One of my Twitter healthcare friends tweeted this morning, with some evident concern, about the issue of 3D printed guns.
— Matthew Katz (@subatomicdoc) May 6, 2013
Regular readers of this blog have already heard about this, and the counter argument that it isn’t the 3D printed guns that are the problem, but the ammo, and OOPS, we already have 3D printed ammunition, also.
So, yes, this is an issue with an emerging technology, and it is a public health issue. When I blogged about it before, I didn’t make that overt and explicit. I assumed people would figure that out on their own. But now I am thinking perhaps I should make more overt some of the issues I’m tracking which have potential health impacts.
This brings me to the topic of electronic cigarettes, a relatively recent technological approach to changing how people smoke for recreational purposes. This weekend I collected over 40 (FORTY!!) hashtags from the conversation space around electronic cigarettes. That should be another post, later. For those new to the idea, eCigs have become a big deal awfully quickly. And it is extremely complicated. I’m just going to pull out a very few tweets illustrating some of the potential health issues in the conversation.
— Vapor S. Thompson(@gonzovaping) May 5, 2013
The thought here is that electronic cigarettes can be and ARE BEING used as smoking cessation devices, kind of like the nicotine patch, but more like actually smoking.
— Vapor S. Thompson(@gonzovaping) April 24, 2013
In fact, the “healthiness” of electronic cigarettes is one of the leading marketing justifications.
— Salmon & Trout (@Salmon_n_Trout) April 21, 2013
But there are some who question the safety and “healthiness” of the electronic cigarettes. Like, um, the American Cancer Society? And the American Lung Association. And the FDA.
— Michael S. Parker (@msparker32) April 26, 2013
American Cancer Society: Electronic Cigarettes – Boon, Bane, Blessing, or Boondoggle? (2011) http://www.cancer.org/cancer/news/expertvoices/post/2011/05/03/electronic-cigarettes-e28093-boon-bane-blessing-or-boondoggle.aspx
American Cancer Society: Restrict the Sale of Electronic Cigarettes: http://www.cancer.org/myacs/eastern/areahighlights/cancernynj-news-ny-ecig-health-vote
American Cancer Society: What about electronic cigarettes? Aren’t they safe? (2013) http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/tobaccocancer/questionsaboutsmokingtobaccoandhealth/questions-about-smoking-tobacco-and-health-e-cigarettes
Reactions against official organizations with concerns about e-cigs are vigorous. These are a couple of the lighter and tamer responses.
The American Cancer Society just released a study showing that smoking E-cigarettes causes pretentiousness.
— Grant Cotter (@GrantCotter) January 22, 2013
— Patricia Clewell (@TreeceVapes) January 17, 2013
American Lung Association: E-cigarettes: Another Option to Help You Quit Smoking? http://www.lung.org/associations/states/florida/educational-programs/e-cigarettes.html
American Lung Association: Some say vaping e-cigarettes is worse than smoking the real thing: http://www.lung.org/associations/states/florida/news/top-story-in-the-news/some-say-vaping-e-cigarettes.html
— TheVapeBook (@TheVapeBook) February 9, 2013
— National Cancer Inst (@theNCI) June 24, 2011
FDA: Electronic Cigarettes (e-Cigarettes) http://www.fda.gov/newsevents/publichealthfocus/ucm172906.htm
FDA: E-Cigarettes: Questions and Answers: http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm225210.htm
FDA: For Consumers: Health Fraud: Electronic Cigarettes: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ProtectYourself/HealthFraud/ucm267560.htm
— TheVapeBook (@TheVapeBook) March 4, 2013
— TheVapeBook (@TheVapeBook) March 20, 2013
— Firelight Fusion (@FirelightFusion) April 1, 2013
Whoa. Despite the FDA information above, and despite demands that the FDA involve itself in the topic (and demands for the reverse), there is no move at this time to manage the claims and safety of e-cigarettes at the federal level. The FDA is, however, collecting information and opinions on whether or not they should be involved.
— Stanton Glantz (@ProfGlantz) January 18, 2013
— Modern Smoke E Cig (@modern_smoke) January 17, 2013
— Heinous Hex (@HeinousHex) January 23, 2013
While the FDA considers, states are actively involved.
— TheVapeBook (@TheVapeBook) May 5, 2013
Why is the legislature so concerned about sales to minors? I’m not sure, but it might have something to do with the eCig liquids being flavored, many of them tasting like candy.
Fresh Reviews Halo Cocoa, TPR Magic Melon, Fancee Pep Chocomint, MBV UdderlyNuts, MEL H2Omelon Drm. Ttl Reviews169 VaporRater.com
— The VaporRater (@TheVaporRater) April 6, 2013
— The VaporRater (@TheVaporRater) December 20, 2012
If you look at the petition page, you immediately notice alerts highlighting other states and local legislatures with similar initiatives regarding e-cigs.
CASAA is a lobbying and advocacy organization for the e-cig community, and they collect the wide array of state and local initiatives to regulate e-cigarettes in the United States. Just in the past month, CASAA alerts mentioned Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Louisiana, New York City, Maine, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Washington.
“Perhaps most surprising is that when the topic of electronic cigarettes was finally pushed enough that the panel had to respond more adequately, it seemed clear they had no idea what electronic cigarettes were. When presenters offered to let the panel hold, pass around, and inspect their e-cigs, it was clear they had either never seen one or had only seen the ones that very closely resemble conventional cigarettes. And yet, the board was ready to discuss and vote on bills that would affect their control within the city.”
Creating Unintended Consequences: http://www.ecigadvanced.com/blog/creating-unintended-consequences/
Not just the USA, either. Other countries are even more aggressively opposed to e-cigarettes, and the e-cig community is equally passionate in their stance that the research evidence does not support the negative claims.
— TheVapeBook (@TheVapeBook) May 7, 2013
Up in a puff of smoke? EU plan threatens e-cigarettes: Anti-smoking groups angry at new directive which could price devices out of market
Safer Alternative to Cigarettes to Be Banned by EU: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/janice-atkinson/safer-alternative-to-cigarettes-banned-by-eu_b_2827043.html
“I used to smoke cigarettes, until I switched to E cigs. For me they are a healthier way to deliver nicotine They come in all sorts of shape and sizes and do not necessarily look like a real cigarette. E Cigs can prevent 750,000 premature death per year. Now the EU want to regulate them out of existence This will force me and others back to conventional cigarettes The EU’s policy is to “quit or die”. I do not not want to do either.”
Smoke without fire: The Story of the electronic cigarette: https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/1931-smoke-without-fire
There are concerns about the safety, as well as oversight of the ingredients and consistent production criteria and quality control (as mentioned earlier in the FDA links).
— Stanton Glantz (@ProfGlantz) February 16, 2012
Maryland Injury Lawyers: Are Electronic Cigarettes Dangerous Products? http://www.maryland-injury-lawyer.com/2012/02/are-electronic-cigarettes-dang.html
But, like I said before, it’s complicated. Last month an article was published in JMIR about health effects reported in those online forums for “vaping”.
“A total of 405 different symptoms due to e-cigarette use were reported from three forums. Of these, 78 were positive, 326 were negative, and one was neutral.”
Hua My, Alfi M, Talbot P. Health-Related Effects Reported by Electronic Cigarette Users in Online Forums. J Med Internet Res 2013;15(4):e59 http://www.jmir.org/2013/4/e59/ PMID: 23567935
Check out the research yourself. What do you think?
End of Part One. Part Two digs deeper into some of the social and cultural aspects of vaping, which also have potential health impacts.