E Cigarette News Round Up – 18th December 2011

Call for Proof of Lower E Cigarette Health Risks

In what can be seen only as a positive development, a report issued regarding E-Cigarette health risks is calling for independent, 3rd parting testing and trials of the electronic devices. Unlike the recent bans and criticisms, this report issues a challenge to document the health benefits of vaping versus smoking. The resultant documented facts would be a boon to the industry and a major step forward in e-cig acceptance in the United States.

The report—the work of a committee working under the aegis of the University of Cincinnati’s Institute of Medicine– notes that the idea of “safer cigarettes” was dealt a credibility death blow by the fiasco of Big Tobacco and its “safer”, “light” and “low tar and nicotine” tobacco cigarettes, which proved to be no more healthful than regular smokes when all was said and done. The recommendations contained in the report are scientifically based and could provide a roadmap that will ultimately lead to FDA approval instead of opposition as things stand now.

Suggestions by the report include determining the addictive potential, the relative operating safety of e-cig components, that the scope of possible studies expand to include not only their use by current vapers but also to include testing on current and former tobacco product users, news smokers, teenagers and other groups at risk for tobacco use. Also recommended is a look at whether or not e-cigs will tempt into smoking people who previously had no desire to smoke.

The report and its suggestions have met with the approval of the American Lung Association, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids as well as the Schroeder Institute for Tobacco Research, and Policy Studies at the Legacy Foundation. While not any of these groups is an historical friend of the e-cigarette industry, their acceptance could be key in banishing the objections to vaping that current are resulting in use bans and restrictions in various states and municipalities.

Health Canada Come out Against e-Cigarettes

As the popularity of vaping and the sales of e-cigarettes are burgeoning in Canada, Health Canada the Canadian Federal department for health maintenance and improvement has recently come out in direct opposition to their classification as a smoking cessation device.

Health Canada expresses the same reservation as to the actual health benefits and risks of vaping over tobacco use as have recently been expressed by similar agencies and groups in the United States, which is in itself and taken at face value, laudable. However the agency does fully support the use of nicotine patches, gums, lozenges and inhalers—with all their well known problems– as well as the use of Zyban and Champix—medications with documented health impacts and side effects. Further, the use of these so called “approved” cessation devices boasts a 95 percent failure rate
This is a disappointing development, but in light of the current wave of opposition to e cigarettes and their widespread use, not a surprising one. And all the more reason why testing that will ultimately prove the superiority of the e-cigarette cannot come soon enough.

Harm Reduction: an Idea Whose Time has Come?

The publication, Harm Reduction Journal has recently published an article taking a very common sense approach to the issue of the use of electronic cigarettes over tobacco and paper cigarettes. HRJ is a recognized online journal—open access and peer reviewed—that seeks to explore the public policy as well as the use of so called psychoactive drug use and their consequences on public health, medicine and society at large. By “harm reduction” it is meant that in the face of obstacles involved in preventing such use, that means be found to reduce economic, social and health costs of same without reducing consumption.

While it sounds a bit like having your cake and eating it too—the recent article quite rightly recognizes that many smokers have repeatedly tried and failed to quit—and that many people truly don’t wish to stop smoking—enjoying the ritual and the mood enhancement properties of what has never been classified as an “illicit drug”.

HRJ quite rightly views e-cig use as a means by which smokers can continue to indulge their habit, but at the same time mitigate the harmful health impacts of traditional tobacco cigarettes. The article, authored by a professor of medicine at Kentucky’s University of Louisville, studied existing evidence of tobacco harm reduction. The article points out that cigarettes contain over 7000 harmful chemicals and substances, that e-cigarettes emissions to not present any significant health risks to users or bystanders—being comprised of water vapor, propylene glycol (found in many food stuffs), flavorings and nicotine.

The article further points out that various studies have shown that not only do e-cigarettes deliver nicotine in lower levels than the average analog cigarette, that even at these lower levels, e-cig users who formerly smoked report reduce cravings all the same. Part of the reason for this lowered incidence of craving may be that e-cigs preserve the social rituals of smoking, which reduce the user’s feeling of deprivation of a pleasurable activity alongside the withdrawal from the actual nicotine levels of cigarettes.

The article also stresses less attention be given to e-cigs as a “smoking cessation” device and the wisdom of instead considering them a “smoking alternative”. While that seems a minor difference in semantics, it is really a very important distinction that bears further consideration—because it does not automatically alienate those smokers who truly have no desire to quit.

And the full text of this article from the Harm Reduction Journal can be found online at:
http://www.harmreductionjournal.com/content/pdf/1477-7517-8-19.pdf