The World Health Organization is discussing a Global Tobacco Tax which would see prices of conventional cigarettes here in the US skyrocket. The WHO event in Moscow is closed to the public and even media — creating quite a lot of frustration — with the intention of getting things done rather than just talking about getting things done.
According to the Washington Post, if the global tobacco tax succeeds, a pack of cigarettes here in the US could easily cost $33 or more. This would force most smokers to either quit of cut down on the habit tremendously — which is exactly what the WHO is hoping for.
Being the global politics and policy experts we are here at ECA, our understanding is that the WHO is granted authority to tax tobacco globally through the power of magic. To be clear, we don’t know why the WHO has this power — and we assume Big Tobacco will fight it. Others might fight it as well for fear that the WHO might place global taxes on everything unhealthy from fast food to alcohol.
But really, tobacco is the biggest global culprit by far. The global tax would nail it for roughly 70% of retail value. By the time to product gets to the user, that could easily end up tripling the price. But if this does happen, e-cigs could be even further reinforced as the nicotine delivery option of choice for the future.
You can read more on the tax here.
A hearing is planned for October 23rd in New York City to review a proposed bill from City Councilman Constantinides. If enacted, the bill will ban flavored electronic cigarettes and e-liquid throughout the city with the minor exception of the few remaining (grandfathered in) tobacco bars. This means even vape shops would not be able to sell flavored e-cigs and e-liquid.
The meeting is set to take place here:
Thursday, October 23, 2014 1:00 pm
Council Chambers, City Hall
City Hall and 250 Broadway, New York, NY
You can find more details on the hearing right here.
This bill is being presented as legislation designed to protect kids from the allure of flavored e-cigs which may ensnare them in a lifetime of addiction to nicotine and possibly smoking.
There are a few problems with this argument however. To be brief, there is no proof flavors cause more harm through attracting non-smokers than the benefits. Research thus far suggests that flavor variety is an integral part of what allows smokers to transition to e-cigs — and thus dramatically reduce the harm nicotine consumption does to a user.
This bill wouldn’t just make it harder for e-cigs to help smokers in New York, it would further provide smoke shops with an advantage over vape shops — most of which might even close outright without the ability to offer variety over convenience stores and pharmacies. Alternatively, they may simply move beyond the boarders of the city.
If you live or do business in the area, it may well be worth it to attend this hearing.
Information on how to contact the bill’s sponsor, City Councilman Constantinides, can be found here.
According to our friends at SFATA, a hearing in Ashland, Massachusetts is scheduled for 7:00 PM tonight (October 17th) which will review whether electronic cigarettes should be considered tobacco products.
The hearing is set to take place here:
Town Hall Meeting Room B-C
101 Main Street, 1st Floor, Ashland MA 01721
The proposed ban would prohibit e-cig use anywhere that smoking is also prohibited and outlaw the production and sale of flavored electronic cigarettes in the area.
If you live or do business in the area, the following information will assist in contacting decision-makers regarding this proposal.
Ashland Board of Health General Number: 508-881-0100
Board of Health General Email: email@example.com
Board of Health Members
Jon Andrew Featherston (Clerk)
Edward P. Hart (member)
Charles L. Legassey (Vice Chair)
Mary F. Mortensen (Chair)
Mark Oram (Director)
Laura Clifford (Secretary)
The Scottish government is considering actions which would introduce some major rules to the books when it comes to smoking and electronic cigarette use. If passed, sales of electronic cigarettes to anyone under the age of 18 will be prohibited. Not just that, but smoking in a vehicle with a kid inside might also be outlawed.
Beyond that, regulators may push rules prohibiting adults from purchasing e-cigs for teens and may even place restrictions on product marketing and advertising. At the moment, these proposed bans are waiting on input from the public. So far, Scotland appears to lack any regulation of e-cigs (not unlike most countries).
A team at the National Addiction Centre there conducted an analysis of electronic cigarettes and found generally good things to say about them.
According to lead researcher Peter Hajek:
In this case the risks are unlikely, some already proven not to exist, while the benefits are potentially enormous. It really could be a revolutionary intervention in public health if smokers switched from cigarettes to electronic cigarettes.
So killing benefits, which are huge, for risks which are small is like asking people to stop using mobile phones and tablets, or restrict their use and further development, because of a one in 10,000,000 chance that the battery might overheat in your device.
Scotland appears to be yet another nation taking a sound approach to the regulation of electronic cigarettes.
A new study from the Office of National Statistics in the United Kingdom has placed the 2013 adult smoking rate there at 18.7%. This is more than a full percentage point less than 2012′s 19.8% figure and appears to be the lowest smoking rate to be accurately recorded in the UK’s history.
In many countries, including the UK, smoking rate declines stagnated around 20%. Only in recent years — coincidentally, since electronic cigarettes entered the market — have these rates started to plunge again. Researchers are saying that this data shows fears that e-cigs will turn people to tobacco are largely unfounded. One step further, this and other research suggests that electronic cigarettes may actually be killing the combusted tobacco market.
The 1940′s was the last time the smoking rate appeared to be this low in the country. However, some experts believe those figures to be incorrect and place the actual smoking rate at the time closer to 50% (with nearly two-thirds of men over 16 being smokers at the time) based on tobacco industry figures. So this appears to be the lowest smoking rate to occur since the smoking epidemic came to be viewed as an epidemic.
Smoking in the UK has long been a part of its culture. Even now, 80,000 individuals die each year as a result of smoking. For this reason, regulators in the UK have been going after harsh anti-smoking policies for a long time — including usage bans, plain packaging, and high taxes.
Meanwhile, the country (barring a few anti-smoking zealots) appears to have approached electronic cigarettes primarily with a learn first, regulate second strategy. A Smoking Toolkit Study from Smoking in England found primarily good things for the products. While growth in e-cig use appears to have stalled a bit, use for quit attempts continues to grow. E-cigs have also been blamed for declining use of “approved” smoking cessation options — many of which experts now agree don’t really work.
Meanwhile, use of electronic cigarettes by individuals that have never smoked remains extremely rare and the idea that they will “remormalize” smoking or act as a gateway to it appears entirely bunk at this point.
You can read more about the study right here.
Up until now, electronic cigarettes existed in a weird advertising limbo in the United Kingdom. Although advertisements for the products were legal, an electronic cigarette could not appear on-screen during them. This made for some creative advertising, but didn’t make the most sense in the world.
Well now the Committee of Advertising Practice — the group that writes and updates the rules for appropriate advertising in the UK — is saying that this is being changed. Electronic cigarettes were not in existence when tobacco advertising rules were set — namely, when all tobacco ads were banned outright. As such, e-cigs fell into a weird space which meant they could be advertised but couldn’t appear.
As of November 10th, that will change and on-screen advertising of electronic cigarettes will be legal provided ads adhere to a few rules. The rules require that the ads not appeal explicitly to youth and youth culture, they not encourage use by non-smokers, they not claim to be safer or healthier than smoking, and they not make claims to be approved by any medical regulatory group.
These rules could certainly be a hindrance to companies — in particular, almost any ad could be argued to appeal to teens. Still, the amounts to a loosening of the rules rather than a tightening of them, which suggests the CAP plans to play fair with the industry. Certainly is seems unlike that an ad for e-cigs won’t take 14 months to get approved the way this one did. Even after 14 months of work with regulators, the ad was quickly banned after being aired.
But as the research of electronic cigarettes, the regulation of them, and the rules surrounding their sales and marketing change, it seems likely these rules may eventually change as well. While stating that e-cigs are safer than smoking isn’t kosher right now, that may change in a matter of years. They may also receive the approval from medical regulatory and watchdog groups in the same time.
The simple fact that the CAP went a different direction with e-cigs than it did with tobacco is very promising. They could have just as easily dug in and said no e-cig ads ever and made it into a serious fight. But ultimately, they chose to give the industry a chance.
The latest study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on electronic cigarette use is being used yet again to raise alarms. The study finds that use of electronic cigarettes among non-smoking teens roughly tripled from 2011 to 2013.
In 2011, CDC research suggested that about 79,000 non-smoking teens had tried electronic cigarettes that year. As of 2013, that statistic increased to 263,000 — more than triple the 2011 figure. The research also found that 90% of non-smoking teens had been exposed to some degree of electronic cigarette marketing. All this is being used to argue that e-cigs are ensnaring teens.
You can read more on the CDC’s research here.
There’s a few issues with these number being used to raise alarms. For starters, use of electronic cigarettes by teens has yet to be proven to be a concerning trend for any reason. In fact, it seems possible that e-cig use by teens could be a good thing if it helps eradicate smoking.
Research suggests that nicotine consumed not through smoking is not nearly as addictive. Some experts have even suggested that a lifetime of nicotine use can occur without significant harm to the user (similar to using caffeine in coffee). In almost all coverage of the numbers, e-cigs being a bad thing is taken as a given.
Beyond that, these numbers do little to show anything other than that teens who might otherwise be smoking are using electronic cigarettes. Some of the numbers even support the idea that e-cigs might be replacing cigarette use.
Of those teens that had never smoked but did try e-cigs, 43.9% indicated interest in smoking. Of teens who had never tried e-cigs or smoking, only 21.5% showed interest in smoking. This means that e-cigs might be beating out conventional cigarettes and keeping young adults from becoming lifelong smokers.
A bill proposed today (Tuesday the 7th) by Councilman Costa Constantinides of Queens bans all fruity flavors in electronic cigarettes. Constantinides argues that fruity flavors entice kids to pick up the habit, and only exist to further reinforce the addictive aspect of smoking and nicotine.
The American Vaping Association and others have already shot back against the bill arguing that the existence of flavor variety has already proven itself an invaluable piece of the smoking cessation equation for e-cigs. For many smoking adults, flavors provide an intense alternative experience that rapidly replaces the taste of traditional cigarettes. The argument is difficult to make, however, when the products are still unable to be sold as cessation devices.
Constantinides is making an emotional case for the bill — using the classic think of the children tactic. In reality, e-cigs appear no more appealing to teens than their smoky counterparts. Arguments can certainly be made for letting kids get away with e-cig use if they might smoke otherwise. Some experts have already said that a lifetime of e-cig use may pose no significant long-term risk to users. It would be similar to the caffeine culture we already induct kids into more and more aggressively.
Not unsurprisingly, Constantinides feels he has the moral superiority in this case. “These guys are not in the quitting business. They’re in the addiction business.” He, like many, seems to truly believe that e-cigs offer absolutely nothing other than a financial gain for the businesses behind them.
New York City policies have come under increasing scrutiny in recent years for being entirely too coddling and controlling of its population. Private citizens and business owners alike fought against a citywide ban on large sugary drinks — mostly arguing that if businesses are willing to sell them, and customers are willing to buy them, then what is the problem?
You can read more about the bill right here.
The United Kingdom-based electronic cigarette company Totally Wicked just won its first victory in the fight against the EU’s efforts to regulate electronic cigarettes as tobacco products. The company has been given the okay to challenge the latest EU tobacco products directive in open court. While this is a long way from stopping the new rules from going into effect, it does mean that they have some legitimate arguments worth reviewing.
The EU’s tobacco products directive is set to go into effect in 2016 and would create significant problems for the electronic cigarette industry through the EU. In addition to forcing e-cig companies to jump through the same hoops as tobacco in order to sell their products, the directive will tightly control where the products can be sold and how they can be marketed. Although many are in favor of some kind of regulation, the fact remains that research is showing e-cigs to be 99% less harmful than smoking and so should not be subject to the same level of regulation.
Among other things, the directive would also place heavy restrictions on the amounts of nicotine that can be found in electronic cigarettes and might completely ban custom devices.
Hearings for the challenge are not likely to happen until sometime next year — moving at the same pace most regulatory progress is made. Even so, this could spark other countries looking into regulation to reconsider what they’re doing. Without evidence that electronic cigarettes actually pose any of the risks opponents like to suggest that they might pose, it may soon be impossible for countries to push through regulations at a national level without getting dragged into court first.
You can read more on the challenge here.
Tobacco has quite a lot of enemies in the medical care and hygiene world. Not only do they ruin lung and heart function, but they ruin good skin, have degenerative effects on the eyes, and wreak havoc on a patient’s smile. This makes for curiosity in just about every field of care — not the least of which is the dental care field.
Well, a continuing education program by Dentalcare.com and sponsored by toothpaste brands Crest and Oral-B has set its sights on electronic cigarettes. Though the course uses some very outdated information (including an FDA study from 2009) and focuses on some of the less valuable tidbits for other sources, it is not entirely focused on making the products look bad. Not surprisingly, it does ultimately argue that more information is necessary.
One would hope that the FDA study from 2009 might be considered out of date at this point — for no other reason than that e-cigs today are nothing like what they were 5 years ago. They even use Polosa’s work (which mostly shows that e-cigs do work for cessation) to show that some e-cig users (less than 10%) experience some minor side effects like throat irritation or coughing.
While this course certainly isn’t as slanted as many pieces of literature we’ve seen, it still mostly avoids sharing any evidence that seems remotely in favor of electronic cigarettes.
Various members of the international tobacco industry have been pushing a variety of agendas when it comes to electronic cigarettes. While some argue for regulation of the products as tobacco, others are buying into the e-cig world to get a piece of the pie. Others still are seeking to make e-cigs look dangerous, ineffective, or just plain silly.
The latest move in this ongoing conflict appears to have been made by British American Tobacco. The company is pressing Australian authorities not only to regulate the products as medicine, but also to allow the company itself to sell them.
British American Tobacco is the fifth largest tobacco company in the world with nearly $25 billion in annual revenue. Thus far, they haven’t appeared as active in the e-cig debate as others like R.J. Reynolds, Phillip Morris, and Lorillard. But it seems they’re just keeping things quiet.
In fact, British American’s efforts to take control of the electronic cigarette industry in Australia was only found out after a freedom of information act was filed by members of the media core there. What came back was a series of correspondences that indicated a representative of BAT had been pushing the Therapeutic Goods Administration (Australia’s medicines regulator) to take control of the e-cig industry and allow them to start selling the devices as medicine.
You can read more about the story right here.
The effort is occurring through a wholly owned subsidiary called Nicoventures — which was likely created with the sole purpose of benefiting from cessation therapy sales which BAT makes necessary with its own cigarettes. Now that information on this is public though, things are likely to get much harder on the company.
Given some recent environmental studies, living in a dense city is likely to be far more harmful to your health than vaping. That’s just one of a number of gems in a pretty exhaustive interview by James Dunworth over at Ashtray Blog. Dunworth connected with Riccardo Polosa and covered some of the latest knowledge behind e-cigs.
Polosa is one of the world’s preeminent experts on electronic cigarettes. His work at the University of Catania in Italy is showing that electronic cigarettes are likely to be the most successful smoking cessation option to ever exist. He even showed that they can work for smokers that suffer from schizophenia without risking conflicts with their medications the way many other cessation methods do.
You can (and certainly should) read the full interview right here.
According to Polosa, if the health risk associated with tobacco smoking is equal to 100, vaping health risk is 4. Similar statements have certainly been made before — some even suggest that for the average smoker a lifetime of vaping is no more harmful than a month of smoking. You can even see how e-cigs compare to other nicotine sources in the graph (click to enlarge).
But the interview digs in a bit further on a couple subjects that aren’t always well covered. For instance, Polosa suggests avoiding e-liquids with food coloring additives. While this may make e-liquids look a bit more appetizing, there isn’t much known on the effects of food colorings when it comes to inhaling them. And ultimately, there is no reason to have food coloring in the e-liquids beyond the purely cosmetic.
Polosa continues to be one of the greatest voices on the planet in favor of reasonable regulation of electronic cigarettes. He was among the first people to conduct cessation studies using them and remains a proponent of their use in all places where they might replace smoking.
One more time, check out the full interview here.
In the last year, Darlington County Detention Center in South Carolina made $15,000 from the sale of electronic cigarettes to inmates. This was a good bit more than the $5,000 expected when the jail began selling the devices and helps offset various costs that would normally be covered by local taxpayers. Profits moving forward are expected to double annually.
You can read the full story right here.
The e-cigs come from a company called Crossbar which was started by a corrections officer. Their disposables are designed for use in the clink — primarily by building them out of soft materials which the inmates can’t turn into weapons. A single device costs the jail $5.25 and sells to inmates for $10.25.
A lot of jails are taking to this idea. While many states have banned use of cigarettes in correctional facilities, those facilities find themselves to be more dangerous environments when inmates can’t get their nicotine fix. Often, the only thing a ban does is create a black market for cigarettes and a more hostile nicotine-deprived population.
On top of all that, there’s often the lingering issue of “smoker’s rights” — the idea that a smoking addict in a captive atmosphere has a right to smoke. Though jails have mostly gotten around this, mental health and elderly care facilities often are forced to provide cigarettes even to their sickest of patients.
E-cigs seem to be a great answer to all this. If they keep making far more money than expected for the jails on top of making the inmates calmer, all the better.
Disneyland and Disney California Adventure recently posted signs at their entrances clarifying their rules on electronic cigarette use within the parks. The primary rule: vaping is only to be done in the designated smoking areas.
Though Disney says the rule has existed for more than a year, the parks are just now upping its visibility. It seems likely that only in recent time has the use of electronic cigarettes become so common that the parks needs to make the rule far more public. This is probably to reduce potential conflicts with vapers.
You can read more about this right here.
Disney isn’t the only theme park company to do this. Vaping is sequestered to smoking areas at Universal, Six Flags, and Sea World among others.
Disney does avoid saying word one on the health aspects of the vaping debate. Primarily, they seem to be focused on reducing the likelihood of conflict between guests. They make no mention of secondhand smoke as some organizations have in the past — even though studies suggest there is nothing to worry about on that end.
But an interview with a local vape shop owner does suggest something we expect to be the case moving forward. It seems unlikely that the rule will deter much vaping. For many, vaping can be done quickly, stealthily, and the speed at which the cloud disappears leaves little trace. So the likelihood a guest will get in trouble for doing it seems low.
Recent numbers from Wells Fargo have nailed down the US e-cig market at $2.5 billion this year. Of the total, $1 billion comes from the sales of smaller, disposable or semi-disposable electronic cigarette units (those sold primarily in gas stations and convenience stores). This means a whopping $1.5 billion is currently in the hands of the intermediate and advanced “open system” market — open system being larger, customizable, and more advanced personal vaporizers commonly called mods.
We all kind of knew it was going to happen pretty soon. Open systems offer a great deal more variety wherein users can tailor-make the experience that suits them. At the same time, they offer vapers the opportunity to act like fanatic hobbyists that absolutely burn money on crazier mods, new liquids, electronics, do-it-yourself kits, and more. Despite this, the habit still often saves money over that spent on continued traditional cigarette smoking.
What’s more, the natural progression for most smokers-turned-vapers seems to be moving away from smaller, simpler devices to mods. And while the profit margin on a $60 cigalike starter kit or a $10 disposable might be better than that of e-liquids, custom cartomizers, and batteries, the real money is in getting long-term customers — even if those customers got their start on gas station e-cigs.
The rapid growth of vape shops in the nation — there are now believed to be something like 1,500 to 2,000 of them — only helps open system devices further overtake the smaller stuff. Even some gas stations and convenience stores are starting to carry and sell more advanced, re-fillable units.
A 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.
But 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.
Although 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.
1. 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.
5. 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.
In 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.
This 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.
The 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.
Action 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.
- Only 1.8% of children are regular e-cig users.
- Of those that do, 90% are already smokers or ex-smokers.
- Over 80% of young people are now aware of electronic cigarettes.
- 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.
After 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.
After 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.
A 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?
The 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 (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.
One 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.
The 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.
All 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.