in e-cig vapor than in tobacco smoke. And there remains a number of far nastier things in tobacco smoking (including iodine and formaldehyde) which occur far less or not at all in electronic cigarette vapor.

So while many groups may use this news as yet another opportunity to claim e-cigs might be as dangerous as traditional cigarettes that still appears entirely unfounded. In short, this isn’t going to be the missing link that raises e-cig vapor to the level of tobacco smoke in harmfulness. Rather, it is just another piece of the puzzle that further shows that e-cigs are way better, but not entirely safe.

Hollywood may use E-Cigs to Portray Characters as “Too Slick To Be Trusted”

September 2, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Michael-Shannon-demolitionvenom-32321851-640-360In an article from the UK news outlet Daily Mail, actor Michael Shannon spoke about his use of an electronic cigarette in an upcoming film 99 Homes. In it, Shannon plays a slick, untrustworthy real estate broker who happens to use electronic cigarettes. But you probably know him better as General Zod from the latest incineration (I meant that) of the Superman franchise.

In the article, Shannon calls the e-cig a crucial part of his character. The article extrapolates this one minor comment to guess that all of Hollywood may turn to e-cigs as a shorthand reference for too slick and sexy to be trustworthy. Let’s ignore the fact that this is one actor speaking casually (saying “‘Who knows? Probably.“) for the actions of one director (Ramin Bahrani) who appears to be mostly a film festival act at the moment with only 6 movies under his belt.

You can read the article right here.

scifiecigBut it is possible that e-cigs will catch on in Hollywood. Just like with smoking bans, e-cigs could provide a way to sidestep certain rules about what can and can’t or should and shouldn’t be shown in movies. E-cigs do give actors something to do with their hands — which often makes scenes a little more realistic. Establishing habits and mannerisms for a character is easier when that character has a pre-packaged activity to do in most scenes. This used to be exactly what smoking did for characters.

However, Hollywood had a very rough past where smoking is concerned. It got beat up pretty bad for its extensive product placement of cigarettes and on-going promotion of their coolness factor in the characters that use them. Though some directors might use them as props here and there, it seems likely that wholesale adaptation of the products may never really happen and the ratings board may still slap a “tobacco use” rating on the movie that shows them.

The idea that e-cigs might portray individuals as “too slick to be trusted” isn’t going to prevent the products from looking cool. So if someone is hoping that argument will make it easier to avoid being hammered for glamorizing smoking, it seems unlikely to work.

Unfortunately, if e-cigs do appear in mainstream movies — no matter their context — more people (including teens) will use them.  That’s a fact of marketing. We’re probably safe for now though. It seems unlikely teens will run out in droves to see a drama about corrupt real estate eviction.

Vitamin-Enhanced E-Cigs Are Hitting The Market — Silly or Serious?

August 29, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

timthumb.phpSo it turns out that a company called VitaCig is producing a $5 disposable electronic cigarette what contains vitamins instead of nicotine. This comes from the same people that produced one of the many marijuana e-cigs on the market and who are looking to produce an alcohol-infused e-cig as well. It remains to be seen if this will be a legitimate business strategy.

But like so many other minority efforts in the e-cig market which may appear questionable, media outlets are already covering this one move by this one company as “all the rage” in the e-cig world. This seems pretty unlikely at the moment, but there are a few interesting directions these new products could go.

timthumb2.phpAs the Verge article states, inhalation is not a good method of obtaining vitamins. What the lungs don’t block outright, still needs to penetrate the body enough to get to the blood. According to some experts, about 80-85% of the contents of vapor tends to be breathed back out during e-cig use. On top of that, VitaCig’s products don’t appear to contain that much of the vitamins they claim to give you.

From the article: “If you’re an adult woman, one VitaCig contains 1/11th of your daily recommended dose of Vitamin B1, 1/150th of your daily Vitamin E, 1/750th of your daily Vitamin C, and just 1/5000th of your daily Vitamin A.”

Perhaps the company is going for qualification as a supplement for the product. This would dramatically reduce the control the FDA has over the products. And really, what about vitamin-enhanced nicotine-absent electronic cigarettes would make them possible to regulate as a tobacco product? Maybe VitaCig just found a loophole.

Either way, the idea seems like little more than a marketing ploy that threads dangerously close to health-related marketing. We’ll see if that changes.

The Vaping Hobby At A Glance

August 28, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s always nice to see members of the vaping community produce something that helps new entrants learn about what they’ve gotten themselves into. The latest such bit of vaping literature is a simple infographic that we think you should see. It very quickly relates to a viewer what the basic, intermediate, and advanced products in the vaping world look like.

The graphic comes from 4chan’s technology community. Check it out below.

BhNussZ

The vaping hobby is one that can quickly get out of hand when it comes to buying more and more gear. But given that, for most, it’s an alternative to smoking, that’s hardly a problem.

CDC Report: Use of E-Cigs by Middle and High Schoolers Up 60% This Year

August 27, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

CDC-bird-flu-contaminationLast year, the CDC reported a doubling of electronic cigarette use among middle and high schoolers. Many major media outlets, public health groups, and anti-smoking groups all grabbed the news and raised the alarms over the product that was ensnaring a new generation in a lifetime of nicotine and smoking addiction. The next round of that report is out, and the growth over the last year is was 60%.

According to the report, an estimated 263,000 middle and high school students used e-cigarettes without having ever smoked regular cigarettes. This was up from 160,000 in 2012 and 79,000 in 2011. While these numbers are likely to be used to further raise alarms, it is interesting that the growth of e-cig use among teens has diminished so dramatically just in the last 2 years.

cdc-bldgWhat’s interesting is that the growth of use among teens has been close to in line with the industry’s overall growth — both roughly doubling each year. This year, however, e-cig industry growth appears mostly steady what teen use is not growing as quickly. This could mean that use among teens is not as concerning as some would make it out to be. It’s rapidly appearing as if the primary reason they get purchased is to replace cigarettes for those that can’t or won’t quit.

So far, coverage of the report has mostly avoided mentioning that these number indicate a decline in growth rate.

One thing that researchers were quick to focus in on is that those teens which did use e-cigs were twice as likely to say that they intend smoke as well. This is a common and expected sensibility for those teens that do try e-cigs. However, this doesn’t actually prove in any way that teens who use e-cigs are more likely to smoke as some have suggested. More than likely, this is just a backward way of viewing data that shows that any individual that smokes is more likely to try e-cigs.

You can read the release from the CDC right here.

World Health Organization Issues Major Report Pushing for E-Cig Regs

August 26, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

WHO-World-Health-OrganizationA new report from the World Health Organization refers to electronic cigarettes as a serious threat to youth and foetuses (the plural of fetus). It further pushes for bans against sales of the products to youth, health-related claims by sellers, indoor use, and advertising.

This comes as many national and international groups are debating over how to react to the sudden and incredible growth of a new industry. Despite research and experts theorizing that the products are far less harmful than cigarettes and capable of replacing them, many groups are still pushing against them. This is mostly because the fight against smoking has been so emotional that few can see e-cigs as anything other than the same thing.

260359054The EU in particular proposed a new tobacco products directive which includes controls for electronic cigarettes. The fight over whether these controls are necessary and appropriate is now beginning to heat up. Those controls are set to start in 2016.

Though the World Health Organization has indicated in the past that it favored heavy regs for the e-cig industry, this is the first major statement on the products to really dig in on what the group’s sensibilities are with regard to the products.

You can read more about the statement here or here.

British Secretary of State for Heath May Have Flipped His View On E-Cigs

August 25, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

hunt_2328701bDespite pushing back in November for regulation of electronic cigarettes as pharmaceutical products, the British Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, may have changed his mind about the devices. He recently gave approval for a challenge to the new EU Tobacco Products Directive which would question everything it hopes to do with electronic cigarettes.

The challenge was brought by British electronic cigarette manufacturer Totally Wicked. It argues that controls placed by the proposed Tobacco Products Directive planned to launch in 2016 unnecessarily restrict commerce freedoms of e-cig companies without any due cause. In order for the challenge to be reviewed by the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU), it first had to be brought against Hunt.

I am by no means a scholar of British and EU law. But here’s my understanding of the situation. A challenge against EU health regulations must first be brought against the local nation’s head of health. It seems that rather than fight the challenge, Hunt had the option to say You have a fair point, and let the challenge through to the CJEU. That’s what Hunt did.

jeremy-hunt-secretary-state-healthNow while this might not mean anything for Hunt’s views of electronic cigarettes (he may still want them regulated into oblivion), it does mean that Totally Wicked has a reasonable grievance against the directive. Also, Hunt clearly could have gummed up the works and acted as a choke point for the grievance simply by making it go through formal proceedings against him first. That he didn’t suggests either that he is warming up to electronic cigarettes or at least that he believes they should get a fair opportunity to make their case like any other industry.

The Tobacco Products Directive brings sweeping changes to all things tobacco, but also spends ample time outlining how electronic cigarettes (despite not containing tobacco) are to be regulated. This includes (but is not limited to) banning TV and radio ads, requiring new products applications, information leaflets, extensive warnings on packages, and extensive product data tracking. Essentially, the directive applies tobacco level controls to a product research suggests is 99% less harmful.

The challenge from Wicked argues that the Tobacco Products Directive is overreaching and works to demolish an industry’s competitive advantage without due cause. This goes against much of the EU’s commerce sensibilities.

You can read more about Hunt’s possible change of heart here.

Ontario’s Premier: More Research Needed Before Decision to Ban E-Cigs Should Happen

August 22, 2014 by · 3 Comments 

1wynne_in_town-4Ontario’s Premier Kathleen Wynne has been pressured recently to push through smoking bans against electronic cigarettes. She spoke at a conference recently where she argued that much more research and investigation is needed before the decision can be made.

Toronto’s Board of Health has been demanding that Ontario’s leadership place bans on e-cig flavors, retail displays, selling to anyone below the age of 19, and the use of the products anywhere that smoking too is banned. They are far from the only group pushing for these rules. However, they’re stated that if the province’s government hasn’t stepped in by February then they will push their own rules through for the city of Toronto.

imagesWynne argued I don’t think we have enough information yet. She’s probably right. The information she’s been given by public health and anti-smoking groups is likely slanted against the devices. However, what little information she’s been giving that supports open access to e-cigs is probably cause enough to give the devices a chance.

And really, arguments for bans don’t have a lot of ground to stand on. Toronto’s medical officer of health is calling for the rules because of possible health risks associated with exposure to second-hand vapour. In most sensible regulatory environments, possible risk should be enough to investigate further, not enough to completely shut down a market.

The science isn’t going to help Toronto’s cause either. Most of it is revealing that there is no harm caused by the second-hand effects of electronic cigarette vapor and that open access to e-cigs only diminishes and replaces use of tobacco cigarettes — which is always a good thing.

Wynne may ultimately act against electronic cigarettes, but that she wants all the information possible before making a decision is very promising.

The Penalty For Selling Unregistered E-Liquid In Hong Kong Is Really Hefty

August 21, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

ARXB3F_2149102bA 30-year-old man was arrested this week in Hong Kong for selling unregistered e-liquid and could now face a fine of up to $100,000 and two years of imprisonment. That’s $100,000 in Hong Kong dollars which works out to a little less than $13,000 in U.S. dollars. Still, ouch.

The Department of Health there considers nicotine to be a Part 1 poison — meaning that it can only be sold at an ASP (an authorized seller of poisons) by a registered pharmacist. This means that anyone selling the products online is in violation of this ruling.

The man arrested had sold e-liquid online under the FEELVAPE brand and was caught following a public complaint.

You can read about the arrest here. More investigation is being done on the incident.

This could be the start to an interesting trend. Some electronic cigarette sellers here in the US get their products from China and Hong Kong (which is considers a “special administrative region” of the county). Though Hong Kong is fairly autonomous, the regulatory sensibilities of both are not that wildly disparate.

If China as a whole starts going after electronic cigarette and e-liquid sellers, we could see the impact here rather quickly.

NHS Stop Smoking Services Hotline Losing Quitters To E-Cigs

August 20, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

NHS_2423783bFor the second year in a row the number of individuals calling England’s National Health Services to assist them in quitting smoking has dropped. The new report showed nearly a fifth less individuals setting quit dates year to year. The actual numbers look a bit more stark. While 586,000 individuals used the line this past year, more than 740,000 did so in the previous.

National Health Services began offering a Stop Smoking Services line in 2001 and has seen some degree of success assisting individuals with their quitting efforts. Presumable individuals which call the line are 4 times more likely to quit than those that don’t — though that’s probably more an indicator of individual looking to quit versus individuals not so.

Recent drops in the usage of that hotline have been blamed on a few factors. Among them were changes in the overall infrastructure at National Health Services and a reduction in mass media campaigning against smoking.

p.166.imgBut perhaps the most interesting presumed culprit in the drop of NHS hotline usage is electronic cigarettes. It seems the general public is growing more and more skeptical of traditional smoking cessation methods and assistance services. For about two years now, accepted forms of smoking cessation have been on the decline in a number of European regions as more individuals move to e-cigs as their quitting method of choice.

Despite reduced usage rates though, overall smoking prevalence is still on the decline (in some places more so than they have been in years). This suggests that there may be something out there still helping people quit.

Read more about this right here.

Zippo and Lorillard in International Battle Over BLU/blu

August 19, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

ZIPPO-BLUA German court has just temporarily suspended all rights Lorillard has to sell electronic cigarettes in the country under the blu brand. The Zippo lighter company is pushing for ownership of the trademark which it applied to a line of cigar lighters around 10 years ago. Thus far, Zippo has filed suits in Canada, Mexico, the EU, and the US.

Zippo owns a trademark for BLU (all caps) while the electronic cigarette brand is blu (all lowercase). It is often legal for companies with fairly distinct products or services to own the same trademark — for example, there can be a Tom’s Grocery Store and a Tom’s Tanning Salon. However, given the close relation the two companies have to the tobacco industry, it seems unlikely that both can own and use the brand.

Blu-Cigs-300x289This is not unusual for the e-cig space. The influx of new brands was likely to create new overlap. NJOY (all caps) electronic cigarettes, for instance, shares its brand with njoy (all lowercase) adult toys. There’s not really any overlap, so it is unlikely that the two brands might intermingle. Though this could still be a fight to be had.

Lorillard purchased blu back in 2012 and has benefited from the acquisition grabbing nearly half of all gas station electronic cigarette retail in the US.

This global fight over the brand might be a losing fight though. Zippo’s BLU has certainly been around longer. Perhaps it’s not surprising then that R.J. Reynolds, which is purchasing Lorillard, is planning to sell off blu immediately.

According to reports on the matter, blu isn’t very active in the German market. Lorillard still needs to fight the decision though, because it could impact potential internet sales at least or have a domino effect on other countries’ decisions at worst.

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