Calming the Fear by Steve Chase
I think one of the biggest obstacles we face with the general public is the perception that the electronic cigarette is just as dangerous for them as a tobacco one. Especially when the ANTZ have spent years insinuating that we are ‘smoking anti-freeze’. They have an endless supply of money and a fawning media to get their message out. They also have had years of experience at this game and know what buttons to push to get the politicians in line. However, sooner or later the lies catch up with them and they are forced to start relying on the dangers of second hand smoke/vapor and their old tried and true trump card, NICOTINE. A vile word that is so interchangeable with the word ‘cigarette’ they have become one and the same. We need more than theories in this battle. We need ideas to demonstrate that the ANTZ are making a mountain out of a molehill and it doesn’t take decades to prove it. The public needs to know that the electronic cigarette is not a different way to ‘smoke’ but that it is an effective and safe way to help SOLVE the smoking problem.
My wife has never smoked in her entire life. She hates smoking and for very good reasons. Unfortunately I loved it, so except for a very short time early in our relationship I have never smoked anywhere in her vicinity. I became quite accustomed to being an outside smoker…even in winter, and I HATE winter. Our homes and her automobiles have been absolutely smoke free for our entire marriage.
Smoking is one thing…but vaping is an entirely different ball game. I did a lot of research before I committed to buying my first starter kit. Safety was a big issue. It made sense to me that since the vapor was being absorbed and filtered through my body, and there was no side stream vapor, that any elements like nicotine in the residue would be miniscule in number. I started vaping inside. People I encountered were telling me that they couldn’t really smell it and most important to me was that it did not bother my wife…until…Fall came around and our central air conditioner was not being used. With little or no air movement in the house my wife started telling me for the first time that she could definitely smell my ecig. That alarmed me because this was a new revelation. Everything I had learned to that point indicated that the smell of e-vapor was practically non-existent. My thought was that if she could smell it that much, what else was going on with the vapor? I didn’t have much concern with the PG but nicotine was another matter. Time to head back outside and re-evaluate.
It dawned on me that we had a unique situation. Our home was never contaminated with cigarette smoke. We are alone and for the most part we are home 24/7. If my wife had elevated levels of nicotine in her system it would have to be coming from my ecig and I would be back outside for good. The simple solution was for us to take a Cotinine test to check for nicotine levels in our bodies. The test is very easy to administer and not very expensive, $15. It can detect as little as 6 nanograms per mL of cotinine (a nanogram is one billionth of a gram) and can show results if you have been in a tobacco smoke environment for as little as an hour in the past 2 to 3 days. On a scale of 0-6…I tested between 4 and 5. She tested 0. Obviously this test was not a scientific clinical trial. Far,far from it but that does not mean it wasn’t valid either. The fact is that she is spending the vast majority of her time in a confined space with a husband that vapes and she is not ingesting elevated levels of nicotine from that experience. A first hand common sense demonstration that alleviated any fears in both of us that my vaping should not be any more of a concern than thousands of other things we come in contact with on a daily basis…like her coffee for example. She has seen the benefit the electronic cigarette has done for both of us and is now a big advocate.
I think Dr. Carl V. Phillips said it best, “No one is claiming they (ecigs) are 100% safe, just that they are about as low risk as drinking soda or eating French fries or commuting to work, and a miniscule fraction of the risk from smoking”. That quote is in reference to the user of the product, and not directed to bystanders because their risk would be even less.
Here is an idea for local vaping groups and vendors to consider. When a bunch of ANTZ want to ban electronic cigarettes in your area, design and run a Cotinine test yourselves on a little larger scale than mine. If you can demonstrate that nicotine is not affecting bystanders you will have severely limited the issue of second hand nicotine. Of course the ANTZ will scream bloody murder and yell about pseudoscience at a hearing. Too bad. The test is so simple and common sense that even a politician or a journalist can understand it and perhaps they will not be so eager to hop on the ‘ban’ wagon. What are your ideas to calm the fears? I would love to hear them.
The bottom-line. Tobacco Harm Reduction not only saves smokers… it saves bystanders as well.