Monthly Archives: July 2014

Common Sense Approach in Abiline Texas

TEVA commends the Abiline City Council for listening to it's citizens and opting not to ban the use of electronic cigarettes.  The Council appears to have been persuaded by the fact that many are using e-cigs as a safer alternative to smoking.  They were able to understand there is not adequate science to make the claim e-cigarettes are the same as smoking tobacco. You can learn more about the hearing by reading the article Council Bans...
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Laws Across U.S. regulating e-cigarettes

The American Non-Smokers Rights Foundation (ANRF) has recently published a list of local municipalities having enacted policies regulating the use of smokeless tobacco products (see link below for the list).  The list includes Frisco, Lufkin, San Angelo, San Marcos, Socorro and Weatherford.  Hat's off to these cities for banning water vapor under the pretense that it looks like smoke. Battery-powered e-cigarettes that turn liquid nicotine into vapor emit no smoke. Research has yet to conclude secondhand...
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Elected officials and anti-smoking advocates need to re-think their knee-jerk reaction and hostility to e-cigarettes and vaping.
— Tony Newman

Elected officials and anti-smoking advocates need to re-think their knee-jerk reaction and hostility to e-cigarettes and vaping. It seems like every day we hear a new attack - yet these products are actually helping some people quit or cut back on the much more dangerous alternative of smoking tobacco. In May, a large study out of England that was published in the journal Addiction made worldwide newswhen they announced that smokers trying to quit were 60 percent more likely to succeed if they used electronic cigarettes than over-the-counter therapies such as nicotine patches or gum.

Despite these promising results, politicians are grilling e-cigarette companies. In a major New York Times piece last week, Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia denounced manufacturers of flavored e-cigarettes, saying they should be ashamed of themselves and that they are "what's wrong with this country." He claims that flavors like coconut, cherry, and peach are designed to hook young people.

While I understand the concern of marketing e-cigarettes to young people and nonsmokers, we cannot lose sight of the fact that these products are helping millions of people stop or cut back on smoking. Vaping is a safer delivery system for nicotine, and many people enjoy the flavor and find it pleasant - that's why more and more people are turning to it. Do we really want to limit flavors if they are helping people move away from smoking? It is ironic that anti-smoking advocates, whose goal is to get people not to smoke, are attacking a practice that is succeeding in getting people not to smoke. Shouldn't we be applauding the fact that so many people are embracing this harm reduction practice?

The justification and rationalization for Senator Rockefeller and so many anti-smoking voices is that old mantra: "what about the children?" I have worked to end our nation's disastrous war on drugs for the last fourteen years at the Drug Policy Alliance. Whenever we propose programs that reduce the harms of drug use, our opponents respond with the false claim that we are sending the "wrong message" to young people. We should never let politically expedient sound bites trump interventions proven to minimize the health consequences of drugs.

Young people are not stupid. They can handle the truth. In fact, it was honest anti-smoking campaigns that have led to big drops in smoking rates. We need to continue with honest education about vaping and e-cigs. We rightly tell young people that smoking tobacco is a leading cause of premature death, and we tell them how incredibly addictive nicotine can be and that it is one of the hardest things in the world to quit.

We should also tell them that while we need more research, dozens of health experts sent a letter to the World Health Organization urging them to embrace e-cigarettes as a life-saving intervention, saying that e-cigarettes "could be among the most significant health innovations of the 21st century, perhaps saving hundreds of millions of lives." We should explain to them that millions of people are deciding to improve their health with the much safer practice of vaping instead of smoking tobacco. This type of honesty and context is the right "message" for young people.

Tony Newman is the director of media relations at the Drug Policy Alliance(

The study, an online survey conducted by Saul Shiffman, a pharmaceutical industry consultant and psychology professor at the University of Pittsburgh, found that young people were not particularly attracted to the flavors. Flavors did make e-cigarettes more attractive to adult smokers, Professor Shiffman concluded.

In a recent NYT article covering the use of flavors in e-cigarettes there is mention of a study that concluded flavors do not increase the appeal of smoking to children (E-Cigarette Makers Are in an Arms Race for Exotic Vapor Flavors ).  In a rebuttal to this study the article turns to a chemistry professor who has studied cancer risks associated with smoking.  His exact quote is "It defies logic to think that such flavors would not make e-cigarette use more appealing and even normal for children.”  Mr. Pankow (article did not refer to him as having a Doctorate) makes it clear that intuition reigns supreme and that clinical studies which run contrary to his "logical" notions are to be discounted.  Heady coming from an individual who teaches science for a living.

Is cherry flavor the right of only those under the age of 18?  Starbucks serves up one of the most addictive products in the world to millions of people (it's called caffeine) and they flood it with all types of flavorings.  Where is Mr. Pankow's outrage at Starbucks for hooking the next generation on a products whose negative health affects are on par with nicotine.

Children (like adults) are attracted to nicotine and caffeine not because of the flavorings but because of the stimulant and the societal norms attributed to the habits of their consumption.

We need to turn our attention to making sure that children don't use e-cigarettes.  This is not going to happen through removing flavors from adults.  Policies based upon science and not empirical "logic" need to be promoted and in the end we need to stay focused on empowering Americans to use products that lead them to a healthier lifestyle.