October 25, 2013

e-Cigarette News Roundup for 10-25 – Eclectic Eccentrics

e-Cigarette news time! Boy what a week of interesting stories we've had. Not only has it been revealed that the FDA submitted its plans to regulate e-cigarettes to the Obama Administration. The worlds' most expensive (and tacky) e-cigarette was unveiled as well. It was just an odd week of e-cigarette news.  Here are the stories you may have missed.

world's most expensive e-cigarette
world's most expensive e-cigarette

I reported a while back that the former head of the prohibitionist heavy American Lung Association joined up with an obscure e-cigarette lobbying group of unknown intention. Charles Connor made his first press appearance on behalf of the group in an article written for Tulsa World.  In the article he points out that the term e-cigarette is somewhat of a misnomer and trying to treat ecigs as real tobacco is a dangerous idea.

Charles D. Connor: A cigarette by any other name

Given the deadly consequences of cigarette smoking, the passion of health policy advocates and legislators for eliminating tobacco use from society is understandable and commendable. Regrettably, however, these same good folks are mistaken when they fail to acknowledge the obvious differences between “traditional” tobacco cigarettes and electronic cigarettes.

Electronic cigarettes should be regulated. The industry’s products should meet certain standards of quality, consistency and nicotine levels. Like many other chemicals/substances suitable for human consumption at certain dosages, nicotine can be extremely dangerous in higher concentrations. Furthermore, it is important that there be regulated efforts to eliminate youth access to the product, both in physical store locations and Internet sales.

Of course it’s that second paragraph taken from later in the article that gives me pause. Indeed we need to restrict youth access, but the group at one point came out in favor of banning online sales. Fool me once and all that.

As we all know, prohibitionists seem to be against e-cigarettes for the mere idea that they look like smoking. While they are trying to ban e-cigarettes, or generally make vaping go underground, things haven’t gotten out of hand.  One individual in Wales apparently did decide to cross the line and was charged with spitting on a man for using an e-cigarette.

Man spat at for ‘smoking’ indoors – with an electronic cigarette

She asked him not to smoke inside but was told by his father Brian Jones it was electronic. She again asked for it him not to use it inside.

Nicholls then turned to Mr Jones and spat at him and the spittle landed in his mouth.

Phil Huxtable, for Nicholls, also known as Dawn Wheeler, said she was upset at the time and understood it was wrong.

She pleaded guilty to assault in front of city magistrates.

Naturally, I’m not suggesting this individual did anything but act alone. However, this is the result of the so-called “denormalizing” strategy that prohibitionists have been so fond of and fear e-cigarettes are threatening. Clearly, e-cigarettes haven’t broken those boundaries yet.

Yesterday I mentioned an etiquette column that was hardly helpful at all with regards to e-cigarettes. Today, there was another advice column out of the UK that had much more practical suggestions for e-cigarettes and social settings. Keep smokers indoors and maybe help pay for the booze while you’re at it!

Dear Mary — The e-cigarette party is the new Tupperware party

Q. I often give parties in my central London house in a private residential square. At any one time it seems that about a third of the guests are outside the house smoking on the pavement. This is disruptive and my neighbours complain, but my husband is asthmatic and we cannot allow smoking inside. What do you suggest, Mary?
— C.B.L., London W8

A. Keep guests inside by using the solution popularised by tribal marketing entrepreneur Max Mallows who offers e-cigarettes, for example Provog, which cost £4 each. Most people have not tried an e-cigarette until someone else gives them one, but they often like it. Indeed, why not broker a deal with an e-cigarette company and actually sell them to guests in a variation of the Tupperware party? Mallows himself uses Volish, which cost £30 and are reusable, with liquid refills costing £5 every few weeks.

Now, that’s pragmatic! And nary a Professor Glantz or petticoat to be found in the advice.

Tobacco company Altria talked e-cigarettes on its recent investors call. The company will be rolling its product out to Arizona. In its existing test market the company’s MarkTen brand has pretty good penetration. However, from the sounds of it, the disposable e-cigarettes may not be a runaway hit.

On the Call: Altria Group CEO Barrington

“I think it’s too early to talk about the numbers because I just don’t think that they’re well-developed enough to share (and) to be confident in them, but I can tell you with respect to who is trying the products in e-vapor generally that there is dual use. Particularly as adult smokers try e-vapor products, we know that some of them are satisfied and others are not, some of them use them situationally. … Obviously the category has grown very quickly off a very low base. Whether it will continue to grow at that trajectory, of course, no one knows yet.”

There’s a rounding endorsement. Somehow I don’t think the Tobacco fat cats are terribly worried about dual use. Plus, the over-cautious foray into test markets probably isn’t helping.  Yet, these are the people the FDA will likely hand the keys to the industry to once e-cigarette regulations get under way.

For some reason, the Mayo Clinic decided to put out a press release to remind everyone they still hate e-cigarettes. Because, you know, they’ve only mentioned it dozens of times. And just like they mentioned before, they totally wish it was still the glory days of 2009 when the FDA could target its enemies with sketchy reports.

Mayo Clinic Experts: What Should You Know About E-Cigarettes?

What is known about electronic cigarettes?

- Manufacturers claim that electronic cigarettes are a safe alternative to conventional cigarettes.

- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has questioned the safety of these products.

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

- The FDA has issued a warning about potential health risks associated with electronic cigarettes, but is not yet regulating their use or standards of manufacture.

Alright I’m being a little unfair here. They also mentioned that there’s no scientific evidence (except that one thing they mentioned about airway irritation). Mostly, they’re trying to drum up interest in a little symposium they plan on having about e-cigarettes in the near future. I’m sure it will be a prohibitionists’ who’s-who.

From time to time, the question on when to vape in public hits the mainstream etiquette columns. Sometimes the results are amusing like that time Miss Manners thought we were living in the world of Downton Abbey. The answer that came out of Mr. Manners (no relation) was a little more modern, but alas it deferred heavily on the side of prohibitionist dogma, deferring to a certain vaping arch-villain for part of the advice.

Digital Dilemmas: What’s the Etiquette of E-Cigarettes?

Myth No. 2: E-cigarettes are healthy. Again, not so fast. While e-cigarettes release vapor instead of smoke, “they do emit toxic chemicals into the environment,” says Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine and director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco. So far, they are not FDA-approved and there’s very little research to show their long-term effects.

Sadly, apparently the only myth to be found there was everything after the bold text. Apparently the consensus of other regulars of the column is to treat it the same way as smoking and go outside. Perhaps grudgingly, the author also suggested asking the management of an individual establishment as plan b. Maybe that was plan b because it would make for a much shorter column, and there’s probably a word count requirement or something.

It likely comes as no surprise to you as a reader of this site that limiting access to e-cigarettes is akin to dooming smokers to keep on smoking. An article by Reason points that fact out to a wider audience. The article points out how fundamentally flawed much of the fears truly are and that these attempts at scare mongering can have real costs to public health.

No Smoke, Yet Ire

For instance, Maria Azzarelli, coordinator of the Southern Nevada Health District’s tobacco control program, recentlytold the Las Vegas Sun ”no one can say right now whether e-cigarettes are a healthier alternative to cigarettes.” Really? No one can say whether inhaling vapor containing nicotine, flavoring, and propylene glycol, which the FDA has approved as an ingredient in food and medicine, is safer than inhaling smoke?

Even the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which recently cited increased consumption of e-cigarettes while urging the FDA to regulate them, concedes“e-cigarettes appear to have far fewer of the toxins found in smoke compared to traditional cigarettes.” Boston University public health professor Michael Siegel, who supports vaping as a harm-reducing alternative to smoking, notes that “we actually have a much better idea what is in electronic cigarette vapor than what is in tobacco smoke.”

The author also points out how silly the gateway theories sound when you think about it. Even the CDC’s data shows that those kids who might have puffed an e-cigarette at least once in a month are largely existing smokers.

This news item is sort of an odd bird for me.  I actually agree with the conclusion this article makes, but strongly disagree with the way they reach the conclusion. The short version is this: talk to your kids about addiction whether it’s e-cigarettes and smoking.  Yes, very good. But, the article is built on house of pure speculation and misinformation.

Editorial: Talk to children about the dangers of e-cigarettes

But know this: The Food and Drug Administration in 2009 released findings of a test it performed on e-cigarettes and found carcinogens and toxic chemicals, including ingredients found in antifreeze. There is plenty of research on the dangers of nicotine mixed with the chemicals of tobacco cigarettes, but who knows what the dangers of synthetic nicotine are? And little is known about what really is in the e-cigarettes. That alone is bothersome.

Absent FDA action — it’s sad what little regulations there are to protect consumers from all kinds of snake oil sellers — the e-cigarettes continue to proliferate in America. If the government cannot act, we urge parents to do the right thing. Talk to your children about the dangers of physical addiction and urge them to stay away from cigarettes and e-cigarettes. We do not want another generation of smokers of any sort.

This article couldn’t be more wrong. There’s nothing synthetic in e-cigarette nicotine. But the worst part is the idea is you should talk to your kids because the government is too slow in doing the job of parenting other people’s kids.  How about just talking to your kids anyway? You know, like people who aren’t shitty parents do on occasion.

I’m even struggling for words to comment on this story.  Apparently, e-cigarettes aren’t expensive enough for Russia’s elite. Some absurdly rich Russian guy had an e-cigarette commissioned for his girlfriend at a price tag of nearly a million dollars. It features diamonds and crystals and gold. Even the clearomizer has gold trim.

£550,000 goes up in smoke! World’s most expensive e-cigarette covered in 246 diamonds is created for girlfriend of Russian oligarch

world's most expensive e-cigarette
world's most expensive e-cigarette
The £550,000 diamond encrusted custom-made electronic vaping machine was manufactured on the personal order of an anonymous London-based Russian oil magnate.

The masterpiece – which took four and a half months to create – is laden with 246 flawless two-carat clear crystal diamonds each worth £1,800.

One source said: ‘It is lined with 46 yellow Swarovski crystals and has a six-carat oval diamond worth £46,000 on the tip.’

It also features ‘authentic hand blown Italian glass from the Venetian island of Murano’ and is finished with 24-carat gold button and clearomizer base.

So just think about that the next time you want to grouse about how expensive Innokin’s stuff is. Of course part of me kind of wishes people would put this kind of money into advocacy. You know, so they can keep buying crazy ass e-cigarettes for years to come. In business school they told me that idea is called enlightened self-interest.

In this case, the term retailers refers to those who run convenience stores and similar locations, as opposed to e-cigarette specialty retailers who already know the drill. An article on the industry site CSDecisions points out the rough waters of local regulation, fear, prohibitionists and clueless media outlets. If retailers want to keep making more money with e-cigs (even terrible disposables), they need to be able to speak out in their defense.

It’s Time to be a Tobacco Advocate

For the most part, the media attention has produced a frustrating mix of nonsense, good sense and the utterly senseless. So, if the product is going to continue to grow and prosper, providing revenue and profits for distributors and retailers, it’s critical that supporters of the product understand how to answer the most basic questions about the product.

First and foremost, it is important that everyone understand that e-cigarettes are not untested. In my opinion, the most comprehensive gathering of the significant relevant research that has been done on e-cigarettes exists on the Website of the very helpful e-cigarette trade association, the Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association (SFATA). This information can be found at www.sfata.org.

The author even points out the classic formula for local media coverage that I’ve been going on about for years. The outlet finds a random vaper, a prohibitionist or six and maybe a harm reduction person. I have to see now that others are on to that trend, I feel a little vindicated.

e-Cigarettes have gained popularity in France. A lot of popularity. A recent story in the NY Times covered the industry stating that there are over 400 shops in the country, many of which seem to be located in Paris. Most shop owners believe it’s a bubble that will eventually burst.

In France, an E-Cigarette Bubble?

Like mushrooms after a rain, these little shops keep springing up all over the place, Paris in particular. Just in the last year, six have opened for business in a 500-meter, or 1,600-foot, radius in a neighborhood just north of the Paris Opéra.

For now, the business is a no-brainer, or a “golden chicken,” as Richard Zeitoun, owner of the Ciga’Lib store on the Rue St. Lazare, put it.

Interestingly, the same shop owners believe their businesses will survive the bubble. France is eyeing higher e-cigarette taxes, and of course Big Tobacco will do their best to burst the boutique bubble.

As if prohibitionists needed another excuse to tie e-cigarettes to old-school tobacco companies, one company intends to resurrect a nearly extinct relic of the tobacco wars. AVT put out a press release announcing they are partnering with Seminole e-cigarettes to make some sort of automated e-cigarette vending system.

AVT Develops Automated Stores for Seminole E-Cigarette Program

CORONA, Calif., Oct. 21, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — AVT, Inc. (OTC Markets: AVTC) (www.autoretail.com), a leader in automated retailing systems, micro-stores and kiosk has launched a pilot program of their new Electronic Cigarette Machine, developed for the Seminole Indian Tribe in Florida.

E-Cigarette global sales jumped 30 percent in each of the previous three years, according to the New York Times. Analysts expect those figures to double this year and continue climbing.

The release was decidedly sparse in actual information about the new project. That also means there’s no word on how they would plan on working with any sort of age verification system once that sort of thing becomes required when the industry falls under regulations.

Connecticut lawmakers are considering whether to try and include e-cigarettes in the state’s current smoking ban. The move would redefine the use of e-cigarettes as smoking. The motivation appears to be a level of wilful ignorance on the part of state politicians and the health department which claims there’s no health and safety information about the devices.

Connecticut lawmakers consider adding e-cigs to smoking ban

State Sen. Edward Meyer, D-Guilford, said legislators are currently asking if the definition of smoking real cigarettes should be expanded to the electronic devices.

“What isn’t in question is the medical testimony” Meyer said. “We’re getting information that they are a health risk.”

The impact of e-cigarettes on health is not yet known, as safety and effectiveness have not yet been studied. Nor are the ingredients known, according to the state Department of Public Health.

Yeah, I’m pretty sure the medical testimony, whatever that might be probably is in question. You can’t assert both that there is a known risk and the risk is not yet known.

In a story that would only make sense in the context of Jenny McCarthy, a company that boasts a “nicotine free” way to quit smoking is offering the celebrity with… interesting worldviews to endorse its products instead.  The company makes some sort of magical laser beams that somehow treat smoking addiction, and for some reason the FDA hasn’t tried to ride them out of town on rails (yet).

No More Nicotine! Company Offers Jenny McCarthy $1 Million To Drop E-Cigarettes

Freedom Laser Therapy, Inc. is a company devoted to distributing a nicotine free and natural way to quit smoking, and they are urging McCarthy to work with them because they claim e-cigarettes keep “42.5 million Americans hooked on nicotine in one form or another.”

“My guess is that Big Tobacco offered you upwards of $1 million to pitch their popular brand of E-Cigarettes. Freedom Laser Therapy would consider matching your electronic cigarette spokesperson salary,” president Craig Nabat wrote in the letter to McCarthy.

The letter is mostly full of smack talking about the e-cigarette industry, which clearly the laser company knows nothing about (42.5M is the number of actual SMOKERS in the US). But hey, ditching a technology actually backed by scientific evidence for one that’s mostly conjecture and imagination seems to match the actor’s shtick perfectly, this could work to everyone’s benefit.  Lasers! Pew pew pew!

Introducing the world's first Vapor Zeus!
Introducing the world's first Vapor Zeus!

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