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Vape News In Brief: November 15th, 2018 Edition

Vape News In Brief: November 15th, 2018 Edition



…the problem not just with bad science, but bad scientists. The University of California at San Francisco's Stanton Glantz (whom frequent readers will recognize as one of the most prominent public enemies of vaping and a purveyor of factually questionable research) recently cost his university $150,000. The sum was paid to settle a sexual harassment suit against one of five women the school found he'd violated in the workplace. Nonetheless, his research team was awarded a $20 million grant from the FDA just days after the settlement. While neither Glantz nor the university admits wrongdoing, the claims appear to have enough merit to warrant the settlement and the placement of a "temporary letter of reprimand" in Glantz's personnel file. Critics have argued that, particularly in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics that have had difficulty attracting and retaining female talent, more oversight is needed to prevent labs that promote a hostile work environment from gaining funding. The FDA has no such protocol in place for its annual distribution of up to $200 million.

 

Here's another op-ed out of Hong Kong, which is considering a total ban on the use of vapor devices. Last week, we featured an interesting conflict inherent in vaping, where one must be willing to allow adult smokers to be harmed in order to potentially protect youth non-smokers who might only start using nicotine via vapor products. This week, the question is much simpler: if vaping is being banned because it's "just as bad or almost as bad as smoking," why isn't smoking being banned as well? We’ll wait to hear back on that question, even though we never will.

 

The latest escalation of the White House's trade war took effect last month, but vapers may soon begin to feel the pinch of an extra 25 percent import duty on Chinese electronics, including vapor hardware. According to this report, importers, who stock up for demand just a month or two in advance, are likely to start running out of pre-tariff inventory soon. That means retailer profit margins will take a cut, prices will rise, or (most likely) some combination of the two. We expect these blows to land in the immediate horizon.

 

File to: Prohibition Works. Thailand currently has some of the strictest anti-vapor laws in the world – vaping is banned entirely, and simply being caught in possession of a vapor product could mean serious fines or even prison time. Still, a movement is growing to petition the government to overturn the ban, noting that an unregulated black market for vapor products is thriving and the medical community around the world is walking back early fears surrounding vaping. Proponents of ending the ban argue that regulating vaping would allow the government to increase tax revenue while boosting the nation's image abroad, which took a hit following a series of high-profile fines being levied on tourists for unknowingly traveling to Thailand with vape gear.

 

We're not sure how seriously to take this, but it's worth a chuckle anyway. Students at the University of Miami have launched a petition calling for its mascot, Sebastian the Ibis, to replace his corncob pipe with a JUUL. "As a student of @univmiami I want a mascot that represents the diverse and ever-changing student body," shared petitioner Alec Castillo on Twitter. "Generation X isn’t into the JUUL craze and seems averse to change, but my peers seem to understand the importance of this movement." Signs that the effort may be tongue-in-cheek, or even ill-informed, include the fact that Ibis officially dropped the pipe years ago and that in a mockup of a replacement logo the seabird is clenching a JUUL battery in his beak while vapor billows out of the mouthpiece at the other end. 171 people had signed the petition as we went to press.

 

Last week, we were told the FDA was considering banning the online sale of vapor products. This week, there's a new target: convenience stores. FDA chief Scott Gottlieb says brick-and-mortar vape shops (a chain of which he divested partial ownership in before taking office) do a better job than neighborhood corner stores of checking ID and therefore the next steps in a vape crackdown could move them out of non-vape-centric shops. This would have big consequences for JUUL and their Big Tobacco-backed rivals, which derive nearly all of their income from c-stores and gas stations and have virtually no presence in specialty vape shops that focus on higher-performance gear.


We made it pretty far below the fold, but you're not getting away without a JUUL marketing story this week. In a new study out of the University of Pittsburgh, researchers found that one in four people reacting to the brand's Twitter account – liking or sharing tweets – were under the age of 18. in its Twitter profile, JUUL says its products are targeted only at adult smokers over age 21, and all the photos feature individuals visibly older than the young adult demographic. But the brand's tweets are not age-restricted, a feature that Twitter offers and, which many brands, such as alcohol companies, use.


My new band name (were it not taken): Moms Who Vape is "a medium-sized group of organically grown musicians with extra large sound and a side of banjo, mandolin, violin, guitar, kazoo, tambourine, and didgeridoo." They aren't mothers, and they don't vape, but we like them anyway.

 

In a sign that progressive San Francisco may have been the harbinger of things to come, New York State is considering banning the sale of flavored e-liquids "that are marketed to teens." From the looks of things, said proposed ban would also apply to flavors that aren't marketed to teens.

 

Science: a new study from plastic surgeons at Boston University suggests that vaping interferes with post-surgery healing.  This seems to indicate it's nicotine, not cigarette smoke, that inhibits the healing of post-surgical wounds. The finding is preliminary, but given the tendency of nicotine to raise blood pressure and constrict blood vessels, it's best to heed doctors' advice and avoid vaping for two months following any major surgery, just as you should refrain from smoking for the same period.


Science redux: you may have caught some reporting making the rounds regarding how flavoring interacts with propylene glycol (PG), one of the major components of e-liquid and also the "carrier liquid" in which most flavor extracts are sold to the public as well as liquid manufacturers. Here's the study abstract, it doesn't tell the whole story, but cutting through the jargon we learn that a wide variety of flavor extracts, including vanillas, cinnamons, and citruses change their chemical composition when mixed with fresh PG. As much as 40 percent of flavor aldehyde content is converted to acetals (bad stuff to vape) when mixed. In addition, somewhere between 50 and 80 percent of that 40 percent carries over from liquid to vapor form, at least for the first 36 hours after mixed. We don't yet know whether this is a rationale for steeping or a cause for greater concern, and we're likewise unsure whether some flavors are worse than others. So, while this isn't necessarily a situation where we're ready to declare that the sky is falling, it's one we'll watch with great interest as it'll undoubtedly receive further attention in the coming weeks.

 

 

Smokers should switch from cigarettes to vaping, says world's biggest tobacco firm. That's the headline from a story on the latest push from Philip Morris in what's been a year-long media effort to show how it envisions a post-tobacco future. “Hold My Light,” a $2.6 million ad campaign, features traditional quit aids along with e-cigarettes and a subtle promotion for heat-not-burn devices that blend smoking and vaping by heating special cigarettes to the point where the tobacco gives off a vapor without actually burning.


Let's call that a wrap for this week, we'll be back soon with more. Much more.

acuity