Tag Archives: nicotine

The E-Cigarette Double Standard

Since the beginning of the e-cigarette debate over their safety and effectiveness to help smokers quit the habit, there have been those on both sides making claims. On one side there are many e-cigarette companies marketing the product as a “healthier way to smoke” and that they can help users quit smoking. And although the evidence is pointing to these conclusions, it is hard to deny that these claims may be premature. On the other hand, those against electronic cigarettes tout that e-cigarettes may be as, or more, harmful than tobacco cigarettes. They claim they are full of antifreeze and that they are marketed directly to children. These misleading statements about the potential dangers of electronic cigarettes do little to help smokers the actual difference between the two recreational products.

So here are the facts as we know them today: All surveys and studies done to date show evidence that e-cigarettes are at least as effective as NRTs in helping people quit smoking. However no one has completed the required clinical trials for the FDA to be able to make this claim. And no one likely will, since the e-cigarette has been deemed a tobacco product in the United States by the courts, rather than a NRT. As for the anti-freeze claim, the FDA did find trace levels of diethylene glycol in one companies e-cigarettes a few years ago. It was not found in any other companies products and wasn’t found in all samples. Yes, regulations to ensure only food grade ingredients are used are important, but to claim all e-cigarette users are inhaling toxins is absurd.

nicotine gumThe Guardian recently published an article entitled “Watch out, e-cigarette smokers – you’re inhaling the unknown“. And in the article the author, Tom Riddington, states.

With a little research, it is clear that we do not know the risks of using e-cigarettes long-term, and the potential for harm is significant. Until the same regulations as other nicotine replacements are imposed, e-cigarettes should be considered a snake-oil gimmick that could get a new generation hooked on nicotine before their first smoke.

This is where the double standard comes in. When a Nicotine Replacement Therapy product is introduced, the FDA looks at what is in it and whether or not it is effective in helping users quit smoking. They test it for 6 months to ensure no other problems arise. However 6 months is a far cry from knowing the long term effects. So why should e-cigarettes be held to a higher standard than FDA approved nicotine products? And e-cigarettes have been used in the US since 2007 with no major side effects reported.

As for getting kids hooked on the product, what about flavors of nicotine gum? Or just the fact that they put nicotine into gum, which is a kid favorite to begin with.

In conclusion, it is very much possible to also write, “With a little research, it is clear that we do not know the risks of using nicotine gum long-term, and the potential for harm is significant. Until different regulations are imposted, nicotine gum should be considered a snake-oil gimmick that could get a new generation hooked on nicotine before their first smoke.”

Canadian Lung Association: Are You Kidding Me?

In a press release put out by the Canadian Lung Association named “Don’t Be Fooled By E-Cigarettes!”, they make arguments against smokers in Canada trying electronic cigarettes.  Here is a look at what claims they make:

1. “People who use e-cigarettes inhale unknown, unregulated and potentially harmful substances into their lungs,”

First, let’s point out that tobacco smokers inhale known cancer causing agents.  It can be argued that since tobacco cigarettes can legally be sold in Canada that they are regulated.  Does that make them any safer?  But the biggest issue I have with this statement is that we do know what is in e-cigarettes.  There have been multiple studies done on the contents of e-cigs.  The ingredients in the e-cigarette vapor include propylene glycol, glycerin, water, and flavoring.  Some also come with nicotine in them.

2. “E-cigarettes may contain ingredients that are known to be toxic to humans including carcinogens and diethylene glycol, a toxic chemical used in antifreeze.”

This is a reference to a FDA test done in 2009.  This report was put out by the FDA in response to them being sued at the time by nJoy who claimed the FDA was unjustly seizing their stock.  nJoy was victorious in this battle.  Here is a thorough rebuttal of the FDA report.  Also, in Canada e-cigarettes do not contain nicotine so they do not have the TSNAs present as those with nicotine may.  As a side note, at the time the FDA knew so little about e-cigarettes that this was the picture they used when they released their “findings”:

fda e-cigarette testing

For those what don’t vape, here is the issue:  For the model of e-cigarette they show, you must take off the mouthpiece / cartridge before you plug it into the charger.  They way they show it, the e-cigarette would not ever charge.

3. E-cigarettes have candy-like flavours that appeal to kids

Kids and adults alike enjoy flavors.  As an example, vodka can be purchase with many, many flavors.  Should be ban it?

4. There are many proven ways to quit smoking

That statement is true provided you buy into Health Canada’s definition of “proven”.    Their list of ways to quit smoking includes Nicotine Replacement Therapies and prescription drugs.  Find out just how successful smokers are in quitting smoking using these methods.  They also fail to mention that NRTs do contain cancer cause substances known as TSNAs.

 

We only ask that smokers think for themselves, dig a little deeper into what they read, and make their own decisions about what is best for their health.

Will The FDA Rules For E-Cigarette Effect Canada?

If you follow the new in the electronic cigarette world, you know that the FDA has been hesitant, to put it nicely, about the e-cigarette. They have attempted to block it’s market categorization of a tobacco product, unsuccessfully.  They have attempted to deter smokers from using it using their own brand of science….with partial success.  But with the court cases over and their mandate handed down from Congress, they will soon be enacting rules and regulations regarding the use and sale of electronic cigarettes.  The specifics of these rules are not yet clear including the means by which they are available for sale, whether the regulations will encompass all parts of the e-cigarette (batteries, atomizers, cartomizers, e-liquid, bottles of e-liquid, etc), or even if they will be taxed similar to other tobacco products.  Some industry experts are skeptical about how the FDA will proceed.  As Bill Godshall of SmokeFree Pennsylvania states:

FDA issues notice of intent to propose “deeming” regulation by April of 2013 (to apply Chapter IX of FSPTCA to e-cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, shisha/hookah and other tobacco products not currently subject to Chapter IX regulations) “and to specifiy additional restrictions.”
The question for Canadian vapers and current smokers looking for a change should be, “will this change the current situation  and stance of Health Canada regarding e-cigarettes in Canada?”  If history is a factor, then yes, it will.  US law often affects Canadian laws.  Our border is long and trade is free.  This creates a situation where adopting US laws is often easier and cheaper than creating our own from scratch.  Another factor are the companies involved is such products.  Since the e-cigarette will be officially a tobacco product in the US, US tobacco companies will be taking advantage of the situation (Lorillard and Reynolds already are).  These companies may push for entry into the Canadian market under the same regulations they operate under south of the border.
And our thoughts?  It is likely in the future Canada will classify and allow e-cigarettes with nicotine as a tobacco product.  We do hope they consider the science behind different tobacco products to allow the greatest possible exposure of electronic cigarettes to current smokers in Canada.  And remember, we’re all in this together. (Red Green)

Reasons Why Health Canada Doesn’t Like E-Cigarettes

Here are our top reasons why we believe Health Canada has banned electronic cigarettes with nicotine and won’t let any companies claim e-cigarettes help smokers quit smoking.  Please note these are made up and suppose to be funny.  In no way has Health Canada indicated that any of the below reasons are factual…..although that doesn’t mean they are not 😉

1. If everyone in Canada was healthy, there would be no need for Health Canada.

2. First e-cigarettes, then e-joints.

3. Smokers pay taxes, taxes pay salaries.

4. There are not enough smokers working for Health Canada

5. They don’t believe vaping is as cool as smoking

 

Nonetheless, if you smoke and live in Canada, you can get e-cigarettes without nicotine and they work just fine!

The Biggest Misconceptions About Electronic Cigarettes

Here are the most quoted and wrong ideas about electronic cigarettes:e-cigarette misinformation

1.  It’s water vapour

No….it’s not.  Creating water vapour would mean boiling water, which e-cigs do not do.  The majority of the vapour is made up of propylene glycol lesser amounts of other compounds such as glycerin, nicotine (if nicotine e-liquid is vaporized) and the make up of the flavoring.  He is a study done on the second hand vapour produced from an electronic cigarette.

2.  The FDA found cancer causing chemicals in e-cigarettes.

They found trace amounts of smoke TSNAs in some samples.  They quantities they found pose no threat to human health.  Detectable levels of TSNAs can also be found in nicotine gum.  An analysis of the FDA testing on e-cigs can be found here.

3.  E-Cigarettes are banned in Canada.

No, only e-cigarettes with cartridges that contain nicotine are banned.  E-Cigarettes work just fine with no nicotine e-liquid.

4. Without nicotine, electronic cigarettes serve no purpose.

If smokers just wanted nicotine, then the nicotine gum would have 100% success rate helping smokers quit.  But they don’t.  So is it the action of smoking they want?  Is it the “break” they get when they smoke?  Whatever the answer is for each individual smoker; the e-cigarette does closely mimic the action of smoking…..with or without nicotine.

5. Flavored e-liquid and cartridges entice children to use e-cigarettes.

I suppose flavored vodka gets kids drinking?   I doubt it.  Kids don’t smoke or drink because it tastes good.

6.  We just don’t know what’s in an electronic cigarette.

Yes we do.  Many tests have been done.  Click here for some e-cig testing.  Or just know that e-liquid must contain a majority of propylene glycol and/or glycerin in order to work at all.  The rest of the ingredients are water and optionally flavoring and nicotine.

 

If you hear of other misconceptions, drop us a note or leave a comment here and we will try to further curb the mass amount of mis-information about electronic cigarettes.

Former Smoker Wants End To E-Cigarette Ban In Canada

no vapingRussell Daikens is not alone.  He wants Health Canada to end it’s ban on electronic cigarettes that contain nicotine.  He smoked for 50 years at two packs per day.  Quick math tells us he smoked about 730,000 tobacco cigarettes over this period….and that is at 20 cigarettes per pack, while many come in 25.  But in January he found the e-cig and never turned back.  The story appear in this news article on metronews.ca.

It’s not hard to see why Russell is an advocate for the new vaping technology.  He is a retired sailor who’s health was obviously adversely effected by smoking.  But now, Russell says “I’m done hacking and coughing, and haven’t touched a cigarette since.”  But he, like other former smokers, is concerned about the supply of nicotine e-liquid for their e-cigarettes.  Although none nicotine liquid and the vaping units themselves can be found online at such retailers as www.smokeinstead.ca, the nicotine refill liquid is banned.  And those attempting to import across the Canadian border risk having Canadian Customs seize their shipment.  Hardly seems far to those who gave up smoking.  Russell speculates why Health Canada is against the new “smoking” product, “You’re up against Big Tobacco, and you’re up against the government, too, because they want their revenue.”  The real reason may never be known, but let’s look at their current reasoning:

Although these electronic smoking products may be marketed as a safer alternative to conventional tobacco products and, in some cases, as an aid to quitting smoking, electronic smoking products may pose risks such as nicotine poisoning and addiction,” Health Canada said, in a statement.

Funny that Health Canada is worried about nicotine addiction when they authorize the sale of tobacco cigarettes, which have nicotine.  They also approved many other products with nicotine in them such as nicotine gum and patches.  And the concern over nicotine poisoning is unlikely.  In fact it has never happened.  E-Cigarettes have been used in North America for over 5 years without one case of nicotine poisoning.  This is not to say it is a none issue.  If a user where to drink a bottle of e-liquid with nicotine, it would be very, very dangerous.  But banning (rather than regulating) e-cigarettes because of potential consumer misuse is analogous to banning mouthwash because of the off chance someone would drink it in quantities that would harm them.  Reasonable regulation and labeling would seem to be a more logical course of action.

So will Health Canada re-consider it’s ban on electronic cigarettes with nicotine?  It seems unlikely until someone ponies up the money to make it a pharmaceutical product.  And even then, sales would likely be limited to pharmacies.  For Russell’s sake, and  for the sake of every other smoker in Canada, we hope Health Canada looks at the e-cigarette as a blessing, not a danger.

Is Health Canada Contradicting Itself?

Health CanadaSince 2009 Health Canada has placed a ban on marketing or selling e-cigarettes with nicotine.  Their stance is they need market authorization in the same way a nicotine patch or gum needs authorization within Canada.  As we mentioned in the past, non-nicotine electronic cigarettes are fine, since they do not contain any substances that warrant involvement with Health Canada.

What is curious is that it appears Health Canada does know the benefits of vaporization over combustion, as they state on their website with regards to vaporizing marijuana:

The advantages of vaporization apparently include the formation of a smaller quantity of toxic by-products such as carbon monoxide, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and tar, as well as a more efficient extraction of THC from the cannabis material (47,48,49,43,50). The subjective effects and plasma concentrations of THC are comparable to those of smoked cannabis with absorption being somewhat faster with the vaporizer (43). The vaporizer is well-tolerated, with no reported adverse effects, and is generally preferred over smoking by most subjects (43)

And as Brad Rodu (Professor of Medicine at the University of Louisville) points out in his recent blog post:

Among the comment’s scientific references, the most frequently cited is a study of vaporized marijuana published in 2007 by scientists at the University of California at San Francisco (abstract here).  It concluded:
“Whereas smoking marijuana increased [carbon monoxide, CO] levels as expected for inhalation of a combustion product, there was little if any increase in CO after inhalation of THC from the vaporizer. This indicates little or no exposure to gaseous combustion toxins. Combustion products are harmful to health and reflect a major concern about the use of marijuana cigarettes for medical therapy as expressed by the Institute of Medicine… Vaporization of marijuana does not result in exposure to combustion gases, and therefore is expected to be much safer than smoking marijuana cigarettes. The vaporizer was well tolerated and preferred by most subjects compared to marijuana cigarettes.”
From this, let’s make a leap:  Health Canada would recommend, if you were intent on smoking marijuana, that you vaporize it because it is better for you.  However, they would NOT recommend, if you were intent on smoking cigarettes, that you use an e-cigarette.
Yes, there are other nicotine replacement “therapies” such as the patch or gum, but these are to quit smoking.  What if a smoker wanted to keep smoking and getting nicotine, but wanted a safer method?  Is Health Canada going against it’s stated mission of “helping Canadians maintain and improve their health, while respecting individual choices and circumstance”.  If they know vaporization is safer than combustion and they want to respect individual choices, they why would they deny Canadians the option of an electronic cigarette?
We encourage you to write Health Canada and your Member of Parliament and ask them.

 

Are Canadian Pharmaceutical Companies Involved?

In the United States the pharmaceutical companies are closely tied to public health organizations.  In fact a lot of the funding for many public health organizations comes from big pharma.  Not to mention that the FDA gets a lot of it’s funding from licensing, fees, and fines from the major players in the legal drug trade.  In the US these public health groups have been strictly against the electronic cigarette.  Consider this: in the last year and a half Pfizer alone gave groups such as the American Lung Association, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Legacy Foundation, and the Action on Smoking and Health (among others) a collective 2.8 million dollars. So it is not hard to see why these groups would be against the e-cigarette, which is in direct competition with many of the nicotine based products pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer sell.  But that doesn’t mean it is in the best interest of public health.

The question is, do pharmaceutical companies in Canada have this same amount of pull over public health organizations in Canada?  To try and answer this question, we did a search on google for health organizations in Canada.  We immediately came across the Canadian Public Health Association or CPHA.  We first looked into their policy regarding electronic cigarettes and reduced harm tobacco products.  Here is what we found:

Although the evidence suggests that the overall health risk of smokeless tobacco is roughly 5% of that of cigarettes, the International Agency for Research on Cancer continues to classify smokeless tobacco products as Group 1 carcinogens; these products cause cancers of the oral cavity and pancreas in humans. Moreover, they deliver nicotine in quantities and at rates that cause psychoactive effects, which eventually lead to tolerance and addiction. Several new products and delivery agents are being produced and marketed as smoking substitutes. These include the electronic cigarette, which is promoted as a non-tobacco alternative nicotinedelivery device. – CPHA Source

We couldn’t find exactly how much money they received from the private sector, but we did come across this statement from the CPHA’s annual report:

In September 2006, CPHA’s Board of Directors approved a “Corporate Relations / Corporate Sponsorship Policy” to guide CPHA’s collaboration with the private sector.

And their list of those companies the collaborated with:

Presenting Partners
* AstraZeneca Canada Inc. ****
* Parmalat
* Maple Leaf Foods

Public Health Champions
* Pfizer Canada Inc. ****
* Amgen Canada Inc. ****

Legacy Benefactor
* Lysol (Reckitt Benckiser (Canada) Inc.)

Public Health Pathfinder
* University of Waterloo

Public Health Supporters
* Dalla Lana School of Public Health,
University of Toronto
* Merck Frosst Canada ****

The companies with **** are pharmaceuticals.

So smokeless tobacco is 5% as dangerous as tobacco cigarettes, but they are still against them.  And what CPHA doesn’t tell you is that there are risks with using pharmaceutical nicotine products.  Drilling down to the heart of this: Is it bias to recommend one group of products (nicotine gum, patches, sprays, and whatever else big pharma brings out) and not another such e-cigarettes?  Wouldn’t it be in the best interest of health to recommend a product that is 95% more healthy than tobacco cigarettes?  Nothing is 100% safe so why is the CPHA against reduced harm tobacco products?  And if your argument is that they still cause cancer (albeit at a rate 95% lower than cigarettes) then why are they against e-cigarettes which have never been shown to cause cancer?  I’ll let you be the judge.

Agree, End The Ban On Nicotine E-Cigarettes In Canada

In a comment article printed in the National Post at the end of last year, Jesse Kline makes the argument for ending the ban in Canada on electronic cigarettes that contain nicotine.  While I fully agree the ban is not in the best interest of the health of Canadians, there are a few issues with some of the facts and speculation made in the article.  I thought it important to set the record straight.

First, some praise.  It was good to see that people are realizing the ban on e-cigarettes in Canada is only for those products that contain nicotine.  For some time many thought it was a general ban, but without nicotine or health claims Health Canada has little say over a product made up of electronics and containing no drugs.  Jesse did fail to mention that health claims such as “quit smoking” or “healthy alternative” do bring Health Canada into the picture, but all-in-all he had it right.

Where he failed to do some research was the sentence: “The devices contain a heating element that turns a liquid made of propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine (two common food additives) and nicotine into a water vapour,”  In truth, the liquid or e-liquid as it is often called, is made up of propylene glycol, glycerin, water, flavorings, and potentially nicotine.  But the big issue I have is “water vapour”.  This is a common misconception.  The vapour from an e-cigarette has been shown to contain the same ingredients as the liquid, although not in the exact same percentages, since the vaporization process does not effect each substance in the same way.  This can be shown with some testing of e-liquid.

Jesse also claims there are no carcinogens in e-cigarette vapor.  This is only partially true.  Without nicotine, yes, there are no carcinogens.  However with nicotine there are trace amounts.  This is not a big deal when you consider BBQ’d meat has trace amounts of carcinogens, but none-the-less it was not completely accurate.

The last and most serious falsity with the article is from this quote:

A number of studies have shown that the illusion of smoking created by the device helps to satisfy cravings, but without nicotine, it cannot help smokers get over the physiological dependence that is created by the drug.

True, studies have shown e-cigarettes help smokers, but I have always found it curious that experts and users alike believe that it is important to keep using nicotine to get over the addiction to nicotine.  Although in rare cases such as heroin addiction, other drugs are used to ween the addicted off the drug, it seems counter intuitive to keep using nicotine to get over an addiction to nicotine. What I would recommend to people is to quit smoking cold turkey and if they like, use and e-cigarette with no nicotine to get the action of smoking, if they still want it.

Overall we applaud Jesse Kline for speaking his mind and bringing more light to the issue of electronic cigarettes in Canada.

Leaked: European Union May Be Planning To Ban E-Cigarettes

According to Michael Siegel from “The Rest of the Story: Tobacco News Analysis and Commentary” blog, the Tobacco Journal International received information indicating that the European Union may have plans to ban the electronic cigarette unless it is marketed by a pharmaceutical company as a nicotine replacement therapy product.  This was the same position that the FDA in the United States took until is was challenged in court.  The US court determined that absent any health claims, the electronic cigarette with nicotine is a tobacco product.  So what is the difference?

Well, as a tobacco product, the e-cigarette can be sold wherever cigarettes are sold.  This makes the most sense to have an impact on current smokers since getting e-cigarettes in front of smokers is key.  Also as a tobacco product, there are less stringent rules and regulations to enter the market.  This is beneficial to everyone because it means increased competition and product innovations.

Now as an NRT (nicotine replacement therapy) the e-cigarette would be treated as nicotine gum or the patch.  This means they would only be allowed to be sold in pharmacies as a quit smoking product.  This limits their market exposure and gives smokers the impression that e-cigarettes are solely meant to help them quit smoking.  But what about those smokers who like smoking, but want to simply “try something else”?  This is the same case when a smoker walks into a gas station to buy cigarettes and sees the smokeless tobacco product Snus.  They may not be thinking about quitting smoking, but rather just trying some other form of tobacco.  This may lead to reduced consumption of tobacco cigarettes; and isn’t that the point?

I hope the European Union bases their decision on facts and science rather than which existing industry has the most pull.  Keep choice alive, especially when that choice is an alternative to a known killer.