San Francisco Becomes First City to Ban E-Cigs

San Francisco voted Tuesday to ban the sale of e-cigarettes that do not have FDA approval, a legislative first for a major U.S. city. The FDA specification is effectively moot, observes The Verge, as no e-cigarettes (which are touted as tobacco cigarette alternatives) currently bear FDA approval.

Though pending executive signature, Mayor London Breed’s public statements voicing concern over the rise of teen vaping suggest she will put the bill into law. (Beverly Hills votedto ban the sale of cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and e-cigarettes earlier this month, leaving hotels as the only legal sellers of cigarettes in the city.) San Francisco is also the site of the country’s leading e-cigarette producer, Juul Labs.

Juul spoke out against the legislation, arguing that criminalizing e-cigarettes would “create a thriving black market” and encourage a return to “deadly cigarettes,” as reported by the Washington Post. Cigarette sales are still legal in San Francisco.

City leaders, for their part, remain unfazed by Juul’s admonitions and have even been openly hostile toward the company. As board of supervisors member Shamann Walton told the New York Times, “I would not lose any sleep at all if Juul left. I would help them pack up.”

Sales of Juul products jumped more than 600 percent within one year, says a 2018 letter from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, citing an increase of 2.2 million products sold in 2016 to 16.2 million sold in 2017. In December, the privately held company, then valued at $38 billion, sold 35 percent of its stake to Marlboro manufacturer Altria, allegedly seeking overseas investment to boot. In June, Juul bought a 29-floor skyscraper at 123 Mission Street in a record-breaking deal, effectively making Juul the only San Francisco company not in real estate to make such a massive real estate purchase to date. The building is estimated at $400 million. Juul told Business Insider a month earlier that its staff had ballooned from 200 to 2,000 employees within the past year. Most of Juul’s employees work in San Francisco. …

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Should CA Tax E-Cigarettes the Same as the Real Thing?


e-cigaretteThe claims that e-cigarettes are just as much of a health hazard as regular cigarettes and must be heavily taxed has touched off a fight in the public health community. A faction of public health officials has sided with e-cigarette companies and their assertion that e-cigarettes are much less dangerous than cigarettes and can in fact help people break the smoking habit.

The issue is coming to the fore in California because of voters’ passage of Proposition 56 last month. It will increase the state tax on a pack of cigarettes from 87 cents to $2.87 and mandates an “equivalent” increase in taxes on e-cigarettes, which allow users to heat nicotine fluid and inhale nicotine vapor without the tars they ingest when smoking regular cigarettes.

It’s not clear yet what “equivalent” means. State officials are still formulating the levies. But the Associated Press reports e-cigarette makers and distributors believe they will face a huge increase in state taxes that will raise the cost of vaping devices and liquids by more than 60 percent. If that happens, according to the American Vaping Association, it will be cheaper to smoke regular, more dangerous cigarettes in California than to “vape” — even though state taxes on regular cigarettes are going far higher as well.

In the United States, public health authorities, medical doctors and academics are broadly split on e-cigarettes. Some believe that e-cigarettes are so much less harmful that their use by conventional smokers should be encouraged. Some argue that there isn’t nearly enough hard research with which to draw conclusions about the relative healthiness of vaping. And some argue that e-cigarettes’ popularity threatens to undo the huge progress that has been made in reducing nicotine consumption in America over the last 50 years and should be heavily taxed and regulated for that reason alone.

Britain sees vaping as public health tool

These divided views aren’t the norm elsewhere. In California, state health officials issued a 2015 report blasting the emergence of vaping as a common habit, especially among the young. This report may be a factor in state officials’ consideration of heavy taxes for e-cigarettes.

Conversely, in the United Kingdom, physicians have been recommending that vaping be used by cigarette smokers because a massive government study found it is 95 percent healthier and has been a valuable tool for individuals trying to break their conventional smoking habits. These conclusions were released in a 2015 report by Public Health England.

Given that millions of Americans have died of lung cancer caused by smoking cigarettes, this would seem to make the case for vaping’s utility in fighting regular smoking. But many authorities are unpersuaded. Perhaps the most prominent critic of the notion of vaping as a public health tool is Stanton Glantz, a professor of tobacco control at the University of California, San Francisco.

In a 2015 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Glantz dismissed claims about vaping’s promise with a profanity. He acknowledges that e-cigarettes are healthier than regular cigarettes but sharply questions the British research. “I’ll eat my shoe if that 95 percent figure turns out to be correct five years from now,” he told the magazine.

Glantz says the big picture must not be ignored: “Are there people who have totally made the switch or quit completely because of these? Yes, I believe there are. Terrific. But most are what we call dual users — those who smoke both, often to smoke in places where they can no longer smoke cigarettes. If you’re talking about a smoker using these to inhale more dangerous chemicals, well, that has a net negative effect on public health.”

Proposition 56 takes effect on April 1. It is unclear if state officials will issue a draft proposal on how to tax e-cigarettes and seek public comment or decide rates without such input. The text of the 24-page ballot measure is silent on how the rules should be crafted.

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

E-Cig Are ‘Roadblock’ To Smoking For Young People Says New Report


e-cigaretteE-cigarettes are acting as a roadblock to smoking for young people, according to a study from the Centre for Substance Use Research (CSUR).

Presented at the Global Forum on Nicotine, the study shows e-cigarettes are playing an important role in slashing the chances of young people starting smoking.

Using qualitative interviews with people aged 16 to 25 in England and Scotland, most of those surveyed said e-cigarettes reduced the possibility of them and other people smoking.

“There was very little indication amongst the young people interviewed that e-cigarettes were resulting in an increased likelihood of young people smoking,” said Dr. Neil McKeganey who led the research.

“In fact, the majority we interviewed, including those who were vaping, perceived smoking in very negative terms and saw vaping as being entirely different to smoking.” (RELATED: Doctors Slam Study Linking E-Cigarettes To Teen Smoking)

“I think vaping is having an effect on smoking cigarettes in that it’s taking away from it. People are moving off cigarettes and moving onto vaping,” said one participant in the study.

Many participants in the study said, “vaping will make smoking decline.” Conflicting media coverage over the safety of e-cigarettes has left many confused about how dangerous they really are.

“While it is encouraging to see that young people appear to be quite clear about the role of e-cigarettes in society (devices used by smokers who are trying to – or already have – quit tobacco),” said McKeganey.

“It’s more concerning, particularly for the young people who currently smoke, that inaccurate perceptions of e-cigarettes could result in the persistent use of combustible tobacco irrespective of the fact that Public Health England has concluded vaping is 95 percent less harmful than conventional cigarettes,” McKeganey continued.

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) concluded e-cigarettes are a valuable tool to quit smoking and criticised several myths surrounding vaping in a groundbreaking 200-page report released. (Game Changer: World Leading Medical Group Backs E-Cigarettes)

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Scientist Debunks Claim That E-Cigs Are As Dangerous As Tobacco


e-cigaretteA study making headlines across the world claiming two e-cigarette products “damaged cells in ways that could lead to cancer,” is under fire from a leading public health expert.

Conducted by a research team at the University of California, San Diego, the study investigated how e-cigarettes may contribute to the development and progression of a cancer known as head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.

The research team “created an extract from the vapor of two popular brands of e-cigarettes and used it to treat human cells in Petri dishes. Compared with untreated cells, the treated cells were more likely to show DNA damage and die.”

What was the result?

“The exposed cells showed several forms of damage, including DNA strand breaks. The familiar double helix that makes up DNA has two long strands of molecules that intertwine. When one or both of these strands break apart and the cellular repair process doesn’t work right, the stage is set for cancer.”

One of the study’s authors even went on to claim “they [e-cigarettes] are no better than smoking regular cigarettes.” Combined with a hyperbolic press release, the study has triggered a wave of headlines claiming vaping is just as dangerous as smoking.

But Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at Boston University School of Public Health, with 25 years of experience in the field of tobacco control has dissected the most sensational claims of both the researchers and headline writers.

In a statement sent to The Daily Caller News Foundation, Siegel said, “this study confirms previous findings that e-cigarette vapor can cause damage to epithelial cell lines in culture, and that the damage caused by e-cigarette vapor is much lower than that caused by tobacco smoke. However, it cannot be concluded from this cell culture study that e-cigarette vapor actually has toxic or carcinogenic effects in humans who use these products.”

“In particular, the dose at which e-cigarette vapor was found to have an adverse effect was much higher than the actual dose that a vapor receives. Nevertheless, one of the co-authors concluded publicly that based on these results, e-cigarette use is no less hazardous than cigarette smoking.”

Siegel added that “not only is this conclusion baseless, but it is damaging to the public’s health. It undermines decades of public education about the severe hazards of cigarette smoking. To declare that smoking is no more hazardous than using e-cigarettes, a non-tobacco-containing product is a false and irresponsible claim.”

One of Siegel’s chief concerns about the misrepresentation of e-cigarettes is many ex-smokers who took up vaping may switch back to regular cigarettes if they believe there is no difference between the two. “This will cause actual human health damage, not merely damage to some cells in a laboratory culture,” says Siegel.

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Originally published by the Daily Caller News Foundation

CA Senate Passes Bill to Raise Legal Smoking Age to 21

cigarette smoking ashesAdding another bill to its reputation as a trend-setting Legislature, Sacramento has taken a big step toward raising the statewide smoking age to 21. By an overwhelming tally of 26 to 8, the state Senate voted to prohibit sales of tobacco products to those aged 18-20.

By the numbers

According to the bill’s supporters, the ban would be instrumental in dramatically reducing not only teen smoking but smoking in general. “Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina, said he introduced the bill, SB151, out of concern that an estimated 90 percent of tobacco users start before age 21,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

That statistic emerged from a recent Institute of Medicine study making the rounds in policy circles. Researchers suggestedthat “teen smoking could be curbed by 12 percent if the age limit was raised to 21,” as LAist noted, “making it harder for minors to find somebody to buy cigarettes for them.” In real numbers, the study concluded, the age-21 limit would ensure “more than 200,000 fewer premature deaths nationally for those born between 2000 and 2019.”

Although critics have pointed out that people older than 18 are adults eligible to be drafted and bound to signed contracts, the Times observed, momentum has gathered to raise the legal smoking age for reasons unrelated to consistency in the treatment of individual rights and responsibilities.

Tobacco-related illness has long represented a significant chunk of aggregate health care costs. For policymakers, that problem grows more serious the more those costs are shifted onto government and taxpayers. “Tobacco-related disease killed 34,000 Californians in 2009 and cost the state $18.1 billion in medical expenses, according to studies by UC San Francisco,” according to the Times.

A developing trend

Trendsetting_Teens_Now_Smoking_E-Cigs-c84599d4735c853b900185fa0a93e9ebSome evidence of the policy’s likely impact has accumulated in states where the smoking age was previously hiked. “Although most states set the minimum age at 18, Alabama, Alaska, New Jersey and Utah set it at 19, and some localities have set it at 21,” according to The Washington Post. “Higher age limits seem to correspond with lower smoke rates in these states; Utah and New Jersey also have among the lowest smoking rates in the country, No. 1 and No. 5, per Gallup, while Alaska has the most improved, and Alabama is somewhat of an outlier in the South, as it’s not among the states with the highest smoking rates, like its neighbors Mississippi and Louisiana.”

California could be the first state to deny tobacco to under-21s. But other western states could swiftly follow suit. According to KPPC, “Legislatures in Oregon and Washington are considering similar bills and lawmakers in Hawaii have passed a bill and sent it to the governor.” Among the localities setting the legal age at 21, Hawaii County has been joined by New York City.

Next, vaping

Traditional tobacco products were not the only ones on the state Senate’s chopping block. SB140, introduced by state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, also passed handily, on a 24-12 vote.

As the San Francisco Chronicle reported, that bill “would include e-cigarettes in the definition of tobacco products in order to prohibit the devices from being used at workplaces, schools and public places, just as tobacco products are under the state’s Smoke Free Act. SB140 would also make it a misdemeanor to provide e-cigarettes to minors.”

The tandem advance of the state Senate’s anti-smoking and anti-vaping bills raised the prospect that the two approaches would converge in the near future, raising the vaping age to 21. “California bans the sale of e-cigarettes to anyone under 18,” the Chronicle observed, “but Leno said young teens still have access to them and they are becoming increasingly popular among middle and high school students.” If Hernandez’s bill were to pass before Leno’s, vaping would automatically be restricted in the same manner as traditional cigarette smoking.

Originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Study: E-cigarettes Probably Not A Gateway To Regular Smoking

As e-cigarettes spread like wildfire around the country, medical experts have expressed concern about whether e-cigarettes actually discourage users from moving on to cigarettes, but a new study finds that e-cigarettes are not a gateway to regular smoking.

E-cigarettes are growing rapidly among the high school population in the United States. Previous research has indicated that in just one year, e-cigarette usage by high school students doubled from 4.5 percent to 10 percent. Apart from e-cigarettes, hookah is also starting to take off in popularity, which is why researchers included it as a category in the new study.

With an explosion of tobacco products, researchers have found it difficult to determine causation. In other words, do emerging tobacco products (ETPs) like e-cigarettes and hookah encourage users to start smoking regular cigarettes, or do ETPs actually reduce overall rates of smoking?

“One of the biggest concerns about e-cigarettes is that they will serve as a gateway drug to lifelong nicotine dependence and all of the harms we know result from cigarette smoking,” said Michael Fiore, tobacco researcher from the Centers for Disease Control, according to Radio Iowa.

County after county has jumped into the regulatory fray to ban minors from accessing e-cigarettes, owing to health concerns and the fact that e-cigarettes have entered the market so quickly. Some experts are unsure aren’t yet sure what to think, although the general tone so far has been relatively optimistic. E-cigarettes have the potential to dramatically reduce conventional smoking rates.

Using a sample size of 1,304 students with an average age of 19.4 years at a public university in Oklahoma, researchers conducted an online survey to determine what tobacco products student had tried before and how frequently they used them.

To start, 79.5 percent of the sample was composed of non-users, which were mostly white and female. And 49 percent of all students reported that they had tried a tobacco product at least once. Another 20 percent either daily or occasionally consume tobacco products.

The main finding? Youths who first used hookah or e-cigarettes are less likely to become frequent smokers of regular cigarettes, compared to those who first tried conventional cigarettes. The students who first tried conventional cigarettes were three more times likely to become poly tobacco users than those who first tried e-cigarettes. Poly users are those who use three or more tobacco products.

Out of the sample, only one student who first started with an ETP ended up becoming a daily user of tobacco products. In contrast, 10 percent of users who first started with conventional cigarettes now smoke daily.

“Though this finding should be interpreted with caution, it potentially indicates that current ETPs are not necessarily strong gateways to regular tobacco use,” the researchers noted.

However, the study does have some noteworthy limitations. The first is most important: the study is cross-sectional, meaning it did not track users over time. Second, the researchers relied on self-reported data instead of biochemical indicators of smoking. This means that while the research is promising, it by no means is conclusive.

“Despite these limitations, the present investigation helps to identify the gateway potential of various tobacco products in a rapidly expanding tobacco market,” the authors concluded.

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This article was originally published by the Daily Caller News Foundation