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s2smodern

In our final edition of RegWatch for 2019, Guy Bentley director of consumer freedom at the Reason Foundation recaps CDC’s disastrous misjudgment of the lung crisis and the media’s relentless efforts to smear vaping.

Moral panic over vaping runs against reason, find out why!

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s2smodern

As the federal government has backed away from a ban on flavored e-cigarettes, opponents of the products are shifting their attention to state and local levels. It’s easy to understand the reasons for concern: Vaping is novel, we’re protective of the youth, the wave of lung illness is frightening, and the carnage caused by cigarettes has made us wary of nicotine in any form. But getting risk right requires taking a step back, calmly evaluating the evidence, and not giving in to panic.

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s2smodern

Looking back over more than 30 years working in public health globally and in the United States, I can't recall a year with as pronounced a divergence: big advances and big setbacks. Heart health improved in parts of the world, but in the US, the decline in cardiovascular deaths stalled, contributing to a shocking decline in life expectancy. We know more about epidemic preparedness than ever, but preventable infectious disease outbreaks continue. More countries are reducing smoking, but e-cigarettes are hooking a new generation of kids into lifelong nicotine addiction. [...]

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s2smodern

Between 2018 and 2019, according to the latest results from a government-sponsored survey, illegal drug use rose slightly among eighth-graders and 10th-graders while falling slightly among 12th-graders. None of the changes was statistically significant, and the story for marijuana is similar. Meanwhile, drinking and smoking continued to fall in all three grades, and there were statistically significant drops in heroin use by 10th-graders and prescription opioid use by 12th-graders.

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s2smodern

Here’s an unpopular opinion: The vaping industry made the wrong move supporting the Trump administration’s bid to implement a higher tobacco sales age.

That is my honest opinion. In light of what has happened, the attempts to regulate e-cigarettes more than they already are has caused the industry to succumb to the wills of big tobacco, big pharma, and tobacco control groups. To argue against this sentiment is an attempt to justify an atrocious policy compromise built on flaws and contriteness.

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s2smodern

More than 2,500 Americans have been hospitalized with vaping-related lung illnesses and 54 have died, US officials confirmed Thursday. .

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that people have fallen ill in all 50 states and deaths have been reported in 27 states, plus Washington, DC. 

Investigators still can't say for sure what in vaping products is causing the spate of lung illnesses but have zeroed in on THC e-cigarettes and, specifically, a sticky oil called vitamin E acetate that they call a 'strong culprit' for the crisis. 

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s2smodern

Every week seems brings a new story about how vaping is really, really, really bad for you.

Only a few years ago, electronic cigarettes were being hailed as a new and healthier way for people to consume nicotine and pot. The number of vapers worldwide has grown sevenfold since 2011, to an estimated 41 million users. But now, vaping is being attacked as a dangerous trend that's luring teenagers into a deadly habit that might be as bad for you as conventnional smoking.

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s2smodern

The House and Senate have now passed a provision that would ban the sale of tobacco and e-cigarettes to anyone under 21, at a time when Congress and the Trump administration are facing public pressure to reduce the soaring rates of teenage vaping.

President Trump has spoken in favor of increasing the age limit, and is expected to sign the measure into law as part of the overall spending package. Nineteen states and more than 500 cities and towns have already raised the age to 21. [...]

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s2smodern

Tobacco giant Philip Morris International is pitching a new vision of its future—one without its signature Marlboro cigarettes.

At the center of company's "smoke-free future" rebranding effort is IQOS, a hand-held device that heats tobacco without burning it. The Food and Drug Administration cleared the product, which is sold in more than 50 countries around the world, in April.

The company argues that heating tobacco — rather than burning it — results in fewer toxic byproducts for users. U.S. regulators agreed and are now considering the company's request to advertise IQOS as a "reduced-harm" tobacco product.

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s2smodern

Flavored e-cigs have come under a significant amount of heat lately due to some of the e-cigarettes and vaporizers exploding. Nontobacco flavors such as peppermint, menthol, and even root beer have many more people picking up e-cigs, which has led to the growing industry.

FDA regulations are in place that prevent e-cigarettes, which still falls under tobacco, to be sold to those who are under the age of 18. However, they’re finalizing a plan that will ban flavored e-cigarettes from the market entirely. It will also require tobacco-flavored e-cigs to go through a federal review. Israel has recently banned flavored cartridges.

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s2smodern

As the Federal Drug Administration pressures e-cigarette firms to stamp out youth vaping, the agency faces criticism itself for failing to rein in the fast-growing industry after years of bureaucratic delays dating back to the Obama administration.

Despite recent tough talk, the FDA has yet to pass any new industry-wide restrictions after two years of rapid growth in teenage vaping tied to the popularity of e-cigarettes made by Juul Labs Inc.

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s2smodern

In response to the pressing public health issue of vaping, clinicians of all disciplines are being asked to address this issue with youth, families and community members, despite minimal youth-focused screening or treatment guidelines. Physicians from Boston Medical Center and the University of Montreal have developed a set of recommendations that provide important insights about how clinicians can best screen, counsel and treat youth for vaping. [...]

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s2smodern

The CDC has released new data which almost definitively confirm that the respiratory disease outbreak was caused by vitamin E acetate oil in THC vaping products (and perhaps some CBD vaping products as well). I came to the same conclusion on August 25th, as did many experts from the cannabis industry who helped to inform my conclusion. Why it took the CDC four additional months of intensive investigation to discover something that cannabis industry experts had recognized much earlier is mystifying.

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s2smodern

Governments worldwide need to create non-profit supply systems for tobacco and nicotine products because of their potential to cause significant and avoidable harm, researchers from the University of Otago say. [...] the researchers argue that tobacco and nicotine products should not be treated as normal consumer products, because of their addictive and hazardous nature.

Lead author Associate Professor George Thomson from the University of Otago, Wellington, says that while nicotine products, such as those used in vaping, are less harmful than tobacco, both are addictive.

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s2smodern

What a year it’s been for the vaping industry. In the first half of the year it seemed nothing could stop vaping, with smokers switching from tobacco to electronic cigarettes in droves.

Then an outbreak of serious respiratory illness broke out in the USA. While the illness was caused by the use of Vitamin-E acetate in illicit cannabis products, early CDC reports conflated this with vaping. Sources tell me that this conflation was deliberate, and that many in the CDC were appalled at how the situation was handled.

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s2smodern

The nicotine formula used by controversial e-cigarette maker Juul Labs Inc is nearly identical to the flavor and addictive profile of Altria Group Inc’s highly successful Marlboro cigarette brand, new research suggests.

The formulation of Juul’s nicotine aerosol was designed to make it far easier for users to inhale larger quantities of nicotine without gagging, gasping or coughing - or even noticing.

“It becomes obvious why novice users, people who’ve never smoked before, find it easy to try Juul,” said David Peyton, [...] “And once you try it, you’re getting dosed with a high concentration of nicotine.”

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s2smodern

Despite a growing health crisis that has killed more than 50 people, vaping has become an irresistible — and addictive — part of life for many college students. The University of Georgia banned tobacco use in 2014, and smoking cigarettes is widely frowned upon. But students with e-cigarettes dangling from their lips could be found across campus on a recent visit. They were vaping outside the student union and as they emerged from colonnaded buildings. They vaped while drinking in off-campus bars, the tiny diodes glowing white as they inhaled.

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s2smodern

Canada’s chief public health officer says rising rates of youth vaping represent an “emerging and serious health trend” and that more research is needed to understand the long-term health risks posed by e-cigarettes.

Theresa Tam made the comments in her annual report on the state of public health in Canada, which was [...] sent to the new federal Health Minister, Patty Hajdu. In her report, Dr. Tam highlighted the fact e-cigarettes increase the risk of nicotine addiction, which can alter brain development in young people. [...] But because e-cigarettes are so new, the long-term health risks are not yet known.

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s2smodern

The federal legal age for purchasing tobacco products has been increased from 18 to 21 in a move the American Lung Association said will “reduce youth access to tobacco products and help save lives.”

That provision, part of a $1.4 trillion spending bill which President Donald Trump signed into law on Friday, would apply not only to traditional tobacco products such as cigarettes and cigars, but also to e-cigarettes—products that have lately been caught in regulatory cross-hairs, sparked by rising rates of use among teenagers. [...]

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s2smodern

For the first time, the World Health Organization projects that the number of males using tobacco is on the decline, indicating a powerful shift in the global tobacco epidemic. The findings, published today in a new WHO report, demonstrate how government-led action can protect communities from tobacco, save lives and prevent people suffering tobacco-related harm.

“Declines in tobacco use amongst males mark a turning point in the fight against tobacco,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. [...]