Thursday, June 18, 2009

Social Dynamics and the Demonization of Smoking (part 1)

Smoking is evil.

Smoking will kill you.

Smoking also kills those around you with second-hand smoke.

These 3 declarations are the silver bullets in the smoking gun (pun intended) held in the arsonal of the anti-smoking groups arrayed against anyone excercizing their rights to choose, of their own free will, to smoke or to not smoke.

The campaigns of the past 20-30 years were necessary for a number of reasons. The corporate tobacco companies did, indeed, bend or downright break the rules of common decency in pursuit of the almighty dollar. That needed to be (and has been) exposed as snake-oil salesman skullduggery.

Tobacco consumers did need to know exactly what risks they were taking in their vice. Public awareness did need to be increased on the potential dangers of second hand smoke, and rules did need to be put in place for the betterment of the common population. All these goals have been met, or are on their way to being completed.

For that, I say, the anti-smoking leagues have done their jobs well. Children, even before formalized schooling, are coached on the dangers of smoking. They are bombarded with this message continually, each and every day of their lives. Adults, young and old alike, are aware of the risks inherent in this product and its usage.

So, what's all the continued screaming and yelling about???

After all, this is still a free least it was the last time I checked. I still can choose where to go to work, what to do at that job in terms of personal effort, and wether I want to buy a house with my hard-earned money or blow it all on new hats. I can choose to ingest alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, an aspirin, or a Monster Burger (Can I have a double order of the special cardiac-arrest chili-cheese french fries with that, please?). I can decide wether to allow my weight balloon to 210, or sweat it down to 150. Good choices and bad alike are arrayed as in a buffet, with me at liberty to pick and choose from amongst the options.

So now, why, when a new innovation hits the marketplace, am I being told that I cannot do this, because the Government (of which I was part of the process to elect) tells me they don't know precicely what it will do to me? Why has this been barred from the menu when so many other choices, equally bad, remain?

The reasons are vast in their multitudes, as to why my beloved PV's are on the front line, heading for a marketplace removal by my Government. Some are headliners, shoved into the public's eye for effect, and far more are behind the curtain, cowering from discovery. The first, strongest, and most effective reason is public perception, brought on and stroked to a fever-pitch by the anti-smoking groups. From my declarations above: Smoking is Evil. This sentiment has been woven tightly into the weave of public perception, and smokers have gone from admired all the way down the social ladder to reviled and persecuted.

Smokers, people. I'll say it again: SMOKERS. The consumers. The users of the products. These are the people that society has chosen to vilify.....NOT the corporate tobacco giants. These monoliths continue to prosper and whisper in the ears of our elected leaders. Altria will have advisory members on the board of the FDA as they hammer into place new regulations regarding tobacco and nicotine products. The Kennedy/Waxman bills, recently passed by both chambers of congress (and due to cross Obama's desk soon) saw to that. Small wonder that many are calling this legislation the "Altria Earnings Protection Act."

Why? Tell me, why have the consumers been handed this heavy bill to pay, and not the giants in the industry?

Why can't innovation and brilliance be allowed to find another, cleaner, safer, better alternative????

I don't have the answers here friends, but I'm very good as coming up with the right questions and my own theories.

There are a lot of sub-issues and behind-the-scenes power plays arrayed in the Tobacco Wars. Lots of money, too....but I'm not going to follow the money trail yet. That one's been done to death, and starts to take on a "conspiracy theory" twist that I've no wish to follow.


Sub Issue #1 - the anti-smoking groups.
Very few people realize this, because it came about in a time before the infomation explosion that is the internet, but back in the 70's there was formed a group of people who disliked smokers. Mainly, yes, I'll admit, because smokers were demanding their rights to smoke, anywhere they wanted, irregardless of who they bothered with their habit, and the govenrment was on THEIR side.

This group was called ASHES - the American Society to Harass and Embarass Smokers. Their goal - pretty self-evident in their name - the prohibition of tobacco and the demonization of all who use it.

And, to give fair notice, there is NO evidence on the Web to corroborate this.... I've done extensive research on this small fringe group, and turned up nothing...nada...zilch, but I wasn't surprised. This happens all the time: fringe groups like these usually start very small and very QT - then when they gain momentum, they shift their public image to one less aggressive, and bury the origins.

The only reason I know about this group is because I happened to be exposed to a news article when I was growing up regarding it. This small group and their hard-core hatreds of smokers is the forerunner of today's anti-smoking groups.

And, 30 years later, they've nearly realized their goals. Smokers are 2nd class, sub-humans with few rights and many faults, ready to be tossed aside to moulder in the stinking gutters, pitifully begging passersby "hey, buddy, got a light?"

Now, because of the way our Government wishes to present itself to its American voters, there won't be an outright prohibition of tobacco, but that's going to be:

Sub Issue #2: Washington's public face

Stay tuned......

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Vapor War: the irrational War on Electronic Cigarettes in

First and foremost, here is the link to the news article found within the electronic pages of, and the basis of this blog post of mine.

I do wish to commend Slate for a well-constructed piece. This article brings home several questions all consumers of Electronic Cigarettes are asking. Unfortunately, the ones with the answers we seek, namely our government officials in the FDA, are not offering up any answers except the standard tripe statements which have had all of us consumers on edge for the past months, some I've already addressed earlier in this blog, and some more yet to be debunked.

An excerpt from the article:

The American Lung Association, along with the American Cancer Society Cancer
Action Network, the American Heart Association and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, recently called for e-cigarettes to be removed from the market. The groups say e-cigarettes have yet to be proven safe and that kids may be attracted to the products, some of which come in flavors like chocolate and strawberry.
"Nobody knows what the consumers are actually inhaling," says Erika Sward,
director of national advocacy at the American Lung Association.

The boldface emphysis is mine, and what I want to take a closer look at. Nobody knows what we are actually inhaling? I know. That's an easy answer - Do I win the Double Jepardy Trophy???

Let's just take a look at the old ingredient label, shall we? Totally Wicked is based in the UK, and takes its certification standards seriously. I trust them to manufacture a quality product to UK standards. In my bottle of E-juice, there are exactly 16 order of volume, the top 4 are:

  1. Propylene Glycol - 65%
  2. Glycerine - 20%
  3. Water - 10%
  4. Nicotine - >3% (let's say, for the sake of argument - 2.5%)

Can we add? These 4 ingredients are 97.5% of the contents of my bottle. Flavoring ingredients, such as tobacco leaf oils, are mixed into this cocktail - making up the remainder of the contents. Take a look at a box of cheese crackers, or a can of spaghetti sauce, or any of the other stuff sold in this country as a basic foodstuff, and tell me that you can understand all of those ingredients! By this comparison alone, my e-juice is a simpler formula than anything else I eat or drink, and certainly simpler than any commercial cigarette out there, with it's 4000+ chemicals, 60 or so of which are known carcinogens. And tell me, for that matter, where is the ingredient list on a pack of cigarettes? Hmmmm?

But, what are these 4 big ingredients? Let's take them one by one.

Propylene Glycol (PG) - the biggest chunk of stuff in my vape, is used in various preparations, including theatrical smoke machines, prescription inhalers and cough syrups, and is an additive in cigarettes and food products, such as artificial flavors. PG is GRAS (generally regarded as safe) by the FDA, and the MSDS shows only minor throat irritation by inhalation.

So, the largest portion of the product that I am inhaling is already used in other vaporization techniques, in inhalers used by asthmatics, and in the food I eat. Does this sound like a dangerous substance?

And, there's more. Back in the 1940's, a scientific study was conducted using a military base and a children's hospital ward. The experiment was on the properties of PG as a germ killing air sanitization substance. You guessed it, they vaporized PG and pumped it into the air in the children's ward and the military bases' barracks, monitoring the occupants for various symptoms. Here's the link: Their conclusion: PG vapor in the air does not comprise any health risks, and was shown to reduce the amount of airbourne infectious agents already present in the air. A germ-killing vapor.

Curiously, in the 60+ years since this study, there have been no studies to prove this suposition wrong. In 2007, the EPA re-registered PG for an air sanitizing agent in hospitals, restaurants, restrooms, mass-transit facilities, and others.

Conclusion - of the liquid in my PV, the bulk of it is approved by various government agencies already as an inhalant, and may actually be beneficial in killing germs already in my body.... Oh, yea, let's ban this dangerous stuff - FAST!

Vegetable Glycerin (VG) - this is the next biggest chunk of stuff - and is used, again, in food products all over the world.....the glycerin I have seen, and purchased, in a craft store was marketed to extend cake frosting. It is made from vegatable oils. Again, for commercial sale to anyone with a couple of bucks, this is a food product and, as such, is safe for human consumption. Dangerous? Unknown? I'm thinking the answer to that one is, again, NO.

Water (good old H2O) - Unless you are on the bandwagon to ban dihydrogen monoxide, the only danger to water is drowning if you jump in over your head....

Nicotine - The studies on what nicotine does to the body are long, complete, complex, and easy to find. Nicotine is an approved drug by the FDA for usage in smoking cessation as an over the counter product.

The flavoring ingredients I'm going to not worry about at this point, as their concentrations in formula are too low to investigate.

Well, there you go. This is what we're inhaling. Simple, logical, easy. And, in my opinion, its certainly cleaner than walking down the street during rush hour and inhaling the exhaust fumes from a bus or car.

My question to these "public health groups" is: I want to know why you have a hard time connecting the dots? I'm not a research scientist, a chemist, a "smoking cessation expert." How is it that I can do a bit of research and come up with this, and you can't.

The answer, of course, is these bully organizations don't want to connect the dots, they want to remove the product. Period. Which means, the agenda they have put forth to the public is not the agenda they are following.

Follow the logic, if nothing else.

Monday, June 1, 2009

E-Cigarettes: The Gateway Arguement

Another of the arguements I continue to hear from "professional" cigarette cessation experts is: "This product will become a gateway to real cigarettes for teens and young adults."

Never mind the "teens and young adults" portion of this arguement....I've gone over that before. But - the gateway...... Oooooo. Sounds scary, doesn't it. This word is yet another carefully engineered term created and used to manipulate the consumer in a direction that they (the "expert") want you (the uninformed consumer) to take.

Is the E-Cig a gateway? NO. Unequivocably not. But I'm willing to back my statement up with my experiences, instead of insisting you take my word for it.

I purchased my first PV kit in March. 1 atomizer, 2 batteries, and some smoke juice. I vaped on this for a week. Loved it. Had no want, desire, or need for a traditional tobacco cigarette. This was my Holy Grail, the thing I had been waiting for since I first lit up in the 80's. Then, disaster: 1 week to the day, I burned up my only atomizer. Replacements were on order, but not shipped yet......Oh, God, what could I do?

I smoked. Went back to the nasty tobacco cigs. Without hesitation. I had to have my hand to mouth, my little cloud, the cylinder between my fingers when I drove, for this is the driving force behind my personal addiction, far greater than the nicotine I'm inhaling. I will say now, with passion: Those were the worst 2 days of my life!

Now, the FDA is fixing to ban this wonderful new toy of mine, because they are afraid that I, using an electronic gizmo, will entice someone else to smoke cigarettes? That this will become so attractive to a non-smoker that they will feel the irristible urge to light up?

Come on.....pull the other one. The only way this could possibly become a gateway is if they now pull it off the market. The genie has been released from the bottle. If they pull this product, they create the gateway - a self-fulfilling prophecy. Period.

This is an invasion of my personal liberty to do what I will with my body as long as I'm not harming anyone else. Tell me, what do you think will happen to me, what will I do, if they do, indeed, pull my alternative off the market, in the name of protection? I'm sure you can connect the dots here....

I could fill this page with other consumers' stories that mirror mine.....the e-cigarette-forum and petition both are full of such personal experiences. Many have gone further on their journeys than I have, and have cut to zero nicotine solutions. What's going to happen to them? What will they be forced back into in their pursuit of happiness?

Granted, there are some who don't share my own experiences.....there are some who find this product not quite my Nirvana, but simply a substitute for their own addiction.

But, almost universally, there is the same sentiment: going from an E-Cig to traditional tobacco cigarette is the same as going from Lobster to Fish Sticks.

Care to try another arguement?