Big Government, Public Health, and E-Cigarettes, Part II

 

This is the second in a three-part series on e-cigarettes. Part I is available here.

Vapor products contain no tobacco. They produce no smoke. Most contain nicotine and it’s the same nicotine used in FDA-approved gums and patches. While the devices look different, they all operate by heating a liquid solution (propylene glycol and/or vegetable glycerin, nicotine and flavor) to produce an aerosol. Importantly, the products allow users to replicate the act of smoking. Like smokers, vapers engage hands and mouths in a ritual similar to the one they practiced every day for many years as a smoker. Like a smoker, the vaper inhales and exhales and can both feel and see the vapor produced. But unlike cigarette smoke, the aerosol dissipates quickly. There’s no smoke, no tar, and no carbon monoxide – the things that cause half of all smokers to get sick and some to die. Nicotine doesn’t cause lung cancer or make smokers sick. As far as its heath impact, it’s comparable to caffeine. As long as you don’t consume caffeine or nicotine through smoking, most people can use it without incident for an entire adult lifetime. Nicotine also seems to bring health benefits for some.

There is little doubt that part of the consternation of tobacco control groups and regulators simply arose from the fact that products are called e-cigarettes and using them resembles smoking. That reaction is emotional, not rational. Perhaps we can appreciate that it motivates tobacco controllers to investigate further. Rather than investigate and try to understand, however, the FDA initially stepped in and attempted to shut the industry down by banning the importation of e-cigarettes as unapproved medical devices. And electronic cigarette company, NJOY (previously Sottera), was targeted by the FDA and had imported products seized at the US border. NJOY fought the federal government, ultimately winning in court.

Vapor products have hugely disrupted the market. Smokers, who had been ridiculed, shamed and disrespected for years because of their habit were drawn to the products. Within five or six years, as many as 15 to 20 thousand new American companies were created, employing hundreds of thousands of American workers. Empty storefronts in strip malls began to be filled by vape shops. E-liquid companies across the country began producing unique artisanal products they ship to all 50 states and to countries around the world. British professor and addiction expert David Nutt observed the phenomenon in the UK and US and declared that vapor products had the promise to be the greatest public health advance we’ve seen since the development of vaccines that nearly eradicated smallpox, polio, and other diseases.

With the backdrop of about 45 million smokers remaining in the US with an estimated 485,000 resulting premature deaths every year, did the CDC, FDA, US Surgeon General, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, and American Cancer Society celebrate this great technological advance that could help them finally fulfill their stated missions? No, not so much. They worked together and coordinated a comprehensive 50-state campaign to attempt to destroy the market for the products. They encouraged friends to introduce over 500 bills before state legislatures (in one year) across the country attempting to tax the products, require licensing for manufacturers, wholesalers, and sellers, and attempting to prohibit public use of the products and ban flavored products (every single vapor product used is flavored – even the tobacco and menthol flavored ones). They pursued the same strategy with local governments and the usual left-wing flamethrowers like US Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) attacked the industry.

The government and public health reaction in the US contrasts greatly with what happened in the UK. In Great Britain, tobacco control groups and government agencies shared some of the same concerns of their American counterparts. Would vapor products, because they resemble smoking, make smoking cool and normal again? Would the products cause a new generation to get hooked on nicotine and eventually become smokers? Were the products safe for users? Was the vapor potentially dangerous for bystanders? They are all reasonable and fair questions. British health leaders went to work studying the science and trying to understand why the products seemed to work so well in converting smokers away from their deadly habit.

Reaction from tobacco control groups and government agencies in the US was different. Here forces went to work in an expensive, “all-hands-on-deck” effort to demonize the products. They encouraged and funded bad science, misrepresented good science, engaged public relations firms and a network of health departments and paid activists to spread misinformation to policymakers, the public, and the media, fueling efforts to legislate and regulate the products out of existence.

Their efforts continue to this day. New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, and hundreds of other cities banned public vaping. Hundreds have and continue to raise the age of purchase to 21 even though studies demonstrate doing so for vaping actually increases youth smoking. Right now, San Francisco, Oakland, and other California communities are working to ban flavors as others in Minnesota and Massachusetts have already done. And last year, the FDA announced new regulations for vapor products under the jurisdiction of the Tobacco Control Act – despite the fact that products contain no tobacco.

Tomorrow, I’ll discuss what can be done about it.

This is the second in a three-part series on e-cigarettes. Part I is available here. Check tomorrow for Part III.

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Members have made 13 comments.

  1. Member

    I am not a doctor but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. It is my understanding that nicotine speeds the heart rate and also narrows blood vessels and arteries thus increasing the chances of a heart attack. There is no question that e- cigarettes beat the hell out of smoking tobacco products. My dad died from COPD and a heart attack would have been a blessing to the way he died.

    • #1
    • June 29, 2017 at 8:32 am
    • Like
  2. Member

    Nicotine is, indeed, a vaso-active substance and can be harmful. Not nearly as harmful as tobacco smoke. The anti-vapers are not interested in harm reduction, however. They are interested in the exercise of brute power by the state for its own sake. Their dudgeon is in high gear when they self-righteously claim “it’s for your own good! (formerly, God is on our side)” What do you suppose is the attitude of this same group of people when it comes to marijuana legalization?

    • #2
    • June 29, 2017 at 10:11 am
    • 1 like
  3. Member

    I looked into the issue briefly, a few months ago, and found nothing indicating that nicotine is harmful. Caffeine is also vasoactive, so there is no reason to condemn nicotine for this characteristic.

    • #3
    • June 29, 2017 at 10:46 am
    • 1 like
  4. Moderator

    Brian Fojtik: The government and public health reaction in the US contrasts greatly with what happened in the UK.

    The Tobacco Settlement.

    You see, the states make gigantic windfalls of tax revenue from cigarette manufacturers today. Sure some of that money goes into smoking cessation programs, but most goes right into state and federal coffers. That settlement was a true deal with the devil.

    Which is why the tobacco companies are also behind the efforts to choke out the vaping business. You see those Blu branded disposable e-cigs? Those are made by the tobacco companies. I have seen business plans bruited where Big Tobacco has proposed e-cigs that automatically expire, that charge per puff, or that use other means to jack up the pricing on vaping.

    This is truly a Baptists and Bootleggers coalition working to restrict vaping. This is why Big Tobacco was massively behind the efforts to classify vaping as a “tobacco product”.

    The anti-vaping efforts are corrupt and rotten to the core.

    • #4
    • June 29, 2017 at 11:31 am
    • 2 likes
  5. Member

    Arizona Patriot (View Comment):
    I looked into the issue briefly, a few months ago, and found nothing indicating that nicotine is harmful. Caffeine is also vasoactive, so there is no reason to condemn nicotine for this characteristic.

    Nicotine,caffeine, double trouble? Let’s party and drink alcohol and smoke pot as well. Mushrooms anybody?

    • #5
    • June 29, 2017 at 11:33 am
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  6. Moderator

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    Arizona Patriot (View Comment):
    I looked into the issue briefly, a few months ago, and found nothing indicating that nicotine is harmful. Caffeine is also vasoactive, so there is no reason to condemn nicotine for this characteristic.

    Nicotine,caffeine, double trouble? Let’s party and drink alcohol and smoke pot as well. Mushrooms anybody?

    The vaso active effects of both nicotine and caffeine are helpful to people like me who get migraines.

    • #6
    • June 29, 2017 at 11:34 am
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  7. Member

    skipsul (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    Arizona Patriot (View Comment):
    I looked into the issue briefly, a few months ago, and found nothing indicating that nicotine is harmful. Caffeine is also vasoactive, so there is no reason to condemn nicotine for this characteristic.

    Nicotine,caffeine, double trouble? Let’s party and drink alcohol and smoke pot as well. Mushrooms anybody?

    The vaso active effects of both nicotine and caffeine are helpful to people like me who get migraines.

    I used to get headaches from not having caffeine. It was withdrawn. After several days without caffeine they disappeared.

    • #7
    • June 29, 2017 at 12:07 pm
    • 1 like
  8. Moderator

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    skipsul (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    Arizona Patriot (View Comment):
    I looked into the issue briefly, a few months ago, and found nothing indicating that nicotine is harmful. Caffeine is also vasoactive, so there is no reason to condemn nicotine for this characteristic.

    Nicotine,caffeine, double trouble? Let’s party and drink alcohol and smoke pot as well. Mushrooms anybody?

    The vaso active effects of both nicotine and caffeine are helpful to people like me who get migraines.

    I used to get headaches from not having caffeine. It was withdrawn. After several days without caffeine they disappeared.

    Sure, that’s normal for anyone who regularly uses caffeine, and having been through that before I can attest that those headaches are pretty bad. Still not as bad as migraines, though. When I get a migraine it knocks me out for the rest of the day, and I’m still pretty woozy the following day.

    • #8
    • June 29, 2017 at 12:10 pm
    • 1 like
  9. Member

    skipsul (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    skipsul (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    Arizona Patriot (View Comment):
    I looked into the issue briefly, a few months ago, and found nothing indicating that nicotine is harmful. Caffeine is also vasoactive, so there is no reason to condemn nicotine for this characteristic.

    Nicotine,caffeine, double trouble? Let’s party and drink alcohol and smoke pot as well. Mushrooms anybody?

    The vaso active effects of both nicotine and caffeine are helpful to people like me who get migraines.

    I used to get headaches from not having caffeine. It was withdrawn. After several days without caffeine they disappeared.

    Sure, that’s normal for anyone who regularly uses caffeine, and having been through that before I can attest that those headaches are pretty bad. Still not as bad as migraines, though. When I get a migraine it knocks me out for the rest of the day, and I’m still pretty woozy the following day.

    Do you vape or smoke then? If, so, how much does it help?

    • #9
    • June 29, 2017 at 1:21 pm
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  10. Moderator

    Qoumidan (View Comment):

    skipsul (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    skipsul (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    Arizona Patriot (View Comment):
    I looked into the issue briefly, a few months ago, and found nothing indicating that nicotine is harmful. Caffeine is also vasoactive, so there is no reason to condemn nicotine for this characteristic.

    Nicotine,caffeine, double trouble? Let’s party and drink alcohol and smoke pot as well. Mushrooms anybody?

    The vaso active effects of both nicotine and caffeine are helpful to people like me who get migraines.

    I used to get headaches from not having caffeine. It was withdrawn. After several days without caffeine they disappeared.

    Sure, that’s normal for anyone who regularly uses caffeine, and having been through that before I can attest that those headaches are pretty bad. Still not as bad as migraines, though. When I get a migraine it knocks me out for the rest of the day, and I’m still pretty woozy the following day.

    Do you vape or smoke then? If, so, how much does it help?

    I vape it and it does help take the edge off. Lots of over-the-counter products like Excedrin Migraine are just ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and caffeine.

    • #10
    • June 29, 2017 at 1:27 pm
    • 1 like
  11. Inactive

    Arizona Patriot (View Comment):
    I looked into the issue briefly, a few months ago, and found nothing indicating that nicotine is harmful. Caffeine is also vasoactive, so there is no reason to condemn nicotine for this characteristic.

    Yep. People use all sorts of things for a boost, mood control, an athletic edge, whatever. Lots of the over the counter stuff merely makes it convenient to get a dose of the active ingredient found in natural substances. I used to use caffeine tablets 1/2 hour before lifting weights as I wanted the boost but didn’t want to drink iced tea (coffee churns my guts) and have to run to the bathroom every fifteen minutes.

    Nothing is foolproof. There was a high school kid around here who was active in sports. He bought caffeine powder, didn’t read the directions, threw a massive dose in his shake and managed to kill himself. There was a big push to ban the caffeine powder, which I think was successful because I haven’t seen it lately. (Never used it myself.) My answer to that is that I could probably figure out a way to kill myself using almost anything, so someone will probably stumble across it accidentally.

    I had a procedure about twenty years ago where I had to sign a waiver because 1/20,000 people died during it. I had just gone to a hockey game where the crowd was about that size. Would I have gone if it was announced that a fan would be chosen at random to be shot out in the parking lot after the game? Probably not. (Unless it was the Stanley Cup Finals. ;-) ) But I needed the procedure to make sure I didn’t have a serious problem (I didn’t) and was willing to take the chance.

    • #11
    • June 29, 2017 at 2:19 pm
    • 4 likes
  12. Member

    Brian Fojtik: Right now, San Francisco, Oakland, and other California communities are working to ban flavors as others in Minnesota and Massachusetts have already done.

    Because the end user adding the flavor himself would never happen. Government idiocy at it’s finest.

    • #12
    • June 30, 2017 at 4:47 am
    • 2 likes
  13. Member

    Arizona Patriot (View Comment):
    I looked into the issue briefly, a few months ago, and found nothing indicating that nicotine is harmful. Caffeine is also vasoactive, so there is no reason to condemn nicotine for this characteristic.

    A little overstated.

    Clearly nicotine is not without it’s own problems. However I do feel vaping will probably be safer then smoking.

    • #13
    • June 30, 2017 at 4:52 am
    • Like