Fear of the unknown is common and understandable. However, presenting fear-based opinions as facts, is ignorant and immoral. The FDA and anti-smoking groups continue to oppose electronic cigarettes by making claims that e-cigs will cause nicotine addiction in youths and nonsmokers. Here are the results of scientific studies that prove otherwise.
An article was published in the Journal of Environmental and Public Health entitled Use of Emerging Tobacco Products in the United States. This article is the first to nationally represent estimated use of snus, waterpipes (hookah), dissolvable tobacco products, and electronic delivery systems (ENDS).
Of the 3,240 total number of participants in this sample, approximately 2,000 are nonsmokers. The study concluded that of the 2,000 nonsmoking participants, only… get ready for it… 6 nonsmokers had ever used e-cigs.
A second study surveyed 12,171 adults and 2,178 children in the UK ranging from 11 to 18 years old. The results are as follows:
Awareness of e-cigs among 11-18 year olds was 67%
Awareness of e-cigs among 16-18 year olds was 83%
Although awareness was high, according to the study, “among young people who have never smoked…0% report continued e-cigarette use and 0% expect to try an e-cigarette soon.”
It’s about time the FDA and antismoking groups put their fears and personal interests aside and face the facts. Electronic cigarettes have the potential to save lives without affecting the lives of nonsmokers or children.
The largest drop in cigarette sales occurred between 2009 and 2010 after a 62 cent per pack tax increase was established. Currently, congress is considering adding an additional 94 cents per pack. This amount would raise the federal tax on cigarettes from $1.01 to $1.95.
In recent years, sales on cigarettes have declined between 3 and 4%. However, in the first quarter of 2012, cigarette sales plunged 6.2%. According to David Adelman of Morgan Stanley, there are several reasons people are smoking less:
The population is generally more health conscious.
There is an increased number of indoor smoking bans.
A major shift in social pressures and societal attitudes has taken place.
According to Adelman, the newest reason for the tobacco industry’s losses is the growing popularity of electronic cigarettes. He estimates that e-cigs will replace about 1.5 billion cigarettes this year. This is an increase of last year’s estimated 600 million.
1.5 billion fewer cigarettes consumed this year. Just imagine what the future holds.
The online journal PLoS ONE published a disturbing study on potentially hazardous metals found in the aerosol from a brand of electronic cigarettes. As a user and enthusiast of electronic cigarettes, I was concerned about the reported detection of trace amounts of lead, copper, chromium, and nickel.
The article compared levels of specific metals in e-cig vapor to that in cigarette smoke. What the article failed to mention was that the levels of metals in electronic cigarettes are comparable to that of nicotine inhalers. Luckily, Dr. Michael Siegel, Professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at Boston University School of Public Health, has taken the time to put the facts into perspective.
The PLoS ONE article reported levels of metals in ten puffs from an e-cig (in micrograms).
Dr. Siegel multiplied these levels by 20 to find out the daily intake of each metal. The following levels represent 200 puffs per day from an electronic cigarette (comparable to the inhalations of a 2 pack a day smoker). The following levels are in micrograms.
Without knowledge of the USP standards for allowable daily exposure of these metals, the levels found in e-cigs may seem alarming. Thankfully, Dr. Siegel did his research, and found that the above levels are far below USP standards (shown below in micrograms).
Hopefully, with greater regulation and standardized quality-control measures, the trace levels of metals can be addressed. However, according to Dr. Siegel, “there is no reason to sound the alarm from the data reported in the present study because it fails to compare the detected levels with regulatory standards for pharmaceutical products, including FDA-approved nicotine inhalers.”
The journal Addiction published an online survey “to characterize e-cigarette use, users and effects”. “Vapers” out there will agree with the findings, however skeptics may be surprised.
There were 1,347 total respondents from 33 countries. “Seventy four percent of participants reported not smoking for at least a few weeks since using e-cigs, and seventy percent reported a reduced urge to smoke.”
According to the survey, “E-cigarettes were generally considered to be satisfying to use; elicit few side effects; be healthier than smoking; improve cough/breathing; and be associated with low levels of craving. Among ex-smokers, “time to first vape” was significantly longer than “time to first cigarette” suggesting a lower level of dependence to e-cigarettes. Ex-smokers reported significantly greater reduction in craving than current smokers.”
In conclusion, “E-cigarettes are used primarily for smoking cessation, but for a longer duration than nicotine replacement therapy, and users believe them to be safer than smoking”, but you already knew that.
The FDA and tobacco control movement are concerned that electronic cigarettes are a “nicotine gateway” for youths. As I discussed in a previous article, teens are not using or experimenting with e-cigs. What they are using are tobacco cigarettes, specifically menthol.
According to an article in Business Insider, Camel has increased its market share among 12-17 year olds by 21%. This gain is attributed to Camel Crush cigarettes that change from tobacco flavor to menthol by squeezing a capsule in the filter. Young people are also drawn to Newports.
The article is closed with the statement: “The data reflected herein is all sourced from U.S. Government agencies, and highlights trends that the government and FDA are all readily aware of.”
If the FDA is fully aware of the growing trend among youths and menthol cigarettes, why then do they persist with the nonexistent threat of teens using electronic cigarettes rather than the existing danger affecting our youths?
Pfizer is the largest drug maker in the United States. In 2006, Pfizer introduced the anti-smoking drug Chantix with the hopes of becoming a multi-billion dollar product. Since then, reports of depression, suicidal ideation, and even suicide have been linked to the use of Chantix.
Beginning in 2008, Pfizer was flooded with lawsuits. Consumers claim Pfizer knew about the side-effects and didn’t reveal them to doctors or patients. By 2009 the FDA required a boxed warning to inform users of the psychological effects related to the drug. To date there are more than 2700 lawsuits over Chantix. Chantix has been FDA approved for use in over 100 countries and has been prescribed to 18 million patients. Millions of innocent people began taking Chantix hoping they could safely and effectively kick their smoking addiction. They didn’t know the side-effects of Chantix can be deadly.
The majority of lawsuits allege Chantix caused a wide range of injuries from anxiety and depression to attempted and completed suicide. Pfizer Inc. has agreed to settle around 80% of these lawsuits resulting in a $273 million dollar payout in 2012. They have also set $15 million aside to resolve the remaining U.S. claims. However, the company’s losses may exceed that amount.
So, just to get this straight, more than 2700 lawsuits have been filed against Pfizer for FDA approved Chantix, yet the FDA has difficulty accepting electronic cigarettes which have 0 reported injuries?
New products entering the market are subject to scrutiny. As emerging products gain attention and the general public starts forming opinions, it’s hard to decipher the truth from the rhetoric. The public has a right to make well-informed, factual based decisions about what products they are ingesting, using, and in this case inhaling. That’s why we continue to post unbiased, scientific studies on electronic cigarettes.
On March 6th Tobacco Control published a study online ahead of print entitled Levels of Selected Carcinogens and Toxicants in Vapour from Electronic Cigarettes. The goal of this study was to evaluate the chemical components of e-cigarettes, more specifically potentially toxic and carcinogenic compounds.
Carbonyls, volatile organic compounds, nitrosamines and heavy metals were extracted from e-cig vapor, analyzed, and compared with levels of the same compounds in medicinal nicotine inhalers and tobacco cigarettes. Here’s what they found:
“Levels of the toxicants were 9-450 times lower than in cigarette smoke and were, in many cases, comparable with trace amounts found in the reference product.” The conclusion of these findings are “consistent with the idea that substituting tobacco cigarettes with e-cigarettes may substantially reduce exposure to selected tobacco-specific toxicants.”
What we have here is an unbiased, scientific study solidifying electronic cigarettes’ relative harmlessness in comparison with tobacco cigarettes. With the constant bombardment of personal opinions and statements made with hidden agendas, how can anyone know the truth? The answer is science.
Despite countless testimonials by electronic cigarette users, e-cigs are prohibited from being categorized as smoking cessation devices. Electronic cigarette companies would love the opportunity to educate smokers on the efficacy of these products for smoking reduction and cessation, but sadly, the FDA won’t allow it.
According to anti-smoking groups and the FDA, if electronic cigarettes were marketed as smoking cessation products (as they should) they would be taken off the market completely. This is because smoking cessation claims are treated as drug claims under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
Currently, FDA approved smoking cessation aids do exist. Pharmaceuticals (such as Chantix), Nicoderm, and Nicorette are the dominating players in the field. The side-effects of Chantix include depression, suicidal ideation, and suicide. Other nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) have notoriously low effectiveness rates. Smokers are merely asking for a safe, effective way to quit smoking.
Electronic cigarettes seem to be the obvious choice for safe and effective nicotine delivery. It’s really unfortunate that millions of smokers can now call themselves ex-smokers with the help of e-cigs, and yet the FDA will not allow electronic cigarette companies to market their products in a truthful, informative way.
Electronic cigarettes are still relatively new products. It is understandable that scientific testing and data collection is a necessity. The journal Addiction Science and Clinical Practice published a study to examine the reasons electronic cigarettes are effective for smoking cessation.
This study was conducted by using qualitative design. The focus groups consisted of nine men and 2 women. Open ended questions were posed as a way to find answers about the use of e-cigs, the differences in effectiveness between NRTs and e-cigs, barriers to quitting, and the reasons for choosing e-cigs over other methods.
Five key themes describe why these users find electronic cigarettes as an effective tool to quit smoking.
Social Benefits: There exists a strong camaraderie among members of the “vaping” community.
Bio-Behavioral Feedback: While NRTs deliver nicotine, they do not address the behavioral addictions associated with smoking. Electronic cigarettes effectively mimic the act of smoking.
Hobby Element: Few smokers refer to their smoking addiction as a hobby. “The participants in this study repeatedly discussed vaping as a hobby.”
Personal Identity: The use of e-cigs changed the participants’ personal identity from “smoker” to “vaper.”
Distinction Between Smoking Cessation and Nicotine Cessation: The desire to quit smoking does not always equate with the desire to quit nicotine. While e-cigarettes allowed participants to quit smoking, not all participants wished to quit nicotine. Electronic cigarettes allow users to go “from a dangerous form of nicotine intake in cigarettes to a safer form in e-cigarettes.”
The conclusion of this study states, “These findings suggest tobacco control practitioners must pay increased attention to the importance of the behavioral and social components of smoking addiction. By addressing these components in addition to nicotine dependence, e-cigarettes appear to help some tobacco smokers transition to a less harmful replacement tool, thereby maintaining cigarette abstinence.”
Sounds to me like this research confirms the appropriate categorization of electronic cigarettes as smoking cessation products.
The head of the FDA’s tobacco governance group has been replaced. Dr. Lawrence Deyton stepped down to become a professor of medicine and health policy at George Washington University. Mitch Zeller will be taking Dr. Deyton’s place as director of the Center for Tobacco Products. Interestingly, Mitch Zeller headed a firm that consults for Big Pharma.
Zeller was an executive for Pinney Associates, a pharmaceutical consulting firm that does work for GlaxoSmithKline. GlaxoSmithKline is the top seller of nicotine-replacement therapy (NRT), including Nicorette and Nicoderm. While working for Pinney Associates, Zeller has stated he “provides consulting support to GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Health through Pinney Associates on an exclusive basis on issues related to tobacco dependence treatment.” So, what does all this mean?
Essentially, this is a conflict of interest. A pharmaceutical consultant is taking over as director of the agency responsible for regulating pharmaceuticals. The Center for Tobacco Products creates regulations for smokeless tobacco products. It is also responsible for evaluating new “modified-risk” tobacco products, such as electronic cigarettes. This doesn’t seem quite fair, as electronic cigarettes are in direct competition with NRT.
Dr. Gilbert Ross of the American Council on Science and Health, agrees that the FDA should have chosen a candidate with less conflict of interest concerns. In the Winston-Salem Journal Ross is quoted as saying, “To clarify, the newly appointed head of the CTP, one of whose main missions should be to objectively evaluate methods for helping smokers quit most effectively, has been in the business of promoting FDA-approved traditional NRT products, while (not surprisingly) he has been in the forefront of opposing consideration of alternative cessation products such as snus and e-cigarettes.”
This situation is particularly disturbing, as one of the CTP’s first tasks under Zeller’s leadership is to begin the process of regulating products that will compete with smoking cessation pharmaceuticals. Electronic cigarette regulations will negatively impact GlaxoSmithKline profits: the very company Zeller did consulting work for.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a study to assess the use and awareness of electronic cigarettes in current, former, and non-smokers. U.S. adults over the age of eighteen were surveyed in 2010 by mail and the web. In 2011, the survey was web-based only.
According to the 2010 mail survey, the overall awareness of electronic cigarettes was 38.5% and 40.9% on the web. The study conducted in 2011 was web-based only and showed a 57.9 percentage of awareness.
When the initial survey was conducted in 2010, 2.1% of all respondents in the mail survey and 3.3% of the web study had used electronic cigarettes. The 2011 web survey reported 6.2% ever use of e-cigs among all participants.
The use of e-cigs in smokers increased from 9.8% in 2010 to 21.2% in 2011. Ever use of electronic cigarettes in former smokers increased from 2.5% to 7.4%, and among non-smokers the percentage of participants who had ever tried e-cigs remained steady at 1.3%.
Awareness and use has increased from 2010-2011. Most electronic cigarette users are drawn to these products because of a desire to quit or cut back on tobacco cigarettes. Despite fears of growing awareness and publicity, there is no increase in the number of nonsmokers using electronic cigarettes.