Sunday, May 1, 2011

E-cigs a “tobacco product”; help or hindrance

Anti-smoking activist Dr. Michael Siegel noted on his blog (The Rest of the Story) a few days back that the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in the US has decided not to appeal a ruling by the DC Court of Appeal. That ruling declared that electronic cigarettes were to be regulated as tobacco products, rather than drug delivery devices; the drug, of course, being nicotine.

This could be good news for the hundreds of thousands of smokers who have successfully used the e-cig to cut back on their smoking habit or quit smoking altogether. Unfortunately, I believe it's premature to begin celebrating in the streets.

The reason for my (very) cautious optimism is that the FDA has yet to clarify how they will regulate this new “tobacco” product. And, it could be several years before FDA guidelines are actually put in place.

The pharmaceutical industry has invested heavily in anti-smoker campaigns intended to demonize tobacco in all its forms, as well as denormalizing and stigmatizing tobacco users. Their payoff has been increased sales (and the enhanced profits generated by those sales) of smoking cessation products; the nicotine patches, gums, lozenges, inhalers, etc.

They will not take kindly to any competition which might jeopardize their return on those investments.

And, while the FDA may have to justify any restrictions placed on the electronic cigarette, the anti-smoker zealots are under no such restraints. For example, they have already convinced legislators in several jurisdictions in the US, to include electronic cigarettes in their smoking bans. They have accomplished this objective despite the fact that there is little or no evidence of any deleterious effect whatever from using the e-cig.

They oppose the device, not because of any real hazard associated with the it, but simply because it looks like users are smoking. And, of course, if smokers are permitted to substitute the e-cig for pharmaceutical nicotine, funding from the drug lords in the pharmaceutical industry for their war on smokers may not be as bountiful as it has been in the past.

I noted in a previous post on the subject that one of the reasons the anti-smokers were unwilling to accept the electronic cigarette as a legitimate means of smoking cessation was that they hadn't yet figured out how to extort tax revenue from the users. And, since the zealots also depend on money extorted from smokers through sin taxes (and, in the US, the Master Settlement Agreement) to fund their war on smokers, that source of funding is also threatened.

If smokers turn to the electronic cigarette in any great numbers, to cut back or quit, tobacco sales will decline thus adversely impacting tax revenue and consequently the finances of the anti-smoker cartel. With the electronic cigarettes now designated a “tobacco product”, the anti-smokers can press for sin taxes to be imposed on the sales of the devices, even though many anti-smoking advocates consider the e-cig a far less hazardous product than real tobacco cigarettes.

Another point to consider is the marketing methods used to generate sales of the e-cig. The product has been sold primarily through the internet with orders delivered through the mail. Mail orders sales of tobacco products have been severely restricted in recent years. And, some credit card companies have even refused to handle such transactions.

This provides another opportunity for the zealots to delay the introduction of the e-cig into the open market. Of course, that may change if the e-cig is permitted to be sold through regular retail outlets..

In Canada, a number of convenience stores have begun carrying a line of e-cigarettes. Unfortunately, the cartridges must remain nicotine free. Health Canada has restricted the sale of nicotine to a format and dosage consistent with the nicotine products sold by the (legal) drug industry.

On a personal note, I invested in an e-cig about four months ago from a local convenience store. My original e-cig was confiscated by Customs and Excise Canada because the carts contained nicotine. But, even without the nicotine, I've managed to cut back from a pack and a half of native brand cigarettes a day to a large pack a week. And, no, I have no intention of quitting.

My cardiologist is still screaming bloody murder, but I can live with that.

It's unfortunate that Health Canada has elected to join forces with the anti-smoker crowd in their efforts to eradicate tobacco and those who choose to use it. They should focus more on reducing the harm tobacco allegedly causes although I don't see that happening any time soon..

Did I say unfortunate? That's an understatement. I consider what they're doing fucking criminal.

In addition, retailers will not be permitted to promote the “theraputic” properties of the e-cig, or advertise the device as a less hazardous substitute for cigarettes, at least, not without the prior approval of the FDA. And, since that will not be acceptable to the anti-smoker crowd, FDA approval should not be expected anytime in the near future.

The facts are that regulating the electronic cigarettes as a tobacco product may not be as beneficial as some people expect. Tobacco is, arguably, the most heavily regulated product in history, and it is definitely the most heavily taxed in most jurisdictions. Tobacco products, including reduced risk products such as the electronic cigarette and snus, are anathema to the zealots.

So, there's one thing of which we can be sure; the anti-smoker fanatics will continue their vehement opposition to the electronic cigarette (and all other forms of harm reduction tobacco products). Because it's a “tobacco” product. Because it so closely resembles smoking. Because it represents a threat to their funding sources. Because it interferes with their overall objective.

They're fanatics driven by an unhealthy obsession with eradicating tobacco and tobacco users, especially smokers.


Anonymous said...

Check out this page for the vape 360

These new e-cigs are resembling asthma pumps (ironic really) and I am 100% sure that nobody would dare question their use !!!
Just what part of the e-cig can be banned ? The atomiser..I think not. The battery...A definite NO. The cartridge that may or may not contain nicotine ??? What will the smoke police do ? They will need to carry a device that checks to see if the cartridge contains nicotine.
If the sale of nicotine juice is banned or restricted then it is easy to make your own at home:

The Old Rambler said...

Some of those modified e-cig thingies look like something out of a science fiction comic book. Like the nicotine inhaler sold by the drug companies, they're more likely to turn smokers off than to convince them to experiment with something which might provide some health benefit. Aesthetics are important.

Banning cartridges that contain nicotine is all that's required to stop the importation or sale of nicotine cartridges. And that's exactly what Health Canada has done. In Canada, nicotine may only be sold in a format and dosage consistent with that available from pharmaceutical concerns; the patch, gum, lozenges or the nicotine inhaler.

Canadian folk singer Tom Connors wasn't kidding when he sang “you know you gotta don a pair of oilskin pants, if ya wanna work in the tobacco plants 'round Tillsonberg”.

Nicotine can be a deadly poison and has been used as an insecticide and vermin poison. Formulating a supply of homemade nicotine could be a dangerous proposition and is certainly not a practice I'd recommend.