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Are Vapers At Risk From Hazardous Metals?



A group of researchers from Johns Hopkins and other universities are getting a lot of attention with a study that claims to show dangerous levels of various metals in e-cigarette vapor.

The press release was in newsrooms before the study had even been published, and the researchers were on the phone with reporters before the ink on the press release was dry. And the story is still spreading. Unfortunately, most reporters simply repeat the authors’ version of what the results mean, and don’t bother seeking out experts who might challenge the paper’s conclusions. And they definitely need challenging.

“Toxic metals linked with brain damage are ‘leaking from e-cigarettes into vapour’, experts have found,” said The Mirror. “Oh good, e-cigarette vapor contains toxic metals, too,” shouted the sarcastic Mashable banner. And those weren’t even the worst headlines.

Do the headlines match the study’s findings? And, for that matter, do the researchers’ own conclusions even describe the findings of the research? (more…)

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.

Vaping is the new way to do aromatherapy

Vaping is the new way to do aromatherapy.

Everything you need to know about vaping herbs and oils instead of nicotine

Vaping is one of the hottest trends right now, as evidenced by Leonardo DiCaprio lighting (steaming) one up at every awards show in the past year.

People swear that vaping helps them quit smoking and is fun. But while the research doesn’t quite support the first claim, the cool factor can’t be denied.

The nicotine seems to be the biggest issue with vaping. Whether you get your nic fix through a steamer or through old-fashioned cigarettes, it still does some serious damage to your body. But what if you just like the sensation of inhaling some mist? (Or, let’s be honest, just want to look like Leo?) Now, thanks to new technologies, you can put a lot of different things in your pipe and smoke them.

Probably not, says Homayoon Sanati, MD, a medical oncologist at Memorial Care Cancer Institute at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in California. “Anything that has you inhaling a foreign substance has the potential for tissue damage,” he says.

While the potential for damage depends on exactly what you’re inhaling, Sanati says he’s concerned most about the oils. “Heavier oils need to be heated to a higher temperature and when you do that it breaks the oils down into different compounds which can be irritating to your lungs and nose,” he explains. Plus, prepackaged herbal blends may also contain other, unlisted, ingredients that could cause problems but you wouldn’t even know they were there because supplements are unregulated.

Then there’s the vaping itself. Vaping is still so new that there are no long-term studies about the basic safety of inhaling products this way, much less any health benefits, he says. It doesn’t help that this type of holistic product is often targeted at people who are not smokers to begin with, like teens and women. While vaping may possibly help you replace an unhealthy habit (smoking) with a slightly healthier one (vaping), he points out that it comes with its own risks and certainly isn’t an improvement on breathing clean air. Sanati says this is particularly worrisome because while lung cancer rates have been dropping for men in recent years, they’re on the rise in women.

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.

Vaping: UK Grants License For E-Cigarettes As Quit Smoking Aid

UK Grants License For E-Cigarettes As Quit Smoking Aid

In the UK, vaping is now legally licensed as a smoking aid, and e-cigarettes can now be prescribed to be used as a way for smokers to quit. Britain officially gives license to the product e-Voke as a medicinal quitting alternative.

This is sort of controversial since ironically – e-Voke is produced by a British American Tobacco – one of the world’s biggest tobacco brands. UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) tells that the decision to regulate e-cigarettes is in the interests of people who can use it as a quit smoking device.

Still, many health communities are concerned about the potential risks of vaping. Since it is still a new habit, long-term studies has not yet been conducted. The long-term effects are also not clear as of now, and will be further investigated by scientists.

But it is claimed that vaping is a much safer alternative, since tobacco-based cigarettes still claims nearly 6 million deaths per year, as reported by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Public Health England reported that e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful to people’s health than regular cigarettes. Still, moderation and more research is needed on this area.

British Prime Minister David Cameron made headlines before when he endorsed e-cigarettes as a quitting aid, since he himself is an admitted smoker who struggles to quit.

“Certainly as somebody who has been through this battle a number of times, eventually relatively successfully, lots of people find different ways of doing it and certainly for some people e-cigarettes are successful. So I think we should be making clear that this is a very legitimate path for many people to improve their health and the health of the nation,” according to the Prime Minister.


Keep Vaping China, Don’t Listen To The World Health Organization On E-Cigarettes

BEIJING, CHINA – JUNE 01: Researchers estimate that smoking will cause about 20% of all adult male deaths in China during the 2010s.  (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

When it comes to smoking and vaping, the world of public health seems more like Oceania, 1984, every day. In that Orwellian realm, Big Brother issued nonsense statements such as “war is peace, slavery is freedom, ignorance is strength.”

In the U.S., the CDC and the California Department of Health have assumed the role of Big Brother, effectively telling smokers they might as well keep puffing because e-cigarettes are hardly any safer. Talk about an Orwellian inversion statement!

In truth, vaping is far less risky than smoking. E-cigarettes and other devices heat a nicotine solution to produce an inhalable vapor. They release none of the carcinogenic tar of cigarette smoke, making them the ideal nicotine-delivery system for smokers seeking to reduce or halt their intake of combusted tobacco products.

On a global scale, the World Health Organization is Big Brother. Dr. Margaret Chan, the WHO’s director-general, is a confirmed skeptic. As she told China Daily last week– “I recommend that national governments ban, or at least regulate, them,” she said. (Elsewhere, Dr. Chan has opined that e-cigarettes should be regulated the same way cigarettes are regulated– even though they are not remotely equivalent in terms of harm.)

Dr. Chan’s comments were contained in a news story on Beijing’s crackdown on indoor smoking which began on June 1st. The ban has reportedly boosted the public profile of e-cigarettes. As a result, the article said, vaping is becoming increasingly popular, particularly with young urbanites, according to Gan Quan, China director of the International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease.

These facts show how nonsensical it is to consider a ban on e-cigarettes while failing to call for one on cigarettes. After all, cigarettes are 20-100 times more dangerous than vaping.

In fact, if China truly wants to be smoke-free, it is not clear why the government, which is not known to be shy about imposing paternalistic policies in other areas, does not simply ban cigarette production and let e-cigarette use bloom.

After all, e-cigarettes are a homegrown product, invented in China in 2003. Shenzhen province housed 900 manufacturers of the devices in 2013, up 200% from the previous year, and accounted for over 95% of global e-cigarette production. Yet, despite considerable progress in e-cigarette industry, China’s traditional cigarettes still dominate the Chinese market.

As Yanzhong Huang of the Council on Foreign Relations recently pointed out, “If only 1% of China’s smoking population turned to e-cigarettes, it would mean a market of about 3.5 million e-cigarette users.” The state-owned China National Tobacco Corporation, which sells almost all of the cigarettes consumed in the country, could become the world’s largest e-cigarette maker.

Right now, however, the Corporation is a massive income source for the nation. It generates CN¥816 billion (7-10% of GDP) in revenue. Indeed, tobacco receipts finance as much as half of some provincial governments’ budgets. The loss of so much income would make prohibition a huge challenge.

Another barrier is low public awareness. Only 25 percent of Chinese adults have a comprehensive understanding of the health risks of smoking, and less than a third are aware of the dangers of second-hand smoking, according to World Health Organization. Less than 10 percent of Chinese smokers quit by choice and Chinese people are beginning to smoke at younger ages.

As for those Chinese smokers who do turn to vaping, China’s e-cigarette industry is currently very poorly regulated and the quality of vaping products is uneven. If e-cigarettes are to replace traditional cigarettes and offset lost tobacco revenues, the government must regulate the industry more carefully to ensure safety and quality.

In the end, China is unlikely to ban cigarettes. At the very least, then, the environment should be made as friendly as possible for moving smokers to quality-made e-cigarettes.

Is there any hope for WHO on this issue? Dr. Chan has already received important information about the promise of electronic cigarettes. In spring 2014, 53 international health experts wrote a joint letter encouraging her to “resist the urge” to “control and suppress” electronic cigarettes by classifying them as equivalent to cigarettes for purposes of regulation. The letter was issued in the run up to the sixth Conference of the Parties, COP6, under the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The signatories advocated for tobacco harm reduction, or safer nicotine use in the form of vaping, to be considered by the parties.

In the fall of 2014, COP6 culminated in a decision to “prepare an expert report, with independent scientists and concerned regulators, for the seventh session of the Conference of the Parties. The report will include an update on the evidence of the health impacts of [electronic nicotine delivery systems], [their] potential role in quitting tobacco usage, [and their] impact on tobacco control efforts.”

This sounds promising – if the scientists involved are truly independent of a pre-existing animus against harm reduction. Geneva insiders, such as Dr. Delon Human of Switzerland-based Health Diplomats, anticipate that such an analysis won’t be available until the next COP meeting, probably slated for fall 2016.

One wants to be optimistic about COP7, but just in case, I hope many of the experts who penned the earlier letter to Dr. Chan, will write her again with a detailed, data-rich assessment of the virtues of tobacco harm reduction. If WHO is a responsible, evidence-driven agency, it will quit the doublespeak on e-cigarettes.

The Benefits of Quitting

The Benefits of Quitting


Everybody knows about the benefits to your health from giving up smoking. They know about the links to cancer, about the damage to your respiratory system and the multitude of additional issues that smoking can incur, such as asthma. But what most people don’t realise is that smoking is linked to far more than just your inner health. The repercussions of lighting up are far- and wide-ranging, both for you and for the people around you. Conversely, though, this also means that the benefits of quitting go far beyond popular perception.

If you do decide to quit, there are plenty of ways to do so, from nicotine patches and gum to hypnotherapy and e-cigarettes. These last devices are gaining considerable support and backing from both smokers and, more recently, health charities thanks to the first real report into the effects of vaping, as using an electronic cigarette is known.

The report found that e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful than tobacco cigarettes – a dramatic decrease for someone who regularly smokes. Some people argue that the inclusion of nicotine in e-cigs does not solve the long-term problem of addiction, but the simple truth is that it’s far better to be addicted to something with only a handful of flavouring-related chemicals than to something with around 4,000 mostly carcinogenic chemicals. Besides, the e-liquid in e-cigarettes has variable amounts of nicotine, so you can customise how much you consume.

This benefit has persuaded many people to take up vaping as a way of cutting down on their tobacco intake, often with the aim of quitting completely in the longer term.

In fact, the vaping report highlights a number of ways in which vaping is more beneficial to you than traditional smoking, so where better place to start with our overview of the main advantages of giving up?


We’ve already mentioned cancer, but did you know that heart attacks and strokes are both far more likely if you’re a smoker, and smoking effectively doubles your chances of heart disease? By giving up, you stop putting additional pressure on your heart and circulatory system, as well as your respiratory system, both of which usually have to work overtime to rid your body of the toxins smoking introduces.


Smoking generally has visible signs in yellowed teeth and nails, bad breath and dull, grey skin due to a lack of oxygen reaching your skin cells. Smoking also produces cellulite – which, although on its own doesn’t make you fat, does give you that rippled skin effect that never looks good on anyone. The good news? Quit today and your skin will start repairing itself, meaning that you’ll start regaining those good looks in no time.


Smoking is renowned for reducing fertility in both men and women. In men, smoking can cause long-term impotence and a lower sperm count, while in women it reduces fertility by around a quarter. In addition, the risks of smoking whilst pregnant include miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth, and increase the risk of cot death by 25%. So if you want to have children and keep them safe and healthy, you’ve got a far greater chance of success if you’re a non- or ex-smoker.

Friends & Family

Second hand smoke is a real risk, and is a major cause of childhood respiratory illnesses such as asthma. It’s no use making sure the smoke blows away from people, either – 80% of cigarette smoke is invisible, so you have no way of knowing where it’s ending up. Don’t put the lives of loved ones at risk – quit now and stay healthy with them.


If you’re a smoker who often complains of having no money left each month, consider this: smoking 20 cigarettes a day costs you on average £250 a month, or £3,000 a year. That’s a lot of disposable income that could surely be used for more beneficial, and longer-term, investments. If you are looking for a cheaper and healthier alternative to smoking, you should check out the new e juice range from Medusa Juice e-liquid which tastes great in any e-cigarette and is very reasonably priced.

So if you think you’ve got something to gain from giving up smoking, whether it’s an extra few pounds in the bank, a boost to your appearance or a chance to set a healthier example for your family, the change starts here, now, and it’s up to you to make it a success.

How new rules could kill the vaping boom


E-Cigarette vaporizers are displayed at Digital Ciggz on January 28, 2015 in San Rafael, California. Photograph by Justin Sullivan — Getty ImagesIf proposed FDA rules are finalized, as expected, most vaping shops will not survive, many say.

When Randy Freer was trying to quit smoking, he wanted to try vaping—battery-operated devices that deliver nicotine by vaporizing liquids. (Some ex-smokers find the combo of the flavors and the ability to dial down the nicotine helps them quit.) But Freer found he couldn’t keep a supply of the vaporizers he liked—they were always out of stock.

So being the entrepreneurial type, he created his own e-liquids to vape. In 2012, he launched P.O.E.T. (Pursuit of Excellent Taste), a small business based in Seal Beach, California, that sells e-liquids. Three years later, he says his company sells to some 130 stores internationally as well as online, and has $500,000 in annual sales.

But all that could disappear if the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as expected, finalizes its rules on e-cigarettes and other vaping products. The rules would require federal approval for most flavored liquid nicotine juices and e-cig devices sold in vape shops.

“If that [FDA rule] goes through, it’ll put me back into the job market,” Freer says.

He and practically everyone else in the vaping business. According to one estimate, the approval process would require such an extensive data collection for each item that it could businesses cost $2 million to $10 million, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“Essentially the FDA regulation is a guaranteed death knell for over 99% of the companies in the industry,” says Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, an advocacy group. That would affect the estimated 8,000 to 12,000 vape shops in the United States and the estimated 1,000 manufacturers and wholesalers of vaping equipment.

Tobacco giants produce the e-cigarette brands, which look like cigarettes and are sold in supermarkets. But, second generation vaporizers—the kind sold by small and mid-sized businesses, like Freer’s — are larger, more like fountain pens, and users can customize them with different flavored e-liquids. They also have bigger batteries and cartridges so they can last longer.

Under the FDA proposed rules, there would be a retroactive premarket review of any e-cigarette or vaping product on the market after 2007, unless they can show the product is “substantially equivalent” to one on the market before 2007. Since the industry has evolved so quickly, today’s products have little equivalence to products on the market before 2007. “It essentially means that the FDA is retroactively requiring all products on the market to submit a new tobacco product application,” says Conley.

Pressure on the vaping industry

The FDA is proposing different compliance dates to give a little leeway for small businesses, so the regulations may not be noticeable to vapers for a couple of years. But there is a lot of pressure to restrict vaping and e-cigarette sales.

All US states except for Maine, Pennsylvania and Michigan have laws that prohibit selling e-cigarettes and vaping products to minors. This year, there were roughly 200 bills introduced across 40 states that addressed some aspect of e-cigarette and vapor product regulation. “The overall theme of this legislation is an effort to fold vapor products into existing laws that apply to combustible cigarettes and other tobacco products,” says Alex Clark, legislative director of the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association, an advocacy organization that promotes the right to cigarette alternatives.

The bills include taxing e cigarettes and vaping devices, prohibiting vaping where smoking is banned, prohibiting flavoring and advertising that is intended to appeal to minors, requiring licensing of vaping shops, labeling laws, and child resistant packaging. Jumping on the regulation bandwagon, the National Park Service just announced that it would ban vaping from its parks.

Consumer advocates are pushing for regulations, saying vaping presents major health concerns. In a recent report by the Center for Environmental Health, entitled, “Smoking Gun: Cancer-causing chemicals in e-cigarettes,” the group said it found the majority of e-cigarettes and other vaping products tested contained high levels of cancer-causing chemicals formaldehyde and acetaldehye. The group said it was “concerned about the unregulated marketing of e-cigarettes, and especially sales to teens and young people, while little is known about the health hazards from inhaling e-cigarette smoke.”

Yet many e-cig users say it helps people quit smoking and believe these e-cigs are at least safer than regular cigarettes. They say that taking them off the market will hurt the chances of quitting for millions of current smokers. Dr. Gregory Masters, an oncologist in Newark, Del., recently told WebMD he understands the conflicted public opinion. “I do have safety concerns for e-cigarettes because nicotine is bad for you, and we don’t know all of the risks with e-cigarettes,” said Masters. “I struggle when I get asked by patients, should I use e-cigarettes? I don’t want to condone e-cigarettes as a healthy alternative, but could it be a less dangerous alternative? It could be.”

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