Welcome, you made it to Friday and another e-cigarette news round up in one of the most turbulent e-cigarette news weeks in a long time. This week we saw two special news reports about electronic cigarette health politics (see IOH report and White House Responds). We have some items from before the fallout, as well as a few pieces surrounding the news. And it also seems like Canada is feeling a little left out, so they remind us they still hate e-cigarettes too. So, grab your coffee, take a deep breath and let's get the e-cig news train rolling out of the station!
CASAA Rides Again
On the heels of the recently published letter to the editor in the Boston Globe, CASAA has gotten another letter published righting a grievous wrong. This time the wrong in question was the horribly misinformed article published in the Abilene Reporter News on December 6th. The original article basically parroted the FDA hit piece on e-cigarettes from 2009.
The authors repeat the most spurious claim made by the FDA — that e-cigarettes contain cancer-causing nitrosamines — without giving any consideration to a core principle of toxicology: “The dose makes the poison.”
It's encouraging to see such negative press being addressed with accurate information. Even more encouraging is at these news outlets are starting to publish these letters. Perhaps a sign that consumers and consumer advocates like CASAA are being taken seriously?
Canada Reminds You
Just a friendly note from our friends in the north. Canadian officials have always been against e-cigarettes. A post in the Chatham Daily News provides us with a right stern chiding.
“E-cigarettes” are being promoted as a safe alternative to tobacco and as an effective way to help you quit smoking. Health Canada however, is advising Canadians “not to purchase or use electronic smoking products, as these products may pose health risks and have not been fully evaluated for safety, quality and efficacy by Health Canada.”
I wonder if it's because they feel left out amongst all the current hullabaloo over the US’ renewed disdain for the devices. That sorta makes Canada like that hipster at the local coffee shop who liked some band nobody really likes “before they were cool”.
WV Ban Finally Fades Away
For those of you who followed the e-cigarette news roundups over the summer, Wheeling, WV is a familiar locale. The county's health department had been aggressively pushing a total smoking ban (including electronic cigarettes). The ban also included forbidding smoking in local casinos, which seems to be the death knell for the ban. According to a report in the Intelligencer, the ban has been tabled indefinitely.
“I have spoken individually to each member of the board of health and many members of the community,” Holloway said. “Although there is support for the proposed changes, it would appear that it is the consensus of this board not to act on these proposed regulations at this time until greater support from the community has been achieved.”
This seems to be a case where money talks more than anything. Several people testified over the summer about the benefits of e-cigarettes (including someone with the mysterious job title of e-cigarette personal trainer). That testimony was largely ignored. However, the gambling establishments and their patrons apparently couldn't be so easily denied.
Zorba Picks a Side
Dr. Zorba Paster of weekend NPR talk show fame decided to take a passing shot in an article posted on the Wisconson State Journal. In the article, the doctor answered a reader's question about the safety of prolonged nicotine gum chewing. The article went on to point out that chewing nicotine gum has to be safer than smoking. And then everything went pear shaped.
The real gunslingers to watch in this shootout are the tobacco makers who want you to think that “smokeless” tobacco is much safer. They're now being joined by new snake oil salesmen, the battery-powered “no smoke” cigarette lobby that claims these gadgets safely satisfy the craving. They don't and users often find themselves back on tobacco. These guys are the real pushers.
That's it. No reasoning to back anything up. Nothing to explain why e-cigarettes, which in an Italian study managed to get people off cigarettes who didn't even want to quit, were snake oil. No mention that only around 5% of people using stuff like the gum stay off cigarettes after 12 months. To be honest this one stings a little bit. It would be like the Car Talk guys started talking trash about electric cars for no good reason.
Reason on the IOM Report
In case you missed it, the big news on Wednesday was the Institute of Medicine's report to the FDA. If you did miss it, go read it now, I'll wait. The report essentially outlined a massive set of steps a company (with incredibly deep pockets) would have to go through to get their product blessed as “modified risk”. Reason Magazine not being the biggest fans of regulation had a thing or two to say about this idea.
Even if manufacturers could satisfy the government's demand for data, conclusively showing through population studies and double-blind clinical trials exactly how much safer their products are, the FDA could still say no. “A company that wants to market a lower risk tobacco product in the U.S.,” the IOM panel notes, “must offer scientific proof to FDA that the marketing of the product will not only reduce harm to individual users, but also benefit the health of the population as a whole.” That means the FDA can block the marketing of an undeniably safer cigarette alternative based on concerns about its impact on “persons who do not currently use tobacco products.” As I have been arguing for years, that standard makes the FDA the consumer's enemy.
That makes an interesting point. Not only are there several very expensive hoops to jump through to prove e-cigarettes are safe, but there's a giant veto button. And you know what else has a risk of current non-users starting the product? Cigarettes. This may make me unpopular with some, but if the government had the stones to actually ban cigarettes completely, I might shut up about the whole thing.
Via We Are CASAA Facebook Group
ACSH Comments on IOM Report
Looking for a different organization to blast the IOH Report? The American Council on Science and Health also has an opinion on the subject. It's not quite as virulent against the FDA, but it's not exactly happy over the report either.
As the FDA prepares to make a decision, ACSH’s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan implores the agency not to ignore the data on snus from Sweden, and to contrast that success story with the spectacular failure of currently approved cessation aids. “The FDA should be creative and flexible, out of consideration for the 45 million smokers and the 400,000+ among them who die from smoking each year,” she urged.
It seems the FDA is more interested in keeping out players who can't afford big payoffs to politicos procedures that put the lives of consumers at risk while the market is forced to meet some standard. A standard which can move at the FDA's whim after the money is spent to go through all the testing.
Deal of the Moment
MyFreedomSmokes is at it again. Back by popular demand, they're knocking 40% off of their unflavored nicotine base. They also have quite a few goodies for sale on their sale page like 510 kits for 30 bucks! Use the code 40Nic to score the discount on unflavored e-liquid at MyFreedomSmokes.com
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Image: renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net