There’s Antifreeze in ’em: 7 e-Cigarette Myths Debunked

I’ve been around the block a time or two before when it comes to e-cigarettes.  There is a certain set of talking points that prohibitionists go to when smearing the industry. From old favorites to relatively new theories, there seems to be no end to the nonsense put forth by opponents of electronic cigarettes.  I figure I’d take a little time out here to touch on the more popular ones and try to explain why they are myths.

7 myths debunked title


The Myth: e-Cigarettes contain chemicals including those found in antifreeze.

FDA LogoWhere’d it Come From: An overblown press release from the FDA in 2009 claiming all kinds of disturbing things about the content of e-liquid including propylene glycol, a common ingredient in antifreeze.

But Really: Propylene Glycol is non-toxic and generally regarded as safe by the FDA themselves.  It is used in antifreeze applications where NON-TOXIC applications are required.  I have a whole article about PG with further details.[/box]

Nicotine Causes Cancer

The Myth: Nicotine is the agent in e-cigarettes that can cause cancer

dead ratWhere’d it Come From: Smoking studies that do not isolate nicotine from the rest of the constituents in cigarette smoke.

But Really:  Among studies about nicotine separate from smoke, no studies have linked nicotine itself to cancer.  Pharmaceutical products containing nicotine have been in use for decades with no link shown between NRTs and cancer. This is despite the fact both nicotine replacements and e-cigarettes contain trace amounts of tobacco-specific nitrosamines, a carcinogen that exists naturally in tobacco plants.  Both sources of nicotine are derived from tobacco plants.

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Nicotine Is Highly Addictive

The Myth: Nicotine is one of the most addictive substances known to man.  The addiction may be a severe as heroin addiction. After all, millions are hooked on smoking even though they know it is likely to kill them.

Where’d it Come From: Common perception.

But Really: Research on the addictive nature of nicotine absent cigarette smoke has shown that people generally are not addicted to straight nicotine.  That’s why stuff like the patch and gum are ineffective, and why there aren’t millions of people addicted to the gum. The addictiveness of cigarettes come from a number of other ingredients that interact with nicotine. These essentially supercharge the drug and produce the addictive qualities.  Some studies suggest it is the presence of MAOIs in cigarettes that are the truly addictive component of tobacco.

e-Cigarettes are a Big Tobacco Plot

The Myth: e-Cigarettes are a ploy by big tobacco to keep their customers addicted to their products while luring new customers in with the promise of a “safe” alternative

fatcatWhere’d it Come From: A general mistrust of tobacco companies.

But Really: It’s true that all of the major cigarette companies are involved in the e-cigarette industry in varying degrees. But, the reality is that Big T is a newcomer to the e-cigarette industry. Lorillard started the trend in 2012 with its purchase of blu Cigs. Before that, there was no involvement in the vaping industry by tobacco firms, it was very much a wait and see approach.  While Big Tobacco money makes these e-cigarette offerings better funded than the independents, it certainly wasn’t Big T’s idea, they just want to recoup profits lost to e-cigarettes.

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The Gateway Theory

The Myth: e-Cigarettes will lure non-smokers and ex-smokers into a false sense of safety until they find themselves moving on to real tobacco cigarettes to get a bigger nicotine fix.

Where’d it Come From: Someone’s overactive imagination.

But Really: There is exactly zero evidence to support these claims.  To the contrary, both cigarette sales and NRT product sales are down and quit attempts are up.  It sounds like people are running away from tobacco, not to it.

The e-Cigarette Renormalizes Smoking

The Myth: This one is a close cousin to the previous entry. The idea is that e-cigarettes aren’t encumbered by many of the restrictions cigarettes face.  Therefore, people vaping in public, or commercials for e-cigarettes will undo all the hard work tobacco control has done to turn smokers into social pariahs.

Where’d it Come From: The tobacco control industry

But Really: And your point? First of all, there’s little evidence that people other than clueless politicians can’t tell the difference between e-cigarettes and smoke. Besides, normalizing e-cigarettes would have the effect of further denormalizing smoking.  Sort of like the transition to HDTVs.  Everyone just sort of went that way, tube TVs are some kind of dinosaur relic now.

e-Cigarettes Are Targeted at Kids

The Myth: Kids like things that taste good. Flavored e-Cigarettes taste good. Therefore, e-cigarettes are targeted at kids.

Where’d it Come From: Someone who failed English 102

But Really: Tim Allen used that logic once in his stand-up act: God is love, love is blind, Stevie Wonder is God. Seriously, the assumption that adults would never enjoy candy or fruit flavors is just idiotic.  While many smokers start out looking for something that tastes like their favorite cigarettes, over the long term, many people end up switching to a more palatable flavor once they get used to the concept of e-cigarettes.  Surveys of users show many don’t believe they would have been as successful with e-cigarettes had there not been an availability of flavors.

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I’m sure there are other crazy things I’ve missed. Let me know in the comments if you think of one. Or, if you want to call me out for BS on something in here, you can do that too.

Steve K

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