By: Alex Berezow — November 9, 2018
The CDC released a report on Thursday that should cause widespread celebration: The prevalence of cigarette smoking among adults (14%) is at an all-time low since the federal government began tracking such data in 1965.
That’s not just extremely good news. This is a huge public health triumph and should make major headlines, just like it did on CNN. But other media outlets, like the Washington Post and New York Times, decided to downplay or ignore it and scare people about vaping, instead.
If It Bleeds, It Leads
A cynical truth of journalism is, “If it bleeds, it leads,” which is why the front pages of newspapers are full of natural disasters, homicides, and scandals. Bad news sells, while good news doesn’t. Violent crimes is down all over the country (and indeed much of the world), but you wouldn’t know it by reading or watching the news.
This pervasive, insidious form of media bias also does a huge disservice to public health. How so? Because when major health triumphs are ignored, the public tends to obsess over the dangers of much smaller risks. And that’s exactly what has happened in regard to cigarettes and vaping.
Let’s examine the Washington Post story. To its credit, the story notes that cigarette use is at an all-time low — but this headline-worthy story is buried 18 paragraphs down. Instead, the article focuses on the increase in vaping among teenagers.
Yes, that is problematic. Yes, the FDA is right to crack down on it. But statements like this are flat-out false:
“Research indicates many e-cigarette users are likely to become addicted to nicotine and some will probably end up on regular cigarettes…”
No. Nobody seriously believes that marijuana is a gateway to hard drugs, so why would the “gateway hypothesis” be true for e-cigarettes? Answer: It’s not likely to be true, and evidence for a gateway is incredibly flimsy. Indeed, this worry is more hype than hazard
Hype Has Consequences
In an ideal world, adults and kids don’t engage in harmful behavior. But we don’t live in that kind of world. Teenagers experiment with things, even though we tell them not to.:
Of all the different things that teenagers could try — from hard drugs to unprotected sex — nicotine is rather harmless by comparison. It’s not all that different from caffeine. If I had a teenager and the most rebellious act he or she did was vaping, I’d be a happy parent. Context and perspective matter.
Smoking is a pediatric disease because most smokers began as teenagers. If society overreacts to the relatively minor health threat posed by e-cigarettes and other vaping devices, we risk pushing experimentally-minded teens toward actual cigarettes. In Eurpoe, more kids are starting to smoke. Is that what we want to see here?
ACS Pro Vaping In Fight Against Tobacco
The American Cancer Society (ACS) has admitted the American public has been misinformed about the dangers of vaping – and is now going to promote it as an alternative to smoking.
The leading health organization has set out in a public statement that it is tobacco, not nicotine, which contains the cancer-causing chemicals and carcinogens and states there’s an “urgent need” for consumer education about the risks posed by different tobacco products
While the ACS had already confirmed vaping was a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes in a report earlier this year, its tougher stance on eradicating the current smoking epidemic through actively promoting e-cigarettes and other cessation tools, is being seen as a positive step by vaping advocacy groups and public health experts.
It said in the statement: “Although many Electronic Nicotine Device Systems [such as e-cigarettes] deliver nicotine, flavor additives, and other chemicals, they do not burn tobacco, a process that yields an estimated 7000 chemicals, including at least 70 carcinogens. Thus, public misunderstanding underscores the urgent need for consumer education about the absolute and relative risks posed by different tobacco products and to reinvigorate smokers’ understanding of the importance of quitting combustible tobacco.”
Shining a spotlight on the swathe of misinformation being fed to the public by action groups and amongst smokers themselves, it explained: “Many consumers are misinformed about the harms of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). Many adults believe, erroneously, that ENDS are as harmful as combustible tobacco products, and the level of public understanding has deteriorated over time.
“In 2012, only 11.5% of respondents to a national survey held this view. By 2015, 35.7% of respondents mistakenly believed that the harm associated with electronic cigarettes was ‘about the same’ as that of smoking conventional cigarettes. At the same time, the Monitoring the Future study reports that, as of 2017, ‘e-cigarettes have one of the lowest levels of perceived risk for regular use of all drugs, including alcohol among adolescents.’
“Whereas complete information on all the potential risks and benefits of ENDS is not yet available, there is sufficient to allow ACS to act now with a clear focus on the primary goal of ending deadly combustible tobacco use, which is responsible for approximately a one-half million deaths per year and 30% of all cancer deaths in the United States.”
Talking about how it hopes to help eradicate tobacco smoking, one of its key strategies, amongst others, is to educate consumers on alternatives and communicate that “although the long-term effects of ENDS are not known, current-generation ENDS are markedly less harmful than combustible tobacco products”.
Earlier this year a study by pharmaceutical development company Pinney Associates indicated that while most adults are aware that nicotine is the addictive factor in cigarettes, most also wrongly assume that it causes cancer.
Additionally, the compiled data of 1,736 adults pointed out that smokers tend to be more misinformed than non-smokers, with 52.5 per cent of smokers vs 14.6 per cent of non-smokers, linked nicotine to cancer.
High Nicotine E-Cigs Advised For Ex-Smokers
EX-SMOKERS would be better off with high over low nicotine strength e-cigarettes, new research has revealed.
A recent experiment into vaping use, funded by well-respected charity Cancer Research, showed vapers who used to smoke tobacco are more likely to use their devices more intensely
While ex smokers might believe that starting out on a low nicotine strength e-cigarette might be a good thing, it may be more beneficial to start high to reduce overuse and the amount of e-liquid used.
While the amount of toxins in vaping is minimal compared with smoking and the impact on health is much smaller, the use of more e-liquid does come at a financial cost.
Vapers are now advised to adjust nicotine levels in their e-cigarettes to a comfortable level where they don’t feel a strong urge to vape, don’t have acute withdrawal symptoms and are more satisfied after use.
Researchers based at London South Bank University studied 20 e-cigarette users in the experiment and found people using low nicotine e-liquid in their devices puffed more deeply and more often than those using high nicotine liquid.
Those using low nicotine also increased the power of their vaping devices when possible.
Despite this ‘compensatory’ behaviour, the low nicotine vapers were unable to get as much nicotine as the high nicotine group. But in their quest to do so their puffing behaviour may have increased their exposure to the small amount of toxins in vape.
Vaping more intensely and at higher power raises the temperature inside the device, which cause the glycerine and glycol found in most e-liquids to break down – and raises a small risk of exposure to chemicals. While this exposure is generally still at far lower levels than with smoking, it should be minimized where possible.
The results of this latest experiment are similar to the evidence on using nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) in a quit attempt that showed that smokers need a sufficiently high dose of nicotine to increase their chances of successfully giving up tobacco by reducing cravings.
Dr Lynne Dawkins, lead author of the study based at London South Bank University, said: “Some vapers might believe that starting out on a low nicotine strength is a good thing, but they should be aware that reducing their nicotine concentration is likely to result in the use of more e-liquid. This obviously comes with a financial cost but also possibly with a health cost.
“The results of our study suggest that smokers who want to switch to vaping may be better to start with higher, rather than lower, nicotine levels to reduce compensatory behaviour and the amount of e-liquid used.
“Although e-cigarettes are much less harmful than smoking, the vapour can still contain some potentially harmful chemicals that present a higher risk to health than nicotine, which is relatively safe. Our research shows that more intense vaping behaviour associated with using low nicotine e-liquid has the potential to increase users’ exposure to some of these chemicals. To draw any firm conclusions more research on a larger scale is needed.”
Alison Cox, director of prevention at Cancer Research UK, said: “Let’s be clear. While there are potentially harmful chemicals present in the e-cigarette vapour, there are far more in tobacco smoke. The best thing smokers can do for their health is to stop smoking, and switching to e-cigarettes is one way to do this.
“Tailored help and support from local Stop Smoking Service offers the best chance of stopping smoking for good. But this research suggests that a low nicotine approach may not be the best for everyone or the safest path to a successful attempt to give up. First time vapers should be prepared to experiment to find what suits them best and helps them to give up for good.”
Cost of Vapers’ Life Insurance To Drop
LIFE insurance for vapers is finally set to drop after Public Health England’s report revealed it is 95 per cent less harmful than smoking.
Until now, e-cigarette users have had to pay double the premiums of a non-smoker after receiving the same life insurance rates as cigarette smokers.
Now the UK Vaping Industry Association has collaborated with insurance broker Future Proof and Canada Insurance to finally offer vaper users life insurance that reflects their switch to a healthier lifestyle. It is now hoping others will start following suit.
The move comes after it was revealed how most high street insurers calculate vaping to be as dangerous as smoking for life insurance policies and for many years have been doubling premiums.
An industry conference also heard how no major insurance firm in Britain was prepared to downgrade the risk for users of e-cigarettes or nicotine-containing smoking substitutes.
Insurance expert Andrew Wibberley told the UK Vaping Industry Association conference: “‘In practice, if you are a non-smoker you are paying about £10 a month for a life insurance policy. If you are a smoker, and largely that includes e-cigarette users, you are paying about £20 a month for a policy.”
Figures from Future Proof, an independent insurance broker who is now offering vapers fairer-priced insurance, said until now the average 20-year cost for £100,000 of life cover at £12,617 for a 60-year-old non-smoker. But that more than doubles if they use e-cigarettes, to £30,924. The average 25-year charge for a 40-year-old with £100,000 cover rises from £2,838 to £5,877 if they vape.
But since the PHE report earlier this year, insurers are starting to re-look at rates for vapers.
John Newton, of Public Health England has backed the move by insurers to lower premiums, saying the risk from vaping was ‘much lower than from smoking’, adding: ‘Insurance companies should not discourage smokers from using the UK’s most popular quitting tool.”
A spokesman for the UK Vaping Industry Association said: ‘Clearly vapers should be offered insurance rates that reflect that it is 95 per cent less harmful than smoking.
‘That is why the UKVIA is very pleased to be partnered with FutureProof who, working with major insurer Canada Life, are able to offer vapers a fair deal that is very close to the rates that non-smokers pay. Hopefully the rest of the insurance industry will follow suit.’
Vaping TV Adverts Help Smokers Switch
TV COMMERCIALS for e-cigarettes encourage smokers to quit, new research has claimed.
Watching adverts for vaping products on the small screen gives tobacco smokers the urge to ditch their habit, a report has revealed, and so successful is the marketing, a ban could lead to a 3 percent drop in quitters.
At present, there are four times as many television commercials for nicotine replacement therapies than e-cigarettes but researchers at Bentley University, the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, Cornell University and the National Bureau of Economic Research concluded that an increase in vaping ads could lead to more smokers making the switch.
During the research, 25,000 individuals were asked over a two-year period about their current smoking status, whether they had tried to quit over the past year, what methods they used and how successful they had been.
Under current US law, e-cigarette commercials are not allowed to explicitly say the devices are less harmful than traditional cigarettes but a survey of adult smokers in Florida found 75% felt like quitting smoking after seeing a television ad for e-cigarettes.
“Our results indicate that a policy to ban TV advertising of e-cigarettes would have reduced the number of smokers who quit in the recent past by approximately 3%, resulting in roughly 105,000 fewer quitters in that period,” the report highlighted.
“On the other hand, if the Food and Drug Administration were not considering regulations and mandates that would likely eliminate many e-cigarette producers during our sample period (2013 to 2015), e-cigarette ads might have reached the number of nicotine replacement therapy TV ads during that period. That would have increased the number of smokers who quit by around 10%, resulting in an additional 350,000 quitters,”
The research also concluded that while TV adverts for e-cigarettes were successful in helping tobacco smokers ditch their habit, magazine commercials didn’t have the same affect.
E-Cigarettes To Help Alcoholics Quit Their Addiction
VAPING could help alcoholics quit their addiction, new research has found.
Patients undergoing detox for alcohol in a New Zealand hospital revealed using e-cigarettes helped them through the process. It also reported those who vaped felt more inclined to give up smoking tobacco long term, over those who used nicotine gum or patches.
Hospital nurses, who were initially concerned about patients smoking e-cigarettes inside the hospital, also seemed unconcerned by its use once they’d seen it in practice.
Penelope Truman, who led the study at Kenepuru Hospital in Porirua, said during the experiment one group in rehabilitation were given standard nicotine replacement therapy and the other e-cigarettes.
She explained the patients, already in a tough situation trying to come off alcohol, would usually have to go outside hospital grounds to smoke while being supervised by staff.
Allowing them to vape indoors appeared to take the pressure off both patients and staff alike.
“With an e-cigarette you can just take all that stress off because they can get their nicotine fix in a way that’s a bit more like a cigarette…” Dr Truman said.
“What I hope will happen is that hospitals and anywhere where people can’t smoke and it’s really difficult for them…They might think about whether it’s appropriate to allow vaping in that situation.
“Because people in those situations are under a lot of stress… I think this could be helpful.”
Speaking about the reaction by hospital staff to the patients vaping Dr Truman added some had initially been skeptical, but added: “By the time the trial is finished they felt quite differently about it, it was just normal and I think it made life significantly easier for them.”
Truman concluded she couldn’t see any negative aspects to the use of e-cigarettes in the study.
The findings come just a few weeks after Public Health England advised hospitals should sell e-cigarettes and provide vaping lounges, while e-cigarettes should be made available on NHS prescription.
14 Basic Exercises to Help You Ditch Tobacco
Lots of people use exercise to help them ditch their tobacco habit. Exercise can help in limiting weight gain, reducing hunger and managing your stress levels as you try to leave tobacco for good.
Research also shows that exercise can be used to combat cigarette cravings. In a study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, researchers gave three groups of nicotine-addicted mice an exercise wheel for 24, 2 or 0 hours each day.
The mice who could exercise showed large reductions in the typical chemical symptoms associated with nicotine withdrawal.
Alexis Bailey, who led the study at St George’s, University of London said: “The evidence suggests that exercise decreases nicotine withdrawal symptoms in humans; however, the mechanisms mediating this effect are unclear.”
But what kind of exercise should you do? Here are 14 ideas to get you started.
- Exercise may seem daunting at first, particularly if you aren’t in great shape. Just going on a brisk 20 minute walk can help you build confidence and help ease tension in your tobacco-less life.
- Running helps build aerobic fitness and endurance. It can also help repair some of the damage to your body caused by smoking. The Couch to 5K programme is a good training programme for beginners.
- Think how you can incorporate cycling into your daily routine. Can you ride a bike to work? Ok, how about to the shops?
- Badminton is one of the most accessible racquet sports. The shuttlecock moves slowly and you don’t need a lot of skill or fitness to get started.
- Home exercises
- Just ten minutes of push ups, bodyweight squats lunges and other home-based exercises can help you get into shape.
- You can shift body fat, tone your upper body and your lower body improve coordination, all with just a skipping rope. Even 15 minutes a day is enough to make a difference.
- Yoga can help you relax and focus on your goal of ditching tobacco. Sun salutations contain a good series of beginner movements.
- Working out with a group gives you extra motivation and helps you meet new people. Fitness class, dance classes, boot camp classes – gyms run classes to cater to all tastes.
- Circuit training
- High-intensity circuit training is one of the fastest ways to see results from training. Gyms often run circuit classes, but if you want to go it alone then the No Excuses circuit is a good introduction.
- Some people think that weightlifting is only for serious athletes, but a long list of physical, mental and health benefits means it’s good for pretty much anyone.
- Rock climbing has been building in popularity for years. Indoor climbing centres are opening up all over the place and climbing will even feature in the next Olympics. Why not see what the hype is all about.
- Get a new appreciation for the landscape and conquer some mountains while you conquer tobacco. Hiking is great to bring friends and family together.
- Dog walking
- As well as combating stress, anxiety and depression, contact with dogs helps you get active every day. If you don’t have a dog, why not offer to walk a friend’s or a neighbors’.
- You might not think it, but hard hours spent tending a garden is actually a tough workout. It’s also enjoyable, especially when the sun is shining.
E-Cigarette Summit 2016 – All the Videos!
The E-Cigarette Summit is the top international science and public policy one-day conference on vaping, held at London’s Royal Society. This year’s event was more transatlantic in nature than previous years with a good number of American delegates and presenters in attendance.
If you only watch one video, please make it the Tom Miller video.
“It took great courage to be the first to do what you did worldwide. I thank you for that courage. It also takes great persistence. You have shown that and need to continue to show it. From my perspective, you are heroes.” – Tom Miller, Iowa Attorney General
A Billion Lives, A Billion Thanks!
Billed as “a true story of government failure, big business and the vaping revolution” and featuring ECF’s very own Oliver “Smokey Joe” Kershaw, vaping documentary “A Billion Lives” premiered to acclaim last month in Wellington, New Zealand. Since then, the team have been taking the movie across the globe on a tour of screenings and film festivals.
The European premier takes place tomorrow in Warsaw, Poland, before the team head home to start preparing for the US launch. This could be the movie that changes minds on vaping around the world – but the team needs the support of vapers.
Unless you’ve had your head under a mod you’ll have heard of Aaron Biebert’s film. Over the years, many attempts have been made to document the vaping movement. Until now, none has been successful, principally because the funding requirements to do it justice are huge. But Aaron has pulled it off.
We caught up with him while he was in Warsaw and asked him if he’d shoot a video for us about A Billion Lives, explaining a few things that have come up on ECF and elsewhere and, being the gent he is, he obliged with this:
It’s incredibly hard work for independent filmmakers to get their work screened, and it’s vital that A Billion Lives gets seen by non-vapers, so Aaron is working the festival scene, drumming up interest and strategically positioning for US distribution.
I think we’ll look back on this in years to come as a threshold moment for vaping, so please support Aaron and his crew by sharing the trailer and spreading the word.