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.

Canada’s Doctors Take Stance Against Anti-Marijuana Campaigning

August 18, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

canada-marijuanaA statement from the College of Family Physicians of Canada, the Canadian Medical Association and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada was released this past weekend which stated they would not participate in Health Canada’s new anti-drug campaign targeting young people. The joint statement argued that the new campaign was primarily a platform for pushing a particular set of political views.

From the statement: “We did not, and do not, support or endorse any political messaging or political advertising on this issue.”

It seems the new campaign from Health Canada focuses primarily on arguing for total abstinence from and prohibition of marijuana. Meanwhile, many doctors and experts are beginning to feel that legalization and responsible regulation is a much more effective and appropriate route. This seems to be the same circumstances as those surrounding electronic cigarettes.

You can read more about this story right here.

marijuana-flag1There is a growing trend among doctors and experts to support (or at least not fight against) reduced harm and legalization options for various currently illegal products. Rather than completely prohibiting the use or consumption of a product that some don’t agree with, open but regulated use seems to fix a lot of the associated problems. Primarily, it encourages use of legal options over often more dangerous illegal options, it reduces the likelihood of contraband and organized crime networks benefiting from sales, and places safety and quality controls on products. Often just having more open dialogue and education about products leads to far more responsible use.

More and more we’re seeing stories like this — where doctors or experts are taking a stand against the kind of fear-mongering, crowd-pleasing, and political posturing that tends to come with fights against drugs, sex, violence, and almost anything fun.

Where electronic cigarettes are concerned, fighting against smoking has become so over-extended and inclusive that the products — despite appearing very successful cessation options and far less damaging smoking alternatives — are being fought at every turn. A stance against this was taken by 53 tobacco scientists and smoking cessation experts in a letter to the World Health Organization.

Seeing similar things happen in other areas only makes things seem more promising for e-cigs.

E-Cig in Checked Baggage Nearly Starts Fire On Plane, Officials Investigating

August 16, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

plane-31_1261755576There’s not much information at the moment, but it seems passengers were forced to evacuate a plane in Boston this week when an electronic cigarette burned a hole through a checked bag. The incident is likely to draw a lot of attention.

Officials at Logan International Airport, where the incident occurred, are now calling for authorities to place restrictions for electronic cigarettes on planes. Meanwhile, it is almost certain that the same anti-e-cig voices we’re accustomed to hearing will be spouting off about how dangerous the devices are.

However, it seems unlikely authorities can really do anything that might prevent this situation. While they can certainly place heavy controls on what is checked, it is difficult to police electronic cigarettes in checked baggage. After all, current regulations allow firearms, power saws, ammunition, flare guns, and small compressed gas canisters to be in checked baggage.

Restricting carry-on access of electronic cigarettes seems to be the most likely step regulators will start with. But this incident occurred in checked luggage — and might actually have been prevented had the device been with the passenger. Like so many other stories, there isn’t much else to go on, but you can read about it here.

According to the Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration officials are investigating the situation.

Analysts: Invest in Tobacco, Regulators Are Killing E-Cigs

August 15, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

cigs_2310593b“You can’t attack a safer option to something without invariably aiding the more risky option.”

That seems to be the quote of the day. An adjunct law professor at the University of Ottawa chimed in on a story from the National Post this week saying that campaigning against electronic cigarettes is making things easier for the tobacco industry. He goes on to argue that abstinence-only campaigns cause people to miss out when they can’t quit entirely.

But the main story is that three London-based analysts wrote a recent review arguing that it’s a great time to buy into the tobacco market. Among a variety of reasons was that regulators and anti-smoking groups are fighting e-cigs so much they’re actually helping further stabilize and reinforce the conventional tobacco industry.

cigpackscmsWhile regulators are making it difficult for electronic cigarette sellers to market and sell their products, anti-smoking groups are doing their damnedest to shed doubt on the devices. Despite a litany of studies arguing that e-cigs are far less harmful and that they work for those hoping to quit smoking, many wage a campaign for fear and ignorance on the general public.

All this means that traditional tobacco businesses benefit. Those that might switch to electronic cigarettes either run into obstacles in obtaining the devices or are told they’re better off quitting entirely (which means many simply stick to smoking).

But tobacco isn’t the only industry that benefits from this. Pharmaceutical companies that sell expensive and largely useless smoking cessation drugs and therapies also benefit. E-cigs in a number of studies have out-performed current accepted methods of quitting. But with regulators and anti-smoking groups arguing against e-cigs, many individuals won’t give them a shot even though it appears millions have already quit smoking with their help.

You can read the National Post article right here.

Vape Gets Added to the Oxford Dictionary Online

August 14, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOnce every few months, the powers that be at Britain’s Oxford University Press decide on new words to be added to its online edition of the Oxford Dictionary. New words are chosen based on their usage and frequency online, in newspapers, and in various other sources. Vape — the use of electronic cigarettes or vapor products — is one of the latest words to be added.

Other words to be added include adorbs, binge-watch, humblebrag, listicle, neckbeard, side boob, yolo, live-tweet, bro hug, cray, hench, hot mess, mansplain, side-eye, acquihire, clickbait, deep web, dox, fast follower, geocache, in silico, octocopter, responsive, smartwatch, tech-savvy, and spit-take.

Oxford University Press bookshopMost of the words being added were spawned or popularized primarily through internet and social media — and few are anything more than slang. Most don’t even seem to add much to the English language — primarily existing as contractions or abbreviations of existing words.

Binge-watch, for example, means to watch an excessive amount of a show — often in a single sitting. It came into being because Netflix made it easy to do. But really, the word binge by itself would have been fine.

Vape, however, is the only word that seems to have needed to exist. There was a vacuum around the use of electronic cigarettes in which people using them didn’t want to call it smoking. And really, smoking was not an appropriate term for it since there is no smoke. So vape, vaping, and vaper were all words that needed to be made.

Oxford added E-cigarette in August of 2012. Read more here.

Study: Smokers Prefer to Quit Using E-Cigs

August 13, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

Daryl CuraA new consumer behavior study has found that smokers very much prefer electronic cigarettes to other cessation options. The survey of more than 20,000 households throughout the U.S. turned up some not surprising but still encouraging results.

The study comes from Kantar Media — the second largest market research firm on the planet. It found that of those individuals which had used a product to quit smoking within the last 12 months, 57% used electronic cigarettes. This far surpassed the 39% which used a prescription drug and 39% which used over-the-counter methods like gums, lozenges, and patches. There was some overlap in product use.

kantar KMoreover, e-cig users were 35% more likely than all adults to say they were healthier now than they were one year ago. E-cig users were even more likely to feel healthier than those individuals using other cessation means to quit.

The study also looked at a number of demographic data points for those that used electronic cigarettes. E-cig users were more likely to be young, male, to have lower household incomes than the national average, and were more likely to play video games and poker, more likely to watch reality TV, and more likely to go to bars and night clubs. I would argue that all these trends are also the case for cigarette smokers — and since e-cig users are predominantly former or current smokers, this is not a surprise.

The study also found that e-cig users were more likely to live in the south (which again, I think relates to normal smoking figures). However, in the region including Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee, the ratio of electronic to tobacco cigarette users was nearly two to one. Holy crap! E-cigs really are stomping out smoking!

The study was covered by TIME, and you can download a free copy of it here — though like any good marketing company, they hold what you want ransom for some of your information.

Philip Morris Plans to Sue Over Plain Packaging Laws in UK

August 12, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

handmade-in-ukThe United Kingdom proposed some laws which, if passed, would require tobacco cigarette packages to be sold without any unique branding and with graphic warnings on them. This would utterly destroy a given cigarette brand’s ability to make itself distinct and recognizable among the large number of other options. According to Reuters, Philip Morris plans to sue the UK government over the law should it pass.

Plain packaging laws are the next serious move in the fight against tobacco, but no where near the only step being taken. Philip Morris is also fighting impending European Union regulations that outlaw menthol flavored cigs, require text and graphic warnings over 65% of product packages, and require more extensive product tracking processes to fight the contraband trade.

the-new-face-of-cigaretteIf these things pass while electronic cigarettes are provided nearly free reign to market and sell openly, it could be the final death knell for tobacco cigarettes. Compared to e-cigs, tobacco cigarettes are rapidly proving obsolete. If their ability to market effectively is also threatened, e-cigs may truly surpass them within the next 8-10 years as has been theorized.

Australia already instituted a plain packaging law for cigarettes as of December 2012 and the results thus far are unclear (but they do appear promising). The World Trade Organization is pressuring the country to reverse the decision however. That pressure comes from arguments that plain packaging laws illegally infringe on a company’s freedom to advertise and market its products. Thus far, Australia appears resistant to reversing the decision.

It will be interesting to see how this develops. Already electronic cigarettes are being pointed at as the cause of steep declines in tobacco cessation product sales. In many ways, the EU and UK appear willing to give e-cigs a chance. If they continue to completely destroy tobacco marketing options while allowing e-cigs to grow, they could see dramatically decreased smoking rates long before anyone else.

You can read more about Philip Morris and UK’s plain packaging regs here.

NACS Supports Regulation of E-Cigs as Tobacco Products

August 11, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

gas-stationNot too surprising news this week is that the Association of Convenience & Fuel Retailing (NACS) has filed comments with the FDA largely in support of its proposed deeming regulations. The regs would have electronic cigarette regulated essentially as tobacco cigarettes along with some other provisions which further hammer anyone selling anything remotely tobacco related.

The NACS posted a press release this week stating that it had submitted comments on the proposal — most of which claimed to largely support the new rules with only two minor exceptions and one big one. The first minor exception asked that a provision requiring retailers which sell individual cigars to place a warning adjacent to each cash register be removed. The second exception was to request that the period between when the regs passing and when they become effective to be extended 30 days — for a grand total of 120 days.

176811070The big exception was that the NACS wanted all new regulations to be extended to cover online sales as well — particularly those of electronic cigarettes. At the moment, the FDA is not openly combating online sales of e-cigs, but many feel this is likely to change. It seems likely that either the FDA has included some subversive language in the new rules which will make online sales difficult, or they will push for changes in a second round of regulation to come.

In both cases, the NACS is looking to establish a significant regulatory advantage for convenience stores over dedicated brick and mortar vape shops. Forcing harsher regs onto the electronic cigarette world consolidates options from many to few.

Right now, convenience stores only offer a few options and very few flavors. If vape shops are forced to only offer a limited number of flavors, can’t sell larger devices, can’t sell online, or innovation in the industry is brought to a stand still, the variety vape shops can offer goes away and convenience stores will likely get the business. If online sales go away — which is likely if harsh regs make it difficult or impossible to sell digitally (as they have for tobacco cigarettes) — then convenience stores further dominate the market through distribution advantage.

You can read the press release from NACS right here.

Quick Reminder: One Day Left To Send Deeming Comments To FDA

August 7, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

omitir-palavras-inglêsIt feels like the FDA proposed deeming regulations for electronic cigarettes just yesterday. Already though, the deadline for the comment period, is tomorrow. It would have been a month ago, but the FDA saw fit to push out the comment period by 30 days.

If you have a comment to make, now’s the time!

Here’s a bit on the deeming proposal. Just this week, we found out that the application required for new tobacco products is likely to take around 5,000 man hours to complete — plus studies, clinical trials, and chemical testing.

Here’s a quick rundown of the primary concerns with the proposed regulations:

  • Small e-cig businesses will be priced out of the market by expensive application and compliance processes.
  • Massive tobacco and pharmaceuticals companies will be able to buy or destroy the e-cig industry as they please because they’re the only ones with enough money to participate.
  • Keeping e-cigs out of the hands of would-be quitters or taking them from individuals that have quit only sends them back to smoking.
  • Preventing the e-cig industry from advertising and marketing competitively takes away the one great market advantage the products have.

You can submit comments right here.

 

FDA: New Tobacco Product Applications Will Take Roughly 5,000 Man Hours to Complete

August 6, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

FDAThe FDA proposed a new set of rules for tobacco products some time ago which, among other things, requires companies to apply for market approval of any tobacco product that wasn’t already on the market by February of 2007 or which has been updated since. Under said rules, all versions of electronic cigarettes used today would require a premarket tobacco application (PMTA for short) which many believe is nothing more than a red tape gateway designed to demolish innovation and protect tobacco and pharmaceutical companies.

The FDA received a massive heap of comments and complaints about the new rules and ultimately saw fit to extend the public comment period by a full month (which now ends Friday of this week). Concerns that the PMTA process would be virtually impossible for small businesses to complete now seem more justified than ever.

The FDA has said that the applications will likely take around 5,000 man hours to complete and may require companies to conduct studies, clinical trials, and chemical testing on the products for which they are applying. This is going to do just what many were worried about — hand the industry over to the companies that can afford to complete the application. In this case, those companies are Big Tobacco and Big Pharma. Small operations — the ones that got the industry going in the first place — won’t have much of a chance. The tobacco industry in particular is very used to jumping through hoops for the FDA and is well equipped for this kind of trouble.

Read more about the issue here.

So confident is the FDA, that they’ve even guesstimated that they will only receive 27 applications — one cigar, one pipe, and 25 electronic cigarette applications. Even if the FDA gets a lot more applications than that, they have almost no obligation to get to and resolve them in a reasonable amount of time. What few companies can complete applications are likely to be stuck waiting for approval for eternity.

This Indiegogo Project Might Just Change Vaping

August 5, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

indienew_01-bannerIf you want to jump in on a vaping-focused crowdfunding project, you should check out the Evoke. It’s a sleek vaping mod that, according to the creators, uses induction to heat e-liquid rather than direct heating through a coil. Presumably, this makes for a purer vapor cloud and probably less unknown constituents in the vapor itself.

If you do want to jump in though, you only have a few days. The Indiegogo project ends August 8th. The standard funding level for the project — the level at which you get an Evoke of your own — will set you back 99 bucks.

The video gives a pretty clear rundown of the product. Basically, the technology uses a heating method that keeps the coil separated from the wick.  This means no red hot coil — which inevitably burns liquid and causes a variety of chemical reactions that chance the vapor being formed.

indienew_02-bannerWe certainly aren’t saying that this device is any better than others out there. The induction thing could simply be a bit of snake oil which makes almost no difference other than to convince people to pay more. But it still looks and sounds pretty good. Until some real reviews are done, it’s a leap of faith jumping in on the project.

But much of the vaping community is made up of early adopters. The project is approaching 1,500 backers and close to $190,000. The success of the project is probably already inspiring a litany of copycats.

Check out the project right here.

Study of Studies: E-Cigs Better Than Smoking Regardless of Unknowns

August 1, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

6789046885_ab98749c84_zA new study produced by Queen Mary University of London and published in Addiction has quite resoundingly claimed that, based on the results of more than 80 other studies, electronic cigarettes reduce tobacco-related deaths. The researchers argue not only that current evidence suggests e-cigs are far less harmful than tobacco cigarettes, but also that no amount of current “unknowns” could change this.

It’s very common for opponents of electronic cigarettes to claim that we need more research. This is often the case for any group that finds itself arguing against a view that appears supported by the science. It is half a stalling method in hopes nastier information will come to light and half a campaign for ignorance against those without time or interest enough to look into who’s actually right.

6664982275_0729a0f59b_zThis and previous reviews of the evidence continues to support the belief that electronic cigarettes are more than a little less harmful than tobacco cigs. Many experts — even some formerly opposed to electronic cigarettes — agree that e-cigs are somewhere around 99 and 95 percent less harmful than tobacco smokes at worst. Almost all of that difference in harm has nothing to do with the constituents in them and everything to do with the fact that smoke is 99% more harmful than vapor.

This could be yet another major blow to those advocating for harsh regulations against electronic cigarettes throughout the European Union. Already, a letter from a litany of nicotine and smoking addiction experts to regulators argued for a reasonable approach to what could be the solution to the smoking epidemic.

You can read more about the study right here.

Study: E-Cig Vapor Particles Close to Half the Size of Tobacco Smoke Particles

July 31, 2014 by · 3 Comments 

soul-particlesThe average particle in tobacco smoke ranges in size from 0.3 to 0.5 microns (one millionth of a meter). More recent research has found that similar particles in electronic cigarettes average in size ranging from 0.18 to 0.27 microns. Not surprisingly, this has sparked a number of arguments about why smaller particles are a bad thing — most of them seeming to come from the same voices that always argue against electronic cigarettes.

The argument goes that the smaller particles are better capable of penetrating the lungs’ defenses. This means than these particles embed deeper in the lungs and may — as the argument goes — create a burden on the lungs even if the particle in question isn’t actually toxic.

lungsObviously, more research is required.  But one wonders how detrimental the size of these particles really is when taken as a part of the total harm structure of electronic cigarettes — particularly when compared to tobacco.

Studies have already found that what few concerning constituents occur in both tobacco and electronic cigarettes tends to occur 10 to 1000 times less in e-cigs than in tobacco. So while the smaller average particle size may be a knock against the products, it seems unlikely to out pace the benefit of consuming dramatically reduced or removed toxins.

I’m more inclined to think that particle size is a net neutral game. Larger particles may not get as far, but they seem more likely to gum up the works — and likely to breakdown into just-as-harmful smaller particles. Meanwhile, smaller particles might penetrate defenses more, but the body is probably more capable of ignoring and enduring their overall effect.

Either way, more information is always helpful.  You can read coverage of the study here.

Poll of 525 UK Doctors: 71% Believe E-Cigs Should Be Freely Available

July 30, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Stethoscope-DoctorA poll conducted by Doctors.net.uk has given a pretty decent gauge of the feelings United Kingdom doctors have towards electronic cigarettes. While a whopping 40 percent felt e-cigs should only be available over the counter at licensed pharmacies, another 31 percent felt the products didn’t warrant any restriction on sales. This means that 71 percent in total are in favor of the average citizen having fairly unhindered access to electronic cigarettes.

The poll actually found only a small portion of doctors (16%) felt that the products shouldn’t be available at all. The remaining 13 percent felt that e-cigs should be available, but only on a prescription basis.

360369_1While a pharmacy sales restriction would likely come with additional regulations, this still implies that most doctors see the products as a promising addition to the market. Already, market reports and anecdotal evidence is suggesting that electronic cigarettes are having a wildly detrimental effect on the sales of most smoking cessation options (like gums, lozenges, and patches).

In fact, many people and experts around the world are starting to recognize and argue that those “approved” cessation methods simply don’t work. Not only does the science supporting them appear dubious and conflicted, but longer term studies appear to support arguments that smoking remission following a quit attempt rapidly approaches 100% the longer you follow the quitter.

Read more about the poll here.

How One Prison Employee Helps Inmates Prepare For a Life Without Smoking

July 29, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

prisonThanks to a connection made via the electronic cigarette Reddit section, I was privileged enough to meet Jerry. Jerry is an employee at a prison somewhere in the United States (he prefers it not be named) and he’s taken an active role in helping inmates understand electronic cigarettes.

Jerry managed to quit smoking with the help of electronic cigarettes about 2 years ago. Now, he shares his knowledge with the inmates at his prison to help them understand electronic cigarettes and hopefully — most likely once they return to civilian life — make the transition.

jailThere’s not much more to say, but there is more to show. Jerry found demand for information so high that he’s since put together this document.

Not only does the three-page document provide answers to many questions, but it also shares Jerry’s own experience with smoking and e-cigs. It even gives a nod to the wildly supportive community at Reddit.

The document is by no means an official or refine piece of literature, but it stands as a wonderful example of just how helpful and encouraging members of the e-cig community can be to those around them — incarcerated or not. Jerry walks through the document with inmates and gives copies of it to those that ask. Some even pass it on to family and friends during visitation.

In short, Jerry sets a good example.

E-Cigs Believed To Have Surpassed Tobacco Cigarettes in Hawaii’s Young Adults

July 28, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

HawaiiA small study of 18 to 35 year olds in Hawaii found that 43% have tried electronic cigarettes. Twenty eight percent of that group had tried them within the last 30 days. Some actually believe that the prevalence of e-cig use by young adults throughout the islands is already higher than smoking prevalence for the same group.

The study was conducted by the University of Hawaii’s Cancer Center. “Right now, it seems like electronic use is even higher among younger adults than cigarette use,” said an assistant professor within the department and lead author of the study. For the purposes of the study, young adult means anyone 18 to 35 years of age.

You can read more about the study here.

turtleA Honolulu city councilman already chimed in with a statement of concern arguing that the products could be a gateway and need to be controlled. According to the councilman, “Once people get hooked on the nicotine, they’ll switch over to regular cigarettes, which are extremely dangerous.”

There is already a good bit of evidence that this isn’t the case.

Pallav Pokhrel, the lead author, ran a similar study last year. That study showed promising results for the devices. In it, 13% of participants used electronic cigarettes to quit smoking. As well, smokers that used e-cigs reported higher motivation to quit, higher capability to quit, and a longer quit duration than other smokers.

While opponents will likely use this data to raise alarms about e-cigs, it is difficult to say that they aren’t helping. Every time an e-cig is used instead of a tobacco cigarette, an individual is doing far, far less harm to their body, exposing bystanders to far, far less toxic constituents, and producing far, far less litter.

Surprising Huff Post Piece: Tell Youth Truth About E-Cigs

July 25, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Blair RobertsThe Huffington Post (an online news aggregator) has run some fairly slanted pieces against electronic cigarettes in the past. July last year, a Huff piece argued that electronic cigarettes were costly, appealing to kids, and likely to be a gateway to smoking. The December before, a roundtable interview positioned two established anti-electronic cigarette doctors against one outmatched e-cig company CEO.

But a piece that ran on the site this week was surprisingly positive in its spin on electronic cigarettes. Tony Newman, the director of media relations at Drug Policy Alliance, contributed a piece arguing for honesty when it comes to talking to youth about tobacco and electronic cigarettes. The rather short read is a very sobering one — arguing, quite simply, that youth aren’t stupid and that we shouldn’t model policy based on what they might interpret from it.

logo-huffington-post3Perhaps the best line in the entire piece is this: “We should never let politically expedient sound bites trump interventions proven to minimize the health consequences of drugs.”

Drug Policy Alliance has been a progressive voice in the fight against drugs. It recognizes that the war on drugs is largely a failure. It pushes for harm reduction — a strategy many fight against but which is a proven necessity if the goal is to help addicts rather than punish them. “Elected officials and anti-smoking advocates need to re-think their knee-jerk reaction and hostility to e-cigarettes and vaping,” says Newman.

Newman even argues that the strides in reducing tobacco trial and use among teens in the last few decades has come primarily from honest messaging. Teens are wise to bullshit and scare tactics. Having an honest conversation about the dangers of smoking and the opportunity for e-cigs to help smokers can prove far more valuable than telling them everything with nicotine will kill them.

American Heart Association and Others Praise Missouri Governor For Allowing E-Cig Sales To Teens

July 24, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

jay-nixonThe Missouri legislator would have passed a bill (Senate bill 841) recently that would ban retailers from selling electronic cigarettes to teens. Unfortunately, Governor Jay Nixon vetoed the bill and now, retailers in Missouri aren’t just allowed to sell e-cigs to minors, but may feel validated in doing so.

Meanwhile, the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, and Tobacco Free Missouri have all commended Nixon for nixing the bill. It’s like the Twilight Zone had a baby with opposite day and named it anti-smoking campaigning.

The reasoning? The bill would have exempted electronic cigarettes from state-level tobacco regulations moving forward. This reasoning seems dubious at best.

From the bill:

Alternative nicotine products and vapor products shall only be sold to persons eighteen years of age or older, shall be subject to local and state sales tax, but shall not be otherwise taxed or regulated as tobacco products.

missouri-st-louis-archAnti-smoking groups have been fighting legislation like this for some time. And while these efforts have resulted in many stalled debates throughout the country, this appears to be the first time a governor actually vetoed an age restrictive e-cig bill which their legislator thought good enough to pass.

Often the argument is made that these bills make exceptions for electronic cigarettes which protect them from harsher regulation. No one seems willing to point out that there has yet to be any proof that harsher regulation is necessary. Nor do they want to accept that future amendments and bills could hammer the industry if regulators deemed it necessary.

More than likely this comes down to something else. These groups are concerned that if age-restrictive bans are in place against electronic cigarette sales, then people won’t likely see the need to push heavier restrictions. Kids can’t have them right? they’ll say. Then why are we bothering adult consumers who should be free to use what they like?

Either way though, this sends a message that letting kids buy e-cigs for the foreseeable future is better than compromising even a little with adults that you believe are wrong.

Unattended and Incorrectly Charging E-Cig Starts Fire, Causes Air Horn Explosion

July 23, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

fire1A woman in the United Kingdom escaped a blaze in her house this week which was started by a charging electronic cigarette. The full story makes a catastrophic ending seem virtually inevitable however.

It seems the woman’s son lost the e-cig’s charger. Then, not only was the electronic cigarette charged using a USB charger for a different device, but it was left unattended for an undetermined amount of time while the son went out. Eventually, a smoke detector went off — alerting the woman to the fire. The blaze itself heated up an air horn that was in the same room. That air horn exploded, doing significant damage to the house.

It is fortunate that no one got hurt in the blaze and explosion. However, it further underscores the ongoing problems occurring when individuals leave electronic cigarettes unattended while charging or use incorrect equipment. An article in the Daily Mail (a UK-based media outlet) even provides a rundown of 6 recent incidents — not all of which necessarily involved user error or negligence.

fire2It is surprising though that the investigator which spoke on the issue focused primarily on use of cheap and incorrect chargers rather than hammering against electronic cigarettes. “The message is do not buy cheap or unbranded chargers for use with e-cigarettes, mobile phones or any other devices,” he said. “They are invariably dangerous and illegal.”

Still, opponents of the devices are likely to point to this event as another cause for concern with regard to electronic cigarettes. Smart money even says some won’t even read the whole story and will claim that it was an electronic cigarette that exploded in this case — rather than the air horn.

Hopefully, stories like these will convince more people to be careful with their devices.

Wauconda, Illinois: Juvenile Charged with Possession of E-Cig

July 22, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

WaucondaAccording to a police blotter from the Chicago Tribune, a juvenile has been charge with possession of an electronic cigarette as part of a drug possession arrest. Some places have instituted bans on juvenile possession of electronic cigarettes — but often these codes are hazy and not terribly well defined.  Certainly, this is the first time I’ve seen said code enforced with a formal charge.

You can read the police blotter here.

As the full story goes, a 20-year old was were arrested and charged with possession of a stolen vehicle, identity theft, possession of cannabis, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of alcohol by a minor. There were two minors there — both charged with possession of cannabis and possession of drug paraphernalia. But wait! One had an electronic cigarette and has been charged with possession of said device.

wauconda (1)Illinois is one of many states where it is illegal to sell electronic cigarettes to minors. Some communities have even created fines for minors found in possession of the devices. In Mount Prospect, for instance, a minor can be fined as much as $500 for possession of an electronic cigarette. Though I couldn’t confirm that Wauconda has a similar code, it seems that they — or at least that the arresting office believes that they — do.

One certainly wonders if this charge will stick or even matter in the face of drug possession charges. Similarly, I wonder if police would have charged the teen if an e-cig was the only thing he or she had.

Some random facts for you: Wauconda was named for Native American Chief Wakanda. Wakanda is a fictional African nation in the Marvel comics universe. Pieces of the movie The Blues Brothers was also filmed there. Wauconda roughly translates to Spirit Water.

Jails Continuing To Offer E-Cigs To Inmates

July 21, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

jailThe Knox County jail in Iowa seems to be the most recent correctional facility to begin offering electronic cigarettes to inmates. At $14 a pop from the commissary, local sheriffs are hoping the devices will cut down on contraband and possibly even fighting in the smoke-free jail. Sheriffs plan on trying the devices out in the environment for about 3 weeks before deciding whether the option should become permanent.

This is far from the first jail to attempt such a plan. By 2010 more than half of U.S. states had banned smoking in prisons. It thus far appears the only effect these bans have is to increase contraband and fights among inmates that need their nicotine fix. In fact, one of the earliest jails to begin offering electronic cigarettes saw a noticeable decline in contraband and fighting almost immediately.

25171441_BG1_t618Despite the relative complexity of electronic cigarettes, they appear unlikely to be used to create weapons. For one, the devices sold in jails are primarily plastic disposable units. Second, because the units are disposable, inmates are required to return the trash or risk reprimand — or worse, inability to get more nicotine.

This is rapidly making electronic cigarettes the go to smoking alternative for jails. That the jails can make a profit on the devices only helps more.

NotSoSafe.org Likely To Infuriate Informed Vapers

July 20, 2014 by · 4 Comments 

notsosafeThe Orange County Department of Education in California launched a website against electronic cigarettes at the address NotSoSafe.org. It appears the site launched within the last few months and it’s primary goal seems to be little more than to scare everyone away from e-cigs.

Though the site seems funded primarily by the Orange County Department of Education, it appears a young marketing firm called INK (founded in 2007 by one Todd Henderson) orchestrated the site itself. INK’s own website boasts proudly about the company’s involvement with NotSoSafe.org.

From INK’s website:

E-cigarette and vaporizer use among teens is an epidemic in the making. While the dangers of tobacco cigarettes are well understood, every year more and more teens take up e-cigs and vape pens under the mistaken impression that if there’s no tobacco, there’s no harm. We partnered with the Orange County Department of Education to preempt a public health disaster, with a very simple message: vapor isn’t just vapor. In fact, when you “light up” an e-cigarette, you’re probably inhaling many of the same chemicals found in old-fashioned tobacco cigarettes.

rubThough the site focuses primarily on implying that e-cigs are dangerous and deadly, it seems the reasoning for the site is to protect teens from becoming would-be vapers.

The homepage itself is simply a revolving list of compounds and chemicals that has been found in e-cigs at least once. It lacks any explanation to the amount found, how it compares to smoking, or even what the chemicals actually do to the human body. It simply poses a constituent and a comment on it that implies great harm.

Here’s a few examples:

  • Lithium. It’s not rocket science. It’s rocket fuel. Literally.
  • Arsenic. Also found in bug stray. Tasty, tasty bug spray.
  • Cadmium. Like in batteries.
  • Silver. On the bright side, at least it’s not bronze.
  • Rubidium. You might know it as the stuff that turns fireworks purple.

In all cases, these compounds were found in at least one electronic cigarette at one point. So far, dangerous constituents have repeatedly been shown to occur at higher levels in tobacco smoke than in e-cigs.

That doesn’t stop the continued campaign for ignorance in the war against e-cigs. Even as e-cig sellers continue to clarify that e-cigs are not completely harmless, groups like this continue to act like the only voices behind e-cigs are claiming that they lack all harm.

This website is nothing more than a purposeful use and encouragement of ignorance.

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