The deadly war on e-cigarettes

Cigarettes continue to kill a half million Americans every year while holding 100 fold that number in addiction s deadly grasp. Yet a perverse crusade has spread like a contagion across the nation to ban or restrict access to electronic cigarettes (e cigs), which have harmed no one and allowed many to quit smoking.

Now that anti science fervor has spread to the state Legislature, where three separate bills would combine to condemn desperate addicted smokers to lingering death.

It s a bizarre through the looking glass situation banning e cigs even as cigarettes, the most lethal nicotine delivery system, are marketed as they ve been for decades.

Shortly after the Food and Drug Administration got authority over tobacco products in 2009, the agency decided that e cigs were in fact unapproved cessation medication and moved to ban them, going so far as to intercept imports from China. Legal action by several e cig marketers resulted in a slapdown from a federal judge, who agreed with the companies that e cigs were not medicinals and forbade the FDA from barring their entry.

Since then, official statements from all the federal public health agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control, have uniformly warned desperate smokers not to even try e cigs to help them quit.

The FDA just announced rules that, while overly restrictive (e.g., they don t let companies state the clear truth that e cigs are much safer than regular cigarettes), won t go far enough for the zealots. So you can expect a continued push in the Legislature for a total or partial ban despite the facts.

Most smokers want to quit, and over half try each year. They mostly fail, however The FDA approved cessation aids succeed about once in 10 tries, barely better than quitting cold turkey.

Millions of ex smokers have figured this out, despite the official warnings E cig sales are skyrocketing while cigarettes are in historic declines. These ex smokers have become vapers instead of smoking, they are vaping e cigs.

Why do e cigs help smokers quit when the patches, gums and drugs fail? A combination of factors The nicotine dose is sufficient to satisfy that powerful craving, and use of the e cig reflects the rituals of smoking the hand to mouth motions, the glowing LED tip and the inhaled and exhaled plume or mist. Many also prefer flavored vapes.

None of these factors are to be found in the approved products, which are (by the way) much more expensive than e cigs.

Another attraction for smokers is the relatively low cost of e cigs, compared to cigarettes (and compared to the nicotine patches so beloved of the FDA and other federal agencies).

But one New York bill would institute an exorbitant tax on e cigs, which have previously not been targeted with tobacco like excise taxes. The tax would actually make e cigs as expensive as the real, deadly cigarettes. This seems like the opposite of a public health measure to me.

Moreover, their anticipated revenue windfall will not materialize, as vapers will simply get their e cigs via the Internet or from out of state.

One of the most bogus concerns is that e cigs will be a gateway to nicotine addiction and smoking. The data suggest just the opposite Teen smoking rates have fallen significantly in recent years, even as e cig use has soared.

Banning vaping as though it was smoking due to second hand vapor is ridiculous on its face Vapor is mostly water, and the chemicals in it are in such low concentrations (as confirmed in academic analysis) so as not to be a threat to anyone.

The politicians seeking to ban and tax e cigs say it s in the interests of public health. In fact, such measures are antithetical to public health, and would protect cigarette markets by reducing access to a successful quit smoking method. If these bills become law, they ll simply be a death sentence for smokers who just want to quit.

Dr. Gilbert Ross is is executive and medical director at the American Council on Science and Health.

Plymouth smokers hail power of electronic cigarettes

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CITY smokers have hailed the power of electronic cigarettes in helping to curb their addiction.

A new study shows the number of people who use ‘e cigarettes’ in the UK has tripled over the past two years to 2.1 million.

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) surveyed more than 12,000 adult smokers, finding that just over half of current or ex smokers have now tried electronic cigarettes, compared with eight per cent in 2010.

Chloe Severn used to smoke about 10 to 15 roll up cigarettes per day before she discovered their electronic equivalent.

Chloe, aged 24, said «I gave up smoking, and when I started wanting one I would use an e cigarette instead.

«I heard about them from my friend who is Polish, in Poland they are huge.

«I started smoking them just like I would a real cigarette. Then about six months in I stopped that and used them in social situations, like in the pub, times when you really want a fag.

«Before I would get up in the morning and think ‘I want a roll up with my coffee’. I don’t think that now.»

Chloe, who works as a communications and campaigns coordinator for Advice Plymouth, says the electronic replacements do not provide the drama of real cigarettes, but are clearly better for her health.

«There is something quite nice and self destructive about smoking when you are a bit angry,» she said. «Electronic cigarettes are just about addiction. It’s psychological.»

We asked users of The Herald’s Facebook page to tell us about their e cigarette experiences.

Kerry Anne Derrick said «I have smoked for 15 years.

Been on the e cig almost four weeks and not one cigarette.»

Ian Rendle said «Had mine three weeks now. I was a 20 to 40 a day smoker, I wish they had come out a lot sooner. I had tried most things but the one I’ve got now is working.»

Michael Gittins «Been on these for six months and not one cigarette. I was on 20 to 30 a day.»

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Ash, said «The dramatic rise in use of electronic cigarettes over the past four years suggests that smokers are increasingly turning to these devices to help them cut down or quit smoking. Significantly, usage among non smokers remains negligible.»

Another study, The Smoking Toolkit Study, which covers England, has found that electronic cigarettes are overtaking the use of nicotine products such as patches and gum as an aid to quitting smoking.

It also found that the proportion of smokers who gave up smoking in the past year had increased and smoking rates in England were continuing to fall.

Study leader Professor Robert West said «Despite claims that use of electronic cigarettes risks renormalising smoking, we found no evidence to support this view.

«On the contrary, electronic cigarettes may be helping to reduce smoking as more people use them as an aid to quitting.»

What are electronic cigarettes?

AN electronic cigarette is a battery powered device which simulates tobacco smoking by producing a vapor that resembles smoke.

E cigarettes come in two parts in one end there is liquid nicotine, and in the other a rechargeable battery and an atomiser.

When the user sucks, the liquid nicotine is vaporised and absorbed through the mouth.

What looks like smoke is largely water vapour, hence smoking e cigarettes is often called ‘vaping’.

As the e cigarettes contain nicotine, the user gets the hit that makes smoking addictive, without being harmed by the toxins found in real cigarettes.

The British Medical Association says the long term health effects are unknown.