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Vape News In Brief: February 20th, 2018 Edition

Vape News In Brief: February 20th, 2018 Edition

 

Welcome to Breazy Briefs, where we take a look around the globe, searching for news, science, and the occasional tasty pop culture tidbit related to vaping and the life of vapers. Today, let's talk about…

 

…the study that made news last month linking increased risks of heart disease and stroke to vaping. Remember that one? Well, it turns out the authors are now admitting that their research did not establish vaping as a cause for heart problems, and that as a population largely comprised of ex-smokers, past damage from years of tobacco inhalation could be leading to health conditions today. As always, "more research is needed" before any firm conclusions can be drawn.

 

 

Good news: the largest, randomized independent study on vaping as a smoking cessation aid to date has proven that it's twice as effective as pharmaceutical nicotine replacement therapies in helping smokers quit. Lack of such study to date is a large part of the reason that vaping hasn't been recognized by any federal government as an official cessation aid, but this news opens the door for authorities to think about vaping in an entirely new light.

 

Here's one of those feel-good stories we like to share about a longtime smoker who found a way to quit, became a vape evangelist, and opened his own vape shop to help more people out. Always a good read…

 

Wow: Vermont legislators are close to passing a bill that would impose a 92 percent tax on vapor products within the state. The measure aims to discourage underage teens from vaping and is part of a legislative package that also includes raising the legal age for purchasing nicotine products to 21. We'll note here that Vermont already has a 92 percent tax on tobacco, making it one of the costliest states in the nation to be a smoker – and soon, a vaper as well.

 

 

Last week we mentioned that British American Tobacco (parent of Lucky Strike and Pall Mall cigarettes in the US) was taking some fire for using paid social media influencers to promote its Vype cigalike in New Zealand. The campaign was eerily similar to one that's placed Juul in the crosshairs of US regulators, and also featured a model who was under British American's self-imposed minimum age of 25. Now, reports are that 24-year-old musician/student Annabel Liddell has removed her sponsored posts from Instagram. The tobacco company says it didn't ask her to do that, but they're also not asking her to return the undisclosed sum she received for making them.

 

A host of conservative think tanks are appealing to President Trump to "pump the brakes" on the administration's crackdown on vapor products. "Private sector initiative and sound public policy should not be held hostage by prohibitionist impulses," reads part of an open letter asking for a cost-benefit analysis of encouraging adult smokers to quit versus the increased risk of youth picking up a nicotine habit through vaping who otherwise wouldn't have started smoking. FDA chief Scott Gottlieb, for his part, doubled down on claims that e-cig manufacturers were irresponsibly advertising to kids, as well as on threats to revoke an extension for pre-market approval requirements that would effectively ban vaping in the US unless significantly fewer teens report that they're vaping this year as compared to 2017.


Here's a great interview with Dr. Lion Shahab, an associate professor at University College London. In it, he talks about everything we currently know about the science of vaping including both potential risks and benefits as compared to smoking. If you could use a brush-up on your vape science background, this piece is definitely worth a read.

 

Across all branches of the US military, vaping is now more popular than smoking. Just 7.4 percent of servicemembers are daily smokers (the civilian smoking rate is closer to 12.9 percent), while 11.1 percent of our armed forces are daily vapers. The popularity of vaping in the Navy (14.5 percent) is even higher, despite draconian policies that restrict vapor devices on most naval vessels. Despite these figures that suggest otherwise, the government warns its enlisted and officers that vaping is not known to be an effective way to quit smoking, and that they may turn out to be dangerous in long-term use.


In sad news, we learned last week of the second known fatality in US history from an exploding mechanical mod. It's important to remember that mechanical mods generally have no safety mechanism to prevent their user from over-taxing the batteries, and they're very much not a beginner-friendly vape device. Please, practice proper battery safety precautions at all times, and avoid mechanical mods entirely unless you're well-versed in vaping and the electrical theory that powers them.

 

File to: kind-of-sort-of-semi-accurate headlines. In E-cigarettes are gateway to nicotine addiction, study says, we learn that a particular type of e-cigarette, the next-generation cigalike or pod mod using ultra-high levels of salt-based nicotine, is far more addictive than vapor products that have been around for years and used traditionally-extracted nicotine. After that, the story goes off the rails a bit. While it's true that Juul sparked the high-nicotine trend with products featuring about five percent (50 mg/ml) nicotine, we'll note that before Juul popular nicotine levels were closer to 3-6 mg/ml than the 10-20 mg the story states. And we don't know of any manufacturer offering the whopping seven percent (70 mg) liquids being cited in the story. The larger takeaway, though, is clear: vapers need some nicotine to help them transition away from smoking. Too much, however, and the risk of creating dependence on a new product becomes a concern in and of itself.


Old news: a new study making the rounds warns that diacetyl, a compound found in some e-liquid flavorings responsible for creating a buttery, savory flavor, is bad for your lungs. Left unsaid is that this is an issue widely known in the vaper community for at least five years now, that cigarette smoke contains more diacetyl than any vapor product, and that only one case of the dreaded "popcorn lung" the chemical is associated with has ever been reported outside workers exposed to diacetyl in a factory-scale setting. Still, for health-conscious vapers it's a good idea to limit your use of bakery flavors or seek out ones specifically formulated to be free of diacetyl and related diketones.


Here's more on what Stanford University professors are calling the nicotine arms race. While this article contains a significant amount of misinformation, valuable nuggets include both the observation that the evolution of Juul's salt-based nicotine extracts have led to a proliferation of high-nicotine liquids and the suggestion that low-powered devices delivering a harder nicotine punch might in the long run be a healthier way to deliver nicotine if they're not abused. There's also the recognition that Juul is unhappy that it's spawned imitators, and wants to use the FDA's 2016 predicate date to force other nic salts providers to discontinue their products.


We covered the experimentation of specialized vape detectors going into New York school bathrooms around the beginning of the school year. Now, it appears they're spreading to Pennsylvania and New Jersey. No word yet on how effective this strategy is in curbing underage vaping, but it's got to be better for students than in other schools that are choosing to close down access to public bathrooms entirely.


The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are blaming a spike in teen tobacco use on the increased popularity of vaping. But, looking at the numbers, teen use of tobacco products that contain actual tobacco is the lowest it's ever been in the history of recordkeeping. We're not sure how to score this one.


North Dakota is banning the sale of flavored e-liquid to minors. Which raises two questions: this wasn't banned already? And why are minors allowed to buy any e-liquids at all?


We'll cap it here for now, but be sure to be back for more later – different vape time, same vape channel!

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