Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Why I oppose vapor bans (and why you should, too.)

Next week, vapers in Madison, Wisconsin will be fighting a proposed amendment to that city's smoking ordinance, which adds the use of vapor products to the definition of "smoking." This will ban the use of all vapor products anywhere smoking is prohibited.

On the surface, this may not seem like a big deal to most vapor consumers. Most experienced vapers either don't find it necessary to vape where smoking is prohibited or can easily vape discreetly enough to go unnoticed. However, the reason I oppose these bans has nothing to do with any desire to vape in an Applebee's or at a Home Depot. My concern is the unintended consequences of such bans to overall public health.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Are e-cigarettes the new condom?

For anyone who is under the age of 30, you may not remember the time when condom advertising barely existed, let alone cheeky commercials playing over and over on late-night television. The understanding we have today of safe sex practices were actually quite controversial even in an age when HIV/AIDS was at the height of public fear.

The debate
Back in the 1980's, it was the left-leaning progressives (then called "liberals") who led the charge for "harm reduction" practices. Supported by Democrat lawmakers, academics and scientists, the public health groups at the time argued that the public needed to be educated about using condoms to significantly reduce the risk of HIV and other STDs. They encouraged Sex Ed teachers to tell high school students that, if they decided not to remain abstinent, to at least use a condom.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Five Year Journey

As of today, I haven't smoked a cigarette in five years.

But I didn't set out to quit smoking. I became what is known as an "accidental quitter" when I switched to using an electronic cigarette. Before I tried one, I was resigned to being a smoker until I died.

As I reported in my very first article about e-cigarettes in 2009, "Negative Reactions Mystify Electronic Cigarette Owners," my husband and I bought our first electronic cigarettes from a booth at the state fair -- on a lark. The sales pitch that sold us was that the devices were less expensive than conventional cigarettes, didn't contain the tar and smoke that increase the risk of "smoking-related" diseases and could be used where smoking would soon be prohibited in my state. We spent over $200 on two kits. Note that although we'd tried quitting many times before (and I had quit during every pregnancy and while nursing), we did not buy the e-cigarettes to use as an alternative to quitting smoking with gums or patches. We weren't looking for a way to quit smoking. We bought them as a safer, less expensive and  more convenient substitute for conventional cigarettes. It's important to understand that e-cigarettes are not for people who are trying to quit smoking -- they are for those who cannot or will not quit, so they need a safer alternative. Like condoms are for safer sex, e-cigarettes are for safer "smoking."

Sunday, April 6, 2014

CASAA is truly grassroots, not a 'front group'

I recently came across a blog post about e-cigarettes that had this in the comments:
What strikes me about CASAA is that the board is stacked with power players: lawyers, smokeless tobacco lobbyists and web marketing experts. Not a random assortment of Americans, but exactly what a company would seek out as a PR front.
Once I stopped laughing at "stacked with power players" and picked myself up off the floor, I wanted to set the record straight.

CASAA, The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association, was formed in 2009 on an online e-cigarette enthusiast forum. Here is a thread discussing the creation of the organization, before it even had a name: ECO - Organization Charter: Administration and here you can see a lot of the democratic process that went into the name and organization. Clearly, CASAA was not formed by e-cigarette or tobacco companies as a "PR front."

Saturday, March 8, 2014

It's not "just an addiction"

Although my 21 year old son has a mother who advocates smokeless alternatives for smokers, he and his older brother (who was quite anti-smoking when he was younger) both started smoking. My younger son tried e-cigarettes, but didn't really get into them until some of his smoking friends made the switch. My elder son soon followed suit.

The other day, my younger son posted a photo of his new e-cigarette "wrap" on his Facebook page. His uncle then posted this:
"I just quit outright. Not sought out a surrogate....E-cigs are like giving up sex, but feeling that doing a blow up doll every night is not at all the same. Why waste money? Just live smoke free, and end the social addiction aspects, which keep you in "smokers mode" Just quit the actual habit, and walk away a richer man...Nicotine is neither hallucinogenic, nor pleasing. it merely takes away the craving for more nicotine. That is all it does."

Friday, March 7, 2014

My two days in Wisconsin's capitol

Tuesday and Wednesday this week, I drove to Madison (a total of 708 miles for two round trips) to testify before two legislative committees regarding exempting e-cigarettes from indoor smoking bans. These bills (SB 440 and AB 762) seek to clarify that e-cigarette use is not included in the smoking bans and to preempt smaller municipalities from including e-cigarettes in their bans. Believe it or not, after 4 1/2 years with CASAA, this is the first time I've actually had the opportunity to testify regarding e-cigarettes. Happily, this was a bill that I could support.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

On Coffee and (e)Cigarettes

I believe that there are benefits to smoke-free nicotine use for a lot of people and nicotine itself isn't any more "addictive" than caffeine. That shocks a lot of people to hear, because it goes against everything we've been taught over the past few decades. However, a lot of more recent research backs me up in this. (See Of course, if you would tell people to not start using caffeinated products, then the same advice would obviously apply to smoke-free nicotine products. But if you have no objection to people using caffeinated products, that pretty much makes any arguments against smoke-free nicotine products moot.