greetings from Vapefest Philadelphia

by Carl V Phillips

This is not a live-blogging kind of a blog, but I thought I would do a few over the next week or two.  Right now I am at Vapefest (the e-cigarette aficionados gathering) — quite an interesting experience.  This is not the scientific, public health, or even harm reduction side of the low-risk nicotine issue.  Not, mind you, that there is no interest in those.  This place is thick with knowledge about all of those topics (and with sweet smelling vapor).

But there is something totally different about this compared even to harm reduction meetings.  I am intrigued by the hobbyist aspect of the whole enterprise.  There is an amazing collection of variant devices for vaping and an amazing knowledge base about how to make them and the “juice”.   I still fear for the current smokers who have never heard of vaping, or have been convinced by disinformation from the FDA and others that it is not a sensible alternative to smoking.  I still worry about quality control of mass-produced e-cigarettes and, honestly, people with inadequate crafting skill messing around with nicotine solutions to make their own e-cigarette liquid.  (I say this as someone whose handiwork skills are such that I very proud of myself for successfully replacing his burned out car headlight on the way here.)

But I am increasingly not worried about the fear that sometimes exists that dedicated vapers will return to smoking when bans or restrictions are imposed.  Further restrictions, bans, or lies regarding e-cigarettes will undoubtedly kill some would-be switchers, who might have picked up a simple e-cigarette product at a mall kiosk, but will instead die from smoking.  But no one is going to stop the people that I have met here.  Banning this would be far more difficult than banning cannabis smoking, and we know how well that works.

Jonathan Foulds — who I had not realized had abandoned the swamps of Jersey for the greener pastures of rural PA — was here collecting survey data, which I would venture to say will show, once again, that e-cigarettes are an effective method of stopping smoking.  (Can we please stop differentiating between “smoking cessation” and “substituting for smoking”.  There is no difference in that distinction.)  I find it intriguing that Pennsylvania could emerge as the center of center of such research.

I find it quite gratifying to meet people who know me well, from our research and writing on THR, but who I normally never have a chance to meet.  What we do can get pretty lonely (post comments!!!), and even though we know you are out there, it means a lot to have a few conversations.

That’s it for my first venture in live blogging.  I will continue it tomorrow.

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  • Elaine Keller  On March 27, 2011 at 9:30 am

    I’ll be very interested in reading the results of Jonathan Fould’s work.

  • Greg C  On March 27, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    Wonderful to meet you yesterday Carl.

    I was amazed at how many gigantic mods were being carried around.

  • cigarbabe  On March 28, 2011 at 12:28 am

    I saw you for a hot minute by yourself but when I tried to catch your attention, you were once again busy!
    Next time you’re in Boston…..give me a buzz.

  • Penny Zeilman  On March 29, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    Wish I could have been there. I am in hopes that a similar gathering can be organized here in the south soon.

  • warbdan  On April 2, 2011 at 7:36 am

    I wish I could’ve met all you wonderful people at Vapefest. Work always gets in the way, lol. I’ll be looking forward to updates.

  • Elaine Keller  On April 2, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    Carl said: Can we please stop differentiating between “smoking cessation” and “substituting for smoking”.

    No, we can’t. The antis are confusing the sitution by using the term “smoking cessation” when what they mean is “nicotine cessation.” We are forced to be meticulously precise to defend against FDA accusations that e-cigarettes are intended to be used for medical purposes. When the vendors say “E-cigarettes can help you stop smoking,” the FDA chooses to interpret that as “E-cigarettes can help you overcome your addiction to nicotine.”

  • Ian Katz  On April 3, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    Dear Dr. Phillips,

    I am a 30 year smoker no more. I have switched from cigarettes to e-cigs and have been smoke free for 4 weeks now. As you know Health Canada has put a very stringent ban on nicotine e-juice pending research. I was wondering if you have done research on quality control and emissions of the e-cig? and if you have if you have written a paper on it. I find it to be more of a political ban then a health one. There are a group of us that are going to try and get a team of lawyers pro bono to fight Health Canada on the ban of the sale of nicotine liquid but would like to go into a lawyers office fully prepared with research papers.

    If you would be able to help us out that would be greatly appreciated. I would hate having to go back to traditional cigarettes because Health Canada is more interested in the tax dollars tobacco generates then the health of its citizens. In research that I have researched shows the patch, nicorette inhalor, lozenges and pills have a 90% failure rate, Big Pharma wants us to continue to fail so we keep buying the product to keep putting more money in their pockets. I for one have had enough and would like to do everything in my power to make e-juice available to anyone who wants it.

    Thank you very much for you time and hope to hear back from you soon

    Ian Katz
    iankatz at bell dot net

  • AE  On July 7, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    Ecigs are not intended to be smoking cessasion devices and I think that in most cases, smokers just use them where they can’t regularly smoke, if it’s cold oustide, etc.

  • Paul Westphalen  On August 2, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    In my experience the use of E-Cigarettes is not way to quit smoking but a safer alternative. After using them for a while, I don’t want anything to do with regular cigarettes. They are so satisfying I feel there is no pressing reason to quit using them. As far a mixing E-Liquid, I agree there may be a problem with what others are using to produce it. Some might add other ingredients that you are not aware of. This is one of the main reason I have learned to mix my own.

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