The Week in E-Cig News

Each week, will take a look at a few of the more notable electronic cigarette and vaping stories that took place, and recap them for you here in a nice, tidy, round-up style post. Enjoy!

How’s everyone doing? If you’ve been on the Internet for the past couple of days, you no doubt heard a lot about space. What with the Super Mega Turbo Blood Moon 5000 (author’s note: that may not be the technical term for the recent lunar eclipse), and NASA finding pretty clear evidence for liquid water on Mars, it’s been a busy week for goings on outside the confines of our home planet. But since science hasn’t figured out a way to vape in space (yet), we’ll focus on Earth-based news for this week’s e-cig roundup post.

Op/Ed: Let’s Pump the Brakes on E-Cig Hysteria

Sure, this is more of an opinion rather than a traditional news story, but it references enough facts and studies for it to be share-worthy here. Richard Carmona – who just so happens to be the former U.S. Surgeon General and author of numerous tobacco warnings – this week penned an editorial over at the New York Post calling for the inclusion of common sense into the electronic cigarette debate.

Citing both the recent Public Health England study (that we’ve referenced a lot here lately), as well as stats and figures here in America, Mr. Carmona pains a pretty detailed picture of how e-cigs can indeed be a positive – both to smokers of regular cigarettes and society as a whole:

PHE is the first public body to declare its support for e-cigarettes. PHE declares its ambition to achieve a tobacco-free generation by 2025, and it believes that “e-cigarettes have the potential to make a significant contribution to the endgame for tobacco.” I share their ambition and believe that many of my colleagues in public health do as well — as do many in the private sector.

We now need to agree on how to make this work. The time has come for such responsible companies within this industry (with one of whom I am now affiliated), and the government and public health (where I have spent a good part of my career) to work together to find ways to accelerate the historic obsolescence of traditional smoking with rapidly advancing cleaner new technologies.

As he notes, Mr. Carmona is not 100% unbiased here – he sits on the NJOY board – but that doesn’t mean his points aren’t valid. The full op/ed (which you can read here) gives five solid observations on why we should start to see more studies like the recent PHE one come out soon.

Vaping Does Not Lead to Smoking

Yet again we’re going to reference the PHE study, but only because one of its most important points seems to get lost in the shuffle. Yes, the health benefits of vaping versus smoking have been well documented – in particular, the “95% safer than smoking” line from the summary of the study seems to garner the most headlines, and rightfully so.

But one of the initial aims of the study was actually to find out if the concerns of many parents around the world were valid – are children (or anyone for that matter) more likely to start picking up smoking after they have picked up and tried vaping? Is vaping with an e-cig and a flavorful e-liquid essentially a “gateway” to full-on smoking? The PHE found that it wasn’t, and this recent article on Fortune by Lynn T. Kozlowski (a professor of health behavior at The University at Buffalo, The State University of New York) reiterates that point, with other studies to back it up as well:

Both studies found that young people who tried e-cigarettes were somewhat likelier to try smoked tobacco products, but that doesn’t mean e-cigarettes are a substantial gateway to regular smoking.

Rather than reporting usual measures of current smoking (i.e. any cigarettes in the past 30 days) or daily smoking, both studies used “at least one puff” or “just a few puffs” in the past six months or lifetime.

It is as if an apple researcher thought “taking at least one bite of an apple in the past six months” was an important measure of initiation of apple eating.

This is a more in-depth and lengthy article compared to the NY Post op/ed posted above, but very much worth the read (available here). Her conclusion is worth sharing as well: “The focus on minor gateway effects for youth should not distract from the need to explore policy and clinical questions about harm and disease risk from adult use of legal tobacco products.”

Florida Teens Opting En Masse for Vaping over Smoking

Mr. Carmona mentioned in his New York Post editorial that smoking among adults is at its lowest point in decades. Many studies are also showing a sharp decrease in teenage smoking as well – in many instances, with larger decreases than the adult population. A big part of that is undoubtedly the amount of research and education that has shown the fatal health consequences associated with tobacco smoking.

But vaping also plays a role in that decrease, especially with younger Americans who are more open to technology and didn’t grow up in a world surrounded by cigarettes or being offered a “smoking or non-smoking” section of a restaurant. This Keys Info Net article summarizes the recent Florida Department of Health study:

The report details results of the annual Florida Youth Tobacco Survey. The 2015 survey was conducted in the spring and included 5,877 middle-school students and 6,443 high-school students in 174 public schools throughout the state, according to data released Wednesday.

Overall, the report reflects teens’ continued move away from cigarettes. For example, while 6.9 percent of high-school students said they “currently” smoke cigarettes, that figure is down from 10.1 percent in 2012, 13.1 percent in 2010, 15.7 percent in 2005 and 22.6 percent in 2000. Current tobacco use is defined as having smoked at least once in the past 30 days.

High-school students who said they smoke “frequently” — defined as using tobacco in at least 20 of the past 30 days — also declined. That total was 2.5 percent in 2015, down from 3.9 percent in 2012, 5.1 percent in 2010, 6.5 percent in 2005 and 10.5 percent in 2000, according to the data.

The full story can be found here.

That’s all folks – stay tuned for more news next week!

By Jerry Whitehead III

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