• Second-hand vaping Second-Hand Vaping: More Studies

    There are two principal lines of reasoning behind bans on vaping in public places. For one thing, public health officials are committed to limiting the proliferation of vaping, and if that means limiting its visibility by restricting the rights of current vapers, then so be it. For another thing, the same group has also expressed worries about the effects of “second-hand vaping,” a murky concept at best. Worries about second-hand vaping, for example, lie at the basis of Ontario’s new ban on vaping in cars with children under 16.

    Studies on the topic of second-hand vaping used to be extremely difficult to come by, but with the upsurge of vaping over the past year, the research landscape has shifted rapidly. Over the past couple of months or so, for example, two studies on second-hand vaping have been published in academic journals. As you might have expected, both of these studies showed that worries about second-hand vaping are basically groundless.

    The first study, which looked at nicotine residues in the homes of smokers, vapers, and people who neither vape nor smoke, found that, while nicotine residue levels in smoking households were extremely high, with an average of 1303 ± 2676 μg/m2, differences in surface nicotine levels between vaping households and non-smoking/non-vaping homes were not statistically significant. Compared to the smoking homes’ levels of surface nicotine, the 7.7 ± 17.2 μg/m2 average of surface nicotine is practically nothing. The study was conducted by researchers at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York.

    The second study looked at indoor air quality in a room in which five test subjects, three of whom were experienced vapers, vaped during a simulated business meeting in order to get a good sense of air nicotine levels under conditions of normal use. While the study did show that propylene glycol levels in the air shot up while the occupants were vaping, researchers found that air nicotine levels remained unchanged. And despite the rapid increase in propylene glycol levels, these levels remained far, far below than UK Workplace Exposure Limit guidelines (0.203 mg/m3 v. 474 mg/m3), and also dissipated rapidly. Vaping basically just appears to briefly increase propylene glycol levels in ambient air under conditions of normal use, while having no noticeable effect on ambient nicotine levels. Second-hand vaping, apparently, only results in super-mild propylene glycol exposure.

    As usual, the provenance of this second study might raise some eyebrows. The principal researchers involved in this study are employed by Imperial Tobacco, and thus we should approach their methods with an extra degree of scrutiny. On the other hand, it’s important to keep in mind that researchers, even those who work for a big tobacco company, are highly unlikely to falsify their findings. Usually, biased studies are primarily biased in their experimental design; as long as the experimental design is sound, though, the results can presumably be trusted. In this case, the experimental setup seems quite reasonable. In fact, it seems a lot more reasonable than most studies on vaping, in which researchers have largely ignored natural vaping conditions in order to fabricate their negative findings. And given that both of these studies agree in their findings that second-hand vaping poses basically no danger, I think these results can probably be trusted.

    Happy vaping!

  • Tobacco products Why Tobacco Companies Oppose Vaping

    Part of the difficulty in understanding the impetus behind anti-vaping legislation is that the value to most interest groups of limiting the spread of vaping seems opaque. One would think that, for example, tobacco companies looking to enter the vaping industry would lobby against vaping regulations, when in reality they have been pushing for strict regulations on most types of vaping devices. One would also think that anti-tobacco activists would herald the switch to e-cigarettes as a health revolution, as it has indisputably led to a reduction in the number of cigarette smokers, but their lobbies, too, have been involved in the push towards stricter regulations and the reclassification of e-liquids as tobacco products. The only source of opposition to vaping that actually makes intuitive sense is that from its direct competitors: producers of nicotine gum and patches, which, though mostly useless, have raked in immense profits over the past decade, and have lately been losing sales due to the up-surge in the vaping industry.

    Taking a closer look at how the tobacco industry plans to make a move into the vaping market, however, can help us get a better grasp on why tobacco lobbies have fervently been pushing for harsher regulations. Altria, formerly and infamously Philip Morris, has committed $2bn to the development of various e-cigarette products, among them the Marlboro HeatStick, which is an herbal tobacco vaporizer, and several other e-liquid vaporizers. Reynolds, the producer of Camel, Pall Mall, and other cigarette brands, purchased Vuse, a producer of cigarette-like vapes, last year. Meanwhile, both of these companies have been pushing for various regulations on the vaping industry, in particular on modular reusable vaping devices and loose e-liquid. According to a Reynolds spokesman, “We believe open-system vapor products create unique public health risks.”

    It’s clear to me, given the limited scope of the tobacco industry’s move into vaping (all products appear to be disposable, self-contained units, which obviously is intended to increase revenue by forcing the consumer to repeatedly buy whole units), that what these regulations are meant to do is limit the ability of smaller producers to compete in a manner that is most helpful to consumers, especially those trying to quit smoking, who make up more than 90% of e-cigarette users. Several studies, as well as market trends, have indicated that open-system vaping devices are by far preferred by vapers to disposable units, both for their reliability and for their wider array of options in terms of unit design and function, and e-liquid flavor and composition. As open-system devices do not promise as great of profits for their manufacturers as disposable units, it makes sense that tobacco companies are seeking to eliminate them from their competition.

    As for anti-tobacco activists, my sneaking suspicion is that their opposition to vaping is grounded almost entirely in moral panic and a belief that abstinence (though not from other NRTs) is the only acceptable path for smokers to quit. This belief is partially justified by the unconscionable efforts to paint vaping as dangerous coming from the health sector, which is heavily indebted to the pharmaceutical sector. But I cannot imagine that, as scientific evidence of the innocuousness of vaping proliferates, they will not fall in line with scientific consensus.

    Happy vaping!


  • Vaporizer Vaporizer or E-Cigarette: Words Matter

    As you’ve probably already heard, Oxford Dictionaries announced ‘vape’ as their Word of the Year for 2014. This announcement has seemed to inspire many in the vaping community to move away from the use of ‘e-cigarette’ as a term for personal vaporizers, myself included. The connotations of ‘e-cigarette’ are quite negative, obviously implying smoking and traditional tobacco cigarettes. While vaping is often being taken up as a smoking cessation aid, the experience of using a vaporizer is drastically removed from that of smoking a cigarette. Anyone who vapes knows this, but to those who don’t, or who smoke, the use of ‘e-cigarette’ makes it seem as though the intent of vaporizers is to mimic cigarettes, even though that is laughably untrue.

    If we wish to live in a world where Man-On-The-Street considers vaping different from cigarettes, it is essential that the terminology used for each is distinct. The continued use of ‘e-cigarette’ poses a legitimate public health concern, as it is causing individuals who would otherwise advocate personal vaporizers to associate them strongly with tobacco cigarettes. As electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) have minimal health risks compared to tobacco products, this lack of support of vaporizers will be indirectly responsible for the deaths of millions from smoking-related diseases!

    Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death, responsible for over 5 millions deaths annually, including a fifth of all deaths in the United States of America. Think about that: One out of every five people who dies in the USA dies due to smoking related diseases. If all of those people vaped instead, up to 500,000 lives every year would be saved! The potential of vaporizers as a public health aid is enormous, if only the various connotations and biases can be eliminated. Here’s hoping to a smoke free future!

    Happy vaping!

  • Nicotine Patch - Quitting Smoking Quitting Smoking: New Evidence for E-Cigs

    For most of us vapers, smoking cigarettes is a thing of the past. For a lot of us, myself included, e-cigarettes are what got us there. Recently, studies have been appearing that provide significant evidence that e-cigarettes, or, more formally, Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), are by far the most effective method of quitting smoking. This shouldn’t really come as a surprise, considering how many examples we have around us! What is surprising, however, is the comparison between buying over-the-counter nicotine replacement aids, and quitting cold turkey.

    Before finding vaping, I tried patches and gum to no success. No doubt a lot of you have a similar story. According to a number of studies, including one by the Mayo Clinic and one by a number of established authors, OTC nicotine replacement aids are actually less effective than quitting unaided. What the Mayo Clinic determined to be the most effective method was combined behavioral support and prescription cessation medication, but their study did not include or consider ENDS. The other study determined that vaping caused an over 60% increase in the chances of smoking cessation, as compared to both unaided quit attempts and OTC nicotine replacement aids! This is absolutely solid evidence in favor of e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid, and hopefully will convince more people to quite smoking with the help of vaping!

    E-cigarettes have grown incredibly fast over the past few years, possibly paving the way to an end to tobacco cigarettes. If you still smoke, think about why and whether or not its worth it to you. After all, there’s now an effective path to being free from cigs, and it’s full of flavors and clouds! For the rest of you, keep on spreading the word. It’s up to all of us to keep this wonderful community and help others find their place in it!

    Happy vaping!