November 22, 2013

e-Cigarette News Roundup for November 22 – Jolly Good Time

Welcome to yet another fun-filled week of e-cigarette news.  Things have been relatively quiet around here this week. Of course there were a few notable news items. The most unusual, perhaps is that NJoy is taking Victory to court over e-cigarette packaging. I can't help but wonder if that might be a harbinger of things to come. So sit back and get caught up with the notable e-cigarette news of the week.

Ploom is sort of an oddity in the e-cigarette industry. Unlike virtually every other device out there, Plooms devices don’t use e-liquid. Rather they have a model that uses loose leaf tobacco and the Model 2 which uses compressed tobacco pods. Personally, I always assumed the Ploom was intended to be a marijuana vaporizer, but it turns out that’s not totally true.

Ploom is riding on an investment from Japan Tobacco, makers of Camel and Winston.  It will interesting to see how their take on vapor stacks up under coming regulations.  For my part, I might need to take a look at the model 2 at some point.

Well, this was probably only a matter of time. NJoy has taken Victory ecigs to court over patent infringement.  The press release below says that NJoy is going after Victory because of the actual storage case of the e-cigarette.

Here’s the interesting thing.  The patent listed in that press release seems to cover the light up ash cap that pretty much every e-cigarette ever has. NJoy holds two patents and they do cover the carrying/display case as well as the squishy filters and e-cigarettes with paper labels.  I wonder if things are going to start getting ugly down the road here.

Hey, so remember how the CDC trickled out its results, recently casting an accusatory finger to snus and hookahs in addition to e-cigarettes?  It turns out another number also got trickled out with those. As e-cigarette usage rose, cigarette smoking declined.

It’s almost as if smoking declined nearly exactly as much as e-cigarette usage went up.  What an odd coincidence. No wonder the CDC didn’t want to put all of their data out at the same time. Since inquiring minds don’t want to know, chances of other media outlets catching on to this interesting numbers game is slim to none.

We’ve known for quite a while that Pharma companies were one of the driving forces behind prohibitionists and attempts to keep e-cigarettes down. While most news outlets are more than happy to regurgitate whatever is spoon-fed to them into the eager agape hatchling mouths of viewers, every once in a while some outlets do their job and report things (like that one time in Oklahoma). Here’s one instance of that.

Sadly, the Examiner still remains on the fringes of mainstream media, so who knows if this really is much of a win. It seems unlikely we’ll see bigger names make the oh-so-difficult leaps to see the painfully obvious vested interests at work here.

Valley News cornered Mitch Zeller, head of the FDA’s tobacco arm to ask about the agency’s moves on e-cigarettes.  Zeller is still playing his cards close to the vest, not revealing what the regulations might look like. However, he did shed a little light behind the ideology of e-cigarette prohibition.

Don’t worry, the gateway and flavors thing still made an appearance, but it seems like the concept of “dual use” is gaining some steam.  One thing that’s different about e-cigarettes is that most users start out with dual use and then eventually migrate completely to e-cigarettes.  This isn’t a binary switch, and that seems to be lost on some. Well, either that, or it’s a convenient trope.

An article in a Texas paper came out (for the kids) with a handy-dandy list of pretty much all known tobacco variants and why they’re problematic (for kids). Snus got a raw deal getting all kinds of cancers and stuff associated with it. Of course e-cigarettes got the usual treatment what with gateway and flavors and all.

If anything, at least I’m impressed that the old antifreeze myth wasn’t dragged out for this one. Then again there’s slightly more reality behind that one than there is with a connection to e-cigarettes and lung cancer.

The Guardian ran an op-ed piece on the e-cigarette debate from a public health perspective. There are two sides here, those that embrace harm reduction and those who are little more prohibition-minded. The debate boils down to one point, which is where is the problem? But something caught my attention here and made me wonder:

Did you catch it? The smokers and ex-smokers aren’t part of the conversation. It’s not what will work for smokers, but what public health thinks would work. I think that’s a whole lot of what’s behind this “debate” the actual people involved aren’t around, it’s like parents debating on what after school program their children should be enrolled in.

It looks like the gloves are starting to come off in these local fights to get e-cigarettes banned. In many cases e-cigarette consumers and merchants have been successful in fending off overly restrictive use bans by showing up in force and telling their stories.  The prohibitionists went with bringing in the kids and just plain pretending that e-cigarettes are totally known to be dangerous.

Two retailers did show up with a petition signed by 170 people. They didn’t have much impact at the meeting. That goes to show the importance of showing up to these hearings when possible. Actual presence is important, especially when facing children coached to say they’re afraid e-cigarettes will corrupt or kill them or whatever.

 

Tahlequah, Oklahoma has been one of those local city e-cigarette battle grounds. The e-cigarette regulation has been stricken from the agenda at the request of those who put it there in the first place.  Apparently there was quite a bit of concern from the vaping community after word of the plan got out.

It probably didn’t help the people behind the ban that a newspaper actually followed the money and found some Oklahoma towns may have been inspired more by grant money than any sort of valid health reasoning.

The slow and steady march of Big Tobacco into the e-cigarette industry marches steadily onward. RJR announced that it will begin selling its VUSE e-cigarette product in Utah some time in early 2014.

It still amazes me how glacial a pace most tobacco companies are taking with electronic cigarettes. That’s yet another thing that makes the idea of regulation handing the industry over to these companies. Innovation and cautious roll outs aren’t exactly best friends.

Here’s a weird art-imitates-life moment for you.  The onion decided to take on the notion that kids love them some e-cigarettes. The format used their phony man-on-the-street style quotes.

Yeah, if I didn’t put that logo in there, it would be pretty hard to tell that wasn’t actually an Onion bit as opposed to any random e-cigarette news story. Perhaps if your message sounds exactly the same as an Onion send-up, you might be trying to make the wrong points.

Here’s a story of a small e-cigarette company going after a huge corporation. After Virgin (the giant corporation) sent cease and desist letters to the e-cigarette company, Virgin Vapor got tired of being harassed over such a generic word. Rather than sitting around waiting for the giant to sue them, Virgin Vapor took the fight to Virgin.

This is pretty much the polar opposite of that guy who got his pants sued off by Big Tobacco and just sat around claiming conspiracy theories while not actually showing up for court.

 

In what can be described as nothing other than a stunt, a Gainesville commissioner made a video of him trying an e-cigarette. You know, for science. And for Facebook likes probably.  Oh, but don’t worry, he didn’t inhale.

 

Why is it the people who know the least about a given subject are the ones who get to make rules about them?

Ok, unlike that last unfortunate mishap with the Ohio article, this one is really about Iowa. Iowa where the state politicians haven’t quite come to their senses. Iowa is adding indoor use bans and much-dreaded taxes to their e-cigarette regulations. This led commentators to speculate politicians were going in for the easy win.

Of course what the elected types in the Buckeye state (ok, that’s actually Ohio, I couldn’t resist) is that restricting e-cigarettes is far from an easy win.  Sure you have the tobacco control industry cheer leading you and promising free money, but vapers rarely go quietly.

The Chicago Tribune ran an article on the state of e-cigarette regulation in Chicago and the rest of Illinois. The article featured vape shop owners, users and a parade of prohibitionists. It’s so hard to pick just one nonsensical things said in this article. Like the mainstream media, I’ll pick the one about kids.

Tobacco Free Kids has always been hardline.  But, I wonder at what point did they start directly embracing paranoid conspiracy theories.  Also, picking on the quote directly, kids are attracted to Peach Schnapps flavor? If that’s the case I think we might have some bigger problems as a nation.

James Dunworth of the Ashtray Blog (and friend of this site) had a chance to explain to regulators in the UK why medical regulation of e-cigarettes is a bad idea. The piece is lengthy and has a lot of insight. One thing in particular that caught my eye is how expensive regulation would be. Here’s some numbers that were bandied about based on the MHRA‘s low-end estimates for approval.

This reminds me of the record and movie industries. Their claims of the value of the music and movie industries far eclipses the value of all the wealth ever created. Side note, I just got done reading Year 0, a pretty funny novel that lampoons the idea of music industry damages.

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