Vape News In Brief: January 14th, 2018 Edition
Vape News In Brief: January 14th, 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…
…a smarter way to use "the patch." Smokers have long been aware of the dismal success rates of pharmaceutical quit-smoking aids, but a group of researchers at Queen Mary University in London believe they've found a better way to make quit attempts stick. Instead of the "slap a patch on and quit cold turkey" approach, they're suggesting that users actually start applying the patches a few weeks before quitting, gradually ramping up their nicotine intake. After quitting, users gradually lower the patch dosage, slowly tapering off nicotine much in the way many vapers turn to lower-nicotine liquids after a successful switch from cigarettes. It's a small sample size, but of 50 study participants, only three dropped out before it ended, with 47 of the 50 (96 percent) sticking with the study for four weeks after quitting. That's impressive for any method, even more so one that's been written off by many smokers.
Here's a great read on some of the common misconceptions surrounding vaping. Even in England, where the government is literally promoting vaping as a way to quit smoking, just 57 percent of the population believes vaping is less harmful than smoking, and that number has actually fallen over time. Nearly nine in ten people falsely think nicotine is the most harmful aspect of smoking. Nicotine does indeed present health concerns with regard to blood pressure and blood vessel elasticity, but even vapor opponents acknowledge the deadliest part of cigarettes are the hundreds of known carcinogens found in smoke. Also interesting is an aside about how, even though nicotine plays a role in addiction, the social interactions associated with smoking e.g. going outside the pub to smoke with your blokes, also contribute to its habit-forming nature.
Worldly opinions: this op-ed out of Jerusalem bemoans what could be seen as a hypocritical position taken by Israel. The government that would allow the sale of Marlboro's IQOS "heat not burn" cigarettes while banning Juul devices because they contain too much nicotine. That should be changing soon, as Israel adheres to European Union restrictions on vapor products, which include nicotine level limits in vaping devices. Juul is preparing to launch a reduced-nicotine pod that will finally make its products legal in the EU. Still, in furthering the case for vaping, the author pulls an interesting finding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention here in the US: just four percent of vapers say they've never tried cigarettes, making for a very small potential population that might move away from vaping to start smoking. Most vaping-related fears in the US focus on the potential for people who otherwise would never have smoked beginning vaping and then choosing to switch to cigarettes, but this statistic indicates that vapers who’ve never smoked make up a very small portion of the vaping population.
There's at least one corner of the pharmaceutical market booming thanks to the popularity of vaping: nicotine home drug tests, which are being snapped up in droves by parents worried their kids are vaping, which the government has warned has reached “epidemic” rates among youth.
File to: it could be worse. Not only is India moving toward a total nationwide vaping ban, politicians are pushing to make it illegal to so much as even talk about vaping online. Academics are unsurprisingly up in arms, warning that lack of access to information on smoking alternatives could be as detrimental to the nation's health as its lack of widespread access to sexual education.
Nearly three-quarters of Kentuckians are in support of a bill that would raise e-cigarette taxes in the state, however it didn’t happen. Could have something to do with the fact new Juul investor Altria reportedly parachuted in a lobbyist who was able to get a proposed 15 percent vape tax nixed from a bill that nearly doubled cigarette taxes from 60 cents to $1.10 a pack. So, while taxes on tobacco in the heavily smoking, tobacco-growing state increased, those on vapor products did not.
On the off chance you haven't been inundated with Juul news over the last few months (which means you're probably not a regular reader of this column or the Internet as a whole), here's a nice explainer on the company's growth as it prepares to enter the European market. Interesting fact: analysts say that only between 25 and 45 percent of the dollars being spent on Juuls represent money that otherwise would be spent on cigarettes. If true, that says as much about the company's ability to cultivate teenage customers as any FDA finding. If Juul were succeeding in its stated mission of helping adult smokers quit, one would expect nearly all of its sales to come from users' former tobacco budgets.
More on Juul—the FDA is preparing another round of warning letters to be directed at the company and its new investor, Altria, accusing them of reneging on promises made in response to a threatened vaping crackdown last year. At the time, Malboro-maker Altria promised to get out of the pod-based vapor market entirely, while Juul said it'd pull its non-tobacco flavors from shelves. Within weeks of that promise, the pair had inked a multibillion-dollar deal giving Altria an ownership stake in the pod market it said it was abandoning, and Juul got prominent placement in tens of thousands of stores beholden to Altria for its ubiquitous Marlboro products. Both Juul and Altria say their commitment to end underage use remains unchanged, but industry analysts warn the new partnership will likely lead the FDA to take a more skeptical view of the entire vapor industry as a result.
Continuing with our FDA theme, agency chief Scott Gottlieb has long talked about mandating reducing the amount of nicotine in cigarettes. While nicotine is what makes cigarettes addictive and thus very, very hard to stop smoking, it's not the primary driver of negative health outcomes associated with smoking—the move is more a way to make smoking less attractive than to limit the amount of harm it does. That said, this company wants to be the first to market an ultra-low-nicotine cigarette. We're not sure who would choose to smoke these without receiving the marginal, mild stimulant effect nicotine provides, but if this is where the market is headed we’ll be watching to see what happens.
Also, we've got one more think piece that pillories Juul for jumping into bed with the "adjudicated racketeers" at Marlboro/Altria, thus abandoning any plausible credibility when it comes to posing as a dedicated opponent to Big Tobacco.
There's a vast difference in the vaping debate here at home versus in the UK; that goes unsaid. This piece looks at what may lead to the giant gulf: UK researchers, for example, are interested in whether youth experimenting with e-cigs become regular users (at least once a week), while US investigators are more interested in whether teens have ever tried vaping, or have touched an e-cig at some point within the last month. This may partially explain why the dramatic rise in vaping stateside is contrasted with the UK, were less than one percent of non-smoking teens go on to become regular vapor product users. Further, the British see smoke as the true enemy, noting that no human studies have proven the alleged harm done to adolescent brains by nicotine alone. In the US, however, studies of mice and rats indicate that there may indeed be reason to worry not just about the carcinogens in smoke but in nicotine as well, at least in youth whose brains haven't fully formed.
In an argument in favor of stronger enforcement of existing laws, new research finds that areas with strong underage tobacco laws tend to turn out fewer long-term smokers. The same goes in areas where vapor vendors face real repercussions for underage sales: fewer youth have access to vapor products. More here on this very valid point.
We'll wrap here for now. See you next week!