Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Vape Industry: Don't Forget Older Smokers

My 66 year old, smoker aunt has watched nearly my entire family switch from smoking to vaping over the past 6 years. She never showed any interest - "too much fuss" she said, so we never pushed it. We even set up a smoking area, on our screen porch, for her when she moved in with us a few weeks ago.
Enjoying her first cigalike inside

A couple of weeks ago, we were at Walmart and I casually mentioned that a disposable cigalike being sold was the most realistic I'd ever tried and, to my surprise, she bought one! A week or so (and 3 disposable ecigs) later, she mentioned she'd like it if it could be recharged and refilled. So I picked up a rechargeable cigalike, with extra cartos, for her when I was in Walgreens.
Yesterday, my husband and I stopped in a vape shop for supplies and she came in with us. She is now the proud owner of a new, shiny, red mod (100% her idea.)
At the store, she told me, "I'm finding that I'm using it (the cigalike) more often then smoking and I'm really enjoying it. I'm only smoking in the morning. So, I may as well get something better."
Buying her first mod
This story, folks, is a perfect example of why we need to keep fighting for diversity in the marketplace. Without that first cigalike and unbiased guidance, in a safe, comfortable and reassuring environment, she was unlikely to walk into a vape shop. This can be extremely important for a smoker's journey from smoking to vaping. (On a side note, this shop only had 2 straight tobacco flavors. Shop owners would be smart to have more than that for smokers.)
It also shows a classic case of a typical "dual user" that the ANTZ are wringing their hands over. Most dual users just haven't finished their journey. To do so, they need truthful information and gentle guidance, not pressure to jump in over their head with advanced devices and low nicotine levels or to quit smoking right away.
And it makes an important point that many "dual users" are smokers who had ZERO interest in quitting, yet they are now cutting down their smoking and likely on a path to quit that they wouldn't have been on with only NRT as an option.
This is what THR advocacy is all about - getting out truthful information about ALL low-risk alternatives!

For more information, go to http://casaa.org
Wisconsin residents, please also join the Wisconsin Smoke-free Alternatives Coalition at http://wsac4wi.org

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Irony of Vapers Supporting Vaping Bans

Something I'm coming across more and more these days is vapers emphatically defending banning public vaping along with smoking. This completely mystifies me and every argument I've seen simply regurgitates ANTZ ideology and supports their baseless propaganda. Below are some of the comments I've been seeing and my responses.

People have a right to clean air, free from our vapor.
What supports this claim? It's not in the Constitution. There are no laws that state that right. "Clean air" certainly isn't a basic human right or else every other emission would be illegal. That includes emissions from cars, trucks, buses, boats, planes, factories, restaurants, heating systems, fireplaces, grills...well, you get the picture. There is simply no way for there to be a "right" to clean air. If people don't have a "right" to be free of all of those other emissions, then they don't have a right to be free from our vapor. It's just plain silly to claim they do and just supports the ANTZ fallacy.

"If you wouldn't want someone else spraying air freshener, talking loudly on their phone or playing with a laser pointer where you are, then don't vape there, either."

I'm a vaper and I don't want to have clouds blown at me while I'm __________(in a restaurant, watching a movie, in a store line...)
Fair enough, but that's about common courtesy. Do we need a law for this? I shouldn't have to put up with people talking loudly during a movie or at their dining table, but there is no need for a law against it. That is left up to the owner or management to address. 

The same should be true for vaping in those places.

Personally, my rule of thumb is: "If you wouldn't want someone else spraying air freshener, talking loudly on their phone or playing with a laser pointer where you are, then don't vape there, either."

But vapers who support laws against vaping in restaurants and stores seem to forget that such a law would also prohibit vaping in places where it makes no sense:
  • In a park.
  • In an open-air stadium. 
  • In a vape shop. 
  • In an apartment. 
  • In a private room at a nursing home. 
  • In a single dorm room. 
  • In a private office. 
  • In a weld shop where the owner and all of his employees vape or smoke.
  • In a designated vaping area of a building, where the employer wants to encourage smokers to switch.
All of those places would also have to prohibit vaping - just so you aren't bothered at a restaurant. Does that seem fair and reasonable?

So, here is a better idea than a law for those places that you don't want people vaping:

We don't know if they are safe yet.
First of all, see the above about "right to clean air." 

Second, please name any other product that was banned from use "just in case it might prove to be unsafe some day." You can't, because the general policy for other products has been to let it be unless it proved to be a health risk. Even FDA-approved drugs aren't pulled from the market until they actually are shown to cause harm and even then, they usually get a "black box warning." Chantix is a perfect example of that.

Third, I do know it's safe to bystanders. I've actually read the science (not just the headlines) and every study has shown the levels of any chemicals detected in vapor to be so low that it would be impossible for it to pose a health risk to bystanders. In fact, every study for the past 10 years has failed to show vapor is even a significant health risk to the actual user!

Since most vapers agree that vaping is - at the very least - far less risky than smoking, then the risks of second-hand vapor must be far less than second-hand smoke. If the risk of exposure from second-hand smoke is extremely low, then the risks of second-hand vapor are extremely lower than extremely low. In fact, according to THR experts, the possible contaminants in second-hand vapor are lower than the hazardous contaminants commonly found in typical restaurant air!

Many vapers may not be aware of the deception of second-hand smoke. Most just take the word of public health and government officials - the very same people exaggerating the risks of vapor products! I've done the research, so I'll give you the Cliff Notes version of the facts that ANTZ will never tell you: Not one study has found an increased risk of any disease for bystanders or employees exposed to second-hand smoke, in a work or social environment, that was statistically significant. Only two studies have found a significant increase in health risks for second hand smoke and those risks only applied to the spouses of heavy smokers, after decades of exposure. 

It's scientifically proven that the risks of second-hand smoke are extremely low. The CDC even admits that the (purely estimated) number of deaths from second-hand smoke makes up less than 10% of the deaths "caused by" cigarette smoke in the United States. In fact, CDC statistics show just as many people are estimated to be killed by the flu every year and twice as many die from adverse reactions to FDA-approved pharmaceuticals!

"Banning public vaping to protect bystanders from "toxins" is like banning the use of water to put out house fires to protect gawkers from lead-based paint chips."

It took decades to find out smoking was bad and they've already found bad things in vapor.
It took decades because it was new science. Now we know what is bad in smoke. It's a simple matter of determining if those same things are in vapor and we've already determined that most of those chemicals are absent. Of the chemicals that have been detected, they have been found to be at lower levels found in other common products that are generally considered safe: 
  • Carcinogens: Lower than found in FDA-approved nicotine patches.
  • Formaldehyde: At about the same levels as found in human breath when used as intended. Only found in higher levels if the device is "dry burned," which would create a harsh vapor that no consumer would tolerate.
  • Metals: Lower than what is allowed in FDA-approved inhaled medications.
  • Particulates: Misrepresented as the same solid particulates found in smoke/tar, but really are liquid particulates (ie. "droplets") that behave differently than solid particulates, so do not pose the same danger.
No matter how hard they try to spin the results, the fact is that the past decade has produced more than 100 studies and thousands of chemical analyses that have failed to find harmful levels of any chemical, metal or carcinogen.

I'm more concerned about taxes and other things. I can live with an indoor use ban.
If you've followed the war on tobacco at all, you know that the ANTZ pushed really hard for the bans, even though they knew the science didn't support any real health risks. The reason they did this was "public perception." As soon as they got the bans passed, they used the new perception that second-hand smoke was a danger to justify their other actions against tobacco users. 

The very indoor vaping bans you "don't care about" are going to bolster and support the taxes and other regulations that you do care about. The indoor bans are just the first step.

I'm still concerned the vapor would bother non-vapers.
Let me ask you this - do you think vaping is saving the lives of smokers? Does it reduce their risks? Do you think millions of smokers switching to e-cigarettes would save millions of lives?

I assume you do, because I've seen you posting as much on Facebook.

In that case, what if indoor bans actually cost lives? What if one smoker, right now, is considering buying an e-cigarette only because his boss said he can use one at his desk instead of going outside? What if he also has a wife and 3 kids at home, who are being exposed to his second-hand smoke (which is the one place any actual health risks have been found?) What if, because he can use an e-cigarette at his desk, he ends up quitting altogether? This would not only save his life, but possibly the life of his wife and children. And because he's quitting while his kids are young, it dramatically reduces the risk of his children becoming smokers themselves.

Now imagine if that indoor ban was passed first. He keeps smoking. His wife gets lung cancer. He dies from heart disease and two of his kids become smokers themselves.

How does that compare to the "risks" of vapor to bystanders? How does that compare to the risk of "annoying" people?

Ask yourself - do the possible small risks and "annoyance" to non-smokers - by allowing vaping in some public spaces - outweigh the known, great risks to smokers (and their families) who don't quit because they lost the incentive of vaping inside at work? When does the risk to smokers and their families from real smoke exposure outwigh the risks to bystanders from vapor? One smoker dying? Two? A hundred?

Is the indoor ban going to end up doing more harm than good? Do you want to be responsible for any smoker who keeps smoking?

I don't.

This is a picture of myself and my family members - who all vape:

In 2009, I bought my first e-cigarette because the state was implementing a smoking ban. I wasn't even trying to quit smoking. Since the ban has passed, I don't vape in restaurants or stores, but on the rare nights I get to go out on the town, I will ask the owner if it's OK to vape in their bar. I've never been told no and have convinced many smokers to switch to vaping (when they saw I got to stay inside.)

If vaping had been included in the state smoking ban, I know I would have kept smoking. Because of that, I never would have introduced my family to vapor products and they'd all still be smoking, too. (Including my mother-in-law, who isn't in the photo.) This is why it's my view that including vapor products in smoking bans will harm far more people than it will ever protect.

Please help oppose vaping bans. It's the right thing to do.

Find more information at:
The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association

Wisconsin Smoke-free Alternatives Coalition

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Vapor worse than cigarette smoke? Really?

"Study Finds E-Cigarettes Can Produce More Formaldehyde Than Regular Cigarettes!" 

"E-Cigarette Vapor Filled With Cancer-Causing Chemicals, Researchers Say!"

"High Levels of Formaldehyde Hidden In E-cigs!"

Sounds pretty scary, doesn't it? If they have studies that found e-cigarettes have more cancer-causing chemicals and formaldehyde than even regular cigarettes, how can anyone argue that vapor products are safe?

Easily, because it's all BS.

Imagine if researchers took perfectly safe vegetables, grilled them until they were blackened lumps of charcoal and then tested for "cancer-causing chemicals." Do you know what they would find? Yep - cancer-causing chemicals like benzopyrene, which is also found in cigarette smoke!  Then imagine if researchers claimed vegetables might be unsafe to eat because of their results? Wouldn't most people wonder who the heck would eat vegetables cooked that way in the first place?

So, what is the whole story behind the "cancer-causing chemicals" and formaldehyde found in the two recent studies behind the headlines? Well, first of all, the "cancer-causing chemicals" they mention is really one chemical - the formaldehyde. So, the headlines you are seeing are misleading from the get-go.

It's not "chemicals," it's one chemical.

OK, well that chemical is still formaldehyde. That's used for embalming dead bodies. Ew!

Of course, if they really found high levels of formaldehyde in vapor products, that would be pretty awful. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, after all. But did they find that the chemical was created during typical use or under special circumstances?

In the letter published by the New England Journal of Medicine, the researcher admits that "we did not detect the formation of any formaldehyde-releasing agents" when the device was set at typical settings. Only when they cranked up the device to the maximum setting were they able to create the formaldehyde. The problem is, a setting that high on a vapor device is akin to grilling your vegetables into charcoal. No one would like the taste of blackened lumps of veggies and no one would like the taste of the liquid in vapor products heated up to the maximum, either. It produces a harsh, bitter taste that causes the consumer to immediately stop using it.

So, why didn't the researchers take the taste into account and dismiss the results? Because they didn't use human test subjects. They didn't even talk to any vapor product consumers. They used a machine that has no sense of taste and therefore, would continue to "inhale" a foul-tasting vapor that no human would tolerate.

If these researchers were testing something with which they were familiar, they would have known that they were looking at something that they would never want to taste - like that lump of charcoal vegetable - and therefore, would have known immediately that it's not really a risk to anyone. Clearly, if you don't eat that foul-tasting burnt veggie, you won't consume any carcinogens. In the same way, if you don't use a vapor product at such high temperatures (because it tastes horrible) you wouldn't be exposed to any formaldehyde.

Of course, none of the news outlets covering this story have bothered to ask one simple question: Do people really use vapor products at such high temperatures? If they had, they'd know the answer is "no." Unfortunately, they follow the "if it bleeds, it leads" style of journalism and are all too happy to have scary headlines to generate readers and viewers.

On top of everything else, formaldehyde is only one of the cancer-causing chemicals found in cigarette smoke. Even if vapor products produced 15 times the levels of formaldehyde than cigarette smoke, they might still be far safer for lack of the other 60+ carcinogens found in cigarette smoke. To focus on just one chemical and claim that makes them a greater risk than smoking is bad science and bad for public health.

Is vapor really worse than cigarette smoke? Apparently, only if you like eating charcoal and ignore the other 59 carcinogens in the cigarette smoke.

For a more expert analysis of this formaldehyde issue please read:

The deception of measuring formaldehyde in e-cigarette aerosol: the difference between laboratory measurements and true exposure
"There are many other major issues in that study. The authors fail to realize that voltage levels provide no information about the thermal load of an e-cigarette device. It seems that both the researchers and the reviewers who approved the study for publication missed that energy should be expressed in watts."

Verified: formaldehyde levels found in the NEJM study were associated with dry puff conditions. An update
"It is more than obvious that the findings of very high levels of formaldehyde are a result of overheating. Lack of experience on e-cigarettes and no contact with vapers can result in such erroneous and unrealistic results, which can create confusion and misinformation both in the scientific community and among users and potential users of e-cigarettes."

New Study Reports High Levels of Formaldehyde in Electronic Cigarette Aerosols
"Essentially, what this study demonstrates is that if you overheat a vaping system, it will produce high levels of formaldehyde. However, such conditions are not realistic, as they could not be tolerated by an actual vaper. Therefore, extrapolating from this study to a lifetime of vaping is meaningless."

Spreading fear and confusion with misleading formaldehyde studies
"This is a trend that should shame the public health community and the academics that are fuelling consumers’ misunderstanding with misleading studies that misrepresent risk.  I am sure it is not your aim to protect the cigarette trade and prolong the epidemic of smoking related disease, but it may well be the effect."

Bogus Research on Formaldehyde in E-Cig Vapor
"R. Paul Jensen and colleagues at Portland State University produced the new results by overheating an e-cigarette, a condition (called dry puffing) that is familiar to vapers; the resulting product tastes so bad it cannot be inhaled.  In other words, the formaldehyde produced under abusive conditions is not “hidden” at all, because it is in vapor that users find intolerable."