Search Results For E-Cigs

Time To Regulate E-Cigs?

Andrew Sullivan —  Apr 18 2014 @ 10:35am

A group of Democratic lawmakers led by Dick Durbin has issued a report showing that, in the absence of regulations like those imposed on tobacco products, e-cigarettes are being openly marketed to young people:

The Gateway to Addiction report written by the lawmakers’ staff after surveying e-cig makers finds e-cigarette companies are using marketing tactics that appeal to young people, such as handing out samples at events like music festivals, social-media promotion and offering kid-friendly flavors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate 1.78 million children and teens tried e-cigarettes in 2012. … According to the report, six of the surveyed e-cigarette companies support some regulation.

The report is the opening volley in a campaign to regulate vaping. Jason Koebler expects Congress to act soon:

The FDA, for its part, has moved slowly on the issue. Three years ago, the agency said they were considering regulating e-cigs, but they haven’t done so yet, electing only to regulate the ones specifically marketed for therapeutic purposes (that is, those that are specifically marketed to help you quit smoking). Instead, the agency says it “intents to issue a proposed rule extending FDA’s tobacco product authorities beyond [cigarettes] to include other products like e-cigarettes.”

And German Lopez voxplains how little we know about how bad e-cigs are for you:

One of the major risks of e-cigarettes right now is that we simply don’t have a lot of good information about their health effects. One study from an international group of scientists found e-cigarettes are safer than conventional cigarettes but still toxic. Researchers estimated conventional cigarette smoke contained 9-450 times more toxins than e-cigarette vapor. They also advised more research into the issue.

Another ongoing study indicates e-cigarettes could cause genetic mutations that can lead to cancer. Researchers from UCLA, Boston University, and the University of Texas so far found that certain cells exposed to e-cigarette vapor showed similar genetic changes as cells exposed to conventional cigarette smoke. The changes weren’t identical, but researchers said there were striking similarities — enough to raise concerns that e-cigarettes could, at some level, lead to lung cancer.

Customized E-Cigs

Andrew Sullivan —  Oct 19 2013 @ 6:35pm

Meghan Neal records their rise:

Any self-respecting vaper has a PV (personal vaporizer), or Mod (personalized, or “modified” piece.) From there, you can customize basically every aspect of your vaping experience—the refillable cartridge or “tank,” atomizer or wick, nicotine level (samples at the Vaporium range from zero to 24 mg—the equivalent of a heavy smoker), mAhs (Milliamp per hour, an indicator of battery life), and the intensity of the TH (throat hit) when inhaling.

Then there’s the plethora of flavors of liquid, variously known as e-liquid, juice, e-juice, nic-juice, or ass juice if it tastes real nasty. You can vape a straight tobacco flavor, cotton candy, chocolate, or more stonerific varieties like “Hoops” and “The Dude.” Or DIY vapers will mix their own liquid recipes.

This is where vape shops come in. At first, these were places to sample flavors and try out equipment, then they brought couches and foosball tables and flatscreen TVs into the shops so you could vape in the comfort while perusing their products. Next came vape lounges with bars, cafe-style tables, juices, and snacks. And now, retail boutiques.

Economists are taking notice:

Goldman Sachs earlier this year pegged e-cigarettes as one of eight industry disruptions to watch in the coming years (others included 3-D printing and cancer immunotherapy). Goldman estimates that e-cigarette retail sales already totaled $1 billion last year and could reach $10 billion by 2020; by then it estimates e-cigarettes could account for 16 percent of the US tobacco industry’s profits. …

If e-cigs continue to grow in popularity, it could hasten the demise of traditional cigarettes. But e-cigs also promise fatter profit margins, because they are not taxed as aggressively as traditional cigarettes, nor do they have to fund legal settlements, Goldman says. Moreover, because e-cigarette devices are rechargeable, they can be sold in much the way that companies such as Gillette sell razor blades – subsidize the cost of the basic device but make a healthy profit on the cartridges. As a result, Goldman estimates that e-cig businesses could eventually achieve profit margins in excess of 50 percent, compared to 30 percent for traditional cigarette businesses currently.

Since e-cigarettes remain unregulated by the FDA, some health officials worry that more young people are getting hooked on nicotine:

Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], believes that e-cigs could become a gateway into cigarette addiction. In an interview with the Times, Frieden argued that “the adolescent brain is more susceptible to nicotine, and that the trend of rising use could hook young people who might then move into more harmful products like conventional cigarettes.”

Kleiman puts the dangers in perspective. He writes that “the risks of nicotine are a tiny fraction – almost certainly less than 10%, arguably even lower than that – of the total health risks of smoking”:

If e-cigarettes substitute for smoking, the health benefits are likely to be very large. Even if they substitute for not smoking or for quitting, the damage is likely to be limited. … The FDA’s desire to have enough authority to require e-cigarette sellers to manufacture them properly and label them accurately, to limit marketing aimed at minors, and to be able to force the removal of unsafe product from the market, seems quite reasonable. What’s not reasonable, and what is likely to be bad, on balance, for health, is the idea that anything that delivers nicotine vapor should have the same rules applied to it as an actual cigarette.

Previous Dish on e-cigs, health risks and branding here, here and here.

A Pack Of E-Cigs A Day, Ctd

Andrew Sullivan —  Feb 4 2013 @ 7:32am

Jacob Sullum dismisses Eli Lake’s e-cig fears:

E-cigarettes indisputably deliver nicotine without the myriad toxins and carcinogens generated by burning tobacco. Whatever long-term risk propylene glycol vapor may pose is bound to pale in comparison with the well-established hazards of inhaling all of the chemicals you get from cigarettes (which, by the way, include propylene glycol). The bottom line is that Lake is much better off, in terms of the health risks he faces, for having switched from Marlboro Lights to e-cigarettes. Public health officials and anti-smoking activists who obscure that point are endangering smokers’ lives by discouraging them from switching to a much safer alternative.

A Pack Of E-Cigs A Day

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 31 2013 @ 6:41pm

Eli Lake recounts his love affair with electronic cigarettes:

I could smoke when I wanted and I didn’t have to destroy my lungs, sinuses and circulatory system in the process. My clothes wouldn’t smell like a dive bar. I found the loophole, cheated cancer and rediscovered the pleasure of martinis. The added bonus with electronic cigarettes was I could smoke them anywhere. On freezing days, there was no need to huddle outside the office for four minutes to suck down my dose. I smoked on airplanes, in meetings and at restaurants. It was like a time machine to the golden age of smoking when there were ashtrays on elevators and in movie theaters.

He’s less sure of them now that he’s looked into the medical research:

Besides the nicotine, the other active ingredient in my cigarettes is propylene glycol, a substance the FDA classifies as GRAS, or “generally recognized as safe.” But there’s a catch. Most research about propylene glycol is about its effect when it’s ingested as an additive in food. Less is known about the effects of inhaling it as a vapor—dozens and
dozens of times a day. … Dr. Lowell Dale, the medical director of the Mayo Clinic’s Tobacco Quitline, was far more incendiary. Propylene glycol as a liquid, he told me, is “similar to anti-freeze.”

He’s getting lots of pushback from defenders of e-cigs in the comments section.

E-Cigs Are Here To Stay, Ctd

Andrew Sullivan —  Nov 30 2012 @ 11:03am

Public health professor Michael Siegel explains the why the FDA and seven national anti-smoking groups lost their case for the banning of e-cigarettes:

The FDA failed in its efforts because the courts ruled that its jurisdiction over these products falls under the Tobacco Act, not the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (in the absence of therapeutic or drug claims made by electronic cigarette companies). The anti-smoking organizations failed in their efforts because the state legislatures which considered bans on electronic cigarettes were swayed by an outpouring of protest from vapers who testified that they would most likely return to cigarette smoking if these devices were taken off the market.

Dr. Gilbert Ross points out that global bans on e-cigarettes are widespread:

Lethally addictive cigarettes remain available on every street corner in Brussels and Atlanta while authorities denounce e-cigarettes (the product is already banned in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand). And while, as of today, e-cigarettes remain available in the European Union, a new Tobacco Products Directive is expected this year to call for a ban on e-cigarettes (while tightening the existing proscription on the nearly harmless type of Swedish smokeless, snus). Such measures would leave addicted smokers with few reliable means of quitting.

He adds:

An important fact, rarely discussed by “public health” gurus, is that the patches, gums, and drugs they recommend as “safe and effective” are all-too-often neither. Among the 46 million smokers in the United States, well over half say they want to quit, and more than one-third attempt to do so each year — but less than one-tenth succeed. Despite those sorry statistics, those in charge at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the Food and Drug Administration, the World Health Organization, and the European Union health commission argue for sticking with currently approved cessation methods.

Earlier Dish on e-cigs here.

E-Cigs Are Here To Stay

Andrew Sullivan —  Nov 30 2012 @ 8:00am


Brian Merchant says to "expect the sight of e-smokers puffing away on glowing e-sticks to become increasingly typical":

[T]heir market share is undoubtedly growing. They may be tacky and pose unknown health risks, or they might be the best thing that ever happened to smokers who can’t quit. Either way, the future of inhaling nicotine into your lungs increasingly belongs to smokeless delivery cartridges made in China.

(Chart from Euromonitor)

Should E-Cigs Be Banned?

Andrew Sullivan —  Dec 13 2011 @ 9:32am


Cameron English finds the idea ridiculous: 

[P]erhaps the hollowest argument leveled at e-cigs, as voiced by experts in Australia, is precisely what makes the devices so innovative: they're similar to the real thing. "Because e-cigarettes mimics [sic] smoking in both design and use, the ACT Health Directorate does not support [their use].'' The technically advanced rebuttal to this assertion goes like this: so what? If the goal is to prevent diseases and deaths associated with tobacco consumption, who cares if the alternatives emulate cigarettes? What's more, the evidence indicates that this is what makes e-cigs so effective. Part of breaking the addiction is addressing the behavioral aspect, the actual act of smoking a cigarette. In e-cigs we have an effective replacement.

(Photo:  French director Xavier Beauvois smokes an electronic cigarette during the press conference of 'Des Hommes et des Dieux' (Of God and Men) presented in competition at the Cannes Film Festival on May 18, 2010 in Cannes. By Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP/Getty Images.)

Flavorful Highs

Andrew Sullivan —  Oct 29 2014 @ 7:32am

Jacob Sullum defends them:

Although flavored e-cigarettes and marijuana edibles are intended for adults, appeal to adults, and can be legally sold only to adults, the prohibitionists argue that they cannot be tolerated because they also appeal to minors. The same rationale has been offered for bans on flavored tobacco products and sweet malt beverages. This argument, although couched in the language of moderate and sensible regulation, should be a non-starter in a free society, because it reduces adults to the level of children.

And flavored e-cigs make quitting real cigarettes easier:

Two-thirds of the ex-smokers in the E-Cigarette Forum survey said nontobacco flavors were important in helping them quit. Survey data reported in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health last December likewise indicate that flavor variety is important in quitting. That study, which involved about 4,500 vapers, found that they tended to prefer tobacco-flavored fluid initially but later switched to other flavors. Most reported using more than one flavor on a daily basis and said the variety made the experience more interesting and enjoyable.

Does Vaping Lead To Smoking?

Andrew Sullivan —  Mar 7 2014 @ 4:01pm

Meghan Neal flags a new study finding “that vaping makes adolescents more likely to start or continue smoking tobacco, and less likely to manage to quit”:

That’s after surveying 40,000 middle and high school students, first in 2011 and then again in 2012 to follow up. Researchers at the University of California San Francisco parsed the data and published their grim results in the journal JAMA Pediatrics [yesterday].

Highly publicized research claiming that e-smoking gets teenagers addicted to cigarettes deals a tough blow to e-cig advocates, who strongly believe that puffing on vaporized liquid is a healthier choice than inhaling burning tobacco, and that making the switch from analog to digital cigs can help wean smokers off the habit.

Sullum takes issue with the study:

Even if we knew that some people start with vaping and move on to smoking, that would not necessarily mean that e-cigarettes made them more likely to smoke. We still would not know what would have happened in the absence of e-cigarettes. Would those same people have started smoking anyway, or did the experience of vaping somehow prime them to like a habit that otherwise would not have attracted them? The same sort of question comes up in discussions of marijuana’s purported role as a “gateway” to other drugs. In both cases, symbolism and emotion seem to carry more weight than evidence and logic.