After the two-part piece about e-cigarettes aired in April, over 100 listeners went to SuperBeans.com/quitting, clicked on a link, and ordered an e-cigarette starter kit from CigEasy.com or Vapor4Life. I asked the vendors for email addresses from orders generated through the SuperBeans link, and when I thought that everybody had received their kits, and had been using the E-Cig for 3 or 4 days, I sent out a survey. I was curious to see how everyone was doing during the first few days of making the transition from smoking tobacco.
I could have waited but I thought the first 3 or 4 days are the most critical. Everybody stops smoking the day they slap on the patch or start gnawing the gum. I think the real test is to check in after a couple of days to see if people have gone nuts … or not.
Here’s what I found from the returned surveys:
88% smoked for over 20 years
76% smoked a pack or more a day
88% had tried quitting multiple times and 72% had tried nicotine replacement therapies or drugs.
And after using an E-Cig for a few days …?
68% stopped smoking tobacco cigarettes completely, and the remaining 32% had cut their cigarette consumption way waaaaay down.
And … no one reported any of the white-knuckling-wall-climbing-jumping-out-of-your-skin insanity that happens when you try to quit smoking.
Here are some excerpts:
“I just feel no need to smoke cigarettes now and I don't think I'll ever go back.”
“I don't stink of smoke, my breathing is easier, and my self-esteem has acquired six-pack abs.”
“I have more energy, my returned sense of smell and taste is exhilarating, and the shortness of breath and cough is gone.”
“The ecigs were delivered Saturday afternoon. I opened the package and put them together … and I have not smoked a cigarette since! It's nothing short of miraculous.”
“[After receiving the starter kit] I haven't had, wanted or craved a cigarette since. I am stunned! I keep thinking "it couldn't be this easy". To have 27 years of guilt, shame and anxiety about my health just lifted away in a matter of seconds! Words cannot describe the huge relief I feel! Even better I ordered a kit for my niece, who suffers from asthma, and can't wait to get her off the cigarettes.”
“Just a little note of continued THANKS! Since getting the e-cig starter kit for my Dad he hasn't picked up a cigarette and is no longer smoking 3 packs a day after more than 40 years of trying unsuccessfully to quit. Just like that … he quit.”
Up to 500,000 smokers have switched from tobacco to e-cigarettes over the last two years.
Dr. Joel L. Nitzkin, MD, MPH is the Chair of the Tobacco Control Task Force of the American Association of Public Health Physicians. On April 2nd 2010 he wrote, “AAPHP favors a permissive approach to E-cigarettes because the possibility exists to save the lives of four million of the eight million current adult American smokers who will otherwise die of a tobacco-related illness over the next twenty years.”
Dr Murray Laugesen of Health New Zealand is one of the few researchers to have carried out an in-depth analysis of the contents of the e-cigarette. In a May 2009 interview Dr. Laugesen said, “We would rate the Ruyan electronic cigarette two to three orders of magnitude safer (100 to 1000 times safer) than a tobacco cigarette.”
The inevitable question is … Why have health advocacy groups joined the FDA in trying to ban something that is ten times more successful than the nicotine patch or gum in helping people quit smoking?
I’ll try to condense a two hour conversation with Bill Godshall, Executive Director of Smokefree Pennsylvania, and two weeks of research to answer that.
Anti-Smoking groups had prevailed. Smoking was banned in the workplace, bars, and restaurants. Cigarette advertising aimed at young people was stopped and cigarette taxes were raised on the state and federal level to defray smoker’s health costs. Harm reduction was the goal but tobacco prohibitionists slowly took control of the movement and Anti-Smoking became Anti-Tobacco. The words were changed from “Smoking Kills” to “Tobacco Kills” even though smokefree tobacco products are 99%(+/- 1%) less hazardous than cigarettes. By lying about smokeless tobacco the prohibitionists proved they were more concerned with stamping out all things tobacco than with people’s health.
The Pharmaceutical industry only wants one story in front of the public: The only way to quit smoking is by using nicotine replacement products or drugs. The industry found willing mouthpieces to push that story in the Anti-tobacco movement and the extremists found a steady flow of cash.
The FDA is also hooked on Big Pharma cash. For the first 86 years of the FDA's existence all funding came through the U.S. Treasury. We paid our taxes and the FDA received appropriations out of the budget. But in 1992 a law was passed that said for a large proportion of the work done by the FDA on new drug applications, the money's going to come directly from the industry. In 2009 the Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex funded the FDA to an estimated 600 million dollars. Because of this direct funding, the FDA looks upon the industry as their client … instead of the public and the public health, which should be the client.
It’s not a new story. Corporate cash manipulates extremist “grass-roots” movements while pressuring the government to do its bidding with even more cash. Wherever have we heard that tune before?
But this time we have hope that it’s not going to play out like they want. Legislation was derailed in some states attempting an e-cigarette ban because E-Cig users showed up and debunked the FDA’s exaggerated claims and outright lies. This is one instance where letters and phone calls to elected representatives made a difference. And there are actions you can do right now to help.
The American Association of Public Health Physicians (AAPHP)is trying to get the FDA to reclassify and regulate e-cigarettes as tobacco products, thus keeping them on the market, instead of banning the products by classifying them as drugs or devices. You can submit a comment urging supportive action by the FDA online.
The bottom line here is if you’ve had a positive experience using e-cigarettes … tell somebody! Write a letter to your elected representatives and to the editor of your local paper. But above all … tell your friends who smoke cigarettes. You can join The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association and sign and mail in all available petitions. Links to everything can be found at SuperBeans.com/quitting.
The main thing that gives me hope is this: E-cigarettes have become a political issue. But it has not devolved into a partisan issue. Reason can still prevail because people are still listening to one another.
The News Of The Day completely overshadows the relatively insignificant fact that a couple of weeks ago a hundred people were able to get out from under their cigarette addiction. But it’s those small sparks of progress that enable us to continue to deal with … The News Of The Day.