Worst e-cigarette article to date? And from a two time Pulitzer winner

I am not one for conspiracy theories but the events of the last month or so have me wondering if I should throw out my well worn rose coloured glasses. The FDA attack on flavored product and now with the letters to the major e-cigarette groups, and the recent American Heart Association policy statement (all working to remove safer alternatives to smoking) are political actions masquerading as public health concerns and being gleefully reiterated across the web without any seeming realization that the main effect of these actions will be to further entrench smoking as the dominant source of nicotine and to keep those mortality stats much higher than they need to be.

Today AOL News published a particularly incendiary report by writer and two time Pulitzer winner Andrew Schneider titled E-Cigs: Popular With Kids, but What’s in Them?. This jaw-droppingly shoddy example of “investigative reporting” would be gold to any journalism teacher looking for examples of bad reportage.

Of course what better way to lead but with the fear of children buying nicotine (in this case, eighth graders who hop off an Amtrak with an envelope stuffed with cash to buy e-cigarettes for their friends; the story is almost certainly fiction though it is not impossible that it could occur at least once given a population of over 300 million people). By the way, if the story is true, shouldn’t the real concern be about two 12 year old girls being alone on trains and in train stations far from home?

This sets the stage for saying that e-cigarettes are “enormously popular among kids” and that common vaping flavors are such kiddie sounding ones like fudge and cookie dough. I have seen some pretty odd available flavorings but I suspect those would mostly be used as gag gifts or novelty items.

Overall the impression is of a lawless land with unscrupulous salespersons selling drugs to children against the will of the people. Newsflash to this reporter and others unfamiliar with the e-cigarette world: the industry is more scrupulous than most in self policing these issues and essentially agrees with polls such as the cited one done by C.S.Mott Children’s Hospital showing that most adults were concerned about quality control and selling to minors though Schneider works hard to imply the opposite. Not that I have much use for polls when the pollsters make a point of reporting nonsense like “our poll results strongly indicate that many adults are worried about e-cigarettes leading kids to smoke tobacco.”

Worries are worries and facts are facts and though facts can lead to fears it does not work the other way around.

This article has really too much lunacy to fully address but one of my “high” points is the Canadians Ban E-cigs; Why Not U.S.?. This is one of those quite strange yet not uncommon arguments popular within Tobacco Control. For instance, the EU ban on snus is considered to constitute evidence of harm. You might as well say North Korea bans shorts in public, Why not U.S.? Or in the words of mothers everywhere: well if Johnny jumped off the bridge, would you?

We come to a part which I like to think years ago would never have seen the light of day. Schneider uses an unidentified source (who apparently kept changing his name) for detailed but unsubstantiated information about an industry when many above board reputable sources like CASAA exist. He tries to communicate with Matt Salmon who most of us know left the building some time ago and being the dogged Pulitzer winning investigative reporter he is, concludes this is a secretive industry.

Lest it be concluded that I have only contempt for journalists and journalism, I don’t. I think done well and responsibly, it can be a great and noble thing. I leave the last words to a journalist Carl Bernstein.

The lowest form of popular culture – lack of information, misinformation, disinformation, and a contempt for the truth or the reality of most people’s lives – has overrun real journalism. Today, ordinary Americans are being stuffed with garbage.

-Paul L. Bergen

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Comments

  • Treece  On September 16, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    Thanks for the sanity!

  • Michael J. McFadden  On September 16, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    So the writer would have us believe that two 12 year olds spent $184 on train tickets (the cheapest round-trip Amtrak rate for two 12 year olds unaccompanied by an adult) and undertook about five hours of train travel to “save some money” by buying e-cigs in Washington rather than Philadelphia? Let’s assume they’d found a fantastic deal where they were getting these things for half price. To break even on the train fares then they’d have to have bought at least 200 dollars or so worth of e-cigs that would have cost them 400 in Philly.

    And the writer would have us further believe that they would take the chance on five hours of traveling HOPING that they’d be able to get the e-cigs from a kiosk in Washington and wouldn’t be turned away, AND spend 400 or more dollars instead of buying a few packs of Marlboros for $5 a pack from one of the black-market dealers in the alleyways? And he even more further wants us to believe that the best representative he could find from “the industry” was someone who couldn’t even keep their own name straight for a single interview?

    We’re also asked to believe even more extra special with sprinkles on top furter that with “starter packs” selling for $140 that e-cigs are becoming “enormously popular” with 11 and 12 year old pre-teens? Or that people are in danger from chemicals listed in the article that have been found in amounts only existing in the nano- and pico-gram range? Do you know how big a picogram is? Here’s a hint: a single small grain of table salt weighs one hundred MILLION picograms. And 20 or 30 picograms of something is going to be harmful?

    The e-cig hysteria is just an outgrowth of the whole craziness of the antismoking movement with its wacky fascination with things like “Third Hand Smoke.” Sheeesh!

    Michael J. McFadden,
    Author of “Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains”

  • Elaine Keller  On September 16, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    On behalf of CASAA, thank you for the vote of confidence. I spent most of today composing an email to Schneider. I pointed out that he only told one side of the story and I offered to provide him with all the information required to write a follow-up article that exposes the disinformation campaign against Tobacco Harm Reduction products. I also offered to put him in touch with our legal advisor to clarify the fine points of law regarding the NJOY v. FDA court case, and with our medical director to answer any questions about health and safety of e-cigarettes. Ball’s in his court.

    • Brian  On September 17, 2010 at 1:08 pm

      Thank you for doing this.

      Unfortunately though, Mr. Schneider has no incentive to clarify or tell the other side of the story. He sells fear. His livelihood relies on raising red flags, no matter how unfounded they may be, in hopes that one day he may be proven right. If it turns out that he’s wrong, no big loss to him. But if a thousand people suddenly died from e-cigs, he could then say “I told you so”, hope for another Pulitzer, write a book, and sell it, most likely at a great profit. I’d imagine he was extremely disappointed to not be able to find a single person who’d been killed from e-cigarette use. Do you think he wrote An Air That Kills because he genuinely cared about those victims or the truth? He’s putting food on his table… by selling fear. Thats what they give pulitzers out for nowadays apparently.

  • Beverly  On September 17, 2010 at 12:09 am

    You state “Worries are worries and facts are facts…”
    I write “fiction is fiction.”

    The biggest problem with the e cigarette is that it normalizes smoking.

    Children and others see the products and think that smoking is glamorous, that everybody does it and that it is completely harmless – nothing could be further from the truth.
    Smoking should be portrayed as unhealthy and unattractive. People need to be reminded of the facts such as most smoking occurs among the uneducated and lower income populations. You don’t look cool when you smoke you look uneducated and poor.
    Smoking doesn’t heighten your sexuality it actually reduces it and contributes to impotence in men. Smoking doesn’t make you attractive it makes you wrinkled and pale and yellows your teeth.
    Facts are facts.
    However, people who use the e-cigarette can ignore the facts and continue to do everything that smoking entails except light a match, all the while sending out fictional messages to others and influencing those that are most vulnerable – children.
    The actual purpose of the electronic cigarette may be to provide a safer alternative to tobacco combustion but the effect is that is perpetuates smoking fiction.
    The only way to reduce the harm that tobacco inflicts on society is to make smoking so unattractive that people do not start.
    Canada and other countries have been successful in doing this. The smoking prevalence in Canada is now at an all time low of 18% nationally.

    • Dorothy Taylor, LPN  On September 17, 2010 at 7:32 am

      Beverly wrote: “People need to be reminded of the facts such as most smoking occurs among the uneducated and lower income populations. You don’t look cool when you smoke you look uneducated and poor.”

      No Beverly, you are very wrong there. At least half of all smokers are educated, middle to upper income adults. As a matter of fact, it is all of the educated adults who are switching to using electronic cigarettes. You really should be more careful about just regurgitating the disinformation and outright misinformation that is being bandied about those that are totally against the use of nicotine, not just against cigarette smokers. Oh and by the way, caffiene is also an addictive drug, just as addictive as nicotine is and also has many of the same effects as nicotine does on the body. So if you are a regular coffee, tea, soda, cocoa drinker, you might want to get help for your drug addiction as well.

    • Elaine Keller  On September 17, 2010 at 9:05 pm

      “The only way to reduce the harm that tobacco inflicts on society is to make smoking so unattractive that people do not start.”

      I hear you saying that you are writing off the lives of 46 million Americans as not worthy of being saved. Poor and uneducated people are just as much human beings and just as much beloved children of the Creator as rich and educated people. Poor and uneducated people have friends, parents, siblings, children, and grandchildren who care about them. Odds are that when you write off those 46 million lives, you are also writing off the health, wealth, and happiness of an additional 200 million or so Americans.

      Some of those poor and uneducated people make important contributions to society by performing the jobs that the wealthy and educated don’t want to do. The people who cart away your trash each week probably have less education than you and are in a lower income bracket. What would happen to society if all such people suddenly vanished?

      Nevertheless, Dorothy Taylor’s observation about education levels of the e-cigarette community is spot on. CASAA conducted a survey of e-cigarette consumers. Of 2,217 people who responded, 81.6% had at least some college education, 41.7% were college graduates, and 10.7% had advanced degress. Medical and health professionals made up 11.4% of this cohort.

      Next, consider the age groups of these 2,217 people: 97% are older than 22 years, 78.4% are older than 30, and 52.9% are over the age of 40. People begin dying of smoking-related diseases around age 35, so odds are good that approximately 2/3 of this cohort has already begun to experience some lung disease, cardiovascular disease, and cancers triggered by inhaling smoke.

      When asked what beneficial effects switching to an e-cigarette had on their health, 2,156 people answered and were allowed to select more than one reponse. The top five selections: 90.2% – better lung function and easier breathing, 78.@% – increased lung capacity, 67.7% – better stamina, 61.1% – coughing ceased completely, and 56.5 – sleeping better.

      It is my opinion that providing a way for smokers to switch to an alternative that improves their health and reduces their risk of developing smoking-related diseases is the most humane and most effective way to reduce the burden on society.

  • Treece  On September 17, 2010 at 1:57 am

    Well, he has a blog. It’s called the “Cold Truth,” and he’s none too happy about all the vitriol that came his way as a result of his AOL articles.

    “Some E-cig users don’t like the safety of their vapor-generating devices questioned”:
    http://www.coldtruth.com/2010/09/16/some-e-cig-users-dont-like-the-safety-of-their-vapor-generating-devices-questioned/

    Kudos to you, Elaine, for emailing him. I think I’ve lost the stomach for it.

    I’m going to go vape some fudge e-liquid out of my vapor-generating device now. (Yes, I vape fudge e-liquid sometimes. It’s delicious. I’m only 50!)

  • Thad Marney  On September 17, 2010 at 4:42 am

    @Beverly, you would be making a reasonable point if the denormalization of tobacco was actually helping to reduce the prevalence of smoking. 98% of people who quit smoking using FDA approved cessation methods resume smoking within 2 years and 46 Million Americans continue to smoke. We haven’t succeeded in reducing the number of smokers, we’ve just made them feel really guilty for not being able to quit.

    Absent the hazardous byproducts of combustion, the “risks” and effects of e-cigarettes are nearly identical to coffee or other caffeinated products. Is there any reason to vilify someone who chooses to continue using a smoke-free alternative tobacco product any more than we begrudge someone their morning cuppa?

    If you still feel it is important to dehumanize people who continue to smoke or use tobacco products, it is also helpful to understand that the differences between e-cigarette vapor and cigarette smoke are fundamental. E-cigarettes do not burn anything therefore they do not create any carbon monoxide or fire hazards, they also do not produce particulate matter (aka tar) to linger in a room and offend or put others at risk. E-cigs use an extremely minute amount of liquid (Most users report using 4ml or less per day) so the resulting vapor is at least 99.99% air and the visible fog is mostly water that condenses around the the glycol vapor.

    Yes, it looks a little like smoke–that is the point, after all, to create a reduced risk recreational alternative to smoking for people who might be unwilling or unable to quit smoking otherwise–but it doesn’t smell or linger like smoke because smoke is the result of the chemical reactions that occur when you burn tobacco, but vapor is simply the result of heating a liquid until it changes physical states. It is very literally the same difference between the risks of breathing smoke from a bonfire compared to the vapor from an electric tea kettle. Guess which is safer?

    It’s been said that the only safe cigarette is an unlit one…That’s pretty much what an electronic cigarette is! In fact in a recent study, Dr. Thomas Eissenberg showed that when people who had never used an e-cigarette took 10 puffs, they didn’t get any more nicotine than somebody puffing on an unlit cigarette. Of course, people who actually know how to use an e-cigarette properly will use their e-cig until they receive the nicotine their body craves, but even the novice users in this study reported a reduced desire to smoke, presumably because e-cigarettes address the behavioral aspect of smoking addiction and not just replacing the nicotine like FDA approved medical products.

    Nearly everyone seems to agree that e-cigarettes should not be sold to children, and that further testing should be done to determine the long term effects (if any) of e-cigarette use, and certainly some basic product safety regulations are in order…but all these concerns can be addressed by the FDA simply agreeing to reclassify electronic cigarettes as a tobacco product rather than trying to force it into a Drug/Device combination category that it does not truly fit in a misguided attempt to remove these potentially lifesaving products from the market.

    Instead of discouraging people from using e-cigarettes simply because it looks like an unhealthy activity, shouldn’t we be ENCOURAGING adult smokers to switch from smoking cigarettes–the single most preventable cause of premature deaths–to products that to date have not been linked to a single case of serious injury or death?? If you believe the CDC’s estimates that secondhand smoke kills 50,000 people annually, the use of smoke-free alternative tobacco products should be encouraged on that basis alone!

  • Dave  On September 17, 2010 at 8:40 am

    The articles we see concerning electronic cigarettes routinely contain opinionated and mis-informed data. The FDA test results are blatantly skewed and mis-represented. Electronic cigarettes are a proven method for replacing harmful components of cigarette smoke with a vapor mist containing nicotine. Ecig users typically receive their nicotine without all the tar and harmful components of tobacco smoke and the vapor exhaled has been tested and reported to contain only trace amounts of residual nicotine.

    In the five months that I have used electronic cigarettes I have reduced my tobacco intake from 40 cigarettes a day to less than 7. This reduction occurred in the first week and I’m discovering that I now forget to smoke my after meal cigarette! It’s amazing that electronic cigarettes have satisfied the craving for nicotine and also changed my habitual craving enough to allow me NOT to think about smoking. Quitting cold turkey, using nicotine gum, and medicinal FDA approved drugs all have quit rates of 7% or less. Studies have shown that users of electronic cigarettes have an 80% or better rate of transferring their habit completely to the Ecig.

    Electronic cigarettes are a viable replacement for tobacco. A large percentage of Ecig users transition themselves to lower and lower nicotine contents in their E-liquids and eventually reach the zero nicotine level. I agree that testing is welcomed by all Ecig users, but the blatant publishing of distorted and uninformed data about Ecigs is shameful. If you publish statistics and facts, please quote the source! If you can’t do that, you are just forwarding hearsay.

  • andrew logan  On September 17, 2010 at 9:23 am

    I have to agree with most of the above comments. Not smoking is obviously the best option, but condemning people to only be allowed to smoke real cigarettes when there is an alternative out there that works, is ludicrous. So ludicrous in fact that you really have to start considering the conspiracy theories, are the people that want ecigarettes banned truly worried about our health, or are they worried about the economy that is built around regular smoking, with governments, tobacco companies, and pharmaceutical companies all taking their cut.

  • Beverly  On September 17, 2010 at 10:21 am

    I never suggested that cigarettes be made illegal.

    The denormalization of cigarettes has been successful in Canada and in other countries to reduce the rate of smoking nationally to 18%. In my province it is about 14%.
    Clearly people are changing the way they think about cigarettes and smoking.
    It is a small minority of people who smoke where I live and within that minority, the most people who take up smoking are within the demographics of lower income and education.
    I did not make it up – those are the facts.
    http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hc-ps/tobac-tabac/research-recherche/stat/_ctums-esutc_2008/ann_summary-sommaire-eng.php
    Prevalence rates of smoking decline considerably as income and education level rises.
    Those are the facts – nobody has been vilified here. The majority of people in Canada, from all education and income levels, that do not take up smoking.
    It is simply not normal to smoke in most populations in Canada because most people do not do it.
    Nobody is being condemned to smoke cigarettes.
    “Instead of discouraging people from using e-cigarettes simply because it looks like an unhealthy activity, shouldn’t we be ENCOURAGING adult smokers to switch from smoking cigarettes–the single most preventable cause of premature deaths–to products that to date have not been linked to a single case of serious injury or death??”
    If you want a conspiracy theory here’s one to try on.
    Are the people who encourage the use of cigarettes really interested in people’s welfare or do the simply want a larger market for a legally addictive product?

  • Beverly  On September 17, 2010 at 10:24 am

    Slight correction that is important – I hit the submit button too soon.

    Are the people who encourage the use of e-cigarettes really interested in people’s welfare or do they simply want a larger market for their legally addictive product?

    • Paul  On September 17, 2010 at 10:39 am

      Hi Beverly,

      Thanks for joining in and bringing the other side into the discussion.

      You know I don’t think it matters at all what the motivations of the producers are; I think there are few health products that do not produce a profit for someone. The great thing is that the profit motive operates as an incentive for the creation and promotion of these safer alternatives.

      And secondly, who cares if people enjoy a safe enough smoke? If nicotine is enjoyable or as with some people actually makes their brain function better and if it is no more dangerous than a hundred other not perfectly safe things we do every day, then why not?

      The problem with cigarettes has always been the health effects and not the act of smoking. E-cigarettes have made very clear that distinction.

      • Beverly  On September 17, 2010 at 1:30 pm

        Who cares?
        I do! and any member of any society should care because addictions of any kind cost society a lot of money. The harmful consequences of addition are not limited to the addict.

        You see here is my main objection about the electronic cigarette:

        Taking a drink from a cup is normal – that substance may be water, coffee or it may be alcohol but in moderation none of those substances are harmful. Even if an addiction develops the addict substances still engages in the normal behaviour of bringing the cup to the lips and drinking.

        Holding a white cylinder between your fingers, raising it to your lips and taking an inhale is not normal.
        The whole purpose of the electronic cigarette is to normalize this behaviour. In fact many marketing messages about the e-cig state exactly that – ie you do not have to change anything and you can do it anywhere.

        You cannot recover from an addiction by not changing anything. And the biggest change has to take place in the addict’s way of thinking.
        An attitude adjustment is just part of recovery from any addiction.

      • Paul  On September 17, 2010 at 1:44 pm

        I know that others will be taking this up on some of the points but what exactly are the costs of addiction if there are no or few health costs?

        And BTW smoking is one of the oldest human traditions (you can say all sorts of bad things about it but in the context of human culture it is very normal just like getting inebriated, picking one’s nose or collecting more stuff than you need).

        The purpose of e-cigarettes is not to normalize smoking but to provide a safe source of nicotine.

        Finally, addiction is just a bad word to explain anything. It has little real meaning or should I say too many meanings to mean much at all. Best to keep the discussion to health.

      • Elaine Keller  On September 17, 2010 at 9:32 pm

        Let’s talk about addiction for a moment. Beverly, when was the last time you heard of someone being arrested for operating a motor vehicle while under the influcence of nicotine? Trick question. I know you will have to say “never,” because nicotine does not impair motor skills, judgement, visual memory and other capabilities required for safe operation of equipment or machinery. In fact, nicotine enhances all of these.

        Once you remove the devastating health effects of inhaling smoke, nicotine use does not cost society any money.

        However, forced nicotine abstinence does cost society in terms of money and in terms of human suffering. Elderly people have been evicted from their apartments because they smoke. In many cases, these were people in low-income housing who had nowhere else to go. People have been denied employment because they smoke and subsequently become a burden on society–perhaps turning to a life of crime to make ends meet.

        Why don’t they just quit smoking and avoid these serious negative consequences? Because the negative consequences of nicotine abstinence are intolerable for many people. Nicotine is one of the most effective anti-depressant and anti-anxiety treatments. Nicotine helps to control the symptoms of short-term memory losses, attention deficits, and more. Think of the irony of being threatened with job loss unless you quit smoking, obeying the mandate to stop smoking, and losing your job because the cognitive impairments triggered by nicotine abstinence make the quality and quantity of your work unacceptable.

        Schizophrenics smoke at a higher rate than other groups becaue nicoitne controls the horrendous side effects of their prescribed medications. Smoking bans at mental institutions are sheer torture for many patients.

        What if there were a way to help all these people? There is. Provide smoke-free alternative sources of nicotine. Everybody wins.

    • I agree  On September 24, 2010 at 10:45 pm

      Right on Beverly!

  • Michael J. McFadden  On September 17, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    Beverly, this is not meant as a barb, but your concentration on “normal” vs. “not normal” doesn’t seem to be quite… normal. :>

    On a more serious note however, I question your assertion that drinking or inhaling a Class A Carcinogen (highly volatile ethyl alcohol) is “not harmful”? Isn’t the entire legal concept of banning smoking based upon the danger to others regardless of ventilation because “there is no safe level of exposure” to such things?

    Aside from the “normal” vs. “not normal” component of your message, you seem to focus a lot on concerns about addiction. As someone else pointed out however both caffeine (Which is often advertised to children in candy and so-called “soft drinks” on television!) and alcohol are addictive (Alcohol is so addictive that people can die from sudden withdrawal: unheard of with nicotine!)

    Michael J. McFadden
    Author of “Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains”

    • Beverly  On September 17, 2010 at 8:27 pm

      @Michael – nothing you said was taken as a “barb”. I can take it. We are just having a discussion here that is all.

      I have never advocated banning smoking and that is the second time I have had to write this.

      There are many addictive substances that are legal and regulated – cigarettes, alcohol, and prescription drugs included.

      @ Paul – the costs of addiction are numerous. The body of evidence we have shows that in the majority of cases an addiction to a single substance does not occur in isolation of other dysfunction and even other addictions.

      I am going to have to challenge your assertion that the “purpose of e-cigarettes is not to normalize smoking but to provide a safe source of nicotine.”
      with:
      “The purpose of e-cigarettes is to make money.”

      If this was not the case, companies that make them would be giving them away or at least selling them at cost.
      I hardly think that is the case.
      While I am not against making money per se (hey I like the stuff) I do think that there is an ethical perspective to business. Obviously the people who market these products have convinced themselves they are doing a “good thing” with some of the very arguments that have been put forward here. If the purpose of e cigarettes was not to normalize smokign then why do marketers include that in their messages ie “You can do it anywhere anytime.”

      My ethical perspective is:
      Anything that normalizes smoking in a society is not a good thing and we have an obligation to each other and to future generations to create an environment that not only creates health but sustains the conditions necessary to create a better world for all humans.
      Promoting the “advantages” of the electronic cigarette does not do that.
      It is kind of like changing the oil in your car but not the filter. You have put in a lot of effort but accomplished very little.
      The “filter” in this case is how you think. E cigs do not require a change in thinking or even a change in behaviour. Marketing messages actually use this as an benefit of their product.
      “If you always do what you have always done you will always get what you have always got”.

      E cigarettes are not the solution a change in attitude is.

      And Michael – anytime you want to dissect my brain just contact me!

      • Beverly  On September 17, 2010 at 8:29 pm

        Oh I just read my own post – I sure hope a brain dissection is not painful?

      • andrew logan  On September 18, 2010 at 5:34 am

        “The purpose of e-cigarettes is to make money.”

        by this measure there is very little in this world that isn’t ‘just to make money’. Because you charge for something, it does not reduce it’s sole purpose to financial gain.

  • Michael J. McFadden  On September 17, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    Beverly, for thee m’lady I’ll guarantee the most tender of care…

    ;>
    Michael
    P.S. Heehee… the following is not directed at you, but was a post I made about a year ago to someone asking for more details on dissecting antismokers’ brains in the wake of someone else who’d made a crack about the size of my own brain… :> I think you’ll get a kick out of it though!

    ====

    Dissecting the brain of a true Antismokers is not easy. A microscope will not work, simply because the brains are too small. Same goes for a nanoscope, while a femtoscope merely shows a speck in the visual field.

    An attoscope allows one to determine that they do indeed have brains, and a yoctoscope shows they actually, despite rumors to the contrary, actually have some degree of physical mass and substance.

    For true dissecting work however, I’d recommend investing in a decent zeptoscope.

    Just don’t forget to wear a hazmat suit.

    :>
    MJM

  • Michael J. McFadden  On September 17, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    P.S. You’ll note that I made one error there… left out the damn picoscope cuz it was lost in my bellybutton lint!

  • Beverly  On September 18, 2010 at 10:41 am

    “Electronic cigarettes are a proven method for replacing harmful components of cigarette smoke with a vapor mist containing nicotine. Ecig users typically receive their nicotine without all the tar and harmful components of tobacco smoke and the vapor exhaled has been tested and reported to contain only trace amounts of residual nicotine.”

    I never said that wasn’t true.

    I never said poor and uneducated people were worth less than any other demographic segment of society – I simply said that demographically that segment makes up the majority of smokers.

    I never said that people who smoke are bad people.
    Just because you make a bad decision doesn’t make you a bad person.

    What I said was…..”preventing people from starting smoking is the best harm reduction method.”
    and….
    “Anything that normalizes smoking in a society is not a good thing and we have an obligation to each other and to future generations to create an environment that not only creates health but sustains the conditions necessary to create a better world for all humans.”

    Electronic cigarettes do not contribute to my philosophy so I am unable to support them as a harm reduction device because I think they do harm – and the harm is that they make people think that their addiction is harmless, and that they can “smoke” anywhere.

    @Michael – I think I may have to withdraw my offer to have my brain dissected – I need all of it!

    • andrew logan  On September 18, 2010 at 10:57 am

      .”preventing people from starting smoking is the best harm reduction method.”

      I agree with your statement but what about the people that have already started and have not successfully managed to give up. My mother has smoked for 50 years and has no intention of giving up, yet she does use an electronic cigarette, in fact, she has gone from 40 a day to a couple of normal cigarettes a week using it. Would you prefer that people like her did not have an alternative.

      • Beverly  On September 20, 2010 at 10:47 am

        @Andrew

        I am sure you re pleased that your mother’s decision to use a less harmful substance has resulted in a more optimistic future for her health.
        I happen to firmly believe that your mother and other smokers could give up up the nicotine habit but she has indicated that she does not want to. Perhaps she does not believe in her ability to do so? I do.

        I never said that I think the product should not be available. Just how and whether or not it should be regulated is something I am still pondering.
        What I said was I cannot and will not endorse its use.

        When my grandson sees your mother smoking an e-cigarette in the park or at the beach, in a restaurant or even in a shopping mall he has no way of knowing that this is a “safe” product in comparison to another one that looks just like it. So to him the two products are the same.
        On the other hand if my grandson were to see someone using other nicotine replacement products well – actually he wouldn’t even know they were being used would he?

      • andrew logan  On September 21, 2010 at 1:27 pm

        Beverley,

        ‘he has no way of knowing that this is a “safe” product in comparison to another one that looks just like it. So to him the two products are the same.’

        By your reasoning your grandson would not be able to distinguish between somebody drinking alcohol and somebody drinking water in a restaurant.

        Are you saying you would be ok with the ecigarettes that do not resemble actual cigarettes, or that you wouldn’t be happy with somebody using a asthma inhaler in public.

        I think everybody believes the industry needs to be regulated and tested, I too believe it, but I also don’t think it should fall into the hands of pharmaceutical companies, or regulated by politicians whose purses are lined by tobacco companies.

        I think you need to open your mind and philosophy to the chance that these products maybe a step on the road to the future you hope for. I have never seen or heard of anybody that started smoking an ecigarette that did not already smoke, I have heard of many people that have managed to overcome their nicotine addiction entirely by using these products.

      • andrew logan  On September 21, 2010 at 1:33 pm

        that should have read ‘should not fall into the hands…’

    • Elaine Keller  On September 20, 2010 at 1:18 pm

      Like Andrew’s mother (actually I do have a son named Andrew), I have no desire to stop using nicotine. The last time I did so, I became dreadfully ill. Those “temporary withdrawal symptoms” that are supposed to last a few days,or at most a few weeks, still had me in a dreadful forgetful, confused malaise after 6 months of “being good.” I later learned from researcher John Hughes that problems that persist beyond 6 WEEKS are unlikely to be due to withdrawal. A sizeable proportion of smokers are unconsiously self-medicating underlying conditions via nicotine intake.

      I tried getting all my underlying conditions diagnosed and treated, but the cognitive impariments seemed to stymie my doctors. Now, years later, as I watch my elderly mother slowly losing her mobility and her sanity to Lewy Body Disease, I understand what was going on in my brain physiologically during that hellish 6 months. I never did fully recover all of my pre-cessation ability to concentrate and remember things, which used to be remarkable.

      Lewy Body Disease (LBD) is a form of dementia related to Parkinson’s that is caused by alpha-synuclean protein deposits building up in nerve cells and in the brain. Build-up of Lewy Bodies in certain regions of the brain causes progressive dementia. The symptoms of LBD include memory loss, disorientation, and problems remembering, thinking, understanding, communicating, and controlling behavior. That’s just in the early stages. Things get worse in the later stages. “Over half of people with Lewy body dementia have complex, bizarre delusions. Instead of relieving these symptoms, antipsychotic drugs often make them and other symptoms worse or have other severe, sometimes life-threatening adverse effects.”

      http://www.merck.com/mmhe/sec06/ch083/ch083c.html

      I’m not suggesting that Andrew’s mother has LBD. Many singular conditions respond well to nicotine and worsen in the absence of nicotine, including depression, anxiety, attention deficit disorder, memory impairments, Crohn’s disease, fatigue, fibromyalgia, and other chronic pain disorders. Whether she realizes it consciously or not, Andrew’s mother may have symptoms of one or more of these that remain well-controlled in the presence of nicotine.

      “Nicotine in tobacco form accounts for millions of deaths each year from cancer, emphysema and heart disease. Yet, in certain neurologic and psychiatric conditions, nicotine can have useful therapeutic effects,” reported scientists at the inaugural conference of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco.

      “Nicotine has long been a useful tool for researchers interested in probing the nervous system. Although the health risks associated with its intake via tobacco products has tended to tarnish society’s view of nicotine, it is important to recognize that nicotine may have therapeutic potential with a number of disease states,” noted Ovid Pomerleau, Ph.D., Director of the Behavioral Medicine Program, University of Michigan and President of the SRNT.

      A company called Targacept has developed medications that target the nicotinic receptors for treatment of several different conditions. All of these conditions seem to flare up among those who stop using nicotine, and the symptoms disappear quite quickly when nicotine use is resumed. Just for fun, try doing a search on PubMed, pairing up “nicotine AND…” filling in with the name of a condition in the Targacept product pipeline. http://www.targacept.com/wt/page/pipeline

    • Elaine Keller  On September 21, 2010 at 9:08 am

      “Electronic cigarettes do not contribute to my philosophy so I am unable to support them as a harm reduction device because I think they do harm – and the harm is that they make people think that their addiction is harmless, and that they can ‘smoke’ anywhere.”

      Reading that makes me feel like Linda Blair’s character in one scene from “The Exorcist” where her head does a complete 360-degree rotation several times.

      I think I hear you saying: I can’t support the idea of people being permitted to use a tool that I don’t like–especially because doing so clearly improves their health and eliminates exposure to numerous toxins and carcinogens–because then the users won’t believe me when I insist that the tool is harmful to themselves and others.

      Isn’t that circular reasoning?

      • Beverly  On September 21, 2010 at 12:38 pm

        It is not circular reasoning but moral reasoning.
        Just because an act produces a desirable outcome does not make the act itself a good act.
        I expect I am using a different type of reasoning than you do.
        I am looking at which action itself would be the best action. I cannot support an action that perpetuates the myths about cigarette smoking as being attractive or harmless and these are the messages the marketers are using to sell the product.

        I want people to be healthier not less sick.

        And I never said that people should not be “supported to use a tool that I don’t like”. You can support that if you like. I will not. Believe it or not a lot of people do things I do not support.

        My position on the regulation and sale of the e-cigarette is not yet entirely complete as I examine the evidence.

        We are using different types of reasoning which of course leads to different conclusions.

        I was touched by your personal story Elaine and you may be surprised to know that mine is very similar.
        I have “felt lousy” my whole life and had the doctors stymied as well. I can relate to what you have said about cognitive problems – many emotional symptoms as well and lately it was obvious that I was on the road to a COPD diagnosis – imagine that!

        Over the last thirty years of seeking to improve my own health and paying a bevy of professionals to help me with that, I have never once been told that perhaps I had a nicotine deficiency.

        Food allergies, chemical imbalances, hormonal imbalances, spinal structural effects (bad fall at age 15) and a host of other reasons were discovered over the years. Sadly many of these conditions came about because I was “being good” and doing exactly what my doctors told me to do.

        You see most tools used by in medical practice are harmful in some way or another including drugs, x-rays, surgical techniques etc.
        If nicotine has many useful therapeutic effects then I am sure the drug companies will be all over that.

      • Elaine Keller  On September 21, 2010 at 1:02 pm

        Thank you, Beverly, for the empathy. No, I’m sure that you never have been told you have a nicotine deficiency. Nicotine is neither a nutrient nor a naturally occurring substance in the body. However, nicotine mimics the effects of acetylcholine (ACh) throughout the body, and ACh is a naturally-occurring substance. Although brain disorders can be caused by injury or strokes, most of them are caused by imbalances in neurotransmitters.

        And nicotine appears to provide a corrective action for some of these imbalances.

        Many of the diseases that we used to call “mental” or “behavioral” we now know have a basis in biochemistry. There is still a tendency, I think, for people to hold those who have a brain disorder responsible for healing themselves. The “crazy people” should be able to “control themselves” better, the reasoning goes.

        How many kids with true hyperactivity disorders were beaten for their misbehavior? And look how long we blamed those with stomach ulcers for being “too uptight” and not learning how to relax — when in reality the cause of their disorder was a bacterial infection!

        So I’m asking you to open yourself to the possiblity that the experience of feeling ill in the absence of nicoitne and experiencing symptom improvement in the presence of nicotine is not necessarily a moral failing. It just might have a biological basis.

      • Elaine Keller  On September 21, 2010 at 1:46 pm

        Different but related topic: “I cannot support an action that perpetuates the myths about cigarette smoking as being attractive or harmless and these are the messages the marketers are using to sell the product.”

        Since it is against the law for the marketers to tell the truth about the beneficial health effects, it looks as if the only way the companies are going to be permitted to advertise them is as recreational devices.

        The vast majority of people who have turned to e-cigarettes are under no illusions that inhaling real smoke is harmless. We smoked for many decades. Virtually all of us made quitting attempts, with 65% trying more than 4 times, and 21% trying more than 10 times! Most of us were looking for a way out. A little known fact is that the vast majority of us who switched away from smoking come to dislike the taste of tobacco smoke. This fact may explain why > 60% of us old folks also turn away from the imitation tobacco smoke flavors and switch to using more pleasant flavors.

        What if the marketers of electronic cigarettes were allowed to mount an intensive advertising campaign that pointed out all of the harmful elements in tobacco smoke that are not present in vapor? What if they were allowed to truthfully say that >90% of people who switch are reporting improvements in their lung health? What if they were allowed to say that a large percentage of smokers find these products to be an acceptable and enjoyable permanent replacement for smoking? Don’t you think such a campaign would have a huge impact on the smoking rates, and therefore on the rates of smoking-related diseases? It would have the dual benefit of discuouraging people from taking up tobacco cigarette smoking in the first place.

        But the e-cigarette companies are not permitted to say these things. They cannot claim that people who use them have a tendency to stop inhaling smoke. They cannot say that vapor is less physically harmful or even potentially less harmful than real smoke. What does that leave them?

  • Michael J. McFadden  On September 20, 2010 at 12:06 am

    Beverly wrote, “@Michael – I think I may have to withdraw my offer to have my brain dissected – I need all of it!”

    Naw, yer jes’ afeared o’ mah bellybutton lint!

    :>
    Michael

    • Beverly  On September 20, 2010 at 10:49 am

      You have bellybutton lint too?

  • Michael J. McFadden  On September 21, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    OK… apologies for the long post, but I’m making an 800 word argument here with multiple components that’s hard to shorten:

    Beverly et al, one thing you should be aware of is how your thinking about smoking and nicotine has been skewed by the “antismoking philosophy” over the past 20 years or so. While nicotine has an addictive component probably quite similar (though *perhaps* stronger) to caffeine, I believe that aspect of things has gotten disproportionately magnified in both the public and the medical consciousness due to the political desirability of doing so: The strong negative moral component attached to addiction that came from the worldview brought along by those growing up in the 1950s who’d seen the upsurge in heroin addiction and its associated crime and overdose deaths. Playing the “addiction card” opened the path to an ideal and strong attack on smoking.

    Overemphasizing smoking/nicotine as an addiction allowed for both the building of a strongly negative view of smokers as “weak addicts,” allowed for the positive push toward quitting as an example of one’s “strength” in “overcoming a serious addiction,” and simultaneously played the “save the children” card as tobacco companies could be villainized as addicting innocent children. And, of course, it opened the door for eventual FDA regulation.

    Did tobacco companies recognize the addictive nature of nicotine? Of course they did: as did everyone else for hundreds of years. The difference lay in the resurgence of the strong moral component of addiction politics that had not been heavily played since Prohibition and Hitler’s antismoking campaign.

    Beverly, I think you can see the strength of that paradigm in your own arguments: you’ve moved from a focus on the harmfulness of smoking to a main concern about the addictiveness of nicotine. But if simply physical nicotine addiction were at the true core of how and why people use it then we’d see a wider acceptance and use of Big Pharma’s NicoGummyPatchyProducts. In fact however we’ve seen those products be fairly dismal failures for several reasons:

    1) The greed of Big Pharma makes Big Tobacco pale by comparison. They’re selling 50 cents worth of gum for 50 dollars (rough parity with cigarettes) and walking away with a 99% profit margin. Big T by comparison is probably making profits in the low single digits as the enormous bulk of the profit from smoking goes to the government in taxes.

    2) Smokers smoke for two other strong reasons besides simply addiction: A) They enjoy it in numerous ways — taste, playing with smoke, taking a break, hand-to-mouth stuff, social sharing plusses, pschological “fit in with the milieu” drives, etc. and B) Because the intermittent brief stimulations/relaxations afforded by smoking are *enjoyable*! If there were no health/social/monetary detriments/concerns to the act we’d see far greater numbers of smokers as many people would probably feel it added to the overall quality/happiness of their lives. When people give up smoking, even if they satisfy their “nicotine addiction” with stuff like patches, they are giving up those numerous small “happiness rewards” they are accustomed to giving themselves every day through smoking. So of course they become depressed: their lives are not as much “fun” in this way as they had been.

    Sooooo…. what happens if the positive components of using nicotine in small, virtually (or entirely?) harmless bits during the day at a cheap economic level becomes possible? That’s a lot of what the e-cigarette seems to do and that’s why Big Tobacco, the Government, and the “Moralists” (one of the categories of Antismokers I examined in Brains) are all against it. Government’s opposition will disappear if it is able to control and tax the e-cigs at equal profit (which it can get away with if it succeeds in picturing them as both harmful and evilly addictive) and if it can placate Big Pharma by steering at least some of the profits to their lobby, and Big Tobacco’s opposition will lessen if it can push the FDA into certifying it as the only “safe” producer of nicotine for the e-cigs.

    Meanwhile though, by pushing the “addiction card” Beverly and others are simply playing into their hands. Beverly, you want to “withhold judgment” on e-cigs. Tell me though, do you seriously, after some real thought, feel that they are, or even *could be*, as harmful as smoking cigarettes are supposed to be? And do you *really* think that “children” are going to be attracted to smoking by laying out $20 to $100 for e-cigs when they can get packs of REAL cigarettes from the tax-driven street-corner black market for $5 or less?

    Or are your views being driven by an overly-exaggerated focus on the “addictive nicotine” paradigm that’s been pumped into all of us through thousands of TV ads and sound bites over the last 30 years of “Tobacco Control” spending?

    Michael J. McFadden
    Author of “Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains”

  • Beverly  On September 22, 2010 at 10:07 am

    ” And do you *really* think that “children” are going to be attracted to smoking by laying out $20 to $100 for e-cigs when they can get packs of REAL cigarettes from the tax-driven street-corner black market for $5 or less?”

    Thank you for supporting my argument.
    YES This is precisely my concern. If young people see cigarette smoking as enjoyable and socially rewarding then they are likely to want to try it and when they go to purchase it will defintely be a tobacco product.
    After all, the evidence shows that people start smoking because of psychosocial reasons like wanting to fit in, wanting to look cool, wanting to engage in activity that everybody else is doing.
    Nobody starts smoking because they enjoy it, how could they enjoy it if they have never done it! However, if it looks enjoyable because others are doing it, that is a very strong influence.
    “Or are your views being driven by an overly-exaggerated focus on the “addictive nicotine” paradigm that’s been pumped into all of us through thousands of TV ads and sound bites over the last 30 years of “Tobacco Control” spending?”

    I find it interesting for you to assume that only people who do not support the use of the electronic cigarette are overly influenced by propaganda and are unable to make an informed decision, but proponents of the electronic cigarettes are all advanced critical thinkers who only make decisions about the value of this product based on evidence? Come on……
    The fact that we come to different conclusions is not reflective of the quality of thought or the presence or absence of evidence, but is more likely based on the type of reasoning used to come to the decision about whether or not this product is a good thing.

    I believe I have articulated the type of reasoning that I have used in my ethical philosophy in a previous post.

    Currently I am not basing my judgement based on whether or not people have good outcomes by using the product.

    “So I’m asking you to open yourself to the possibility that the experience of feeling ill in the absence of nicotine and experiencing symptom improvement in the presence of nicotine is not necessarily a moral failing. It just might have a biological basis.”

    Not only am I not closed to that possibility but I embrace it. I am fully aware of the biology of the brain, neuro-transmitters and addictions and how that affects human behaviour as this forms a large part of the knowledge base of my profession.

    I never said that smokers were bad people or that people who have difficulty quitting have failed morally.

  • Michael J. McFadden  On September 25, 2010 at 2:49 am

    The comment “tree” presentation here makes things a bit difficult, but let’s see what I can do..

    Bev, you wrote, “Children and others see the products and think that smoking is glamorous, that everybody does it and that it is completely harmless – nothing could be further from the truth.”

    How would you feel if “the children” felt that smoking e-cigarettes was harmless, enjoyable, or even glamorous, and if all “the children” who *MIGHT* have been attracted to smoking decided to “vape” e-cigs instead while subracting their money out of the tax stream and doubling your income tax? (which, realistically, is about what it would boil down to.)

    Would you still be against it? And, if not, would it be because of your increased financial burden, or because you didn’t like seening them enjoying their life while doing such a thing?

    – MJM
    Smoking should

    • Beverly  On September 25, 2010 at 12:11 pm

      If the situation happened as you described, and children began “vaping” instead of “smoking”, I would still neither support nor endorse the product.

      The argument that governments somehow “enjoy” the money made from the sale of cigarettes is ludicrous.

      When you add up the total costs (direct and indirect) of tobacco use in a society and the revenue that governments get from taxing the product it is always a negative number. If tobacco were taxed heavily enough to match what the actual costs in a society are, nobody could ever afford to buy it.

      This fact in itself should be motivation for any country to reduce the incidence of smoking in their populations.

      Anybody who thinks that tobacco is one of the enjoyable things in their life needs to get a life not more tobacco. I would prefer it if children found other ways to enjoy life – there are plenty!’
      However, as long the message is out there that using a specific product brings enjoyment and glamor to your life then some people might think that they could improve their life by purchasing and using that product. This is called marketing!
      This message is conveyed both overtly through advertising and covertly through social trends.
      Using e cigarettes perpetuates the myth that cigarettes (of any kind)add something to your life. The truth is that they take a great deal away from your life.

      The body of evidence used in the field of health psychology informs us that decision making about health matters is seldom based on evidence. Attitudes, values and beliefs are the forces that are most influential in determining how people make decisions about health matters.

      Portraying the cigarette as desirable and enjoyable does not benefit a society at all.

  • Michael J. McFadden  On September 25, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    Beverly, you wrote, “If the situation happened as you described, and children began “vaping” instead of “smoking”, I would still neither support nor endorse the product.”
     
    OK…  you’ve surprised me.  If the Antismokers have been telling the truth about smoking, then by not supporting a universal switch to e-cigs you’d be condemning untold millions of children to early deaths.  Not the position I would have expected and I’ll revisit this with a question at the end. Do you feel the same way about the NicoGummyPatchyProducts that are so heavily pushed?
     
    Your next statements about taxes are even more questionable. I thought I had posted this before but it might have been to another thread.  Please read my “Taxes, Social Costs, and the MSA” at:
     
    http://pasan.thetruthisalie.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=7
     
    and remember that, at least in the US, taxes on cigarettes have roughly doubled or trebled since that was written.   If you have any specific substantive criticisms of anything you find there please come back and expose them here for everyone to see.  I believe I’ve shown that smokers FAR more than “pay their own share” and actually subsidize nonsmokers.  I believe I made a sound case but I’m always open to hearing specific criticisms and contradictions. Do you have any?
     
    You say that “Anybody who thinks that tobacco is one of the enjoyable things in their life needs to get a life”   Beverly, I’d been assuming in this discussion that you were not a smoker?  Are you?  If not, are you a “reformed smoker”?    People’s decisions about enjoyment tend to be very individually determined and the attitude expressed in your statement doesn’t seem to recognize that.  Do you have personal experience or evidence to back up your statement?
     
    You’re correct about marketing: In some ways in the ideal world governments might prohibit ALL advertising of products with negative repercussions. No ads for alcohol, fast food, cigarettes, cars, motorcycles, etc.  It might even be a good idea to ban condom ads and preach abstinence instead.  I don’t think I’d want that sort of government control in my world though.  Would you?
     
    You categorically say that e-cigs cannot “add something to your life.”   To say something like that implies you’ve had personal experience with them or have studies to back that up.  Can you expand?
     
    To respond to your last point, “Portraying the cigarette as desirable and enjoyable does not benefit a society at all.”  I have to assume that, given the rest of your writing and the subject of this thread, you are speaking of e-cigs.  To say that switching people over from a product that supposedly kills 400,000 Americans a year to a product that might very well kill ZERO Americans a year “does not benefit a society at all” requires some real justification.  Can you provide it?

    – MJM

    • andrew logan  On September 26, 2010 at 6:10 am

      The same goes for the UK, in fact our National Health Service could not exist without smokers. Smoking related diseases cost the health service £2.7 billion, but tax revenue from smoking exceeds £9 billion. In fact if it were not for peoples bad habits like smoking and drinking, most of the free and government subsidised stuff, that encourages or allows people (like Belverley) to live a healthier life style, would not be possible. Society has accepted that if we want to do bad things then it is acceptable to be taxed for it, to benefit the whole of society.

      If the government could figure out a way to tax people using electronics cigarette financially the rewards would be astronomical – all the same input in revenue and a lot less output in health care. The governments dilemma is, how do we tax people for attempting to be healthier in a way that the public will see as acceptable.

    • Beverly  On September 26, 2010 at 10:56 am

      Here is the argument I think you are making in the article I read:

      “Since the amount of money collected through taxation more than equals the amount of money needed for the direct health care costs of the individual smoker then smoking as a public health issue should be “left alone”. Instead we should be thanking the smoking public for their contribution to the tax coffers because it relieves some of that tax burden from me.”

      This is precisely the type of faulty thinking that smokers love to embrace because it relieves them temporarily from feelings of guilt and suggests there may be some other “good” that can come from their actions. I other words it plays to the emotional underpinnings of the smoker’s denial about the addiction.

      Once again your argument suggests that a favourable outcome is all that is needed in order to inform a personal choice. I suggest that we need to look beyond outcomes and also consider things like duties and obligations and how those might be prioritized.

      Direct costs of tobacco use in an individual may not equal the amount of money collected through taxation from tobacco products, however, direct costs do not reflect the true costs in the society.

      Indirect costs would also have to be take into consideration including the health care costs of treating other people (not smokers) such as children and it would include things such as loss of productivity from taking smoke breaks, absences from work due to illness, damage from fires and or accidents etc.
      However, when the CDC (US) did such an estimation there was substantial criticism of how those figures were arrived at in the article link you posted so I am not going to present them here again.

      ++++++++++++++++++++++++
      Just a few things as an aside about that article:

      What is wrong with “protecting the children” I think that is a great and noble goal that benefits all of society.

      http://ajph.aphapublications.org/cgi/reprint/87/9/1519.pdf

      The way I read this graph the smoking rates among teens are not as “high as they ever were” – and have in fact come down (in Canada at least).

      And this research (1997)
      http://ajph.aphapublications.org/cgi/reprint/87/9/1519.pdf
      suggests that smoking bans and increased pricing (together) does reduce smoking incidence.

      +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

      So here I what I have got from this entire discussion so far…..

      Instead of looking for evidence to make an informed choice we are all making a choice and then looking for evidence to support it.

      However, no one here has indicated or even given any evidence that tobacco smoking is not harmless. That seems to be something we agree on (imagine that) and the evidence surely supports that. I mean would there be a forum called Tobacco Harm Reduction if tobacco was harmless?

      So it is at this point that the ideas diverge and we all take different views on how a society should proceed to reduce the harm caused by tobacco use.

      Many here have given evidence that the electronic cigarette is a product that will do that. Because some of the evidence seems to support its safety and even some favourable outcomes in reducing tobacco use the argument is that this product should be legal and available to those who want it.
      Again an argument that because the outcome might be favourable then the action of making this product available and promoting its use among smokers is a good action.

      “People’s decisions about enjoyment tend to be very individually determined and the attitude expressed in your statement doesn’t seem to recognize that.”

      Yes it does. If a person has individually determined that this is the most enjoyable thing in their life – then I have to wonder what kind of a life does that person actually have? Why would a person would set their standards of enjoyment so low?

      “You categorically say that e-cigs cannot “add something to your life.” To say something like that implies you’ve had personal experience with them or have studies to back that up. Can you expand?”

      Expanding as requested………

      Any kind of addiction takes away your ability to control your own life. Even if you enjoy your addiction you still have lost some control of your life. It doesn’t matter whether you are using the e-cig or burning a tobacco cigarette you still have to make sure you have an adequate supply of the substance.
      This requires that you direct some of your resources to obtaining and using the substance because you need it. The substance is in control of you and not the other way around.

      Playing the “enjoyment card” is a common form of denial used in all addictions. It is much easier to accept substance use because you “enjoy it” rather than to admit you are controlled by it. All humans rationalize their own actions, especially when they are concerned that those actions may have been less than stellar. When people are controlled by substances they do this particularly well. This behaviour is one of the 4 the benchmarks of addiction.
      (This is not a value judgment I am not saying addicts of any kind are weak, morally corrupt, or deserve a bad life.)

      “Portraying the cigarette as desirable and enjoyable does not benefit a society at all.”

      Yes when I refer to “the cigarette” I am referring to anything that looks like a cigarette, e- cigs, candy imitations and other other cigarette imitators included.

      There is a reason after all, that the product that sparked this entire discussion is called an electronic “cigarette” and not an “Electronic nicotine delivery device” or an “Electronic Hookah”.
      The reason for the design and the name is to meet the emotional needs of the smoker to have a cigarette, nicotine delivery not withstanding. There are afterall, many other ways to deliver nicotine to those who must have it.

      At this point I will be leaving the discussion and a great discussion it was too!!

      My caretaking responsibilities have escalated in the last two weeks and so I making my parents a priority in my life. Since it looks like my father is approaching the end of his natural life I will be spending as much time with him as I can in the upcoming weeks and of course supporting my mother through this difficult transition.

      Famous quote by a famous smoker Better Davis….
      “Getting old is not for sissies.”

      Not so famous quote from not so famous me:
      “Caretaking ain’t for sissies either!”

  • Michael J. McFadden  On September 26, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Beverly, thank you for a thoughtful response that makes a real effort to address some of what I brought up. We still have a fair amount of disagreement but I think it lies in fairly “unresolvable” territory, at least within the bounds of the time we’d want to put into trashing it out here.

    Very sorry to hear about your father: I know two other people who are going through or have just gone through a similar stage with parents and I know it’s very difficult. I wish you and your father well with it. Two similar quotes for you:

    1) From a nurse “Ain’t NONE of us getting out of this alive in the end!”

    and

    2) From my grandmother when I was about 10 years old: “Michael, don’t ever get old.” Heh… she didn’t go into any detail as to the alternatives unfortunately!

    🙂
    Michael

  • Elaine Keller  On October 1, 2010 at 9:10 am

    When you say “continue to do everything that smoking entails except light a match,” aren’t you ignoring some of the most important things that we are not continuing to do? We are no longer inhaling the consituents of smoke that cause smoking-related diseases. We are no longer creating side-stream smoke. We have reduced our odds of starting a fire. We no longer smell bad. We no longer leave behind ashes and butts.

    If you are worried about your children being influenced by seeing people smoking, or doing something that only looks like smoking, do your job as a parent. I smoked for 45 years, but I taught my children well. Neither of them and none of my 7 grandchildren smoke. If a smoker can make sure his or her children don’t take up smoking, why is that so difficult for a non-smoker?

  • Michael J. McFadden  On October 1, 2010 at 11:56 am

    Elaine makes a good point. “continue to do everything that smoking entails except light a match,”

    What exactly is “everything that smoking entails” that’s bad? Holding a white cylinder in one’s hand? Making little clouds of harmless mist in the air? Enjoying sometimes a “drug” like caffeine?

    Is this equivalent to serial killing or something?

    😕
    MJM

  • mikedd  On October 11, 2010 at 9:53 am

    Any kind of addiction takes away your ability to control your own life. Even if you enjoy your addiction you still have lost some control of your life. It doesn’t matter whether you are using the electronic cigarette or burning a tobacco cigarette you still have to make sure you have an adequate supply of the substance.
    This requires that you direct some of your resources to obtaining and using the substance because you need it. The substance is in control of you and not the other way around.

    • andrew logan  On October 11, 2010 at 10:12 am

      I don’t think anybody is saying that addiction is good, only that if you have to be addicted to nicotine this is better than obtaining it from cigarettes.

      In an ideal world nobody would smoke or do anything bad, however if it wasn’t smoking, drinking or drug taking it would be something else, it’s just human nature, it always has been, and to think it will ever change is naive… for all the people that want to live without doing harm to themselves, there will always be those that are attracted to these sort of things. I also, personally, don’t want other people making these decisions for me, I want the option to make my own informed choice, and not be told whats good for me by somebody that has no idea of who I am or what I want.

  • Michael J. McFadden  On October 11, 2010 at 10:21 am

    Mikedd, and exactly the same thing could be said about all the people who are “addicted” to caffeine, or chocolate, or even to such things as running, shopping, or video gaming. I believe they’ve all been shown to cause the body to release similar types of “feel good” endorphin type chemicals and create certain types of brain wave patterns. And I believe they’ve all been shown to be “addictive” for certain individuals who will “direct some of their resources to obtaining and using” the substance or experience or activity and who will feel various pangs of “withdrawal” if forced to go without.

    Yet your posting seems to indicate that you feel nicotine is somehow evil in a moral or magical sense and that its use for enjoyment indicates a special “badness” of some kind.

    I think Andrew has the right idea.

    – MJM

  • HimuRa Kenshin  On October 27, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    nice info u got here … keep it up =D

  • Maelboro  On November 19, 2010 at 1:44 am

    The e cigarette community as a whole has been losing credibility from the outset. A pharmacist invented the device with good intention after he lost his father to lung cancer and granted, it was a good, truly novel idea and invention. But then a thief came along getting the notion he has the right to cash in on what never belonged to him, even tried to patent it! All which was overturned in the courts in China. The greed didn’t stop there. Even more thieves latched on to the designs thieves created, trying to turn a profit for themselves. A case of thieves stealing from thieves, hoping to turn a fast buck using cheap labor and cheap chems, producing toxic e cigs to peddle on the black market for big profits. E cigarette users are their own best witnesses talking about the knock offs and oh the sordid tales they tell. So who pays? The American consumer is the victim of your fraud and greed. You just don’t get it, do you? The e cigarette community no longer has the reputation of being about “medicine” or “science” or “saving lives”. They’ve became known as a conundrum of shady profiteers and low life drug dealing merchants operating in the darkest hovels of an unregulated black market. Suddenly, everyone is making e cigarettes and peddling associated products. Somehow, diethylene glycol got in electronic cigarettes? Who should be surprised?! That’s all I know. Diethylene glycol got into e-cigarettes and it wasn’t a conspiracy of the FDA as you liars have tried to imply. It’s that the e-cigarette industry has became that depraved in its love of money. You need to wake up and get in the loop. The e-cigarette industry is no longer about medical science and I’ll be overjoyed to see the FDA put an end to your fraud and theft.

    • Andrew Logan  On November 19, 2010 at 2:02 am

      Jeez.. it sounds like an ecigarette trader ran off with your wife or something. You have obiviously had a bad experience with ecigarettes, and yes there are plenty of cheap and unreputable companies out there, but banning them will only allow the thieves, as you put it, a stronger hold. The industry needs to be regulated and controled, rather than banned, and the bad traders and products weeded out… you’re solution helps no one, but judging by the tone of your comment you’re not worried about that.

    • Kate  On November 19, 2010 at 7:10 am

      Medical cessation products are far more dangerous than ecigs, even ones that are not being subjected to enforcement of commercial consumer protection regulations: http://vapersnetwork.org/statistics

      You appear to have a problem with the nature of capitalism, free market trading and informed consumer choice.

      Ecigs are not medical products, have never been approved medical products in spite of unapproved cessation claims which bring them into the captured medical nicotine monopoly. They have proven very effective to many users for ‘smoking pleasure’ – recreational use and they only need to be traded safely and honestly for that purpose unless a trader wants to sell them as approved NRT.

      Anyone selling nicotine for cessation should rightly fulfil the requirements of medical regulation but nicotine actually does not treat nicotine addiction. Real life cessation results show that NRT is less effective than cold turkey. Placebo studies suggest otherwise but placebo is not cold turkey and nobody in real life quits with placebo.

      In the UK, ecigs are required to be safe and any that present a hazard to consumers are removed from the market. So far, in seven years of availability and enforcement, one product has been withdrawn and that was for incorrect packaging.

      If you are interested in toxicology there are a lot of studies here, including ones by UK trading standards departments: http://vapersnetwork.org/toxicology

      The finding of approximately 1% diethylene glycol in one cartridge once is insignificant in health terms although it does beg the question of why consumer safety regulations are not being enforced in the US and the assumption is allowed that they are unregulated and therefore illegal and unsafe.

      The FDA medicalised smokeless cigarettes in 1987 and killed the market by making them unprofitable. Doing the same thing now with ecigs will simply make sure that users must use a genuinely unregulated black market. It will also ensure that many smokers who would have swapped to a less harmful recreational product carry on smoking, ignorant of the loss of opportunity to reduce risk.

      That’s how we know that the tobacco control industry is not interested in health or relative risk. It makes sure there is a captured market of smokers using a product with high risk. Stigma and ineffective quit products sustain an abusive cycle of quit and fail. Anyone concerned with public health and human rights knows that there is no valid reason to destroy and misrepresent all the effective alternatives to smoke.

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