I’m Vaping Mad!

Opinion IconWhy am I vaping mad? Because there are a lot of people, government officials included, that are feeding the public with a lot of crap and misinformation about electronic cigarettes. It disgusts me to no end. Here are a couple of recent examples.

  • Katie Couric interviews Dr. Richard Besser about electronic cigarettes. It’s pretty obvious to me that he doesn’t have a very high opinion about electronic cigarettes, though he tried to play it off that he’s hopeful that e-cigs can help people quit smoking.
  • In this article, the author discusses regulatory questions, mostly those that will affect the industry negatively for users and small businesses.

Now let me point out a few things discussed in the video and article.

Electronic Cigarette

These are the type of electronic cigarettes that big tobacco is developing and selling.

In Katie Couric’s interview, Dr. Besser states “I know that adults are not looking for a nicotine flavored thing that tastes like bubble gum.” He doesn’t give any evidence to support his claim. While many brick and mortar and online shops sell tobacco flavored liquids and cartridges, they likely aren’t the top selling flavors. At first, I vaped tobacco flavors. But I stopped vaping tobacco flavors when I found other flavors such as vanilla, chocolate, fruit and candy flavors and more complex flavors. Why? Because they taste good and I like them better. The tobacco flavors don’t taste the same as cigarette tobacco. Don’t get me wrong, some of them are very close to various cigarette tobaccos and some of them are pretty good. But I don’t like the tobacco flavor taste. I prefer the “boutique” flavors. I used to smoke flavored cigarettes occasionally until the FDA banned them. While my wife occasionally vapes a tobacco flavor, not one of my friends who vape use a tobacco flavored liquid. So Dr. Besser is flat out wrong. Adults do like non-tobacco flavored liquids.

Sticking with flavors, yes, the FDA banned flavored cigarettes (except menthol with has come under fire recently). But before flavored cigarettes were banned, the only place they could be purchased (if I remember correctly) was smoke shops. Yet, I can still walk into a smoke shop and buy flavored snuff, snus, cigarillos, cigars and pipe tobacco. For that matter, I can walk into a liquor store, a grocery store, a convenience store, a pharmacy like Walgreens, even Walmart and purchase flavored liquors, beers, ales and other liquors like Mike’s Hard Lemonade. Why aren’t those banned? Why don’t people talk about the “horrors” of flavored alcohol and other types of tobacco? Why aren’t people complaining about the sale of flavored alcohol and other types of tobacco to minors? Because you have to be at least 18 to buy them. Apparently the powers that be don’t realize that minors do get access to some of these items as well as cigarettes.

Both the video and the article claim that electronic cigarette marketing is targeting children. Dr. Besser even goes so far to say “this is designed for children.” Are you fucking kidding me? I’ve seen some of the commercials for electronic cigarettes made by the large tobacco companies and I just don’t see that. I don’t see kids in the commercials. I don’t see where the commercials are promoting flavored electronic cigarette liquids. In fact, they never mention anything about the taste or that they come in different flavors. More blatant misinformation. That’s what gets me vaping mad!

Dr. Besser also cites that electronic cigarettes are only effective in helping people to quit smoking 7% of the time while other nicotine reduction therapy devices, such as patches and gum, are effective 6% of the time. However, there are studies in which results indicate that electronic cigarettes may be much more effective at helping people to quit smoking, such as this one: Perceived efficacy of e-cigarettes versus nicotine replacement therapy among successful e-cigarette users: a qualitative approach. Dr. Besser doesn’t seem to be knowledgeable with current research or flat out ignores it. That’s what gets me vaping mad!

The article referenced in the second bullet above tries to claim that “e-cigarette companies are selling nicotine addiction.” While I don’t know that to be completely false, I do know that almost all of my friends who vape used to smoke cigarettes. Some “indulge” in the occasional cigarette, but not very often. So they already had a nicotine addiction before they started using electronic cigarettes. Some of them have gradually reduced the amount of nicotine in their liquid. So how is that “selling nicotine addiction?” I do know a few people who never smoked but started vaping because their friends vape. But to my knowledge, they use nicotine free liquid, something articles, reports, videos and interviews almost always fail to mention. That’s not to say non-smokers who start vaping always use nicotine free liquid, but I do know that many non-smokers who start vaping do use nicotine free liquid. So again I ask, how is that “selling nicotine addiction?” For smokers, I think it’s selling a safer alternative (although no electronic cigarette seller can state that). For non-smokers, I guess they start because it’s the thing to do. But I don’t really know why non-smokers chose to start vaping. Maybe these doctors, government officials and other big shots should ask nonsmokers about their vaping habit and why they started instead of guessing and assuming.

Almost every article or report I read or every news video or interview I watch claims few studies have been conducted about electronic cigarettes, the liquids that go in them, the vapor produced by them, and/or the health risks associated with them. Obviously, since electronic cigarettes are a fairly new phenomenon there haven’t been any studies on the long term effects of electronic cigarette use. But there have been plenty of studies that have looked at electronic cigarettes, the liquids that go in them and the vapor that is produced by them. Do a search for e-cigarette studies at Google and you’ll find that there are many studies that dispel the notion that there are few studies on electronic cigarettes. Many of these studies show that electronic cigarette use may help with reduction of cigarette use or quitting altogether. Many show that there are virtually no harmful effects from the vapor emitted from electronic cigarettes (in fact it’s similar to the output of fog machines used in theatrical and musical productions). In addition, there are a plethora of studies on nicotine. Many show that, while addictive, nicotine may have some beneficial qualities and may be no more harmful than the caffeine found in soft drinks, tea and coffee. That’s not to say that there aren’t any major detrimental effects to be had from electronic cigarette use, but there are studies that suggest that there might not be. But the Negative Nellies never mention that stuff. That’s what gets me vaping mad!

These mainstream news reports, articles, videos and interviews fail to inform the public of both sides of the story, the potential bad and the potential good. Instead they discuss absolutes, mostly the negative side. That’s what gets me vaping mad.

The shops I frequent do not condone electronic cigarette sales to minors. If they do, I don’t shop there. The online shops I visit all have warnings stating that patrons must be 18 or older to view, let alone make a purchase. If they don’t, I don’t shop there. Every person I know who vapes agrees that electronic cigarettes and their accessories should not be sold to minors. Convenience stores that sell electronic cigarettes keep them behind the counter and ask for ID just like they do for cigarettes. I agree that electronic cigarettes and accessories should not be sold to minors. I’m not against regulations prohibiting sales of electronic cigarettes and accessories to minors. But stating that shops sell to minors is probably mostly false. Sure, there are probably some unethical people who do sell electronic cigarettes to minors, but I’m guessing that the majority do not. That said, kids, primarily teens, will find ways to get them, just as they do cigarettes, alcohol, illicit drugs and adult only merchandise. It’s not really that hard. They can go to any grocery store, buy a prepaid Visa, Mastercard or American Express credit card, hop online, lie that they are over 18 to bypass the age verification and purchase electronic cigarettes, accessories and liquids. They can do this for other products and services reserved for adults just as easily. But no one mentions how easy it is for minors to buy stuff online intended for adults. There is no foolproof age verification for internet purchases.

That’s just a few of the things routinely discussed in various articles, reports, videos and interviews, but those are the things that get me vaping mad the most, because the people who wrote them, produce them or provide content for them fail to look at both sides. They only see the side they want to see. They report the potentially negative side of electronic cigarettes without even momentarily considering the positive side of electronic cigarettes. They don’t research fully. They site studies that are more than 4 years old because it supports their opinion, ignoring more recent research that refutes the earlier studies. That’s what gets me vaping mad!

The FDA is late in submitting it’s regulations for electronic cigarettes. Very late. While I know they won’t outright ban them (they cannot), I do fear they will control everything about them. That will kill the industry except for the heavyweights in the industry: primarily Altria (Marlboro/Mark 10), Lorillard (Newport/Blu) and RJ Reynolds (Camel/Vuse). They could ban unflavored liquid nicotine sales, an ingredient that many use, myself included, to make their own liquids. The FDA could ban flavored liquids. I’m not a betting man (though I do live in Las Vegas, Nevada), but I’m willing to bet that if the FDA imposes these regulations, as well as others, many vapers will return to cigarettes. Think about it. If the FDA says the only allowed electronic cigarette liquid flavors are tobacco flavors, why get an imitation liquid that kind of tastes like a cigarette when you can just smoke the real thing? When the FDA finally does publicize their electronic cigarette regulations, they are probably going to be stiff and rather severe. They are going to stifle an industry that has the potential to improve the health of millions of people in the United States. This is the same organization that approves drugs with serious side effects, including death. Where’s the logic in that? That’s what gets me vaping mad!

Advanced Electronic Cigarette

This is similar to the type of electronic cigarette set up that I use daily.

Governments and the FDA, knowingly or unknowingly, are bowing to big pharmaceutical and tobacco companies. Electronic cigarette sellers cannot proclaim them as devices to help people to quit smoking. Big pharma fought that fight several years ago and won. Why? To protect their interests in other nicotine reduction therapies like patches, gum, lozenges, inhalers and drugs like Chantix, a drug that has side effects including vivid dreams and nightmares and suicidal thoughts and tendencies. Big tobacco is lobbying for stiff regulation. Why? Because they are late to the party and have basic products. They have the resources to comply with stiff regulation that much of the competition does not. If the FDA proposes stiff regulations and they are approved, much of the competition will be removed without having to expend a lot of resources to beat them on a level playing field. Either that, or they will buy up the competition as they go out of business and acquire their technology instead of developing it. Either way it’s a losing situation for those of us who prefer advanced electronic systems, such as the one pictured above. We’ll either be stuck with inferior products or increased prices and a lack of innovation for the devices and accessories we want. That’s what gets me vaping mad!

Governments, the FDA and even for-profit and non-profit health organizations, such as the American Lung Association and the American Heart Association, aren’t interested in the potential benefits of electronic cigarettes. They aren’t interested in helping thousands of smokers quit smoking. They aren’t interested in allowing people to make a choice. They aren’t interested in informing people of both sides of the story. You’d think they would be since smoking is one of the factors that drives up healthcare costs. Instead, they coddle to the special interest groups, big pharmaceutical companies and big tobacco companies, who want to continue to monopolize billion dollar industries. They aren’t about competition. They are about preserving their profitability and maximizing shareholder wealth. That’s what gets me vaping mad!

I created a petition on the White House website at the beginning of 2013 asking the government not to overly regulate the electronic cigarette industry. It got the necessary 25,000 signatures and then some. With the required number of signatures, they are supposed to respond to the petition. It fell on deaf ears. That’s what gets me vaping mad.

Other than attend hearings, write public officials, try to make our voices heard in any way we can and plead to the big shots not to over regulate and tax electronic cigarettes and their use, there isn’t much we can do. Governments, at the behest of big pharma and tobacco, will do what they will. I fear it will be to the detriment of people like me; people who chose to use electronic cigarettes as a healthier alternative to cigarettes. Our voices will be ignored. It’s always one small step ahead and one giant leap backwards for vaping rights and healthier living. And that’s what gets me vaping mad!

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