• San Francisco teenager Welsh Teenagers Don’t Really Vape

    As time passes and scientists are supposed to begin revealing studies showing us that vaping, despite all signs to the contrary, is just as dangerous and addictive as smoking, these studies have been slow to come by. By contrast, studies and surveys supporting the stance that vaping is immeasurably better than smoking combustible cigarettes in most respects have been popping up all over the place.

    A recent survey conducted in the UK, for instance, has added yet another data point to the expanding cache of evidence cementing that vaping is not actually a gateway drug into smoking, and that vaping among teenagers is not a serious concern. This survey, which made use of a 10,000 strong nationally representative sample of school aged Welsh children (ages 10 to 16), showed that, despite the fact that electronic cigarettes have been gaining in popularity at relatively high rates, they have not led to an increase in smoking or nicotine addiction among teenagers. Electronic cigarettes, far from paving the way for future smokers, don’t even appear to be paving the way for future vapers. Instead, they appear to simply be one of the many novelties teenagers try once or twice, only to completely forget about it once the next novelty comes along.

    Out of the entire study population of more than 10,000, only 23 subjects who had never smoked used e-cigs regularly. That makes for a full 0.3% of UK 10-16 year olds, which strikes me as a negligible proportion. Moreover, only 4.8%, or 333, of all subjects who had never smoked had ever tried cigarettes. Electronic cigarette use, as expected, was primarily associated with current smoking. This may be explained by a number of factors. The most plausible, to me, is that this overlap between smoking and vaping is mostly correlative as opposed to causal. It’s pretty clear that, given the image of vaping as akin to smoking, vaping would hold a similar appeal for teenagers. If this explanation is true, then the campaign to demonize vaping is probably leading to more teenage vaping. I don’t have much against vaping, so that doesn’t bother me, but it might be something anti-vaping activists would take issue with.

    Some other interesting points also came up in this study. Though in proportional terms many more subjects had tried e-cigs who had also tried tobacco compared with never-smokers, this is largely an artifact of the fact that most of subjects overall had tried tobacco. In absolute numbers, half of the subjects who had tried e-cigs had never tried tobacco. This might invite a number of conclusions, among them that e-cig use clearly does not correlate as heavily with tobacco experimentation as we might have thought. Given that regular e-cig usage is almost non-existent among kids who had never smoked, this might mean that half of those who try e-cigs will likely never try it again.

    So add yet another piece of evidence to the mountain of evidence that’s now been assembled in support of vaping!

    Happy vaping!

  • AGDs v FDGs AGDs vs. FDGs: Battle of the Vapes

    Since the publication of the now infamous “Hidden Formaldehyde” paper, articles on e-cigs have seemingly been flooding academic journals. A new study, published recently in Nicotine & Tobacco Research and conducted at Penn State, takes a look at vaping habits and preferences among a group of more than 4000 survey respondents. The main data researchers tracked had to do with vapers’ use of first generation devices (FDGs), meaning cigarette-like vapes, versus advanced generation devices (ADGs), namely open system vapes.

    Most of the findings shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who is at all familiar with the vaping industry. While more than half of vapers begin vaping using FGDs, more than 60% of these vapers eventually switch to ADGs if they choose to continue vaping. By contrast, fewer than 10% of vapers who start off with AGDs switch to FDGs. AGD users are also more likely to be male, be educated beyond high school, and have been vaping for longer than FDG users.

    Buried in this data is an interesting data point: while a full 39% of cigalike vapers are concurrent tobacco smokers, only 10.5% of AGD vapers still smoke cigarettes. The researchers somehow do not tease this point out further, though it is deserving of more attention.

    Keep in mind that AGD vapers are the ones who are supposed to be in the gravest danger. They vape twice as much every day as FGD vapers, show slightly higher levels of nicotine addiction, and it has been shown many times that they can, through practice, get far higher yields of nicotine in their nicotine aerosol than cigalike users, despite the latter group usually using liquids higher in nicotine concentration. The fact that AGD users manage to quit despite their higher levels of dependence on nicotine should be indisputable proof that vaping actually works as a quitting aid, and that it is certainly not a gateway drug into more tobacco consumption. I find it difficult to believe that AGD users are not subjecting themselves to significantly less harm than FGD users, who do not appear to be as well equipped to fully quit smoking.

    This kind of study is also crucial in determining the implications of various proposed vaping regulations. For one, they show that regulations with differential impacts on ADGs versus FDGs might well reduce the usefulness of vaping for many users. Since so many long term vapers appear to have finally managed to quit smoking on switching to the far more effective AGDs or starting off with AGDs, regulations that would stifle innovation in the AGD market would have devastating effects on quit rates. These regulations do not have to go so far as to ban AGDs. Though Reynolds executives famously urged the FDA to ban open system vapes, which would be categorized as advanced generation devices by this study, the FDA thankfully does not appear to have taken these suggestions into account, and open system containers will likely not be banned; however, restrictions aimed at bottled e-liquid, for instance, do carry differing consequences for AGDs versus FGDs, as do restrictions on the online sale of vapes and e-liquid. These restrictions are very much real, as shown by the latest Washington bill, which would both ban flavored e-liquids and outlaw the online sale of vaping products. These restrictions will also have a very real effect on quit rates among vapers.

    Happy vaping!

  • College student, thinking about vaping and doing other bad things.. Like vaping nicotine-free e-cigs. Study: College Students Know ECigs Exist

    As a vaper, you might sometimes get a little put off by researchers’ insistent claims that we do not know anything about whether electronic cigarettes are safer than combustible cigarettes, or whether e-cigs are better than other nicotine replacement therapies at helping smokers quit. Not only is that claim mostly false, but one would also think that the onus is precisely on those people to perform the requisite research to discern those facts. What you might not realize, however, is that researchers in all fields are working on far more important projects, and even though they might decry the lack of research on e-cigs, they do not really have the time to look into it any further. Even on the subject of vaping, there are far more important facts to uncover than, say, whether vaping is actually dangerous in any way, or whether it is actually useful in any way, or anything like that.

    For instance, researchers at the University of Buffalo have recently uncovered some fascinating facts about college e-cig users. The study, based on a survey of 1400 college students at four universities in upstate New York and publicized across national media, showed that a full 95% of students had heard about electronic cigarettes. That’s right. Apparently the pervasive advertising employed by e-cig companies has finally achieved its nefarious goal of converting college students (children!) into people who are aware of the existence of things around them.

    In addition, the survey found a slew of other facts that may or may not shock you.

    1. Students who thought electronic cigarettes to be less dangerous than combustible cigarettes were more likely to have tried e-cigs.
    2. 85% of students who had ever vaped had tried other nicotine products first.
    3. Fewer than 30% of students had tried electronic cigarettes.
    4. Students who used other nicotine products, as well as students who sometimes engaged in binge drinking, and students who had smoked marijuana, were all more likely to have used e-cigs than other students.

    While some of these findings may come as a surprise to the people actually conducting the research, I have a feeling they are all common-sensical and self-evident to most inhabitants of our planet. Because of that, I also resent the use of whatever grants funded this research on a study that proved nothing much at all, even as there is a severe dearth of relevant research on the topic of vaping.

    According to one of the researchers who co-authored the study, “the awareness and popularity of e-cigarettes among college-aged students is a concern,” and “these notable results found that many college students use e-cigarettes as part of a mix of health-risk behaviors, including alcohol and marijuana.” I take issue with both of these statements. First, awareness is not in itself a bad thing, and I cannot possibly fathom why awareness of a product would be a concern in any way; also, the popularity of e-cigs would only be an issue if e-cigs are shown to pose any real health risks, which no one can yet claim they do. Second, these results are not, in any way, notable. So can we please get some real research with some actually notable results?

    Happy vaping!

  • Variable nicotine yield Smoking Method Influences Nicotine Yield

    Much of the coverage of the dangers of vaping has centered on the massive disparities observed in e-liquid nicotine content, inconsistent results of vaping on smokers attempting to quit, and misgivings about its ability to create in its user a nicotine dependence at least as strong as that created by cigarette smoking. Little attention, however, has been paid to people who actually engage in the habit. Amidst the deluge of studies proving either that electronic cigarettes are the work of the devil, or else that they are entirely without danger, most have focused on e-liquid and its composition, instead of looking at the interaction between e-liquid and the way in which it is consumed.

    A new study funded by the National Institutes of Health and the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products looked at “puff topography,” meaning the way in which electronic cigarettes are used on a puff-to-puff basis, in relation to the nicotine content extracted by vaping devices. Taking into account that puff duration and velocity, e-cig voltage and wattage, and e-liquid nicotine content, all vary from one vaper to the next, the researchers tried to design a mathematical model that would predict nicotine yield in the vapor based on variations in the listed factors. The study was performed using a smoking machine, and nicotine levels in the aerosol were analyzed from a filter intended to catch most of the aerosol.

    Ultimately, the researchers found that puff velocity, meaning the speed at which vapers draw in aerosol while vaping, had little to no effect on nicotine yield, while the other variables showed significant correlation with nicotine content. At longer puff durations, for example, nicotine levels were significantly higher than for shorter puffs, and nicotine levels skyrocketed at higher wattage/voltage. The extremely high disparity between nicotine levels at 5.2V and 7.5W versus at 3.3V and 3.0W may indicate that, much as in the formaldehyde study, vaping conditions at the higher voltage might have been unsustainable had there been a real person on the end of the vape; at such high power, it is likely that what is being evaluated is the nicotine yield of a “dry puff,” as opposed to a puff anyone would actually inhale. On the other hand, under conditions similar to those used by cigarette smokers (relatively short puffs – 2 seconds – and high puff velocity), nicotine yield was extremely low, both at high and at low voltages, so the conditions for the extraction of high levels of nicotine appear to only exist at relatively high puffing durations.

    While this study, too, failed to observe actual vapers – a study that checked for blood nicotine levels would shed light on how the nicotine extracted from e-liquid actually interacts with human lungs – its findings are relatively interesting. For one, though I am sure most vapers instinctively do this, former smokers who feel like they are not getting enough nicotine from vaping to quell their nicotine cravings now know that to increase nicotine yield they can adjust not only nicotine levels in their e-liquid, but also the duration of each puff, as well as the voltage of their vaping device. This should also address some of the misgivings about aerosol nicotine levels being inconsistent across devices; much of that is inherent in the nature of vaping, and that should not be a problem once more information becomes available about how vaping behavior influences nicotine yield.