Tag Archives: nrt

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.”

Research E-Cigarettes Before Writing

quit smokingIn an article published in the Vernon Morning Star out of Vernon B.C., Doug Rogers, a substance abuse prevention counsellor with the Vernon School District urged smokers to avoid electronic cigarettes. And although we understand why a substance abuse counsellor for a school would promote abstinence, we have some concerns about Doug’s disregard for facts. He failed to recognize any actual data on the safety and effectiveness of e-cigarettes.  Meanwhile, the only data he cited to stay away from vaping was a warning put out by the FDA.  In the article, Mr. Rogers states:

When the FDA analyzed samples of two popular brands, they found variable amounts of nicotine and traces of toxic chemicals, including known cancer-causing substances (carcinogens).

While this is not completely false, it is certainly not the whole truth.  For instance, the amounts of carcinogens found in e-cigarettes were similar to those found in nicotine gum.  This wouldn’t be such a big deal if Mr. Rogers didn’t state:

If you’re looking for help to stop smoking, please talk to a health professional about smoking cessation programs which are safe and effective.

As most smokers and smoking cessation experts know, approved quit smoking methods include nicotine patches, gums, lozenges, cold turkey, and even medication.  It is hard to consider the writer credible when he promotes one method of quitting smoking with potential hazards while dismissing another.

The bottom line is that many smokers who want to quit smoking have tried many of the available options.  But when all attempted methods of quitting smoking fail, is using an e-cigarette not better than smoking?

 

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.

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.