Saturday, January 29, 2011

Discovery News: How safe are e-cigarettes?

Discovery News recently published an online article regarding e-cigarettes.

Amongst other things, e-cigarette opponents continue make the claims that while they somehow know nothing about what is in e-cigarettes, in spite of 16 different reports available to them, e-cigarettes are probably more dangerous than tobacco cigarettes and are a threat to our youth. In case you don't buy their claim about safety, they argue that being addicted to anything is the problem, regardless of whether or not the product actually has been shown to have little or no health risks.

Prue Talbot is being sneaky by accusing all of those available e-cigarette studies as being suspect because they are paid for by companies. She's banking on the fact that most Americans don't realize that all of the tests and studies submitted to the FDA for approval are also paid for by the companies. That is the only way to get them tested. Who else is going to pay for them?

New York Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal has ignored the plethora of reports emailed, faxed and mailed to her and continues to claim that e-cigarettes "are a mystery," and yet, claims that e-cigarettes contain chemicals which are more dangerous than those found in tobacco cigarettes. If they are a mystery, how does she know there are dangerous chemicals? She insists if she could quit that anyone could quit, completely ignoring the multitude of correspondence from e-cigarette users that they couldn't quit using any other method or don't wish to give up nicotine and shouldn't have to. Rosenthal snidely remarks, "If people want the easy way to just get addicted to another nicotine delivery system, I hope soon they'll have to look elsewhere." Given that e-cigarette users have told her that they have tried everything else, she seems unmoved by the fact that it leaves tobacco cigarettes as their only option.

Dr. Siegel's e-cigarette research paper clearly shows that there is nothing in e-cigarettes to make them even remotely as dangerous as tobacco cigarettes. The 4 ingredients in e-cigarettes - nicotine, propylene glycol, glycerine and artificial flavoring - are already found in tobacco cigarettes, yet e-cigarettes lack the toxic chemicals and high levels of carcinogens found in tobacco cigarettes. It's like claiming non-alcoholic beer "may" be as intoxicating (and therefore equally or more dangerous) as real beer because they both have bubbles, malt and barley. There is simply no logic to the argument.

The FDA study Talbot and Rosenthal cite found that one cartridge of eighteen was contaminated with a non-toxic amount of diethylene glycol and that the levels of carcinogens were as low as the nicotine patch. Diethylene glycol has not been found in any e-cigarettes since. If anything, the FDA test proved that there were no toxic amounts of any chemicals and extremely low carcinogens. Yet they disingenuously claim that there is a great danger to the public. If the carcinogens and non-toxic chemicals found in e-cigarettes are a danger, why are they still selling the patch?

Additionally, the double-speak of e-cigarette opponents is painfully obvious. They claim tasty flavors are a scheme to attract youth to e-cigarettes, yet ignore the fact that pharmaceutical nicotine gum and lozenges come in Cinnamon Surge, Fruit Chill, Fresh Mint, Cherry and Cappuccino flavors. Additionally, youth smoking is on the rise even though flavored cigarettes have been banned since 2006. Youth aren't anymore attracted to "safer" e-cigarettes than they are to tasty pharmaceutical gums and lozenges. Surveys of thousands of e-cigarette users found that the vast majority are former smokers between 35 and 65 years old. There is absolutely no evidence that young adults, and therefore copy cat teens, are even interested in the start-up costs and maintenance involved with e-cigarettes. It's much easier, cheaper and more "cool" to buy a pack of cigarettes.

Prue Talbot's study found leaky cartridges and inaccurate labeling. Ironically, she didn't bother to test e-cigarettes to find out what was actually in them. If quality control is an issue, then address those companies which get a failing mark, but don't throw the baby out with the bath water. The FDA has the power to regulate quality and safer designs by classifying e-cigarettes as tobacco products rather than continuing its quixotic charge to classify them as nicotine addiction treatments. This would also automatically ban sales to minors.

These simply aren't a treatment for nicotine addiction. The vast majority use them as an alternative source of nicotine that still gives them the smoking experience without the high health risks. There is nothing else on the market that can simultaneously provide relief for nicotine addiction, greatly reduce health risks and simulate smoking. If they didn't have e-cigarettes, most users would still be using tobacco cigarettes - not gums and patches. E-cigarettes are not an alternative for gums and patches, they are an alternative for tobacco cigarettes. These folks don't want to quit nicotine, they just want to quit smoking. Once people like Linda Rosenthal, Prue Talbot and their supporters get that through their thick skulls, they'll understand why their crusade is fundamentally wrong.

Let's remember that the anti-tobacco movement started because of the high health hazards linked to smoking, not the extremely low health risks of smokeless nicotine addiction. E-cigarette users may remain addicted to nicotine, but the only reason they would ever return to smoking is if these "well-meaning" anti-smoking zealots ban e-cigarettes and leave tobacco cigarettes as their only option.

Join and fight this insanity!


  1. Just rediscoverd a video that sums up the attitude of prohibitionists: