A month and a half ago, the FDA proposed regulations for the electronic cigarette industry…
This article is 3 pages long. Use the page numbers to continue…
Since these proposed regulations were disclosed, there has been a surge of news stories published and run on national television regarding the industry that have been…well, rather uneducated and downright harmful to smokers who might have otherwise already quit smoking for vaping.
While a large portion of the electronic cigarette (Vaping) community has been passionate about education, we have seen countless articles and news reports by national and local news agencies twisting the facts and publishing biased “articles” that simply seem like propaganda to the most educated on the issue.
What is the motive behind the bad press? Or rather, WHO is behind the bad press? Does any corporation or government entity stand to “lose” if vaping “wins” over smoking? Ask yourself these questions while we continue…
This article is primarily a response to a piece written by Jenna Kagel at Policymic.com, entitled, “The Bad News Keeps Coming for People Who Smoke E-Cigarettes”. If you KNEW that vaping could possibly save millions of smoker’s lives, would this title seem like outright sensationalism?
Let’s get to the “meat and potatoes” of the article to which we are responding. I feel like the most appropriate way to respond to this is to dissect this line by line where we discover issues and sensationalism and discuss the intended impact of the words; to expose the writer for publishing potentially harmful words.
“The news: Did anyone really think vaporizing and inhaling chemicals that can easily poison you wouldn’t have some drawbacks? E-cigarettes are harmful to your health, according to a new paper released in the America Heart Association’s journal, Circulation.”
“Vaporizing and inhaling chemicals that can easily poison you” – There is no plural here, nicotine on it’s own in pure form can poison you, IF YOU SWALLOW IT, and that is the only chemical in eLiquid that could even potentially be a poison, all 0 nicotine products are completely edible. Every other ingredient IS FDA Approved for ingestion.
Right off the bat, in your very first sentence, you have lost credibility due to inaccuracy.
Furthermore, the highest concentration readily available in store-bought eliquid today is 2.4% nicotine and NO ONE is intentionally drinking this, vaping it cannot poison you “easily” due to the self-titrating nature of consuming nicotine.
If left near a child, it is possible that the child might accidentally drink it and become ill, but currently, there are NO cases of death from drinking standard eLiquid. The concentration (unless consumed in large LARGE quantities) at 2.4% is not enough to kill you or really even make you sick with skin contact. We are talking over 200ML of 2.4% nicotine to cause death. That is A LOT of eLiquid.
The taste of eLiquid is not that great. I have tasted it of course, and for a child to consume a deadly dose of foul tasting liquid is simply out of the realm of reason to me. Even if it were tasty to drink, I would still argue that it is an adult product, like alcohol, and much less harmful than MANY household supplies, including alcohol, that cause incredibly higher rates of calls to poison control. I also believe that the onus of responsibility for safe storage and limiting access to potentially hazardous materials is on the parent or adults of the household. Today’s society doesn’t have an eLiquid poisoning problem, we have a responsible parenting problem.
“Because there is limited data on the effects of smoking e-cigs, popular opinion is being paraded around as if it were factual — advertisements that smoking “vapors” are a healthier option to smoking traditional cigarettes is prevalent in mainstream media.”
First of all, no legitimate vapor business is making any health claims. The image that is shown seems to make health claims, but in it’s worst form it’s simply stating it’s a “smarter alternative” to smoking.
There are a number of phrases that the media (and Jenna Kagel in particular) like to dramatize so that their articles seem more interesting and controversial to read in regards to electronic cigarettes. One of them is the false assertion that industry and community as a whole believes ecigs are 100% healthy and advertises as such, which is absolutely incorrect.
We realize that inhaling anything other then air into our lungs is not as healthy as plain air, and we also realize that even though our alternative is not a combustible cigarette there are still health risks. That is why if you ask any educated member of the community “Are ecigs 100% healthy?” they will reply without hesitation “No, but they are certainly healthier than the alternative.” All it takes is common deductive reasoning to come to that conclusion.
Another phrase that is used quite a lot is “limited data” or “limited scientific research”. To help aid those that are unfamiliar with these devices, when you read an article that has these words in it, this is when you realize the writer has not done their homework before actually publishing it. There are countless scientific studies on the effects of inhaling the ingredients of eliquid, and almost all of them have the same conclusion, inhaling these ingredients are absolutely healthier than the alternative of combustible tobacco.
I find it ironic that in this excerpt the author ridicules ecig users for following popular opinion, when it is actually her who is doing exactly what she is ridiculing. The popular opinion of electronic cigarettes is exactly what she wrote about in this article. It is also ironic that she put quotes around “vapors” and not smoking, implying that smoking is what you are really doing. Well, no, we are not smoking, we are “smoking”,
In almost every story you read or watch coming from major news outlets, the general message that you can take is that “they are not a healthier alternative”, “that the liquids are extremely poisonous”, the “second hand vapor from an ecig is harmful” and that “ecig companies are targeting children with fruity flavors.”
Jenna is right about one thing; the popular opinion of electronic cigarettes is wrong, and there is actually proof which i’ll illustrate later on. But first, let’s move on to another excerpt of this article.
“Now, in the first comprehensive peer-reviewed assessment of its kind, there is hard proof that many e-cig marketing campaigns are at least partially false. E-cigs may be less harmful than smoking real cigarettes, but there is a very real health risk.”
Everything in this paragraph is incorrect. First, there have been multiple peer-reviewed assessments regarding electronic cigarettes. It’s infuriating to see a writer who does not to his/her homework before actually publishing something, because you would know that there are already those assessments publicly disclosed for you to read if you had.
Regarding e-cig marketing campaigns being partially false. Even in the worst example you could find for this article, the blu marketing team simply states it’s a “smarter alternative”. You even go on to contradict yourself by saying “E-cigs may be less harmful than smoking real cigarettes” which is exactly what e-cig marketers are promoting; the MAY be less harmful, and that IS a fact, they very, very well “may” be drastically less harmful.
New evidence: “Although data are limited, it is clear that e-cigarette emissions are not merely ‘harmless water vapor,’ as is frequently claimed, and can be a source of indoor air pollution,” the study reported. Additionally, a high rate of smokers who indulge in dual use (someone who smokes tobacco cigarettes and e-cigs) may result in a greater health burden to individuals who smoke, and those around them.
I won’t blame Jenna for this “evidence”. After all, it’s not her job to fact check someone else’s work before publishing an article she writes. Oh wait…
If you read this piece of the article, you will see that there is no factual evidence with the exception of that last sentence, and that is the only piece that really makes sense. If you smoke combustible cigarettes, you are of course are creating a health risk to your self and those around you.
They continue to be unregulated in all markets — unlike their counterparts — because the product is still quite new. Researchers discovered that while many ad campaigns assert that e-cigs help to deter or quit smoking tobacco, the odds that e-cigs are actually used as cessation devices is extremely low.
Essentially, scientists proved that the electronic cigs are not a healthy cure-all. Still, when compared with smoking a tobacco-laden cigarette, e-cigarettes are no where near as hazardous to your health.
The success rate of getting smokers to quit smoking using ecigs is really low? You must not have heard of the #IMPROOF movement or read this article about University College London’s research that showed eCigs to be 60% more effective at cessation than the two leading nicotine replacement therapies, gum and the patch.
Contrary to what you may believe Jenna, ecig vendors don’t risk their livelihoods on underage sales, even when it wasn’t a law. Just because the FDA hasn’t had their hands on the market yet with their regulations doesn’t mean the industry hasn’t been self-regulated. The majority of vendors have been prohibiting anyone under the age of 18 from purchasing their products for almost 7 years.
Speaking of almost 7 years, your next statement refers to this industry being “quite new”. Tell me something, what invention do you know of that is almost 60 years old would you classify as “quite new”?
Sure, the devices only started really evolving about 7 years ago, but hypothetically even if it was only invented 2007, what device that is 7 years old would you classify as “quite new”? The iPhone that came out in 2007? NO, you have probably been through at least 4 generations of iPhones now, and the same can be said for eCig technology. We are now on generation 3 or 4 depending on where in the development, you start counting.
I’m not sure if you know this Jenna, but the patent for a non combustible cigarette was published in 1963, but even if we ignore the fact that this patent exists let’s also realize that the community and industry has been extremely active since before 2007-2008. I keep mentioning “community” because it’s important for you to understand that if it were not for the community, the industry wouldn’t be where it is right now.
You mention “un-regulated” when you should be saying “self-regulated”. The last thing any ecig user wants is to lose their right to vape, which is why it’s very important to understand that a very large portion of ecig users are very prudent on what they say, and how they say it.
We pride ourselves as a community on spending massive amounts of time researching and understanding the scientific studies that are published, and then making sure the rest of the community has read it as well. We make sure that articles like the one you have written (regardless of however small your audience is) are given attention, and for very good reason.
Whether you have 200 readers or 2 million readers, it’s important for your audience to know that what you wrote is factually inaccurate. Writing articles about topics that you are uneducated on is irresponsible as a journalist, and this one was no exception. In fact, if you prevented just one smoker from switching to vaping (which may be less harmful that smoking) you MAY have also caused harm.
I can not blame you entirely though. When the CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden makes comments that are factually inaccurate about electronic cigarettes, when doctors (who have no expertise in this area) make comments that are factually inaccurate about electronic cigarettes, it becomes very difficult to know who is right and who is wrong.
So it’s not entirely your fault for being wrong Jenna, but it is still your fault partially. As someone who prides themselves on their articles (if you didn’t, why would you write them?) you should have spent a few days and researched the topic before you actually begin writing.
Had you done that, you would have found some evidence that would have made writing this article morally impossible.
Let me give you a few examples of what you neglected to find on your own; (VIA Onvaping.com –
E-Cig and E-Juice Safety: Are They Safe?
- Scientific Errors in the Tobacco Products Directive: A letter sent by the very scientists whose research was cited by the EU Commission to draft legislation geared towards ecigarettes and their usage. The letter details the many ways in which their research was wrongly used and misinterpreted.
- Ecigs Do Not Stiffen Arteries (PDF): Researchers from Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center in Greece have found that while smoking just 2 tobacco cigarettes caused significant stiffening of the aorta, no difference was observed after the use of an e-cigarette by smokers AND vapers. Published December 2013.
- Smoking Kills, and So Might E-Cigarette Regulation: Gilbert Ross MD, is a medical and executive director of the American Council on Science and Health. In this special report on The American, he states “simple common sense would dictate that inhaling the fewer, less harmful ingredients of e-cigarettes as compared to inhaling the thousands of chemicals in the smoke from burnt tobacco, many of which have been shown to be carcinogenic, is highly likely to be healthier.” Published November, 2013.
- Research on Safety of Electronic Cigarettes (PDF): Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos’ comprehensive presentation on existing data relating to the safety of ecigarettes. Presented at The E-Cigarette Summit, Royal Society, London in November 2013.
- Nicotine Safety in the Context of E-Cigarette Use (PDF): Contrary to popular belief, the fatal overdose level for nicotine may be far higher than the generally accepted 50 to 60 mg (adult) says Dr. Jacques Le Houezec. This research was presented at the The E-Cigarette Summit, Royal Society, London in November 2013.
- E-Liquids Shown To Have Low Cytotoxicity (PDF): The results of testing of 20 e-liquids, has revealed the majority of the vapor samples were found to have no adverse effects on cardiac cells. Even on the several that did have some effect (two of which were tobacco derived), the worst was 3 times less toxic compared to cigarette smoke. Published October 2013 in the International Journal of Environmental Research And Public Health.
- Nicotine Levels Selection and Patterns of Electronic Cigarette Use: Study from Dr. Konstantinos E. Farsalinos that concludes nicotine levels seem to play a crucial role in achieving and maintaining smoking cessation in a group of motivated subjects. The study involved 111 participants who completely substituted smoking with electronic cigarette use for at least 1 month. Published September 2013.
- Vaping: coronary circulation and oxygen supply (PDF): Recent research indicates that electronic cigarette use does not affect the oxygenation of the heart. Lead by principle investigator Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos; results of the research were presented at the European Society of Cardiology annual congress in Amsterdam in August, 2013.
- Eliquids: No Health Concerns: A study by Professor Igor Burstyn of Drexel University School of Public Health based on a review available data has confirmed chemicals generally found in ecig eliquids pose no health concerns. Published August 2013 (PDF).
- MHRA Ecigarette Research: The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) carried out extensive research on ecigarettes, arriving at the conclusion there was little concern that e-cigarettes can harm users by delivering toxic nicotine levels and little evidence of non-smokers taking up electronic cigarettes. Published in June 2013.
- Evaluation of Electronic Cigarette Use And Liquid Consumption: This 2013 study challenges an EU proposal that would result in eliquids containing more than 4 milligrams of nicotine per milliliter being banned unless approved as medicinal products.
- Electronic Cigarettes Do Not Damage The Heart: Electronic cigarettes appear to have no acute adverse effects on cardiac function according to research by cardiologist Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos. He says based on currently available data, ecigs are safer and that substituting tobacco with electronic cigarettes could be beneficial to health.
- Principles to Guide AAPHP Tobacco Policy: The American Association of Public Health Physicians recommends electronic cigarettes as a safer smoke-free tobacco/nicotine product.
- Athens University Ecig Study Challenged: Dr. Michael Siegel questions a University of Athens study claiming e-cigarettes can cause lung damage.
- Regulation: When Less Is More (PDF): Presentation slides from Clive Bates (of the Counter-factual) concerning the dangers of over-regulating ecigarettes. Mr Bates urges positively about the vast potential about e cigs, to put the (minor) risks in perspective and regulate as though the 1 billion who are predicted to die from tobacco related illnesses in the 21st century matter most. Presented at The E-Cigarette Summit, Royal Society, London in November 2013.
- Vaping profiles and preferences: 1,347 vapers were surveyed in an effort to characterize e-cigarette use, users and effects. Results generally showed respondents found ecigarettes to be satisfying to use; cause few side effects; considered healthier than smoking, resulted in improve cough/breathing and lowered levels of craving. The survey was hosted at the University of East London. Published March 2013.
Second-Hand Vapor Safety: Is Vapor Safe for Others?
- Peering Through the Mist: Systematic Review of what the Chemistry of Contaminants in Electronic Cigarettes Tells Us about Health Risks: A comprehensive review, by a Drexel University professor, based on over 9,000 observations of e-cigarette liquid and vapor. He found “no apparent concern” for bystanders exposed to e-cigarette vapor – even under “worst case” assumptions about exposure.
- Contaminants In Ecig Eliquids And Workplace Health Risks (PDF): A study that reviewed available data on chemistry of e cig aerosols and e liquids. This study found no evidence supporting the claims of e cigarette vapor exposure negatively effecting the health, and safety, of the workplace. Published January 2014.
- Cytotoxicity evaluation of ecig vapor extract: A 2013 study designed to evaluate the cytotoxic potential of 21 eliquids compared to the effects of cigarette smoke found ecig vapor is significantly less cytotoxic compared to tobacco.
- Ecigarette toxicants study: Levels of selected carcinogens and toxicants in vapour from electronic cigarettes have been found to be 9 to 450 times less than tobacco cigarettes in 12 brands studied; leading the researchers to conclude “substituting tobacco cigarettes with e-cigarettes may substantially reduce exposure to selected tobacco-specific toxicants”. The study was first published online on March 6, 2013.
- Is Passive Vaping A Reality?: This study sought to identify and quantify the chemicals released on a closed environment from the use of e-cigarettes – the findings? There’s little to be concerned about with regard safety. This research again confirms the type and quantity of chemicals released are by far less harmful to human health compared to regular tobacco cigarettes. In fact, it “could be more unhealthy to breath air in big cities compared to staying in the same room with someone who is vaping.”
- Indoor Vapor Air Quality Study: Data at Clarkson University’s Center for Air Resources and reviewed by an independent toxicologist indicates electronic cigarettes produce very small exposures to byproducts relative to tobacco cigarettes. The study has been peer reviewed and will appear the Journal of Inhalation Toxicology.
- E-cigarettes: harmless inhaled or exhaled: Report from Health New Zealand stating e-cigarette vapors do not contain substances known to cause death in the quantities found.
- Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (PDF): This research acknowledges that no drug is safe, but the emissions associated with the e-cigarette brand tested appear to be “several magnitudes safer” than tobacco smoke emissions.
- E-cigarette Vapor And Cigarette Smoke Comparison: High nicotine e-liquids were vaporized in a series of experiments and the emissions compared to tobacco smoke. The study results indicate “no apparent risk to human health from e-cigarette emissions based on the compounds analyzed”.
- Propylene Glycol Safe: Monkeys and rats were exposed continuously to high concentrations of propylene glycol, a common component of e liquids for periods of 12 to 18 months. Results of the research state “air containing these vapors in amounts up to the saturation point is completely harmless”.
E Cigs as Smoking Cessation Devices: Does the Research Show That They Work?
- A Longitudinal Study Of Ecig Users: This study concludes that electronic cigarettes may hep with preventing the relapses of former smokers and may even help current smokers to quit cigarettes. It also found that dual users, who were still smoking at the point of follow-up, had decreased their tobacco cigarette consumption by 5.3 cigarettes a day. Published January 2014.
- The Importance Of Flavours In Eliquids: A study, headed by Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos, finds that flavors play a major role in the overall experience of dedicated vapers which supports the hypothesis that flavored e liquids are important contributors in reducing or eliminating the smoking of tobacco cigarettes. Published December 2013.
- Second Hand Vapor Study (PDF): A new study shows that even-though e-cigarettes are a source of second-hand exposure to nicotine; it’s far, far less than that associated with second hand cigarette smoke. Additionally, when tested, e-cigarette second-hand vapor did not contain combustion related toxicants. Lead author was Maciej Goniewic from the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y. Published in Oxford Journal, December 2013.
- A Longitudinal Study Of Electronic Cigarette Users: A study of 477 e cigarette users by researchers from the University of Auckland and University of Geneva has arrived at the conclusion that “E-cigarettes may contribute to relapse prevention in former smokers and smoking cessation in current smokers” Published October 2013.
- Ecigs Not A Gateway To Smoking: The study is yet to be published, but according to research presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (October 2013), the use of e cigarettes by teens does not lead to smoking tobacco in the vast majority of cases.
- Efficiency and Safety of an Electronic Cigarette as Tobacco Cigarettes Substitute: In a 12-month trial of ecigarettes to evaluate smoking reduction/abstinence in 300 smokers not intending to quit; complete abstinence from tobacco smoking was documented in 10.7% and 8.7% at week-12 and after a year respectively. For the group receiving the higher dose nicotine cartridges, the tobacco cigarette cessation rate was 13% after a year. The study was published on PLOS One on June 24, 2013.
- Impact of ecigarettes on schizophrenic smokers: Researchers from the CTA-Villa Chiara Psychiatric Rehabilitation Clinic and Research center in Italy determined the use of ecigs decreased tobacco cigarette consumption in schizophrenia sufferers who were smokers – and without significant side effects. Published January 2013.
- Effect of ecigs on smoking reduction and cessation: A study showing the use of e cigarettes substantially decreased cigarette consumption without causing significant side effects in smokers who had no intention to quit. Published in 2011.
- Electronic Cigarettes As a Smoking-Cessation Tool: The findings of this study indicate “e-cigarettes may hold promise as a smoking-cessation method” and that further research should be carried out.
- Electronic cigarettes: achieving a balanced perspective: This 2012 paper argues that while more research is needed on the cost–benefit of ecigs and appropriate regulation, the harms so far have been overstated relative to the potential benefits. The paper mentions a study that found of more than 2000 former smokers in this survey, 96% reported that the e-cigarette helped them to stop smoking.
So what do all these studies mean?
The papers compiled above indicates that while nothing is better than breathing clean air, the vapor derived of e-juice in e-cigarette devices is magnitudes safer than analog cigarette smoke (as well as safer than air pollution in large cities). Regarding the research on second-hand vapor, some scientists and health experts conclude that there is no real need for concern. And as far as the question about the actual effectiveness of e cigs as smoking cessation devices, the studies indicate that e-cigarettes are at least as effective as nicotine patches.
Moral of the story: What is more important to a writer, your credibility or controversy for page views?
It appears Jenna has taken the latter approach.
“It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to talk and remove all doubt.” ~ Mark Twain
This article was written exclusively for Spinfuel eMagazine by The writers at MyVaporSavior
MyVaporSavior is a group of writers who work diligently to make sure the most informative reviews and political news are readily available for the electronic cigarette community.