It’s been another busy week. With yet more bans on indoor vaping, anti-THR research, a litany of litigation, more “think of the children” nonsense designed to drum up support for restrictions on vaping and public health advocates starting to wonder how they should reconcile their evidence-free opposition to vaping with the growing body of evidence that it’s much safer than smoking, it’s the Week in Vaping.
Tobacco Harm Reduction Research
A new study of e-cigarette marketing has led to claims that it may enhance curiosity and encourage vaping among young adults. The study itself is paywalled, but involved splitting a group of young adults at random, then showing half e-cig ads and the other half something unrelated (as a control). Those who’d never smoked or vaped who saw the ads were more likely to have tried vaping six months later, but it had no impact on their smoking. Curiosity was the key factor identified in their experimentation.
Clive Bates has published another blog post detailing the continuing efforts to have the misleading New England Journal of Medicine formaldehyde study retracted. As well as reiterating the abundant issues with the study – i.e. the complete ignorance of the “dry puff” phenomenon – Bates points out how the study is being used to lobby governments to ban e-cigs (in Malaysia), how the authors went on to receive a $3.5 million grant (which Bates rightfully calls “misallocation of American public money”) and how a report from a tobacco company on the issue is more reliable than the NEJM study.
There’s been a new study on smokeless tobacco that has led to claims that “smokeless tobacco is more toxic than cigarettes” but that really found no such thing. The study looked at levels of nicotine, nitrosamines and other chemicals in the blood and pee of exclusive smokeless tobacco users or exclusive smokers, finding higher nitrosamine levels and nicotine levels in smokeless tobacco users. Brad Rodu points out that this is basically meaningless, since actual real-world data on the health outcomes of smokeless tobacco users show effectively no increase in cancer risk.
Legislation, Regulations and Vaping Bans
Commissioners in Sedgwick County, Kansas are considering whether to ban vaping in county buildings, with Commissioner Jim Howell speaking out on behalf of e-cigarettes as a harm reduction approach, and arguing against a ban. Critics pointed out he received $1,100 from tobacco companies between 2011 and 2013, insinuating he’s been bought out by the industry, but they somehow had no issue with the $2,750 he received from groups pushing for a ban on vaping.
Pierce County, Washington’s proposed ban on indoor vaping and the possession of e-cigs by youth has passed. Vape stores will have to get a $375 license each year, which raises to $565 for stores that want to allow sampling, which is the only exception to the indoor vaping ban.
Michael Siegel has submitted a comment to the Office on Information and Regulatory Affairs regarding the FDA deeming regulations for e-cigarettes, which is available to read in full. He also met with office staff to discuss the regulations.
A fantastic article by Jim McManus talks about the E-Cig Summit (where he gave a talk), and about how and why he changed his mind on the issue of vaping. It’s a passionate call to others in the public health community to look at the evidence free from pre-existing bias, to challenge their entrenched views and to respect the wishes of smokers.
A patent dispute between Fontem Ventures (who own Hon Lik’s original patent for e-cigs and are working with him – more on the lawsuit here) and NJOY has been settled, with Fontem granting NJOY a non-exclusive, royalty-bearing license. Further details are thin on the ground, though.
Exploding e-cigarettes have prompted three lawsuits against manufacturers, with the focus being on the lithium-ion batteries used in e-cigarettes. You know: the same ones you find in your phone, laptop, tablet, and pretty much any electronic device.
The upcoming vaping documentary A Billion Lives has released some new footage this week, featuring excerpts from an interview with Clive Bates and a disturbing selection of lies being told about e-cigarettes. The film is set to be released next year.
A paywalled article in the Wall Street Journal has reported that the growth of e-cigarettes has slowed, and although the industry is still growing, the meteoric rise of the past few years is settling down a little now. This may be due to anti-vaping messages, restrictions on their use or many other factors.
Journalist Paul Raeburn has criticized Joe Nocera’s “e-cigarette crusade” in an article for Health News Review, comparing his support for e-cigarettes in the face of scientific uncertainty to climate change denial and the obstinate refusal to accept overwhelming scientific evidence supporting evolution.
Throughout the last six months my colleagues and I have been hearing professionals refer to e-cigarettes as harm reduction. A few months ago I was attending a Youth Engagement Alliance webinar where Dr. Terry Pechacek was presenting. During his presentation, he made it sound like e-cigarettes are harm reduction and mentioned moving all current cigarette smokers to exclusive use of e-cigarettes. Then a few weeks ago after meeting with an individual who works at our state health department he stated that he had heard something similar at a conference he attended a few weeks ago by Dr. Brian King.
Now we are seeing more and more information come out to the public referring to e-cigarettes as less harmful than cigarettes. How should public health advocates respond to statements like this from well-known individuals when a large amount of our work has been focused on educating on the harms of e-cigarettes?
Clearly, the truth is getting in the way of their pre-determined ideology. It’s unclear how the email was obtained, but it’s well-within the realms of possibility.
The E-cigarette industry has targeted children absolutely ruthlessly and there is no ambiguity about that. Targeting them in terms of advertising and flavours, with over 10,000 varieties including bubble gum. They have gone out of their way to target children.
By “there’s no ambiguity,” he clearly means “I’m trying to exploit any ambiguity to claim they’re targeting youths.” The Vaped Crusader has done a great post on the “wibbly wobbly world of Mark Drakeford” offering some much-needed mocking.
Carl V. Phillips has published twoposts analyzing the FDA regulation of e-cigarettes and looking at the issues supposedly being addressed by the regulations individually, as well as the likely consequences of radical policy action.
A post with the extreme title “Will Vaping Kill Me?” offers an objective look at the 95% safer figure, specifically why it isn’t 100%. The experts interviewed point out that the 5% is to account for potential residual harms from things like flavorings, and the general uncertainty in the absence of long-term data.
Bill Godshall’s latest THR update has been published. Many of the stories have been linked in previous editions of the Week in Vaping, but it’s a great resource for getting everything in one place.
Bullshit of the Week – “An eighth of a teaspoon [of e-liquid] could poison a five year old”
The amount of nicotine needed to poison a child seems be decreasing, if you believe news reports like this one. Dr. Lara Lunde claims just an eighth of a teaspoon of e-liquid is enough to poison a five-year old child. It seems like not that long ago a teaspoon or maybe half a teaspoon was the go-to amount, but Lunde has taken it upon herself to take this even further.
Bernd Mayer’s demolishing of the oft-repeated 0.5 to 1 mg/kg figure for nicotine’s toxic dose estimates that the minimum LD50 is 6.5 mg/kg. For a 40 pound child (roughly average for a five year old), a potentially fatal dose would be 117 mg. But the problem with just making stuff up like Lunde is that you back yourself into a corner. For a 24 mg/ml e-liquid, there’d be under 18 mg in an eight of a teaspoon, way less than the evidence-based estimate for the toxic dose of nicotine.
Lunde isn’t content with her contribution to misinformation about vaping yet, though:
People think that e-cigs are going to help them get off tobacco. There is zero evidence to support that claim. Zero.
Zero? You better tell the people at the Cochrane Collaboration, then, because it seems the scientists who wrote the review of e-cigs for quitting smoking were undergoing a bizarre shared hallucination in which they thought they’d found quite a bit of evidence to support that claim.
More evidence on this is needed, but to claim there is none is either a sign of rank ignorance on the topic or one of deliberate deception.
Check Back Next Week for More!
That’s it for this edition of the Week in Vaping! If we’ve missed an important story, let us know in the comments! And if not, we’ll be back with more vaping news, research, regulations and your weekly dose of nonsense next Sunday!