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Vape tax opponents rally around repeal effort, election challenge

New Taxes Threaten Pennsylvania Vape Stores
Wallace McKelvey | WMckelvey@pennlive.com By Wallace McKelvey | [email protected] The Patriot-News
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on September 19, 2016 at 2:10 PM, updated September 19, 2016 at 3:09 PM

Opponents of Pennsylvania’s 40 percent tax on e-cigarettes are rallying around new legislation that would repeal what vape store owners describe as the death knell of the industry.

Lawmakers and Gov. Tom Wolf avoided another protracted budget impasse this year by relying on new revenues from an expansion of gambling, reforms to the liquor system and higher taxes on smokers and the businesses that cater to their nicotine habits. That includes a 40 percent tax on the wholesale price on vaping supplies as well as a 40 percent “floor tax” on the inventory currently sitting on vape shop shelves.


POV: New FDA Regulations on Vaping Products a Failure

POV: New FDA Regulations on Vaping Products a Failure

They do not protect public’s health, do impose a public safety hazard


On May 5, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released its long-awaited regulations on electronic cigarettes and vaping products. These rules, which require every one of the more than 10,000 vaping products on the market to submit a pre–market approval application simply to stay on the market, were widely applauded by antismoking and health groups. What may not have been apparent at the time, but what I have discovered through a detailed analysis of the 499-page regulations, is that these regulations not only fail to protect the public’s health, but they impose a public safety hazard.


Nicotine without smoke: Tobacco harm reduction

Nicotine without smoke: Tobacco harm reduction

This report aims to provide a fresh update on the use of harm reduction in tobacco smoking, in relation to all non-tobacco nicotine products but particularly e-cigarettes. It concludes that, for all the potential risks involved, harm reduction has huge potential to prevent death and disability from tobacco use, and to hasten our progress to a tobacco-free society.

Promote e-cigarettes widely as substitute for smoking says new RCP report

Promote e-cigarettes widely as substitute for smoking says new RCP report

The Royal College of Physicians’ new report, Nicotine without smoke: tobacco harm reduction, has concluded that e-cigarettes are likely to be beneficial to UK public health. Smokers can therefore be reassured and encouraged to use them, and the public can be reassured that e-cigarettes are much safer than smoking.

It’s Too Early to Prove Absolute Safety, But Smokers Shouldn’t Wait to Vape

It’s Too Early to Prove Absolute Safety, But Smokers Shouldn’t Wait to Vape

Electronic cigarette

Tobacco opponents say that we’ve had too little experience with e-cigarettes to know whether they are safe.  While it is true that we don’t yet know the health consequences of long-term use, that should not discourage smokers from switching.

We know that smoke contains high levels of thousands of agents, many of which are toxic or carcinogenic.  In contrast, e-cigarette vapor contains water, propylene glycol and/or vegetable glycerin, nicotine, flavors and perhaps a few contaminants at minuscule levels.  None of these – with the exception of buttery flavors (here) – are linked to any specific disease.  This difference alone justifies encouraging smokers to switch to e-cigarettes.

In the case of cigarettes, the effects of long-term use were not apparent for 20 years.

As I discuss in my book, For Smokers Only, smoking prevalence increased substantially around World War I (1914-1918).  The first clinical report of an increase in lung cancer and the suggestion of a link to smoking was published in 1939 by Alton Oschner and Michael Debakey in the journal Surgery, Gynecology & Obstetrics (68: 435-451, 1939). “Until recently,” they wrote, “[cancer] of the lung has been considered a relatively infrequent condition.  However, recent studies demonstrate that [lung cancer] is one of the most frequent [cancers] of the body.”  But they acknowledged, “…it is controversial whether the increase in [lung cancer] is apparent or real.”  Oschner and DeBakey described 79 previous cases and presented seven cases that they had seen.

German pathologist Dietrich Eberhard Schairer and colleague Erich Schöniger published perhaps the first epidemiologic case-control study of smoking and lung cancer in their native language in 1943. Now considered a groundbreaking study, it was republished in English by the International Journal of Epidemiology in 2001 (reference here).  They confirmed “the [earlier] report of Müller [1940] that non-smokers rarely get lung cancer whereas heavy smokers get it more frequently than average.”

The smoking-lung cancer link did not appear in mainstream medical literature until 1950, when studies by Ernst Wynder and Evarts Graham (Journal of the American Medical Association,here), and by Richard Doll and Austin Hill in the (British Medical Journal, here) were published.

While the strong link between smoking and lung cancer was not discovered for decades, today’s advanced surveillance techniques may detect a vapor-linked problem sooner.  It should be noted, however, that evaluating the effects of vaping will likely be complicated by the fact that most vapers already have smoking histories.

Smokers shouldn’t wait to vape.

Scientist Exposes ‘Sham’ Methodology Linking E-Cigarettes To Smoking

Scientist Exposes ‘Sham’ Methodology Linking E-Cigarettes To Smoking

Vaping Study Wrong
Image:   Vaping360.com(Vaping360)
A Swiss study claiming vaping can lead to smoking and harms current smokers’ chance of quitting suffers from “fatal” flaws, and the paper’s conclusions are misrepresentative, according to a leading public health expert.

“We found no beneficial effects of vaping at follow-up for either smoking cessation or smoking reduction,” the authors conclude in the study.

But Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health, has written a damning critique of the study, which was published in Swiss Medical Weekly.

“Instead, the study measures – at follow-up – whether the participants had used an electronic cigarette any time in the past year,” he continued. “They could have used an e-cigarette for the first time the previous day, for example, and would still be considered as vapers in the analysis.” (RELATED: CDC Data Blows Away Popular E-Cigarette Criticism)

Siegel points out that the researchers don’t compare the changes in smoking behavior over time between vapers and non-vapers. The study only measures changes in smoking over the past year and whether the subjects had ever used an e-cigarette. So, in Siegel’s words, the “study methods do not allow the investigators to determine which came first.”

“Because it is a cross-sectional study, it is impossible to know whether the change in smoking status preceded the use of electronic cigarettes or whether the use of electronic cigarettes preceded the smoking status change,” he wrote.

This omission is critical, as it casts severe doubt over the claim that e-cigarettes are a cause of smoking initiation or failure to quit. The second fatal flaw is that the question used to assess vaping behavior only asked about ever use of e-cigarettes,” Siegel wrote. “It does not assess the frequency of use or its duration. According to the methodology, participants were merely asked whether they had ‘used’ e-cigarettes at any point in the past 12 months.”

But the term “used” was not clarified. Vapers, as defined in the study, included anyone who so much as tried one e-cigarette. “It is entirely possible that many of the participants who the study called vapers were actually not vapers at all, but merely people who had tried an e-cigarette,” Siegel added. (RELATED: CDC Admits, No ‘Concrete’ Evidence E-Cigarettes Are Gateway To Smoking

Siegel’s criticism comes soon after a meta-study arguing that e-cigarettes made it harder for people quit smoking received widespread criticism from health professionals, and was branded an “unscientific hatchet Job.”


E-cigarette regulations may increase teen smoking (and help Big Tobacco)

November 8

As teen smoking rates have declined, teen use of e-cigarettes and other vaping devices have increased. This is a real concern, and it has prompted many states to ban e-cigarette sales to minors. Such regulation sounds like a good idea, but new research suggests it may backfire.A forthcoming paper in the Journal of Health Economics finds that bans on teen access to e-cigarettes may increase teen smoking rates. Here’s how the Yale School of Public Health describes the research:

Using data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the research finds that state bans on e-cigarette sales to minors yield a 0.9 percentage point increase in rates of recent conventional cigarette use by 12 to 17 year olds, relative to states without these bans.

“Conventional cigarette use has been falling somewhat steadily among this age group since the start of the 21st century. This paper shows that bans on e-cigarette sales to minors appear to have slowed this decline by about 70 percent in the states that implemented them,” said Abigail Friedman, assistant professor of public health and the study’s author. “In other words, as a result of these bans, more teenagers are using conventional cigarettes than otherwise would have done so.”

Teen smoking is a serious public health concern, so these results should be alarming. As a father, I don’t want my kids to use e-cigarettes — and I certainly don’t want them to even consider doing so until they are mature enough to make informed choices — but I don’t want them to smoke even more. Nicotine addiction is bad, but nicotine addiction combined with the serious health consequences of smoking are worse. If forced to choose — and I would prefer not to — smoking is clearly the greater evil.

There is increasing reason to believe that, whatever the risks of e-cigarette use, they are a tiny fraction of those presented by conventional cigarettes. There is also good evidence that using e-cigarettes as an alternative source of nicotine can help smokers quit (at least those smokers who want to quit), and they may be as — if not more — effective than alternative smoking cessation methods (at least for some smokers). Again, while e-cigarettes are not risk-free — and there is still much to be learned about their potential long-term health effects — there is an emerging consensus that they are far less dangerous than smoking. Insofar as there is a trade-off between smoking rates and vaping rates, the preference for vaping should be a no-brainer.

That e-cigarettes are a potential substitute for traditional cigarettes is well understood by the tobacco industry — and it has that industry worried. While the big tobacco companies have developed their own e-cigarette brands, they are also supporting the increased regulation of e-cigarettes and other vaping devices. Such regulation is likely to suppress competition to the tobacco companies’ benefit, both by restricting the relative availability of e-cigarettes and reducing competition within e-cigarette markets to the advantage of larger firms. I explore this point with Bruce Yandle, Roger Meiners and Andrew Morriss in this Regulation article and this more extensive paper forthcoming in the Yale Journal on Regulation. The bottom line: Not only could poorly conceived e-cigarette regulation undermine public health, it could help tobacco companies as well.

What does this all mean? Well-intentioned public health measures do not always protect public health. Premature or poorly constructed regulation of e-cigarettes may compromise smoking-reduction efforts and (as our research suggests) advance the interests of tobacco companies. I support measures to discourage teen e-cigarette use, and we should all want such measures to be effective. Regulation of new technologies is sometimes justified, but it can also do more harm than good.

Safe to Vape? 5 Things Every Parent Needs to Know About E-cigarettes

Safe to Vape? 5 Things Every Parent Needs to Know About E-cigarettes

Michael Green Center for Environmental Health e-cigarette vaping

In my Mom’s time, it wasn’t unusual for teenagers to take up smoking. At the time, the general public was not aware of the dangers from cigarettes, and the big tobacco companies worked for decades to keep people in the dark about their poisonous products.

Today teen tobacco use is down, but parents have a new smoking technology to worry about. The use of e-cigarettes is skyrocketing among young people: recent data shows that teens’ use of e-cigarettes tripled in just one year.

  1. From Big Tobacco to Big Vaping

Leading tobacco companies are the biggest players in the e-cigarette industry, so it’s no surprise that the industry misleadingly markets its products as a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes that produces nothing more than harmless water vapor. But independent experts say that chemicals from e-cigarettes may pose lifelong dangers, especially to young people. With little of this information getting out to the public, it is critical for parents to know about the risks their children face if they take up this addictive habit.

[5 Ways to Protect Yourself From Harmful Chemicals in Make Up & Health Products]

  1. Where there’s smoke…there’s cancer?

A report by the Center for Environmental Health (CEH), A Smoking Gun: Cancer-Causing Chemicals in E-Cigarettes on testing of nearly 100 e-cigarettes and vaping products showed that almost ninety percent of the companies whose products were tested had one or more products that produced high levels of one or both of the cancer-causing chemicals formaldehyde and acetaldehyde. Cancer is not the only health hazard linked to exposure to these chemicals: both have also been linked to genetic damage, birth defects, and reduced fertility. The CEH testing found high levels of these chemicals even in e-cigarettes with no nicotine, dispelling the notion that nicotine-free vaping is harmless.

  1. Nicotine: the fix is in

Nicotine is known to cause serious reproductive health problems and thus may be especially dangerous for young women. A recent review of 50 years of data found that smoking during pregnancy significantly increased the risk of birth defects, including missing or deformed limbs, clubfoot, skull defects, and others. Nicotine can also damage adolescent’s developing brains: a 2014 study found that nicotine addiction led to impaired brain functioning in teens.

[Read Maria Shriver’s latest ‘I’ve Been Thinking’ essay]

  1. Smoking cessation or gateway?

The e-cigarette industry heavily markets their products as an aide to stop tobacco smoking. But experts suggest the opposite may be true: a 2014 study found that smokers who use e-cigarettes may be at an increased risk of not being able to quit smoking. According to Dr. Stanton Glantz of Stanford University’s Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, numerous studies suggest that the use of e-cigarettes may create a “gateway effect” leading many young people to tobacco smoking.

  1. Younger children at risk

Poison control centers are seeing skyrocketing rates of accidental nicotine poisoning incidents from vaping products: from 2011 to 2014, the number of such cases increased by 13 times, with most cases involving children ages 5 and under. Kids are drawn to vaping products, since they are often marketed in candy or dessert flavors, and are sold without child-safe packaging. Last year we saw the tragic results of this reckless marketing: a one year-old child died after swallowing liquid nicotine.

Smokescreen? Madison vapers say e-cigarettes help them quit smoking, but health effects remain largely unknown

Dead on! Long article, but great information.



Tom Smithback smoked for 40 years, burning through two packs a day. Every 10 days, he spent $144 to sustain the addiction, and people who saw him would never have guessed he was only 64.

“The smoking was killing me, slowly but surely,” Smithback said.

But he didn’t fully realize what damage it had done until June, when he discovered electronic cigarettes and started “vaping” instead of smoking. Within a month, he had quit tobacco cigarettes entirely. His blood pressure dropped from 145/80 to 122/62 and his sinuses cleared up. He feels better in the morning and he looks years younger, according to those who know him.

“You go downhill so slowly you don’t realize it,” he said. “I can’t believe the difference in someone’s health.”

Smithback still vapes daily (twisted peppermint is his preferred flavor) and is now looking forward to life beyond is 70th birthday.

Stories like Smithback’s are common among Wisconsin’s vaping community as regular smokers switch to vaping and urge others to do the same. But while researchers and health officials acknowledge the potential for reduced harm by switching, they are often far more concerned about the still-unknown dangers e-cigarettes and vaping could trigger.

“The problem is that we don’t have enough evidence right now to make a strong perception,” said Megan Piper, a researcher with University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention.

The past few years have brought hundreds of studies, commentaries and news articles about electronic cigarettes, yet they are still described by opposing sides as either an incredibly effective method to end smoking or the next major public health hazard.

Both sides agree more independent research is needed.


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