It's time to stop confusing the public with sensationalist rhetoric on e-cigarettes

Brad Rodu, Opinion contributor, courier-journal.com
Published 12:37 p.m. ET May 10, 2019

The problem of misinformation is widespread. The public constantly receives alarmist misrepresentations about vaccinations, the food they eat, the household products they use and now e-cigarettes and vaping. But hysterical rhetoric has consequences, because people act on what they are told. And health officials at all levels of government are misinforming Americans that e-cigarettes are as dangerous as cigarettes and pose an existential threat to their children. Unfortunately, this misinformation can be deadly. 

Production of tobacco misinformation follows a formula, originating in “user fees” (read: taxes) Congress established in 2009, giving the FDA regulatory authority over tobacco (here). Every year, tobacco consumers pony up more than $700 million in user fees to the FDA, which then transfers a big chunk of that money to the National Institutes of Health, which distributes it to thousands of researchers at the nation’s universities to study tobacco products. This system, which has been operating for several years, isn’t set up to discover the truth about tobacco. Instead, it generates only what the NIH and others in the federal government want: bad news about all tobacco products, including tobacco-free, smoke-free and vastly safer e-cigarettes.   

This bad news is then amplified by university media departments and our brave new world of social media, which makes it hard to see what’s true and what’s exaggeration, distortion or pure fiction. Americans are exposed to a tsunami of fictitious “dangers” from vaping and of an e-cigarette “epidemic” that will put a generation of youth in danger. Of course, no policy measure is too strong when our kids are at risk.  

Also: JCPS to fight e-cigarette use among kids with anti-vaping campaign

But the result of this misinformation cycle is significant. A study last month in JAMA Network Open found that the percentage of American adults who perceive e-cigarettes as equally harmful as cigarettes more than tripled from 11.5% in 2012 to more than 36% in 2017; those who perceive e-cigarettes as more harmful also tripled from 1.3% to more than 4%. 

In short, Americans are listening to the alarmism about the “dangers” of e-cigarettes and the teen vaping “epidemic.”  They deserve better from our lawmakers and public health officials. The FDA knows that nicotine is the reason people smoke, but it is not the reason that smokers die. Yet officials have not actively communicated this message to the public.  

Even worse, the FDA has exaggerated the teen vaping problem by manipulating data and incorrectly blaming retailers to justify onerous regulations that will give consumers fewer healthier choices. 

Meanwhile, the real risks are forgotten. Smoking continues to prematurely kill 500,000 Americans every year, and smoking-related healthcare costs are nearly $300 billion. According to the CDC, more than 16 million people live with a smoking-attributable disease.  

Opinion: When our kids vape, they train their brains to depend on chemicals

In recent decades, anti-tobacco crusaders have tried everything to kill cigarettes, including litigation, legislation, taxation and regulation. But their crusade lost its direction when it started to target all tobacco products — even those that don’t contain tobacco.  Officials in international health organizations and national governments know that “tobacco” is not synonymous with “smoking,” yet they purposefully conflate them. In desperation, they have tried to kill e-cigarettes and vaping, an innovative, satisfying and vastly safer cigarette substitute. Ironically and tragically, their actions are sustaining and extending the cigarette market.  

E-cigarettes contain nicotine — which is addictive — but they lack the toxins in smoke that cause lung cancer, heart disease and other maladies. This substantial difference is what led prestigious British medical organizations like the Royal College of Physicians and Public Health England to deem e-cigarettes at least 95 percent safer than combustible cigarettes. In fact, the British government’s Department of Health helps smokers switch from combustibles to vapor. 

The good news is that even though misinformation is rampant, American smokers are still using e-cigarettes more frequently — and more successfully — than FDA-approved medicines to help them quit, according to a population-level study using the FDA’s national survey. In February, British researchers reported in the New England Journal of Medicine that e-cigarettes are nearly twice as effective in helping smokers quit as FDA-approved nicotine medicines like patches and gum.  

Free and open conversation about truthful information is essential to a healthy democracy. But it’s also critical to establishing sound public health policy. It’s time for Americans to have all the facts about e-cigarettes, so they can make educated choices in order to enjoy longer and healthier lives. 

Dr. Brad Rodu is a professor of medicine and holds an endowed chair in Tobacco Harm Reduction Research at the University of Louisville.

 

 

WE COULD VAPE OUR WAY TO HEALTH—IF THE GOVERNMENT GETS OUT OF THE WAY | OPINION

PETER ROFF, NEWSWEEK CONTRIBUTING EDITOR
ON 5/10/19 AT 12:10 PM EDT

In November 1998, the four largest tobacco companies in the United States at the time—Philip Morris, R.J.Reynolds,Brown & Williamson, and Lorillard—entered into a settlement agreement with the attorneys general of 46 states, in which they agreed, in part, to stop marketing their products to teens and to fund anti-teen smoking efforts. 
At the time it was hailed as a major step forward for public health. Unfortunately, as regulatory regimes are often apt to do, the way events have transpired since has allowed the crusade against teen smoking to become an impediment to what may be the biggest public health breakthrough since the advent of the polio vaccine.

The terms of the agreement, along with subsequent congressional inaction, have allowed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to take an active role in regulating vaping, an emerging technology that produces devices allowing for the oral delivery of nicotine without the tar that has proven harmful.

There are still about 34 million smokers in the United States and 1.1 billion around the world, more than a few of whom presumably would like to quit but can’t find a way to do it. Stopping “cold turkey,” as the saying goes, is often not an option. Alternatives like the patch, nicotine gum, lozenges, and even hypnosis are not necessarily effective avenues to quitting permanently.

Vaping is different. The highly regarded New England Journal of Medicine published a study earlier this year that found smokers who switched to e-cigarettes (one of many vaping delivery systems currently available) were much more likely to quit than people who used nicotine patches, gum, or similar products.

That’s only one study—and the authors admit it's not entirely conclusive—but combined with anecdotal evidence coming from documentaries like “A Billion Lives,” which interviews smokers who could not quit cigarettes until they started vaping—commends the promotion of vaping as a smoking cessation option because of its potential benefit to adult smokers. Unfortunately, the federal government has been pushing for things to go in the other direction.

The FDA, claiming it had the authority to do so under the federal Tobacco Control Act, adopted regulations late in the Obama Administration bringing the entire vaping sector under its regulatory purview. The argument, then as now, was this was necessary to combat teen smoking. As it originally stood, anything vaping-related not on the market before February 15, 2007, had to be submitted to the agency for its approval.

For those who believe vaping and smoking, even teen smoking are entirely different things, this presented a challenge. They thought they had an ally in Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Trump’s first FDA Commissioner. “At face value, we believe these [vapor] products pose less risk than combusting tobacco. If you can fully switch every currently addicted adult smoker who is using combustible tobacco products onto e-cigarettes, you will have a profound impact on public health. And some people can switch completely. We think that is a public health benefit,” he was saying as late as January 2019. 

These hopes proved short lived. That’s a shame because there’s evidence needing to be considered that vaping is saving lives both among the rich and those not so well off. A 2018 study funded by Cancer Research UK found, in the words of one of the researchers involved in it, that "E-cigarettes have the potential either to decrease or increase health inequalities depending on levels of smoking cessation.” 

One of the most serious complaints about the vaping industry is that it is primarily targeting kids as customers, which, if it were entirely true, might be cause for concern. There are plenty of responsible actors, however. JUUL Labs, which is one of the larger companies in the new industry and whose product name has become a synonym for the activity, is backing an increase in the minimum age to purchase vaping and smoking products to 21. You also can’t buy any of its flavored formulas in retail settings. Anyone seeking to purchase a flavored pod must go to an age-gated website and provide the last four digits of their Social Security number before the transaction can be completed. The flavors it sells—cucumber, mango, fruit, and crème—are there because, according to those familiar with industry marketing studies, they help people make and maintain the switch from cigarettes.

There’s broad agreement, even inside the industry that vaping products should not be made available to kids. That’s an easy problem to solve without destroying the industry. Remember, cigarettes kill 500,000 people per year in the U.S. alone. People who want to quit but can’t under their own power deserve the chance to switch. The FDA shouldn’t be fighting them. It should be helping. 

Newsweek contributing editor Peter Roff has written extensively about politics and the American experience for U.S. News and World Report, United Press International, and other publications. He can be reached by email at RoffColumns@GMAIL.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeterRoff

 

As I See It: Politics, not public health, driving anti-e-cigarette legislation

By Michael Siegel, telegram.com

Posted May 11, 2019 at 3:01 AM

From 2017 to 2018, the use of electronic cigarettes among high school youth nearly doubled. In response to this uptick in teen vaping, Massachusetts lawmakers have introduced legislation (S1279) to ban the sale of e-cigarettes in the Commonwealth (with the exception of tobacco-flavored products) except in adult-only smoking bars. This bill would also ban the sale of menthol cigarettes. At first blush, it may appear this is strong public health legislation, guided by the principle that we want to limit youth access to an addictive product. But upon closer inspection, it’s clear this bill is about politics, not public health.

Supporters of this proposed bill purport to deem any tobacco product that is addicting large numbers of youth to be off-limits when it comes to sale in convenience stores, gas stations, pharmacies, and other retail outlets. There is one gaping exemption in the legislation, however, that undermines its entire purpose.

Legislators have carved out a huge exception for Marlboro cigarettes – the #1 brand of cigarettes used by youth smokers in Massachusetts. While most Newports, Kools, and Salems could not be sold in the state because nearly all of their sub-brands are menthol-flavored, virtually every sub-brand of Marlboro would be able to remain on store shelves that are easily accessible by minors.

If this legislation goes into effect, it will actually be easier for both youth and adults to get access to a traditional Marlboro cigarette than to a strawberry vape. Youth will quickly figure out that it is much easier for them to smoke than to track down a healthier alternative in an e-cigarette.

The last thing in the world that we should be doing is to give tobacco cigarettes a competitive advantage over fake (electronic) cigarettes, which contain nicotine but do not involve combustion and the release of toxins that are the driver of smoking-related illnesses. There is no justification for targeting e-cigarettes, a less harmful product, while leaving combustible cigarettes on the shelves.

What’s more, by choosing to ban menthol cigarettes, while leaving all other cigarettes untouched, Massachusetts lawmakers are arbitrarily picking one tobacco company over another. There is no public health rationale for singling out certain cigarette brands for a sales ban but not others – these brands are equally deadly.

In fact, the majority of youth smokers prefer non-menthol cigarettes; and the most popular brand among youth smokers is Marlboro, with Newport being a distant third. And the data on cigarette brand preferences among youth do not provide a justification for banning menthol cigarettes and giving non-menthol cigarettes a huge competitive market advantage. If lawmakers are sincere about wanting to protect kids from nicotine addiction, banning Newport sales but allowing Marlboro sales makes no sense.

Why, then, are policy makers targeting e-cigarettes, but not real ones? Why are they ignoring the fact that in 2017, there were 19,000 Massachusetts high schoolers who were current cigarette smokers and an additional 38,000 who had experimented with tobacco cigarettes? Why are they doing nothing to address the 10.3% of high school seniors who are cigarette smokers, according to the most recent data from the Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey?

Politics. Our elected officials appear not to have the political courage to take on the cigarette industry, with its powerful lobbying, but find it easy to go after a product being sold overwhelmingly by small businesses with little, if any, political influence. They appear to care about our kids only enough to take the politically expedient step of banning e-cigarettes, but not enough to take the principled step of removing from the youth market a product that we know has the potential to kill half of those kids who become addicted to it.

If the state legislature is sincere in wanting to limit youth’s access to highly addictive tobacco products, then it should restrict the sale of all nicotine-containing products—electronic cigarettes and all tobacco cigarettes alike—to stores that are only open to adults ages 21 and older. This would allow vaping products to compete with cigarettes on a level playing field and protect youth from easy access to vaping products and tobacco cigarettes.

Dr. Michael Siegel is a professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at Boston University School of Public Health.

 

Anti-Vape Epidemic Sees Drop In Vapers

ALI ANDERSON / JULY 20, 2018 / UNCATEGORIZED

THE number of vapers are falling in America, shock new data has revealed, proving its portrayal as a menacing new epidemic by government and anti-tobacco interest groups has been worryingly effective.

About 6.9 million Americans were current users of e-cigarettes in 2017, according to the latest National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), which was a million fewer than the previous year.

The survey, which is the source for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) national smoking estimates (the nation’s health protection agency), it makes the number of current vapers two million fewer than in 2014, the first year NHIS surveyed for vaping.

Data also showed the number of those currently using e-cigarettes who were former smokers had increased through 2016, but dropped in 2017, from 2.62 to 2.3 million.

Pro-vaping experts, who maintain e-cigarettes are key in helping smokers make the switch away from their deadly habit, are now concerned misinformation in the public domain about vaping has seen the number of vapers tragically decline.

Long-time vaping campaigner, Clive Bates, said of the news: “American anti-vaping extremists are doing well in fighting off the vaping threat to the cigarette trade,” while Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, thought more needed to be done to educate smokers about the benefits of vaping and correct the misinformation they have been fed.

He said following the recent data - which showed not just a decline in vapers but an all-time drop in smokers: “We're almost always reaching all-time low smoking prevalence. If 80% of Americans knew vaping was less hazardous rather than ~40%, we could be even lower today.”

Earlier this year, it was revealed Americans’ perception of the relative harm of e-cigarettes versus cigarettes, as measured by the National Cancer Institute’s Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS), had risen, with over half believing vaping was just as harmful as cigarettes.

Looking at the numbers from 2013 to 2017 (available here), Bates said: “So what difference did four years of better products, academic studies, journal articles and commentaries, conferences and publicly funded risk communication make? Yes, it caused a deterioration in these already very bad numbers…those incorrectly believing e-cigs were just as harmful or worse than cigarettes had risen from 39.8% to 55.4%.”

The data comes in the same week the American Cancer Society (ACS) admitted the American public has been misinformed about the dangers of vaping - and is now going to promote it as an alternative to smoking.

The leading health organization has set out in a public statement that it is tobacco, not nicotine, which contains the cancer-causing chemicals and carcinogens and states there's an "urgent need" for consumer education about the risks posed by different tobacco products.

While the ACS had already confirmed vaping was a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes in a report earlier this year, its tougher stance on eradicating the current smoking epidemic through actively promoting e-cigarettes and other cessation tools, is being seen as a positive step by vaping advocacy groups and public health experts.

It said in the statement: “Although many Electronic Nicotine Device Systems [such as e-cigarettes] deliver nicotine, flavor additives, and other chemicals, they do not burn tobacco, a process that yields an estimated 7000 chemicals, including at least 70 carcinogens. Thus, public misunderstanding underscores the urgent need for consumer education about the absolute and relative risks posed by different tobacco products and to reinvigorate smokers’ understanding of the importance of quitting combustible tobacco.”

It also admitted public understanding had “deteriorated” over time and it was keen to help try to rectify the damage done.

E-cigarettes: an evidence update

An expert review of the latest evidence concludes that e-cigarettes are around 95% safer than smoked tobacco and they can help smokers to quit.

Published 19 August 2015 
Last updated 28 August 2015
Public Health England

 

An expert independent evidence review published August 19th 2015 by Public Health England PHE concludes that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful to health than tobacco and have the potential to help smokers quit smoking.

Key findings of the review include:

  • the current best estimate is that e-cigarettes are around 95% less harmful than smoking
  • nearly half the population (44.8%) don’t realise e-cigarettes are much less harmful than smoking
  • there is no evidence so far that e-cigarettes are acting as a route into smoking for children or non-smokers

To read the full review click on

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/e-cigarettes-an-evidence-update

or to read the news release click on

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/e-cigarettes-around-95-less-harmful-than-tobacco-estimates-landmark-review

Time Magazine on August 20th 2015 followed up and added to the story with.

Vaping Is 95% Healthier and 40% Cheaper Than Smoking

This cost factor is based on consumers using cig-a-like. the savings are more substantial when using a refillable system.

to read the article click on

http://time.com/money/4005030/vaping-healthier-cigarettes-expensive

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This place is great - very solid selection of hardware and nice juice varieties as well. Most importantly, as noted in other reviews, they are very knowledgeable and actually understand how these devices work. I'm not new to vaping so I've gone to a lot of shops and generally I hear a lot of misinformation related to performance and safety (or total disregard of safety), so it was refreshing to come here and actually be able to have an intelligent conversation. I must have spent an hour there trying stuff out and I walked away with a nice new setup. Thanks John! Look forward to coming back.
Marrisa D.

Great vape shop here!!
I have been coming to this store since their opening in 2012 and haven't stopped for good reason. After touring most if not all the los angeles vape stores I was disappointed and shocked at the mis-information being taught to customers purchasing a high powered electrical device which if used improperly may cause major injury or even death.These guys mean business they know their products front to back and can easily recommend a device that will give you the experience you prefer.
I stumbled upon this store in my own backyard of Highland Park right on Fig! John and Scott are very knowledgeable and friendly when we first met they asked about my vape experience so far and how my smoking habits were so they may be able to recommend the best devices for my needs and expectations. I bought some juice based on these guys recommendation and it became my EDV for about 1 1/2 years so they actually listen and recommend products that fit your tastes.
This store is what vape shops should be a welcoming enviroment and great service no matter what. Almost every other store you walk in and it feels like you walked into a private club of cloud chasers who look down on you for not using a mechanical or for only having "polite" sized clouds that dont fill a room in two hits. On top of that many stores I've visited don't teach battery safety at all and get paid to build coils which are usually unsafe to use unless you have experience with building. So dont go to those other shops that dont care and stick a potential pipe bomb in your face, go to Vapeology LA where they see people not clouds.
Jeremiah M.
Vapeology is by far the best vape shop I've ever visited. Both John and Scott, (British Accent), are friendly, knowledgeable and welcoming. If you have any questions about hardware or e-juice they will be sure to give you the most informed response in a kind and thorough manner. The prices are fair & they stand by their products. If you have any issues with something you've purchased from them they will work to repair if not straight out replace it for you. This I've experienced first hand. They'll never sell you a substandard product and they make sure that every juice they carry is produced in a safe and healthy environment. I'm sad that I've had to relocate across the country and am not able to just stop by to say hello and chat. Even still, while I may be across the country,  I continue to order my vape supplies from John and have no plans on switching shops.
Jordan G.
After visiting every e-cig and vape shop in the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles I found there are only three shops worth going to and Vapeology LA is one of them!
Patrick L.

Best Vape shop I've been to! Quality product, always very educational and help with troubleshooting. Very patient, instructing on types of juices and how to calibrate your vape....Love the selection of flavors. The Owner John makes you feel so comfortable...very knowledgeable and super mellow! No more cigarettes for me! :)
Rosita I

John is AMAZING. He truly cares about everyone that comes through the door of his shop. His prices can not be beat. This is the best place you can go if you are a vape fan. No frills no fuss. Just a great place to go with great service and products. If you are looking for some swanky place with attitude and someone who could care less about you this is NOT the place for you. I make a point to go by his shop and stock up before I go on a trip cause I wouldnt want to go anywhere else.
David S.
Being introduced to Vaping for the first time around and coming in here was the BEST possible experience. John, and Scott ask the right questions about how one smokes, and explains EVERYTHING. They will make sure that you know how your vap works, and make sure that you are comfortable with it. I always refer people to Vapeology. Patient, comfortable atmosphere, and it's nice that one can just chill there and talk with new people and/or the staff. DON'T HESITATE to come in, seriously. Awesome place, thank you John!!!!
Louis S.
I love this place. excellent customer service, great selection of juices and excellent advice for the beginners dont know where to start. they will only give you what you need and not try to sell you something that you'll never use. they've helped me repair a few of my items as well. you cant go wrong here. keep up the good work guys!
Gabe B.
I visited this establishment once and I had a great experience with the owner, John. This is not a fancy, nor hip store but the knowledgeable owner and quality products make up for any cosmetic shortfalls. I believe, John makes great pains to make sure that the e juice he sells are made in clean and quality lab conditions and will not sell you a product that was made in someones bathroom and dirty kitchen, I appreciate the due diligence on behalf of all of us vapers. As for hardware, I have no comment except that he told me that he spends countless hours trying to make sure that he is buying legit products which can be a tricky situation with all the counterfeit products coming from China. When I have the time I will come back again. Thanks.
David F.
Vapeology was the first place I went to for vaping needs. They were super helpful and explained a lot to me, that was back in January. Since then I've tried some other shops where I've had good and bad experiences but I always return to Vapeology. John is always happy to help and I've had awesome conversations with him. The other dude who's name I forget is awesome too. 

One thing I appreciate about the guys is that they don't try to up sell me, they give me the honest truth about equipment and juices. If I ask about something they explain the differences but rarely tell me that what I have isn't any good. I've had other shops tell me that the things I like and are working well aren't what I should use. 

At times it's a bit of a wait but I don't mind waiting a little while for full attention and great customer service. It seems the store is always improving, more and different equipment and new and interesting juice flavors.
Bill M.

 



AP Photo of John by Reed Saxon
used in many articles around the USA

Vapeology LA in the news

John Hartigan the owner of Vapeology LA in Highland Park California has been sought out for interviews and opinions regarding the health, polotics and safety of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Sytems below are links to some of the articles

Mashable March 7th 2014
Despite New Restrictions, E-Cigarette Shops See Growth Ahead

Real Clear Politics February 5th 2014
Democrats Call for Ban on E-Cigarettes on Capitol GroundsP_Articles on Twitter

Time Magazine December 16th 2013
Regulating E-Cigarettes Could Have Unintended Consequences

L.A. Times December 5th 2013
Overreacting to e-cigarettes

 

 
Vapeology carries only solderless clearomizers,
a recent study funded by CBS has shown that atomizers that are soldered give off particles of tin, copper and nickel in the vapor