November 08, 2013

e-Cigarette News Roundup for November 8 – PC Loadletter

Welcome again everyone, it's e-cigarette news time!  As usual we have a big roundup of articles from around the world and around the corner. We have some new studies, and of course we have people ignoring those studies. We also have some political lobbying going on this week. Still no word from our FDA overlords, but we shall see.  For now, why not review this week's notable news.

A new study out of Geneva shows the potential for e-cigarettes to transition smokers away from cigarettes.  The study’s author cautions that this is just a preliminary study since it recruited mostly existing vapers, but it indicates the enormous potential of e-cigarettes.  One particularly interesting thing about the results were that unlike traditional therapies, cessation rates went up after time.

More evidence e-cigs may help in quitting tobacco

For those who had quit smoking already and were using e-cigarettes instead, six percent had relapsed to tobacco after one month. That number was stable after one year.

Of those who were smoking and using e-cigarettes when the study began, 22 percent had quit smoking tobacco after a month and 46 percent had quit after a year. That group averaged 11.3 tobacco cigarettes daily at the beginning of the study and six cigarettes per day after one month.

This was just an exploratory study and will need confirmation from follow-up studies, Etter said.

This is certainly a study prohibitionists will dismiss because of the way it was conducted (that is, the exact same way many of their studies that prove ecig dangers are done). But, what it does say is that there is definitely something to these e-cigarettes and perhaps banning the crap out of the might not be the best course of action.

Ok, this isn’t quite like the situation in Beverly Hills or anything. This is a story about pure, unadulterated stupidity. A woman was using an e-cigarette and a mobile phone in a Michigan courtroom when she was asked to knock it off. She apparently gave the judge attitude on her way out and was then held pending a contempt of court hearing. The woman apologized and all was forgiven. Ok, I’m kidding.

Electronic cigarette in courtroom gets Grand Rapids woman jail time

Van Popering appeared to make her situation worse after the judge asked her if she wanted to speak before he sentenced her.

“I just thought it was totally retarded that I can’t smoke my E-cigarette in the courtroom. I can smoke it on the bus. You can smoke them anywhere,” said Van Popering, who was wearing what appeared to be pajama bottoms.

After her statement, the judge immediately ordered the jail time and fine.

Stay classy, Grand Rapids.

Much like here in the US, UK workplaces vary on their tolerance for e-cigarettes. A landfill worker in the UK found that one out the hard way when he was abruptly dismissed for using an e-cigarette on the job. According to the company, he violated a policy they never actually told anyone about.

Electronic cigarette row sparks strike threat

The 55-year-old said he had been smoking an electronic cigarette, as he was trying to give up smoking, which he thought was not against company policy.

He said he was told during his disciplinary hearing that smoking an electronic cigarette was not allowed but it was a new part of company policy and had not been communicated to anyone.

A spokesman for Viridor said a robust investigation was carried out which concluded Mr Scoot was in breach of company policies and was dismissed as a result.

No determination from a parallel investigation on whether secret policies are actually evil or just “remarkably stupid.” This issue may have fallout for the secretive company as their operation is unionized and the union is considering calling a strike around the Christmas holidays.

e-Cigarette merchants and users can breathy easy in the posh neighborhoods of Beverly Hills for the moment. The city council decided not to go through with its insane plan to criminalize selling e-cigarettes complete with jail time. After a huge outpouring of support for e-cigarettes, the council decided to further study the issue.

BH City Council Denies Ban on E-Cigarettes

The Beverly Hills City Council heard dozens of comments Tuesday from people who say they have kicked smoking and use e-cigarettes in their place without the negative health issues associated with smoking cigarettes.

The Council faced a packed audience, filled with opponents of a proposed ban on e-cigarettes that would have banned the sale and consumption within the City limits. Only one person spoke on behalf of the ban.

The proposed ban would have given merchants two weeks to sell their inventories. A sister ordinance would have limited “smoking” e-cigs to private areas, much like regular cigarettes.

“I can’t see banning e-cigarettes and not cigarettes,” said Mayor John Mirisch.

Rumor has it that it was more than dozens of comments. According to the CASAA Facebook group, there may have been thousands of e-mails as well as some companies like NJoy bringing in people to speak before the council. The stakes for this one were high after all. Local government is a very monkey-see, monkey-do operation. If one city decides the hoosegow for e-cigarette vendors, surely others could follow.

The Washington Times published an interview with Cynthia Cabrera, head of the industry group SFATA about their concerns with e-cigarette regulations. The top concern was that if the FDA treated e-cigarettes like any other tobacco product it would essentially destroy the e-cigarette industry as we know it.

Advocates press regulatory case for e-cigarettes

There’s no threat per se to the FDA regulating [e-cigarettes] under the appropriate framework. The threat is if the FDA regulates it as a tobacco product. The industry can’t survive if it gets regulated as a tobacco product. For example, here’s Daniel Walsh, who is a manufacturer in 36 states, nine countries, looking to build out and expand, but the requirements, the burden of being treated like a tobacco product would put him out of business. … The products on the market now are far better than the products that were on the market in 2007 and what [FDA regulation as a tobacco product] would do is it would take them back in time and put them out of business because they wouldn’t be able to sell anything until they got an approval.

This is in sharp contrast with some of other players, in particular Big Tobacco, who would rather see people like Daniel Walsh unemployed and consumers given fewer choices.

Al-Jazeera America published a post on their blog about e-cigarettes. The article was unfortunately a little on the lazy side, but that’s not the story here.  The story is actually about one of the people they interviewed for the piece, a researcher who got an FDA grant to study cardiovascular effects of e-cigarettes. In particular the concept of particles.

7 things you need to know about electronic cigarettes

Schick is running an FDA-funded study on how e-cigarettes affect the cardiovascular system. She uses a laser photometer to measure the mass of particles that are in the vapor emitted by e-cigarettes.

“The reason I care about particles is that breathing particles causes cardiovascular disease, causes people to die of heart attacks, plain and simple,” says Schick.

Dilworth got a first-hand look at the particles in e-cig smoke, when the vapor from the patrons and booths triggered the smoke detectors at the convention center in Anaheim.

“If it is just water vapor, why did it set off the fire alarm?” she asks.

Well, probably because like most large commercial buildings the convention center likely uses optical smoke detectors instead of the ones you typically find in homes which detect particulate matter. In addition, it’s been pointed out that not all particles are of concern, but I barely understand that one myself so I’ll let it go. Don’t worry, I have another one, according to this post Schick is studying “third-hand” vapor too.

A while back the UK regulators in charge of advertising shot down pretty much every UK eCig ad on the basis it was too vague. This, despite the fact that they couldn’t really show the product because of the same regulatory agency. VIP e-cigarettes decided to produce a whole new selection of ads that meet the guidelines. Oh, and they are complete over-the-top sexual innuendo.

E-Cigarette Maker Launches Bizarre, Raunchy Teasers in Response to Ad Ban ‘No apologies’ for new tactic

The Ad Standards Authority previously reprimanded VIP and other e-cigarette makers for running ads that weren’t clear they were for e-cigarettes, and didn’t mention that the products contain nicotine. Both of those facts are clear enough in the 20-second teaser below—after you hear the woman telling you to “get it out” and “put it in my mouth.” There’s a version with a man, too. The short TV spots don’t show the product—they’re not allowed to—but the 60-second online versions do.

“I think it’s safe to say that our ads could be considered controversial and definitely push the boundaries. However, we make no apologies for this,” says David Levin, co-founder of VIP. “Due to advertising regulations, we were not permitted to include the product in the ad, so we decided to take a tongue-in-cheek approach to appeal to an adult audience and communicate the superior taste of VIP products whilst making it clear they do contain nicotine.”

I’m too busy laughing to provide any real commentary. I guess the regulators should have seen this coming. Hit the link to watch the ads on Ad Week’s site.

Sometimes you have to wonder how people think. Minnesota is currently considering rolling e-cigarettes into the state’s clean air act. This naturally includes indoor and public use bans just like cigarettes.  For some reason, the sponsor of the bill seems to think that move would make the e-cigarette industry better.


“Right now, we’ve got a patchwork system where local governments and even individual businesses make their own rules,” Kahn said. “It’s creating a lot of confusion. My bill removes any doubt as to where e-cigarettes can be used by applying the same regulations we have for traditional tobacco products … We can remove a lot of the confusion we’re seeing right now and bring more stability to this growing market.”

Yes, because restrictive bans and other heavy regulation is always good for young industries.

The Iowa state attorney general is leaning on the state legislature to roll e-cigarettes into the states existing tobacco laws. The move would rightfully prohibit sales to anyone under 18, but then it would also incorrectly categorize the devices the same as cigarettes including all the ban goodness that entails.

IA Attorney General Wants E-Cigarette Regulated, Banned From Public Areas

“It’s projected that revenue from this year from e-cigarettes will be $1.7 billion. Kids smoking is estimated to have doubled in the last year in the country. There should not be any marketing to kids,” said Attorney General Tom Miller.

The last point of Miller’s proposal was to legally define e-cigarettes and from there, see if they should be taxed further than the standard sales tax like other products that contain nicotine.

Taxes always seem to pop up as an aside. Mentioned at the end, hopefully, so that nobody is still paying attention. It seems that a sin tax on ecigs is far too tempting a target for cash-strapped states to ignore.

Yes, you read that right, it’s not some linkbait title going on here.  The city of Beverly Hills is set to vote on an “urgent” ordnance November 5th (that’s tomorrow as I write this). Apparently it’s recommended the council pass this thing by a 4/5ths vote eliminating the need for a second reading. The law would do a few things. First of all, it puts a halt to new e-cigarette shops from opening (there goes my dream of Rodeo Drive Vapes). That’s a bad thing, but it’s been done before. Here’s where it gets fun.

Second all existing businesses will be forbidden from selling electronic cigarettes. Merchants who currently carry e-cigarettes have two weeks to unload their stock.  Anyone caught selling e-cigarettes after that point will be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a $1,000 fine or six months in jail.

Yes, selling e-cigarettes in 90210 will be a crime if this thing passes.  Here’s the proposal in all its glory.

Download (PDF, 2.71MB)Note, the title of this article has been updated as I accidentally typed users instead of sellers.

This may sound like a story I’ve mentioned before. Several times. But, once again a group of senators is harassing the FDA chief over e-cigarettes. This time the bee in the lawmakers bonnets is e-cigarette advertising. In a letter to the commissioner, the senators compared and contrasted old-school cigarette ads with marketing maneuvers companies like NJoy and Lorillard have been pulling. But it’s not all about the big companies, a couple of smaller vendors were singled out for the sin of having “cartoon” mascots.

Ranking Members Warn of Dangers of E-Cigarette Advertising

Richard Carmona joining e-cigarette board - Associated Press -
Richard Carmona joining e-cigarette board - Associated Press -
Traditional cigarette manufacturers used cartoon characters to promote their products before they were banned under the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement.  R.J. Reynolds’s long-time use of Joe Camel is one prominent example.   E-cigarette manufacturers are now using the same techniques.  For example, and Magic Puff City E-cigarettes both use cartoon monkeys to sell e-cigarettes.  Blu’s website has featured a cartoon character “Mr. Cool.”  Blu also produced a web video featuring the same cartoon character in a cartoon storyboard visual format.  Our website displays the similarities.

Blu doesn’t even run the Mr. Cool stuff any more, and it barely did in the first place (it was kind of crappy). And the smaller outfits, somehow I doubt they have the sinister background of RJR to plot some kind of scheme to get kids to buy e-liquid based on simian imagery.  I wonder what these politicians make of hentai.

Alright, take this one with a big grain of salt as it’s a pretty healthy helping of optimism. My pals over at eCig Advanced sent their news guy along with the SFATA delegation to DC today to speak with lawmakers and officials about the impending FDA apocalypse. It turns out that things are not as cut and dry as you might think. At least some people realize small businesses stand to get screwed in this whole mess and think that might be a bad thing.

Latest from SFATA Fly-In in Washington, DC

-It is very possible that the Office of Budget and Managementwill not approve the FDA deeming draft. The FDA does not seem capable of proving that the cost of regulation (lost business, jobs, implementing fees, etc.) will be worth the benefits.

-There are rumors that the Small Business Association is looking into the FDA’s proposed regulations and will fight it on behalf of small electronic cigarette companies.

-The FDA regulation pipeline is so convoluted that we are not likely to see regulation of the industry for 2-3 years.

Granted this is all just chatter, which is why I marked it as a rumor, but after months of hearing nothing but doom and gloom I wanted to share some positive insights.  There’s more to this article, so be sure to visit the link above. I’ll keep posting about the meetings as they publish them since I couldn’t fly out to DC myself and have to live vicariously through fellow e-cig bloggers.

Spain’s campaign against e-cigarettes marches on according to the Olive Press. Newspapers named after food processing equipment are always reliable I’m sure. Anyway, over in Spain apparently recreated the Greek study that found airway constriction as a result of e-cigarette vapor inhalation. While the Greek study was always sensationalized, this Spanish study is getting out of the gate in full sky falling mode.

E-cigs “no safer than the real thing

Spain´s Association of Pneumology and Thoraicic Surgery tested the effects of e-cigarettes on the lung function in non-smokers, healthy smokers, and those with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The medics found the vapour in the devices caused lungs to react in exactly the same way as with regular cigarettes.

Dr Segismundo Solano, leader of the research, concluded the e-cigarette immediately increased the airway resistance and decreased their power to draw air through, and this effect was greater in the group of non-smokers and healthy smokers.

I have a feeling that this panic inciting text is more the work of the Olive Press than what the study says, but who knows. What I do know with a fair level of certainty is that other media outlets will grab onto this gem of bad reporting and it will get folded into the increasing “evidence” prohibitionists pull out of their asses to refute e-cigarettes.

As we come closer to a world with FDA e-cigarette regulations, the rhetoric is reaching a boiling point. Prohibitionists have their efforts turned up all the way. The e-cigarette industry is getting in on the act with a SFATA field trip to DC planned for later this week. It turns out not all the players in the e-cigarette market actually want more appropriate regulations. Altria spoke up saying specific e-cigarette regulations aren’t necessary.

E-cigarette makers worry new regulations will snuff out emerging business

“[SFATA] would really like to set up a separate framework for regulation. It wouldn’t have the burdensome compliance expenses. The reporting expenses under the Tobacco Control Act are onerous,” Cabrera said. “No one is saying that there shouldn’t be regulation but that there should be appropriate regulation for this product.”

Tobacco giant Altria — the parent company for Philip Morris USA and NuMark, which markets e-cigarettes — feels differently, saying the new product warrants FDA scrutiny.

“We believe electronic cigarettes should be regulated by the Center for Tobacco Products at the Food and Drug Administration because, by definition, it is a product that is derived from tobacco,” said David Sylvia, an Altria spokesman.

Well isn’t that so very helpful of the tobacco giant who used the exact same strategy to ensure its market position when cigarette regulations came to be. You’d think at some point the FDA would tire of being Altria’s bitch.

Australia seems to be on a steady downhill path to madness when it comes to electronic cigarettes. The latest installment has an actually citizen slapped with an actual fine for using his e-cigarette at a train station. The man told the police officer it was an electronic cigarette and was let go with a warning. But later, he got a ticket in the mail with a large fine attached.  The man took his case to the local court to try to get the whole thing straightened out.

Anthony Campo pleads not guilty after being fined for smoking an electronic cigarette at a train station

However, when magistrate Alan Railton, who described the case as “a first for me”, said he had to enforce the fine, Mr Campo changed his plea to not guilty.

Producing a zip-lock bag containing the ciggy and a small charger, Mr Campo told the magistrate “it was only an electronic cigarette”. Amid chuckles from the galler, the bemused magistrate said, “That’s a good one.”

The prosecutor said irrespective of whether it was an e-cig the regulations defined the offence as including “any tobacco or any other product intended to be smoked”.

Mr Railton said there was nothing the court could do but enforce the fine.

Granted I’m not familiar with Australian law, it seems like this ruling could potentially have a ripple effect if it’s not appealed. Since e-cigarettes aren’t actually smoked, this could make the devices legall fall under that definition, which could further expose them to restrictive laws in that country.

The TVECA, an e -cigarette trade group can be found frequently in news stories talking about e-cigarettes. Normally, it’s in the context of the latest prohibitionist rhetoric. Generally, the quote ends up being something about water vapor and sounding like tap dancing around the issue.  I’m still not sure if that’s really what’s being said or it’s classic misquoting with the meat of the discussion not making it into the article. That’s why I was somewhat impressed with a piece penned by the TVECA’s president Tom Kiklas  in which he made a pretty solid argument against things like the FDA’s 2009 hit piece.

The Upside of E-Cigarettes

The Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association (TVECA) had the opportunity to present to the city council the scientific facts in rebuttal to the July 2009 FDA press release. This led to the city council voting not to ban e-cigarettes.

Also within the FDA release, which has been the genesis of so much confusion on the safety and efficacy of electronic cigarettes, is a request by the FDA that healthcare professionals and consumers may report serious adverse events (side effects) or product quality problems with the use of e-cigarettes to the FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program. During this same time the FDA was litigating with TVECA co-founder Ray Story. A subsequent ruling in that litigation by the Washington D.C. Appellate Court stated, “Regarding harm to third parties and to the public interest, the district court observed the FDA had cited no evidence to show that electronic cigarettes harmed anyone.”

The FDA had more than a year to find and present to the court incidences of harm that were caused to consumers by e-cigs to buttress their litigation, yet presented not one.

Not a bad counter argument. It’s kind of a shame that this sort of thing and the rest of the stuff in the article hasn’t gotten much ink since 2009.

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