Archive | November 2015

What are the issues surrounding electronic cigarettes?

Answer by Miles Dolphin:

The issues are legion:

  • Physical Safety.
  • Medical Safety.
  • Political – National financial (taxes).
  • Political – International (WHO and FCTC).
  • Political – Medical/Tobacco Control/Tobacco Harm Reduction.
  • Labelling, Quality and Bottling standards.
  • Bias in the Press.

Physical Safety:
The physical safety issue is mostly to do with the battery, being Lithium-Ion it was, like the older laptops and mobiles, subject to catastrophic failure. Now that higher grade batteries are being used almost all failures are due to user error (wrong charger etc), or occasionally fraudulent products.

Medical Safety:

If Public Health England are satisfied with current e-cigs, then why……?

Political – National financial (taxes):
Vaping is a major worry for many governments, as it reduces the taxation garnered from cigarettes. Some politicians have stated that they don't want smoking to stop so fast, as they need to re-arrange their budgets to cope with lower income – much lower in some jurisdictions. (California and Italy being the two major examples of this).

Political – International (WHO and its FCTC):
The World Health Organisation sees vaping as a major threat to its self appointed task to eradicate smoking as it is the biggest killer among all the Non-Communicable Diseases. The "Not Invented Here" syndrome appears highly relevant. WHO's main weapon is the FCTC (Framework Convention on Tobacco Control), which it uses as a sledgehammer to crack nuts.

Political – Medical/Tobacco Control/Tobacco Harm Reduction:
Politically inclined medics do not seem to be acknowledging the research that has been done into vaping, and thus many politicians never get to hear about the latest results. However the status of the research has been leaking through to senior politicians, and the situation seems to be improving slowly.
The Tobacco Control Industry (and make no doubts, it is an industry) foresees the diminishing of its income from governments in the way of grants and other financial supports that help them lobby to enact anti-smoking (and now anti-vaping) legislation. Some professionals in this industry however see that vaping could be the answer that they have been looking for over many years, others however still favour the "Quit Or Die!" method of controlling the tobacco users, and thus reject vaping out of hand.
The Tobacco Harm Reduction camp of tobacco controllers are in a minority, and seeing little to no harm in vaping, are mostly in support of it. However this fairly vocal minority is fighting an uphill battle against the traditional style of tobacco control.

Labelling, Quality and Bottling standards:
Most of the Liquids produced around the world are now adhering to the standards promoted by either ECITA (Electronic Cigarette Industry Trade Association) in the  UK and EU, or AEMSA (American E-Liquid Manufacturing Standards Association) in the USA. These two standards vary only in their legal requirements from country to country. They both insist on high quality in manufacturing (without the recently discovered to be dangerous chemicals, 2014), Child-proof bottles, and all the relevant warning labels.

Bias in the Press:
Stories about disasters always seem to sell better than nice, happy, feel-good ones, so that is what gets the most attention in the press.
We often see "E-cig explodes, causing house fire" type stories, but rarely see the stories which show how smoking rates are dropping in opposition to the growth of vaping.

What are the issues surrounding electronic cigarettes?


Now that smoking has been banned in public places in the UK since 2007, is there any evidence at all that this has been a success for Pub…

Answer by Michael J. McFadden:

I examined this question fairly extensively for both the US and the UK in one of the longest chapters of my TobakkoNacht — The Antismoking Endgame (2013).  I examined heart attack rates and admissions since that area of Public Health is the area that Antismokers have generally claimed as showing the strongest immediate impact from bans.

Here are several graphs, with commentary, that I used in that chapter (with much gratitude to Christopher Snowdon, author of Velvet Glove, Iron Fist: A History of Antismoking (2009).

First a graph from a study designed and carried out by Dr. Anna Gilmore, Director of the Tobacco Control Research Group, which showed what she claimed was a clear drop of over a thousand heart attack admissions in England in the year following their ban:


If you have a little difficulty in seeing the clear effect of the ban, Mr. Snowdon took the basic data and applied standard statistical smoothing to it for more clarity:


Strangely, I am not overly impressed with any evidence of a drastic drop in heart attacks produced by the very sudden and wide-ranging smoking ban in England.  Are you?

Oddly enough, although British Antismokers felt that they DID see a clear drop in heart attacks, they felt that the data on pub closures after the ban showed "no discernible effect" from the law:


Strangely again, my interpretation would differ.  Even without my eyeglasses I believe I can see a "discernible effect" in the number of pub closures after the ban came in.  Look closely: what do YOU think?  And how well does the clarity of pub closures (which UK Antismokers claim hasn't been a problem) compare with the clarity of heart attack decreases (which UK Antismokers claim are clear and undeniable).

Do you begin to see a problem here?

These graphs and other figures are documented and discussed extensively in both my book and in various entries at Mr. Snowdon's excellent blog at the external link: Velvet Glove, Iron Fist and I'd highly recommend a few hours reading there for any who are interested.


Now that smoking has been banned in public places in the UK since 2007, is there any evidence at all that this has been a success for Pub…

If Electronic Cigarettes are both cheaper (avoid all those taxes and packaging rules) and healthier, why aren’t all smokers switching to …

Answer by Chris Price:

There  are multiple reasons why THR products (Tobacco Harm Reduction substitutes such as ecigs or Snus) are or are not successful.

One of  the main reasons is that smoking is a government business, and both  they and their three main partners in the smoking economy – the  pharmaceutical industry, the cigarette trade, and the tobacco control  industry – all need to ensure that smoking is protected from any  threats. To that end, they jointly fund, create and promote the largest  propaganda campaign the world has ever seen, to prevent any threat to cigarette sales being successful.

Look at how the FDA and CDC work overtime to stop smokers moving to low-risk products. Look at the torrent of lies and propaganda coming from California, for example, a massively corrupt State that depends on its MSA funding from smoking for its solvency.

The smoking economy does everything it can to prevent smokers switching to products that can't be taxed extortionately as they don't kill anyone, can't generate MSA funds, can't provide a gravy train for the pharmaceutical industry, and will destroy the enormous funding for parts of the Public Health industry. It costs hundreds of millions of dollars to fund the propaganda and junk science campaign – but it makes tens of billions in return. It's great value for money.

Only the consumer suffers, and they don't count. Anything in this area is a free-fire zone, in any case: these consumers can be taxed extortionately, deliberately made profitably sick, and then killed off early to save on pensions and expensive healthcare for the elderly. Smoking is the world's most fantastic and profitable gravy train – in fact it's a license to print money – and no one is going to be allowed to interfere with that.

In very rare and exceptionally uncorrupted places such as Sweden, consumers are allowed to choose and are not fed a continual stream of lies about their choices. As a result, 66% of tobacco users are Snusers and only 33% are smokers. As a result, their national health statistics are unique; they have the lowest smoking-related death rate of any developed country by a wide margin (Snus is not associated with any form of cancer, especially mouth cancer: Sweden has the lowest rate of male oral cancer and lung cancer in the EU).

People  generally get the government they deserve, and governments *will* exploit and kill minorities for profit if they are allowed to.

If Electronic Cigarettes are both cheaper (avoid all those taxes and packaging rules) and healthier, why aren't all smokers switching to …

Is the recent popular movement from paper cigarettes to electronic cigarettes a result of the tobacco settlement and our recent willingne…

Answer by Steve Peach:

Opinion only,  I won't claim credentials on this topic. But…

Your question betrays misconceptions about the nature of the tobacco companies' participation in the e-cigarette market. They most definitely did not introduce a new product to meet consumer demand, they bought into an existing technology when they belatedly recognized potential competition. (Probably with the intention to either own or destroy the market).
If you're going to talk economics, I think you have to recognize that standard theory does not apply to the tobacco trade for two reasons – addiction and regulation.
When your customers are addicted to the product there's no need to innovate, or even care about what your customers want – "take it or leave it" works just fine as a marketing strategy. They've even found that marketing isn't required. In many countries any form of advertising or sponsorship is banned, and plain packaging with gruesome warnings is mandated, it hasn't made much of a difference. Heavy regulation also removes incentives for (or prohibits) innovation, so they can redirect their R&D to cost reduction or just move that budget over to paying lobbyists and lawyers to keep those regulations to their liking. But the best thing about a regulated market is it keeps start-up competition out since you need vast resources to comply.
So I don't imagine they were too happy to see a product that actually competes with tobacco but wasn't subject to the same regulatory burden. Imagine where the notion of regulating e-cigs "the same as tobacco" might have originated. Absent heavy regulation (which was specifically crafted to reign in huge multi-national corporations selling a known deadly product), e-cigs are a rapidly evolving, internet enabled, disruptive technology. And on the small business side; low barriers to entry, minimal investment required, massive growth potential and customers who evangelize for the product. Not very much like tobacco at all, really.
Personally, I see the fact that tobacco companies entered the e-cig market by purchasing cigalike brands as evidence that they don't want the product to succeed. Cigalikes are rather ineffective for replacing smoking, but they do remind the user that the real thing still exists. Cigalikes are closed systems that can be standardized and made proprietary and jumped through all the hoops and trials required. They can be neatly slotted into the existing regulations and business model for tobacco. But it's not worth doing if they also allow a better product to remain unregulated and freely available.

Taking an abrupt left turn, why weren't they produced in the 60's? Well actually they were: An Interview with the Inventor of the Electronic Cigarette, Herbert A Gilbert  The story sounds a bit sordid, the invention didn't use nicotine (but could have), but I suspect 60's battery technology wasn't up to the task anyway. Then there was this attempt from 1979:… 
But in my opinion, true vaping actually originated with the countless modders who retroactively legitimized e-cigarettes by making the idea actually work. They modified flashlights and project boxes to hold a usable load of lithium-ion batteries, they invented tanks by punching holes in their e-cig cartridges, adding a glass sleeve and rubber stoppers, and invented "dripping" by re-filling those disposable cartomizers, they worked out a standardized fitting to connect any mod to any atomizer, and they did it all live on the internet for all to share. In effect they reversed engineered the e-cigarette and posted the source code on the net. Without the modders meddling, it's doubtful that even this latest attempt at a less harmful nicotine delivery system would have been more than another fad. (again, IMHO)

And veering back again, just to leave no stone unmolested, the Master Settlement Agreement. Others have written extensively about the MSA…
I'll just say it was a master stroke by the tobacco companies' lawyers. Bring all the state governments on board with propping up tobacco sales if they want keep getting their settlement money, and exempt Big Tobacco from all future liability? Brilliant!

Is the recent popular movement from paper cigarettes to electronic cigarettes a result of the tobacco settlement and our recent willingne…