Revealing the real motivation behind the California Department of Public Health’s attack campaign on vaping called Still Blowing Smoke.
The Truth You Have Been Denied,
Exposing Misinformation and Revealing the Facts
Dear Australian Media Organisations,
I would like to address the deluge of misinformation being published by the Australian media in recent weeks regarding the outbreak of lung disease across the United States, which has been falsely associated with the vaping of flavoured e-liquids.
In the interests of transparency and openness and to abrogate potential claims of conflict on my part, I pre-empt the following statement by declaring I am involved in the vaping industry. Notwithstanding, as I am sure any reasonable person will see having read my statement, its intent is not for the purpose of promoting vaping, but to highlight the shameful and wilful misrepresentation of the facts by those we should be able to rely upon to present the full truth and not the contrived nonsense that has been reported over the last several weeks across numerous media platforms.
The Australian media, in particular 7 News’ unsubstantiated, nonsensical recitation of carefully selected quotes and statistics ensuring their biased narrative that e-cigarettes are dangerous is, in its entirety, the most blatant example of confirmation bias I have ever witnessed from a ‘professional’ news body.
One can only surmise the personal beliefs of the editors and journalists, or misguided decisions to only present misinformation promoted by relevant corporate influencers and the current stance of the Australian Government, or simply the old adage that bad news sells, are the catalysts for this false reporting. 7 News, along with other news bodies to a lesser extent, have abandoned their journalistic integrity by their blatant disregard of the Journalist Code of Ethics.
‘Report and interpret honestly, striving for accuracy, fairness and disclosure of all essential facts. Do not suppress relevant available facts, or give distorting emphasis. Do your utmost to give a fair opportunity for reply.’
No reasonable person would find the above opening statement from the MEAA Journalist Code of Ethics ambiguous in any way, so why would 7 News choose to treat their reporting on vaping and e-cigarettes with such flagrant contempt of the principles of the Code of Ethics.
This is all the more concerning when within days of the first reports being published, which blamed vaping for the outbreak of lung disease and deaths within the United States and lead to the worldwide media frenzy, that we witnessed the ‘actual’ facts emerging. Information substantiated by referenced doctors, scientists, law enforcement agencies and numerous government health agencies, confirmed a link between illegal, black market THC vape ‘cartridges’ and the slew of hospital admissions and deaths throughout the Mid-West of the United States. Further information relating to an investigation into the source of this outbreak resulted the arrest of two brothers in Wisconsin, with a raid on their homes resulting in the seizure of 31,200 illegal THC cartridges, 1,616 ounces (~45.8kg) of extracted THC liquid, large volumes of cash, firearms and unprocessed marijuana, and uncovered a significant manufacturing and distribution syndicate capable of producing 3000-5000 THC vape cartridges per day.
Further investigation by federal and state agencies involving testing of a large number of THC cartridges obtained from patients affected by the outbreak, tested positive for Vitamin E Acetate, also known as Tocopherol Acetate, a thickening agent recently adopted by legal and illegal producers in the THC extraction industry. Evidence suggests Tocopherol Acetate began being added to the THC solution to increase its thickness thus allowing manufacturers to dilute their product, and therefore increase profits, without a noticeable decrease in viscosity, as a high viscosity is used as an indicator in determining the potency and quality of the THC solution. So far, all 21 cases of hospitalisation in California originally associated with vaping, along with 24 out of 27 cases in Wisconsin, have been confirmed to be associated with the use of THC cartridges. Significantly, nicotine which has played the role of patsy throughout this entire journalistic debacle, was not detected during this testing.
Despite the presence of Tocopherol Acetate within these THC cartridges being publicly known for over two weeks, 7 News and other media entities continue their rhetoric that vaping as a whole is responsible for this lung disease. The widely available facts are Tocopherol Acetate is an oil, somewhat akin to grease, hence its usage as a thickening agent and its molecular structure means it has a far higher vaporisation point than traditional e-cigarette ingredients. It must be heated well above the boiling point of water in order to vaporise. Furthermore, once the vaporised Tocopherol Acetate begins to cool, it returns to its original state, leaving what is essentially of a coat of grease on the inside of your lungs, undoubtedly reducing lung function and resulting in breathing difficulties.
Regardless of the compelling evidence brought forward over the past two weeks showing the use of illegal THC cartridges were behind the recent epidemic, one must surely consider some of the glaring inconsistencies within the initial, prematurely drawn conclusion that ‘flavoured’ e- cigarettes were to be held responsible. With vaping and e-cigarettes now a worldwide phenomenon, used heavily throughout the vast majority of Europe, Australia, Asia and the United Kingdom, why would this epidemic be limited to the United States, with reported cases emanating from a epicentre in the mid-western states of Montana, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois and Minnesota? Why are we not seeing similar epidemics in Europe, the United Kingdom, or even Australia, which all contain comparable numbers of e-cigarette users per capita as the USA?
Furthermore, 2011 is widely considered to be the year that vaping achieved widespread adoption throughout the world, and flavoured e-liquids have been readily available since, so why now? If flavoured e-liquids were responsible for the lung disease and hospitalisations we are now witnessing, there undoubtedly would have been reported cases prior to the current epidemic, and these cases would have undoubtedly grown exponentially over the past 9 years, with reports suggesting regular e- cigarette users have grown from 5 million in 2011 to an estimated 45 million in 2019. Surely the complete absence of reported cases from outside the USA, and the reports over the last 4-5 weeks, is strongly indicative that a localised issue is responsible for the outbreak, rather than a inherent health safety flaw within the devices and e-liquid itself.
While the MEAA Journalist Code of Ethics is not a legally binding regulatory authority, it is nevertheless a creed all ‘reputable’ journalists claim to adhere to, in addition to the often used catch-cry ‘the public deserve to know the truth’ in defending their often unscrupulous methods of reporting is well recorded. So why then has 7 News completely disregarded and chosen not to report the verified information and facts above regarding this serious matter, and continued to report misinformation?
In direct contradiction of these edicts, it would appear 7 News has decided to distort the truth by suppressing relevant, publicly available facts and, in doing so, patently mislead the general public. Could this simply be a case of journalistic incompetence and laziness or, as I suspect, something far more sinister in the form of big-brother influences based on falsehoods, for the protection of corporate dollars? Regardless of the reasoning, I challenge 7 News to uphold the most intrinsic value of professional journalism and report all of the facts by retracting the sensationalised misinformation you have published thus far and present unbiased, relevant and current information moving forward.
I sincerely hope you, along with the various other news agencies within Australia, reflect on the code of ethics you are trusted to uphold by the Australian public.
Legalise Vaping – Australia
10 News First
WIN News Bendigo
Radio Station 1080 6IX
Greg Hunt MP
A Current Affair
60 Minutes Australia
Australian Medical Association
Australian Government Department of Health
All Dave Vapes
Vaping has slowly become a global phenomenon and we have a lot more vapers around nowadays. As millions of people around begin to lay their hands on vaping and vape products, it brings certain key elements into view. E-cigarette kits were created to make it easier for papers when shopping for vape equipment. An e-cigarette kits is known to contain interesting equipment for a great vape.
Now, what are the benefits of buying e-cigarette kits instead of separate equipment? These benefits will be discussed in the points listed below;
It’s a cheaper option. When you decide to make use of an e-cigarette kit, you get to save money on buying separate pieces of equipment. As soon as you get your e-cigarette kits, you instantly get an e-cigarette, atomizer/clearomizer, battery, coils and so much at a reduced cost. Getting these equipment don’t after the other can cost a lot more.
It’s an all-in-one solution. A lot of vapers are faced with the challenge of finding matching equipment to use in ensuring that they have an interesting experience. Basically, you have everything that you need in one place and you don’t have to go around searching for yourself. The issue of compatibility of vape equipment is also settled because only the most compatible accessories are listed together.
It’s easy to use. There’s no need to make use of a learning curve with this e-cigarette kits. It can be a great choice for learners and even veteran vapers. You don’t have any reason to learn how to make use of these implements together because they are meant for one another. They are ready for use and all you need to do is to simply pick them up. Different manufacturers have designed e-cigarette kits that papers can easily make use of to create an impressive experience.
They are usually branded. The different e-cigarette kits on the market are branded and products from different manufacturers. This allows vapers to try out the quality of the variety of accessories available to them. This variety is known to allow vapers to decide on their preferred taste.
They are flavored. The e-cigarette kits are known to come with a variety of flavors. These flavors range from nicotine-like to fruity ones. Each flavoring is designed to offer vapers a variety in tastes to what they are used to smoke. This means that as they enjoy their vape, they can also get a burst of fruitiness in your mouth.
They are made of good quality. These e-cigarette kits are designed to be of the highest quality. To guarantee this, the best materials are used in its production. This way, the vapers can be certain of making use of the best. Their e-cigarette kits are designed for effectiveness, durability and a good vape. The different brands around the world try to adhere to quality regulations to keep things safe for vapers around the world. Pick one of these off the market and you stand to enjoy a lot from it.
What is the best e-cigarette on the market?
An e-cigarette is a key to your vape. It’s even more difficult when you’re trying to give up smoking cigarettes. Everything about the vape comes from the e-cigarette. This is why it is important to get your choice while considering all the available options. In getting an e-cigarette, you have to make the side that you it is satisfying and easy to use.
The best e-cigarettes on the market include;
●Aspire Breeze 2
●VaporFi VAIO GO
●Halo Tracer Twist
●Innokin Endura T20
●Joyetech eGo AIO D22 XL
●Smok Stick V8 Big Baby Beast
14 September 2017
© Commonwealth of Australia 2017
View the report as a single document – (PDF 336KB)
View the report as separate downloadable parts:
Purpose of the Bill
Conduct of the inquiry
Harm caused by e-cigarettes uncertain
Proposed amendments to the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989
Proposed amendments to the Airports Act 1996
Proposed amendments to the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act 1992
Australian Labor Party Senators’ Additional Comments
Liberal Democratic Party Dissenting Report
APPENDIX 1 – Submissions and additional information received by the Committee
Committee Secretariat contact:
Senate Standing Committees on Community Affairs
PO Box 6100
Canberra ACT 2600
Phone: +61 2 6277 3515
Fax: +61 2 6277 5829
Hey everyone, Majo Vape is now on Facebook. We would like to share our personal experience and hopefully help more people quit smoking once and for all. Vaping helped us quit smoking for over a year now and we’ve decided to share the products we enjoy. The collection on our website starts with all our favorite mods and juices. If you would like more info on any of the products send us e-mail or inbox on Facebook. We’re always happy to help. We’re updating our products every day, improving the website and spreading the word.
Majo Vape Team
Welcome to Majo Vape – all your vaping equipment in one place. Our aim is to provide our customers with one stop shop for anything vaping.Please feel free to contact us if you have any suggestions or if you would like to order a product that we don’t currently have – we’ll find it for you! We update the website with new products daily, please check back regularly.
These days, everyone who’s anyone is living that vape life. From The Weeknd partnering up with PAX to create his own Limited Edition vaporizer to Sarah Silverman famously pulling out her pen on the Emmys red carpet, vapes are the entertainment industry’s newest go-to accessory. And we get it—when you’re living life on the go just like them, who’s got time to roll a smoke? There’s too much performing, filming, partying, and living that luxe life to slow down for a cig you can’t even bring indoors. It seems that more and more of today’s rich and famous are truly starting to realize this. Here are 20 celebrities who’ve turned to vaping to get their smoke break on.
Image via Getty Images/John Parra
Talk about commitment, The Weeknd literally signed his name on the dotted line to that vape life. The singer now has his own customized vaporizer, called The Madness Tour Limited Edition Pax 2.
Image via Getty Images/Frazer Harrison
Leo DiCaprio’s go-to date? His vape. The Golden Globes? It’s been there. SNL’s 40th Anniversary Show (where Miley Cyrus complained about him hogging the pen)? It scored a ticket. His yacht and multiple islands across the seven seas? It’s traveled it all.
While her friends spent the day draining beers and chillin’ out by her pool, Perry kept herself cool by puffing on her vape.
Tom Hardy simply DGAFs. He’s the kind of dude who’ll post underwear selfies, absolutely commit himself to insane dubsmash videos, and take a few hits out of his vape on camera during a press junket.
Image via Getty Images/Joseph Okpako
Want a visual of Jhene Aiko living that vape life? Just watch her video for “Bed Peace,” featuring Childish Gambino. Look close enough, and you see the two pass their discrete PAX vaporizer back and forth in between bars.
Image via Getty Images/Emma McIntyre
Smoking and Snoop Dogg and inseparable. It’s difficult to even conjure up an image of the rapper without his best friend Mary Jane. Thus, it’s no surprise that when he’s not rolling fat blunts, he hits his vape.
Image via Getty Images/Bravo
Who knew little Annie Edison was about that life? PAX did, apparently. The company sent the Community actress a personalized vape that she’s known to absolutely adore.
Image via Getty Images/Tibrina Hobson
Michelle Rodriguez is such a fan of vaping that it’s become contagious amongst her friends. From Zac Efron to Cara Delevingne, Rodriguez has been known to pass the pen to her friends. How sweet.
Johnny Depp smoked a vape in front of audiences all over the world in his Angelina Jolie-co-starrer The Tourist, but he’s been snapped taking the habit off screen as well.
Paparazzi sightings of Robert Pattinson vaping are as ubiquitous as safe sex ads in Hollywood. That said, hands down the best footage of the actor enjoying a vape has to be this fan video of him taken with FKA twigs draking at Coachella.
Rihanna’s signature look: dancing in a bikini, smoking a blunt on a yacht somewhere in heaven on Earth. When the rolling papers run out, you already know her vape is her go-to.
The alt band enjoys vaping so much they publicly declared their love. “We swear by the pax lyfe. A vaporizer is better for preserving our voices, and we can often use it in more public places on the DL. Shhh,” MS MR told Noisey.
Vaping doesn’t quite look as classy with anyone as it does with Lady Gaga. Maybe it’s her vintage look, but every photo of the singer-turned-American Horror Story star smoking her vape recalls a modern Holly Golightly.
What’s Asher Roth been up to? Vaping. That’s the only acceptable answer. When he’s not touring small venues and slowly building back his brand, we’re assuming he’s enjoying his PAX vaporizer.
Pics of Big Boi publicly smoking out is a rarity these days. At least, he hardly posts pics of him puffing away on his Instagram. However, that doesn’t mean the Outkast rapper doesn’t enjoy his handy vaporizer every once in awhile.
Kate Moss is apparently trying to kick her cigarette habit, so she’s turning to vapes. In fact, Moss is so devoted to it The Daily Mirror reported that the model spent over $2k to fly her e-cigs to Spain with her.
The writing’s on the wall. From his appearance in Jhene Aiko’s “Bed Peace” to his “Getting High with Childish Gambino” interview for ANDPOP, the comedian/rapper is clearly all about his PAX vaporizer.
Ever since leaving One Direction, Zayn Malik’s been at work on his personal brand. That includes establishing himself as a Vape Life Practitioner, who loves to get deep with it on Instagram.
No one can top Sarah Silverman outing herself as a vaper. The comedian hilariously pulled out her vape on E!’s Emmys pre-show last year, making host Giuliana Rancic shirk in awkwardness.
Where Drake is, you can trust that a hookah isn’t far away. But, if it’s too cumbersome to carry around at, say, a crowded party, the rapper’s likely to have a vape on a hand.
VAPE Health November 18, 2015
It’s Not Smoke It’s Vapor
So why then is there a fight to regulate, strangulate and eradicate this industry? Could there be any other reason besides what I’m sure you’ve already guessed? Money.
Vaping saves lives. Millions of people around the world have used vaping as a healthier alternative to smoking cigarettes. So why is the government and the FDA so determined to restrict the market and in essence shut the vaping industry down?
There are many misconceptions about vaping that the public has taken as truths. One being that there are hidden ingredients like antifreeze and formaldehyde in eLiquid. There are actually three ingredients in vape liquid, vegetable glycerin (found in most food products), Propylene glycol (the main ingredient in Albuterol and other asthma inhalers) and lastly Nicotine, which in itself has been found to be as bad for you as a cup of coffee. On the other hand, there are over 1,000 toxins in a single cigarette.
According to Derek Yach, anti-smoking activist, executive director of the Vitality Institute and former World Health Organization officer, there are 1.3 billion smokers in the world and roughly 6 million smoking-related deaths per year. Going even further; for every death, there are 20 smokers suffering from tobacco-related diseases. So let’s do the math then. 6,000,000 x 20 = 120,000,000. That’s a lot of zeros. One hundred twenty million people are currently suffering from smoke related disease. I’ll let that sink in.
Have you ever watched as someone suffered with lung cancer from years of smoking cigarettes? I have. It wasn’t long ago that I went to visit my uncle, Richard Tidwell, in the hospital after he had suffered a stroke. He had been having regular chemotherapy treatments for the cancer the doctor had found in his lungs. We thought the treatments had been working, but we couldn’t be more wrong. The stroke itself was brought upon by the cancer spreading to his brain. He smiled when I entered the room so he did indeed recognize me. A brief moment of relief washed over me, until he tried to speak. When he did, his words were jumbled as if he were a toddler. You could tell that he knew what he wanted to say but was incapable of producing the correct words for his thoughts. Frustration was clearly seen on the mask of a smiling face. More than that was the pain he suffered with, but even then his beautiful spirit could not be corrupted. Our hopes of him recovering from this diminished when the doctors asked if we could make a plan for home health. Not more than two weeks later when a family member went to check on him was he found dead in his home. From that moment, I knew I wanted to quit smoking but didn’t know how I was going to without some help. I was addicted to cigarettes and vaping saved my life.
In March 2014 a statement (Original Article was Removed – Reference Archive: “What you need to know about electronic cigarettes”) made by the Royal College of Physicians website states:
‘the main benefit of e-cigarettes is that they provide inhalable nicotine in a formulation that mimics the behavioral components of smoking but has relatively little risk… Switching completely from tobacco to e-cigarettes achieves much the same in health terms as does quitting smoking and all nicotine use completely.’
So why then is there a fight to regulate, strangulate and eradicate this industry? Could there be any other reason besides what I’m sure you’ve already guessed? Money.
Approximately 2.2 billion dollars was spent on e-cigs in America alone last year. Compare that to the $85 billion cigarette market. With such a drastic difference you would think that big tobacco companies wouldn’t even bat an eye; however, in doing so you would be thinking wrong. Each smoker that switches equals less money going toward the cigarette market. According to notblowingsmoke.org, cigarette shipments decreased by 6.45% in 2010 and 5.6% in 2011. As more and more people catch on to the benefits of vaping, even more people follow suit. In essence, the tobacco industry and their cancer sticks are doomed. But where does the FDA and government come into play with all of this? Did you know that states borrow from the expected excise tax that tobacco revenue is expected to incur? It poses a problem then when the profits are not as high as expected. The money to pay the debt isn’t there. We could go even further into how much money is made by big pharma (pharmaceuticals) on the cancer generating tobacco industry, but that is a story for another time.
So who profits off of the vaping industry? The typical business in the industry could be described as “mom and pop shops.” Meaning that everyday men are offering jobs to countless throughout the country while having a means to provide for their own family. In extreme success stories where a brand has taken off, the American Dream is being realized. The new rules that the FDA is trying to enforce would require that all juices and devices would require approval. According to the Wall Street Journal, one estimate of the approval process would require such extensive data that it could cost these businesses anywhere from $2- $10 million dollars. The new regulations would guarantee the demise of about 99% of all companies in the industry. So who then would be able to afford such an astronomic price tag? Funny you should ask. Japan Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco, Philip Morris International and British American Tobacco are all scrambling to find a dog for this fight. The European Newsweek of 5/27/15 reads: Big Tobacco Fights Back: How the Cigarette Kings Bought the Vaping Industry. Coincidence? I think not.
So what can we do to stop this? HR2058 provides a change in the date of the grandfather clause to allow all newer products to continue to be manufactured without the rigorous demands of the FDA’s new regulations. If you care at all for a vaper or smoker who you’d like to see quit, please help to stand against these new regulations. Be aware of the call to action posts that the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives association and NotBlowingSmoke.org keep us regularly updated on, email your congressmen and phone the white house. Big business and big government will kill the vaping industry if we do not stand together. Let your voice be heard.
Rolling Stone Magazine E-Cigs’ Inconvenient Truth: It’s Much Safer to Vape
In applying the same tactics used to demonize tobacco, are anti-smoking advocates and regulators missing out on a chance to save millions of lives?
By David Amsden December 21, 2015
Daniel Walsh was first drawn to electronic cigarettes for the same reason millions of smokers have taken up the devices. “I was a guy who could work 20 hour days and juggle a number of complex projects, but I couldn’t quit,” says Walsh. “It was my greatest deficit.” The quixotic promise that have made e-cigs the subject of endless controversy — that smoking cessation and smoking as recreation can coexist — resonated with Walsh. After successfully making the switch, he was so enamored by the product that he left his job developing artificial intelligence in San Francisco, decamped to Michigan and launched Purebacco, a manufacturer of the flavored, nicotine-laced liquid that are battery-heated into an inhalable vapor inside e-cigs. With over 30 employees, satellite offices in San Francisco and London, and plans to expand into a 40,000-square-foot headquarters, Purebacco’s growth is a microcosm of the industry as a whole, which is estimated to do $3.5 billion in sales this year. “There is so much anecdotal evidence out there supporting the idea that people like me have helped hundreds of thousands of smokers quit,” says Walsh, who is known to colleagues as the High Priest of Vaping, a fitting nickname for an enigmatic scientist with a mane of blond dreadlocks who works long hours in his sleek laboratory. “Yet as an e-cig CEO, I’m not really supposed to say that, since current rules prohibit us from marketing our products as anything but another vice.”
Big Tobacco’s Tea Party Ties Exposed »
In August, when British health officials released what was billed as a “landmark review” of electronic cigarettes, Walsh savored a moment of vindication. Describing the devices in headline-grabbing language — “around 95 percent safer than smoking” — the study encouraged e-cigs to be labeled as an effective means of helping smokers curb and kick the deadly habit: a nicotine delivery system with the “potential to make a significant contribution to the endgame for tobacco,” as the report boldly stated, that should be embraced as a public health breakthrough rather than shunned as a novel evil undermining the crusade against smoking. “It was what I’ve been preaching for years!” says Walsh. “Maybe we’re seeing a shift where people like me don’t sound so fringe and crazy.”
In England, perhaps. In America, the dominant message regarding e-cigs is that they are a menace. They have been placed under similar restrictions as tobacco products in the U.S., despite the fact that they contain no tobacco, long understood to be the source of the carcinogens that make smoking the leading cause of preventable death worldwide. Campaigns by anti-smoking groups have successfully fostered the perception that the risks of e-cigs are interchangeable from ordinary cigarettes, and the mainstream media has largely followed in step, with much of the reporting on e-cigs focused on the sensational (exploding devices!) and the apocalyptic (worse than tobacco!). What makes this all particularly confounding is that most American public health officials agree with the core claim of the British report: namely, that puffing an e-cig is significantly less harmful than a tobacco cigarette. Maybe not a provocative 95 percent safer — the research remains spotty, open to interpretation, and e-cigs are too new to be the subject of any longitudinal studies — but at the very least free of the most pernicious toxins released when tobacco is burned. So why the reluctance to make this clear, when 480,000 Americans die from smoking each year?
Daniel Walsh, founder of Purebacco, is known to colleagues as the High Priest of Vaping. Jon Mold
While the e-cig industry was jumpstarted by entrepreneurs like Walsh, big tobacco companies have since waded into the fray — which might be part of the problem. They don’t want to be shut out of a growing business that some predict may eventually overtake their own, but given that cigarette sales still generate a staggering $35 billion in annual profits for the world’s six largest tobacco companies, they remain incentivized to keep smokers drawn to their bedrock product. With electronic offerings like MarkTen — made by Altria, manufacturers of Marlboro — now among the most visible brands, it’s understandable that some view e-cigs as the latest ploy of an industry with a well-documented history of manipulation and subterfuge. Whereas 84 percent of smokers believed e-cigs to be safer than ordinary cigarettes in 2010, by 2013 that figure had dropped to 63 percent. A study last year found that a third of people who had abandoned e-cigs and resumed smoking tobacco did so out of concern for the health effects of vaping.
The crux of the British report is that such misconceptions represent a public health failure, one that could be reversed by highlighting the comparative safety of e-cigs for current smokers, while making it clear that nonsmokers should steer clear of vaping. But the biggest hurdle for e-cigs in the U.S. is the very thing that makes them so appealing: by mimicking the hand-to-mouth ritual of smoking and delivering the same drug — nicotine — found in tobacco, they look and feel a whole lot like smoking. As a result, concerns about e-cigs center on whether encouraging people with a deadly habit to switch will rollback a decades-long trend of historically low smoking rates. Are e-cigs used by smokers to augment their habit rather than abstain? Could they prove to be a gateway toward “re-normalizing” tobacco smoking, especially among impressionable teens? Legitimate as such questions are, at this point they may be eclipsing the most pressing one of all: Is the United States, in applying the same tactics used to demonize smoking on a safer substitute, missing out on a chance to save the lives of millions of its citizens?
People smoke for nicotine but they die from tar.” Michael Russell, a South African scientist widely considered to be the godfather of tobacco control, wrote those words in 1976. At the time it represented a drastic new way of understanding smoking: as a physiological addiction to a drug rather than a purely psychological habit. But nearly 40 years later, the revelation of Russell’s research has been obscured, as the decades long war on smoking became, in effect, a war on nicotine. Rather than occupying a place on the same spectrum that allows caffeine and alcohol to be consumed without stigma, today the word “nicotine” conjures up images of amputated limbs and metastasizing tumors — even though, as Russell made clear, nicotine in itself has never been the deadly culprit in cigarettes.
It may come as a surprise to learn that nicotine, when removed from cigarettes, is relatively benign. Though not free of risks — it can harm a fetus and may affect developing adolescent brains — it also has some benefits. A beguiling substance, nicotine operates as both an upper and a downer depending on the state of the user, proven to simultaneously sharpen focus and calm nerves. “In some ways I think of nicotine as the perfect psychotropic drug,” says Paul Newhouse, a scientist at Vanderbilt University. He has spent his career administering nicotine to improve cognitive functioning in those suffering a variety of conditions, from Alzheimer’s to Parkinson’s to the mental fog created by chemotherapy and HIV medications. “The nicotinic receptors in the brain act as modulators rather than classic transmitters, scanning the system and stimulating what needs to be stimulated and relaxing what needs to be relaxed,” Newhouse says, explaining both nicotine’s therapeutic potential and appeal for recreational use. “That’s why you have a smoker who uses a cigarette to wake up and to go to sleep.”
Many anti-smoking advocates remain unconvinced that vaping offers a safer alternative. Courtesy of Truth; Courtesy of StillBlowingSmoke
Since the Eighties, anti-smoking groups have taken to underscoring the dangers of smoking by declaring that nicotine is as addictive as heroin — a shudder-inducing claim repeated today in anti-vaping efforts like the “Still Blowing Smoke” campaign currently being rolled out in California. The truth, however, has always been far more complicated. Rats are not prone to self-administer the drug in laboratory settings, for instance, as they will a substance like cocaine. Newhouse, in his research, supplies nicotine to patients primarily through patches, and even those who have been on the drug for a year show no symptoms of withdrawal when their trial period concludes. “No one goes out and buys a pack of cigarettes when they’re done,” he says. “For someone like me, who is using nicotine to help people, it’s a disservice to portray nicotine as being as addictive as heroin when it absolutely is nowhere close.”
Mitch Zeller, the director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, the arm of the agency currently working on regulations for e-cigs, concedes that the new products have presented a formidable challenge to the idea that nicotine is anything but a hazard. “Electronic cigarettes have become the poster child for the questions that, on a societal level, we need to be asking about nicotine,” he says. “None of them have easy answers.” Zeller points out that federal approval for over-the-counter doses of nicotine in the form of gums and patches (with no labels warning of addiction) is evidence that it is not the insidious substance many believe it to be. “How could the same compound associated with so much death and disease be so safe that you can buy it without a doctor’s prescription?” he asks. “The answer is that it’s about the delivery mechanism, not the drug.”
While nicotine can be ingested in a variety of generally harmless ways, it is only when inhaled that its full powers — and potential for addiction — are unlocked. From the lungs it reaches the brain within seconds, providing the satisfying jolt that smokers crave.(A nicotine patch, by contrast, takes many minutes longer.) The habit that is as addictive as heroin, in other words, is smoking tobacco cigarettes, not nicotine consumption. Which is to say that smoking never came to be demonized solely because it is addictive, but because its addictive qualities fueled a dependence that kills. This may seem like splitting hairs, save for the fact that America has anything but an unequivocal issue with drug addiction; if we did, we’d be funneling Starbucks patrons into rehab clinics, pitying those who “need” a glass of wine to unwind rather than joining them for happy hour, and viewing large swaths of the pharmaceutical industry in the same light we do corner drug-slingers.
E-CigaretteInfoGraphic Illustration by Sarah Allison
Electronic cigarettes were invented in 2003 by a Chinese pharmacist whose father died from smoking, and who believed the technology could evolve, in a sense, into what smoking was always meant to be: a risky indulgence, without question, but not a deadly one. Like traditional cigarettes, e-cigs are designed to be a means of inhaling nicotine. But by replacing tobacco with a synthetic and non-toxic nicotine-laced “juice” (equal parts propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin), heated by battery rather than fire, the most harmful components of smoking are removed from the equation. As Walsh puts it, describing what led him to found Purebacco: “Our mission from the start has been to create an experience that is intrinsically more satisfying than smoking without the tars and heavy metals that make smoking so lethal.” This really isn’t fundamentally different from the thinking behind accepted cessation devices like gums and patches, with one notable difference — electronic cigarettes are designed to be enjoyed. For the government to embrace them means to rethink what has come to be unthinkable: that smoking, in some form, can be tolerated, even deemed socially acceptable.
Stanton Glantz, a professor of tobacco control at the University of California in San Francisco, does not mince words when offering a rebuttal to the utopian promise of e-cigs. “Total bullshit,” he says.
It is not that Glantz disagrees entirely with the British review’s assessment on e-cigs, though he believes they are more dangerous than the report concluded. “I’ll eat my shoe if that 95 percent figure turns out to be correct five years from now,” he says. “But, yes, there is no doubt that electronic cigarettes are better than cigarettes.” While Glantz can entertain a fantasy where all current smokers switch to e-cigs — “That, of course, would be great” — what troubles him is how consumers actually use them. “Are there people who have totally made the switch or quit completely because of these?” he asks. “Yes, I believe there are. Terrific. But most are what we call dual users — those who smoke both, often to smoke in places where they can no longer smoke cigarettes. If you’re talking about a smoker using these to inhale more dangerous chemicals, well, that has a net negative effect on public health.”
In April of this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report finding that e-cig use had tripled in the past year among middle and high school students — results that Glantz and others cite as proof that e-cigs are initiating a new generation into nicotine addiction, especially by offering flavors he believes are designed to appeal to kids. Like so many reports on e-cigs, however, this one could be interpreted in a less distressing light. For instance, the study didn’t differentiate between a teen who takes a single puff in the course of 30 days and a habitual user, which is to say that it didn’t account for the reality that teenagers have a propensity toward experimentation. The report also found that, since the advent of e-cigs, teen smoking rates have not increased, but rather have reached historic lows.
Earlier this month, Harvard released a study suggesting at least one aspect of vaping might be as detrimental as traditional smoking. Researchers at the university found that 75 percent of flavored e-cigs contained a chemical called diacetyl, commonly used in artificial butter flavorings. While safe to eat, the dangers of inhaling diacetyl were revealed in the early 2000s, when workers at several popcorn factories came down with a condition that became known as “popcorn lung,” an irreversible scarring of the lungs that causes shortness of breath and fits of coughing. The Harvard study led to the inevitable haunting headlines, some of which were testament to how little many in the media actually understand about the perils of tobacco smoking. “Flavored E-cigarettes May Be Worse For You Than Nicotine” declared Mother Jones, reinforcing the misguided notion that nicotine, present in all forms of vaping and tobacco smoking, is the leading scourge. While studies like Harvard’s are critical to fully understanding e-cigs, they too often have the opposite effect. Tobacco cigarettes, for instance, have also long been known to contain diacetyl — at levels over 100 times those found in electronic cigarettes — yet earlier tobacco studies found that even these levels were not enough to cause popcorn lung in smokers.
Electronic cigarette advocates protest anti-vaping laws outside City Hall in New York. Richard Levine/Corbis
“The Harvard study is a perfect example of something that happens over and over,” says Michael Siegel, a physician and professor at Boston University. “It creates a scare by omitting a key piece of information, undermining the public’s appreciation of the severe hazards of tobacco smoking and leading to perverse public health outcomes.” Siegel, who studied under Glantz in San Francisco, has spent much of his career fighting tobacco companies: testifying against them in court, pushing for smoking bans in bars and restaurants, advocating for policies making it illegal to market cigarettes to youth. When e-cigs first started gaining popularity, he was skeptical, believing them to be little more than a product designed to mask the dangers of smoking. Today, however, he has become one of the most outspoken supporters of the idea that e-cigs can succeed where the crusade against smoking has come up short. Given that the current e-cig market is dominated by habitual smokers, Siegel calls the U.S. government’s reluctance to allow them to be pitched as a safer alternative “irresponsible.” “Even the worst case scenario — that a current pack a day smoker replaces a single cigarette with an e-cig — is better than where we are right now,” he says. “All conclusive evidence shows that these are safer, so why aren’t we encouraging smokers to make the shift? If we did, we’d be saving millions of lives and talking about the greatest public health moment of our generation.”
Last April, the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products released a set of “deeming” regulations for e-cigs — essentially a preview of the formal ones still being tweaked, which the agency will only say will be made official “as soon as possible.” Plenty of the guidelines—like banning sales to minors and requiring manufacturer’s to disclose all ingredients — are sensible. But by modeling them primarily on those in place for tobacco cigarettes, the suggestion seems to be that e-cigs carry similar risks. The chief concern for someone in Walsh’s position is that the rules would deem each flavor an “SKU” — basically, a product needing approval. “The cost of admission would be 5,000 hours per SKU,” he says of the lawyer’s fees involved. “At a minimum of one hundred bucks an hour, that’s five million per SKU. Well, my company currently manages 240 SKUs, which means I’m looking at a billion dollars plus if I want to stay in business.”
Researchers in Purebacco’s lab developing the company’s growing line of nicotine-infused e-liquids. Jon Mold
The irony looming over the entire controversy is that cigarettes remain perfectly legal — in the United States, in England, across the globe. As long as this is the case, a certain subset of the population will smoke, for reasons physiological and psychological, and regardless of whether they have to shiver outside a bar or listen to lectures by friends and family about their senseless behavior. While America may have some of the strictest rules on cigarettes, their continued legality is testament that other deeply-engrained national ideals — the freedom of choice, the minting of money — often trump the aims of protecting the health of our citizens. As a result, Walsh insists on what he calls an “FDA clause” in all of his leases, allowing him to break contracts and close up shop without penalty if the regulations make business untenable. “I refer to it as living life under the regulatory guillotine,” he says with a grim chuckle. “It’s an odd dichotomy, isn’t it? After years of trying to disempower Big Tobacco, we are now looking at legislation that will remove all the independents like me from the game and put the industry right into the hands of Big Tobacco.”
Walsh is still optimistic that e-cigs can be, if not quite the end of smoking, then a reinvention of sorts; it’s just likely that, in the end, it will be the big tobacco companies who reap the rewards. Many of his colleagues, he notes, have begun transitioning to another growth industry: marijuana, a drug that has been on the path from demonization toward acceptance during the same period that nicotine has been on the opposite trajectory. “That industry is booming right now, with a fraction of the hurdles we have to jump through,” he says. “The way the regulatory climate is going, huge portions of the e-cig business may transition to marijuana. You have all these people who want to help people quit smoking, but they have no way to conduct commerce.” He pauses. “Sometimes you just have to laugh at the randomness that says one substance is okay and the other is not.”
For years and years, executives from Big Tobacco all over the world perpetrated the myth – always with a straight face and often on oath – that smoking was neither addictive nor harmful. But Tara Brown has just done an interview which will surely take your breath away. It’s with a current, senior scientist at British American Tobacco who finally admits what we have all known for a long time. Smoking kills. No, he doesn’t have a gun held to his head, but he does have an agenda. He wants to promote nicotine e-cigarettes, or vaping as it’s also called in Europe and America. And guess what? It is safer than tobacco … but does that mean it’s really safe?
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