E-cigarettes May (Not) Be A Healthy Alternative To Smoking
    By News Staff | May 27th 2014 09:18 AM | 13 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments

    When it comes to e-cigarettes, critics seem to prefer regular cigarettes. Or snuff. Or snus. Or they just want to ban behavior. And the biggest tool they have is the precautionary principle. Sure, there are no known health effects but that is easy to fix - speculate about unknown potential ones.

    Smoking is, of course, bad. E-cigarettes are not smoking, it is instead a nicotine vapor. The number of people who have gotten lung cancer from nicotine vapor is zero, which is not evidence for much, but it is certainly not evidence it is harmful. Since even among lung cancer patients, up to 50 percent have never smoked, smoking itself is only a risk factor for the disease. E-cigarettes are not even that.

    But for asthmatics it's a bad idea, just like fields full of organic pollen are. That would seem to be common sense. Yet an article in Annals of Allergy, Asthma  &  Immunology, focuses on those asthma risks, and then highlights dependence on nicotine and the dual use of e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes.  How many people have died of nicotine dependence in history? There's less evidence for that than there is second-hand smoke.

    The authors reverse the way science is done and note that smoking cessation benefits of e-cigarettes haven't been proven.

    "Despite the apparent optimism surrounding e-cigarettes and their purported therapeutic role in smoking cessation, there just simply is not enough evidence to suggest that consumers should use e-cigarettes for this purpose." said allergist Andrew Nickels, MD, lead author, ACAAI member, Mayo Clinic Division of Allergy and Immunology.

    This logic is in defiance of what studies accomplish. Studies seek to show something is harmful and/or to show that it is more effective than a placebo and competing treatment. If e-cigarettes are not harmful and basically a placebo, like homeopathy or organic food, people can spend their money on them. No smoking treatment 'works' so people will use whatever works for them, including nicotine patches or going to church or just quitting.

    The article intentionally obfuscates smoke and vapor, insisting that e-cigarettes are not helping people quit smoking and therefore kids and asthmatics will still be exposed to second-hand smoke. How do they know e-cigarette users are still smoking cigarettes indoors around their asthmatic kids? They don't. But they say that e-cigarettes are an addition to regular smoking, a claim that would seem to apply to nicotine patches as well, yet doesn't. 

    "Dual use of both e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes carries the risk of secondhand smoke exposure, causing worsening respiratory effects on children and asthma sufferers. It also promotes ongoing nicotine dependence," said Chitra Dinakar, MD, co-author, ACAAI fellow and Professor of Pediatrics, Children's Mercy Hospitals.

    Because e-cigarettes are fairly new, they could have long-term health complications that have yet to be discovered but leading with that is in defiance of the scientific method and is instead advocacy. No product in the world could be approved today if the metric for safety was assuring there could be no long-term health implications.

    Even the obvious facts - that the US Food and Drug Administration finds them safe - is framed as that the efficacy of e-cigarettes hasn't been fully studied, and consumers have no way of knowing if e-cigarettes are safe for their intended use.

    The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology wants these regulated and insist it is a drug delivery system and therefore must seek FDA approval.


    I think the actual figure is more like 15% of lung cancer patients have never smoked, not 50%. The number is closer to 20% for women and closer to 10% for men.

    Smoking is a political hot button so a wide range of claims is no surprise - anyone who ever tried a cigarette as a kid, or smoked a pipe, and then gets lung cancer at age 70 is somehow a smoking statistic. But if lung cancer in nonsmokers had its own separate category, it would rank among the top 10 fatal cancers in the United States. 

    I don't smoke, but the way smoking is portrayed, it should be a lot higher in cancer stats. 90 million people in America smoke but only 200K people get lung cancer per year. If I did smoke, I might worry about a lot of other things, but lung cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, melanoma, etc. are something you are going to get if your number is up. Smoking is a risk factor but it seems to be exaggerated.

    And I have never tried an e-cigarette, they look stupid to me, but I would certainly not worry about the health impact of that.

    what a dumb study, cigarettes cause disease, there is no evidence that e-cigarettes cause disease, so e-cigarettes must be better than cigarettes

    Thomas R. Frieden, director of the US CDC; Harold P. Wimmer, ceo of the American Lung Assoc.; Debra Lynkowski, president of the Canadian Lung Assoc,; various members of WHO are the faces of those who wish to demonize e-liquid devices in the face of all the positive studies. They pay for scientist to bathe heart cells in nicotine and claim it 'could' cause problems. They pay for scientist to over power an e-cigarette and say look at all the bad chemicals released. They pay for scientist to say it enhances MERS virus contagion when decades of research on the two diluents show they are not good growth media or storage media. Whenever you see hack stories spouting the lastest demonizing study, these are the influential people with purse strings who promoted it, at least on the left side of the Atlantic.

    Why isn't the Mayo Clinic studying these themselves? All they have done is spout propaganda from the anti smokers "Health Groups". Do some real science! Nice article.

    Catalytic converters reduce, but don't completely eliminate vehicle emissions. Reduced sugar and low fat foods help people struggling with weight problems. Seat belts increase, but don't guarantee safety. No one can claim E-Cigarettes are completely harmless; no one could claim that about anything. It's about harm reduction. I switched to E-Cigarettes on December 6, 2009 after a decades long smoking habit. I haven't smoked a cigarette since. My long-term effects have been a steady increase in my health; especially my ability to breath. A spin-off advantage is that I now participate in (healthy) activities that I used to avoid due to breathing problems. For example, I ride my bicycle hours-on-end without losing my breath. How long is long enough to study E-Cigarettes before the naysayers are convinced? How many will die from a known killer (smoking) in the mean time! If Big Pharma’s products were scrutinized as intensely as E-Cigarettes have and continue to be, painstakingly looking for any flaws (hypothetical or real) no matter how minor or remote, none of their products would make it to the shelves. There are ample studies supporting E-Cigarettes are far-and-away safer than smoking; for the participant and bystander. Mainstream Media (Card Carrying Member of Crony Capitalism) happily focuses on whatever dirt they can dig up; sensationalizing anything that even remotely demonizes E-Cigarettes!

    The peer reviewed studies exist showing long term smokers have been able to stop smoking. And they show the smokers remain non-smokers in the long term. Bottom line e-cigarettes do work.

    The FDA states that 70% of smokers want to quit, and their drugs, patches, gums, and lozenges have been around for decades. How is it that there are so many smokers left? How is it that the smoking rate has seen it's greatest reduction in years only since e-cigarettes have been introduced?

    Thank you, News Staff at Reason2.0. Finally, someone has applied logic to an issue heretofore replete with junk science and ideology from supposed scientists. It makes me a bit more hopeful for the future of e-cigarettes.

    Michael J. McFadden
    "The authors reverse the way science is done"

    Actually that's pretty much the norm for antismoking science.  The conclusions, that smoking, secondhand smoke, thirdhand smoke, and e-cig vapor (and second/thirdhand e-cig vapor), are all evils spawned upon humanity from the tar-pit fires of hell, are assumed at the start; the potential funders are then apprised of the projected design of the study, illustrating that those conclusions will be found; and then, finally, the study is done and the results juggled and massaged and interpreted in order to make sure that those conclusions are properly reached and ballyhooed and those funders are pleased -- so that they'll send money again when they're asked in the future!


    - MJM
    ^ What MJM said! :)

    Now they are trying to paint dual-use in a bad light as there isn't anything else to use... In fact dual-use is already the principal mechanism by which smoking prevalence is reduced - see:

    Michael J. McFadden
    Chris, your linked article notes, "In the UK, ... the number of smokers has been growing steadily since smoking prevalence reduction ceased in 2008,"
    Interesting how that so closely followed the work of the Antismokers in putting all the smokers out onto the streets so everyone could see them taking their breaks or just enjoying themselves while smoking and pubbing, eh?  Of course the Antismokers, in their monomaniacal drive to try to eliminate smoking simply through negative behavioral conditioning have never admitted this (they prefer to claim that the fonts and colors of cigarette packs have somehow gained a magical hypnotic power that they'd never had in the past).

    If they get their plain packs thing in place it will be interesting to see if it has a similar effect: perhaps once the distinctive branding is gone, it will seem more as though a good chunk of the population is all happy with a single distinctive product -- thereby heightening its appeal and attracting more folks to use it.   A non-smoker thinking of buying a pack just to "fit in" with the crowd next time their friends take a smoke jaunt outside will no longer have to care about figuring out which brand to buy in order to fit in: they'll all look the same!  Think about it: beer drinkers, particularly new ones in pubs who are drinking out of mugs, often just order "I'll have a pint."  After all, there's no need to think about a brand: they all look the same once they're poured more or less.

    It will be interesting to see if plain packs contribute to an increase in smoking rather than a decrease.  

    - MJM
    Michael - the pack wouldn't make any difference to me. If it embarrassed me I'd get a sleeve to cover it. Sales of fancy sleeves might go up.

    I suppose the main intention is to attack the retail shops and the cigarette manufacturers. As a smoking reduction measure it's useless of course, nothing works once the 20% Prevalence Rule operates.

    In the UK the number of smokers went up due to strong population growth combined with static smoking prevalence: a 20% slice of the adult population grows as gen pop grows. Prevalence was static for several years between 2008 and early 2013, but is now falling due to the ecig switch (18% of smokers have switched). Certainly in the last couple of years, smoking prevalence would actually have risen in the UK (as it did in Scotland) without the ecig effect. All the tobacco control measures stopped working years ago in 2008. It's just based on fraud now (and I do mean criminal fraud). Well OK maybe we need 1% of it in order that consumers are well aware of the choice they are making - so I guess it's only 99% fraud :)

    Michael J. McFadden
    I used to be hesitant about using the word "Lies" to describe the tactics of the Antismokers, but no more: there's just too much of it, and it's too consistently used as a tactic by knowledgeable academics and researchers who know better, for it to be passed over as simple sloppiness or mistake.
    If you haven't already run across it, I'd recommend reading my pdf brochure, "The Lies Behind The Smoking Bans" at 

    It's admittedly superficial and openly one-sided -- it's meant as a vehicle for quick communication with people hanging out in a dimly lit pub or smoke pit under attack -- but its fact are accurate and their presentation is honest.  I think after reading it you'll understand why I'm a lot less charitable in my descriptions of today's antismoking campaigners: they know what they're doing for the most part -- they just consider it justified in an "end justifying the means" sort of way.

    - MJM