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Vape News In Brief: February 8th, 2018 Edition

Vape News In Brief: February 8th, 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…


this piece, which attempts to answer the age-old question: what's the difference between vaping, Juuling, and using an e-cigarette? Answer: there is none, though Juuling typically refers specifically to vaping while using a Juul-branded e-cigarette.

 

In what would potentially be the most crippling blow to brick-and-mortar vape shops in a particular locale, Vermont is looking to impose a 92 percent tax on the wholesale value of vapor products. That's more than double the 40 percent tax Pennsylvania enacted (and eventually backed down on) a couple years ago that nonetheless closed hundreds of shops and cost state residents tens of millions of dollars' worth of business. We'll note here that while the tax seems huge, it's actually on par with the state's existing tax on cigarette prices. A typical pack in Vermont cost $9.62 in 2017, making for the third-most expensive box of heaters in the nation.


New to us: Now that Juul has joined ranks with Altria, we're seeing the first references to Big Vape being bandied about. In this instance, the phrase pops up in reporting on a proposed budget from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo that would ban flavored e-liquids from being sold within the state, remove tobacco and vapor products from pharmacies, and impose a new 20 percent tax on vapor products. Vape retailers would also have to undergo a licensing process similar to those tobacco retailers are already subjected to.

 

Apparently oblivious to the intense criticism Juul has garnered from using young social media "influencers" to promote its product in the US, British American Tobacco is trying the same tactic in New Zealand. The parent of US tobacco brands Pall Mall and Lucky Strike is reportedly employing Kiwis aged 25 and older (though their most enthusiastic paid shill is actually 24) to promote its Vype e-cig brand on Instagram and through other channels. Juul, through its heavy social media presence and early practice of promoting its products with the help of web-savvy young adults, is blamed for an "epidemic" rise in underage vaping that threatens the domestic future of vaping as we know it. Backlash aside, British American Tobacco's campaign will be short-lived; the New Zealand government is planning to update its ban on tobacco advertising to include vapor products later this year.

 

You've heard plenty in the news lately about the environmental damage being done by plastic straws, and older readers will probably remember when the big fear was over plastic six-pack rings on soda cans. But, then as now, the most-littered piece of environmentally harmful plastic is the cigarette butt. Scientists estimate two-thirds of the six trillion (that's 6,000,000,000,000) cigarettes manufactured every year are disposed of irresponsibly. Despite what smokers might think, it can take a decade for the plastic in a filter tip to biodegrade. The worst part: filters effectively do nothing to prevent cancer, which is supposedly why they were added to cigarettes in the first place! As long as you're not pitching your Juul pods on the sidewalk when you're done with them, you've earned yourself a little bit of switcher smugness…


The CEO of Philip Morris recently published an open letter that, much like a series of full-page ads his company has run in England, calls for an end to combustible tobacco products…eventually. In the meantime, he hopes people will be less critical of vapor products and cigarettes that are heated, not burned. Oh, and remember that it's not his company's fault they're advertising and profiting from the sale of tobacco, it's smokers' fault for reacting to those ads and buying tobacco.

 

In a new report from leading tobacco industry analyst Bonnie Herzog, it doesn't appear that all of the negative attention Juul has been receiving from the media has hurt the company's popularity: the company still controls 75 percent of the overall vapor market, according to the Nielsen ratings firm. Nielsen, we'll note, does not consider sales made in vape shops or on vape websites as a part of the vapor market. Additionally, Herzog notes that cigarette sales are down five percent over the last quarter, while predicting a rise in domestic vapor sales from $7 billion in 2018 to $9 billion in 2019.


Officials in Brevard County, Florida say vaping at school is now the number one reason for expulsions. The local sheriff's office has even trained one of their canine units to sniff out vape pens.

 

A pair of smash-and-grab burglars in Nottingham, England made off with thousands worth of vape gear and liquid in a robbery last week lasting less than a minute. Manabush Vape Café owner Martyn ZombieTuesday, "who confirmed to NottinghamshireLive this was his name," says the shop was barely profitable after paying his employees, and that the cost of the goods stolen, along with repairing a broken window and installing bars to prevent another theft, may be enough to put the store out of business.


Another week, another mis-reported "exploding e-cigarette" story. This time, a New York plumber was carrying a loose battery in his pocket when it contacted another metal object, engaging the cell and causing it to overheat and enter thermal runaway. This story is technically correct in that it reports that a battery, and not an e-cigarette, exploded. But the headline, "Man in New York Suffers Severe Burns After E-Cigarette Allegedly Explodes in Pants Pocket," is misleading at best. Just a reminder: keep your batteries securely stored in plastic cases and NEVER let them float around loose in your pocket, purse, or anywhere else they might contact anything sharp or made of metal.


For those who haven't yet mastered the art of stealth vaping (take smaller puffs, hold your inhale for a few seconds), these guys are ready to sell you a $15 device that'll absorb any vapor you blow into it. It's good for about 200 puffs, so you'll need to replace it roughly every other day if you're using it regularly.


We Are Completely Overreacting to Vaping – that's the headline for our favorite think piece this edition, and it's definitely worth your click. In this piece, the author argues that demonizing vaping is not only counterintuitive when it comes to defending public health, but that one of the key reasons vaping is such a popular method for smoking cessation (despite not being legally recognized as one) is that it allows users to enjoy the product in a way they'd previously enjoyed tobacco. The solution to deterring minors from using other adult products, he notes, is not to try to strip away the enjoyable aspects (like flavors in e-liquid or alcoholic beverages), but strong enforcement of existing age restriction laws. The open alone makes this piece compelling, as it documents how the FDA is specifically trying to keep adult smokers from viewing the same ads it's pushing out in high schools suggesting to teens that vaping will cause worms to eat holes in their brains or appear under their flesh due to worries it will discourage smokers who'd otherwise quit from switching to vaping.


We'll leave you with this piece from one of our favorite researchers, Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos. In it, the good doctor debunks claims that vaping increases the risk of stroke and heart attack, noting that recent papers making these claims fail to draw a causal relationship (A causes B), and that (like vapor opponents often say) more research is needed before any meaningful conclusions can be drawn upon the matter.


We'll be back sooner than later, or later than sooner, or at some point in the indeterminate future. Happy vapor trails until then…

acuity