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E-Cigarettes Part Two

Broadcast on The Mike Malloy Show April 23, 2010 

Hey Mike,

A Quick Recap: Quitting smoking was the hardest thing I’ve ever consistently failed at until I discovered E-Cigarettes. The transition from smoking to using an E-Cig was effortless. From a health point of view the benefits of switching are essentially the same as quitting. I think that’s remarkable. To be able to reap the rewards without having to endure the insanity that goes along with quitting is a couple of notches past astounding and just shy of miraculous.

So where can a wanna-be-ex-smoker buy one? You can find over-priced E-Cigs at kiosks in mega-malls or at your local smoke shop. In the Real World you can easily spend 2 to 3 times what you would on The Internets. Beware of scams where the company gives you a “free” E-Cig but automatically whacks your credit card $70 a month forever. After clicking around in The Google I happened upon some great unsolicited reviews of where the starter kit with shipping comes to $45.90.

The other company I’ve done business with is They carry the same models of E-Cig and a slightly wider variety of e-liquid flavors in various nicotine strengths. Both companies provide great customer service, quick delivery, and the American Lung Association, Anti-Smoking Groups, some state governments, and the FDA all want to shut them down.

Here’s where it gets interesting.

Some Anti-Smoking people have a strange Puritanical-Calvinistic Anti-Smoker attitude that I find just plain weird. The criticism I’ve received since taking up the E-Cig from some of these people doesn’t make sense. When I tried the nicotine gum and the patch there was cheerleading, but using the E-Cig brought disapproval. Y’know why? I’m not suffering. Because I was stupid enough to take up such a vile loathsome habit, quitting shouldn’t be easy. There ought to be punishment involved. That’ll teach me. Some groups say the E-Cig should be banned because of the “stress and confusion” caused when the poor innocent public thinks someone might be smoking. Well … somebody quick call a Waah-mbulance for these people so they can be sedated before they find out that SpongeBob Squarepants isn’t a real person.

The name of the game here is Harm Reduction. My objective wasn’t to achieve an absolutely pure lifestyle. I wasn’t trying to get into heaven, I just wanted to stop smoking. Sure I’m still breathing in nicotine vapor but I’m not inhaling … or exhaling … tar-filled smoke consisting of over 4,000 chemical compounds at least 69 of which are known to cause cancer. Nicotine, without the smoke, can still raise your blood pressure … about the same as a cup of coffee. Big Deal.

A spokesman for The American Lung Association has declared that electronic cigarettes are designed as a ploy to encourage people to smoke regular cigarettes.

That’s Insane. You shouldn’t have to rebut that kind of lunacy but it has to be done. That’s just a sample of misinformation put out about E-Cigs.

Another goofy argument is the different e-liquid flavors will entice children to get hooked on E-Cigs. That’s right. Kids will see the chocolate mint flavor on a website somewhere, sneak out Dad’s credit card, and order an E-Cig. I’m sure that happens all the time in the alternate universe where kids somehow haven’t figured out it’s easier to steal cigarettes from their parents.

Since 2008, the FDA has been trying to prevent e-cigarettes from entering the country. Shipments have been seized and E-Cig vendors have gone out of business. In 2009 the FDA warned that E-Cigs were harmful. Their analysis of the made-in-China products found carcinogens and toxic chemicals.

Well that sounds scary doesn’t it?

The FDA condemned E-Cigs on the basis that their lab detected carcinogens (tobacco-specific nitrosamines) in the cartridges of E-Cig manufacturers. The FDA held a press conference in which it attempted to scare electronic cigarette users into discontinuing e-cigarette use. Anti-smoking groups, including the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and American Lung Association, called for a ban on E-Cigs due to this carcinogen scare.

Like friend of mine says, “Though I was born at night, it wasn’t last night.” I think it’s wise to be somewhat skeptical of the government agency that accepted fudged and falsified data and gave us all Nutrasweet. Just Google the side effects of Aspartame sometime when you’re looking for late night scary ghost story reading.

The FDA (and the anti-smoking groups), failed to mention that when extracting nicotine from tobacco, some tobacco-specific nitrosamines come along for the ride. The level of these nitrosamines present in electronic cigarettes is at the trace level, measurable in parts per trillion, and are comparable to the levels found in the nicotine gum and patch which are FDA approved.

I wonder why the FDA would lie by omission by leaving that out? Maybe it has something to do with money.

Ten years ago the combined sales of the nicotine patch and gum was $570 million. I haven’t been able to determine currently how much drug maker GlaxoSmithKline makes from Nicorette but they’re spending 30 million dollars this year on advertising their gum. Big Tobacco rakes in $300 billion a year in sales. There are approximately 47 million smokers in the U.S. who buy 30 billion packs of cigarettes each year.

Obviously E-Cigs have the potential to carve out big slices from the Big Tobacco and Pharma profit pie. But who are the other interested parties who could potentially have their income streams reduced if E-Cigs really took off?

In my state a smoker pays a $3.00 “sin” tax on a pack of cigarettes. This cigarette tax varies from state to state but the loss of that kind of revenue during these economic hard times might be the motivating factor to pass legislation banning the sale of E-Cigs. Four states are currently working to pass such a ban. I thought I had come to the end of the “Follow The Money” road until I read a quote from an R.J. Reynolds spokesman buried in a BBC News article regarding the economics of tobacco, “The US government makes seven times more money from the sale of a pack of cigarettes than the cigarette maker does.”

Previously I thought that outside corporate pressure was behind the FDA’s misinformation campaign to ban E-Cigs. With 300 billion a year behind you … you can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel with your bare hands, or make the FDA jump through hoops like a circus dog. But … the government is also a player with billions at stake. It’s equally valid to conjecture that maybe this time internal pressure is at work. Or maybe it’s like the ending of Agatha Christie’s, Murder on the Orient ExpressAll the suspects did it.

I didn’t know when I got my E-Cig in the mail that I’d end up following a story like pulling the thread on a cheap sweater. I was just happy to get off cigarettes. Now I know there are hundreds of billions of dollars in play and the odds aren’t in the smoker’s favor. And in a year or two E-Cigs will probably be banned for the aforementioned billions of reasons. Almost half a million people die every year in the U.S. from smoking cigarettes. Too bad for them. This is just another case of Profits Over People.

But … I still exhort everyone who smokes cigarettes to try an e-cigarette. I think they’ll find that it is possible to quit smoking without going nuts … and later they might want to pick up some extra batteries and empty cartridges. Anyone can easily obtain everything needed to make their own e-liquid. So when E-Cigs are banned … well … as Frank from cig-easy says, “Happy Vaping.”