Smoking Rates In U.S. Hit All-Time Low, CDC Says

NEW YORK (CBS Local/CBS News) – Smoking in the U.S. has hit another all-time low.

About 14 percent of U.S adults admit to being smokers last year, down from about 16 percent in 2016, government figures from the CDC show.

There hadn’t been much change the previous two years, but it’s been clear there’s been a general decline and the new figures show it’s continuing, according to K. Michael Cummings of the tobacco research program at Medical University of South Carolina.

“Everything is pointed in the right direction,” including falling cigarette sales and other indicators, Cummings said.

The new figures released Tuesday equate to more than 30 million adults still smoking in the U.S.

Teens were also found to be less interested in trying cigarettes. Survey results out last week showed smoking among high school students was down to nine percent, also a new low.

In the early 1960s, roughly 42 percent of U.S. adults smoked. It was common nearly everywhere – in office buildings, restaurants, airplanes and even hospitals. The decline has coincided with a greater understanding that smoking is a cause of cancer, heart disease, and other health problems.

Experts believe anti-smoking campaigns, cigarette taxes, and bans on smoking in public places are combining to bring down adult smoking rates. The CDC adds that people in large metropolitan areas smoked significantly less than people who live in rural areas.

The launch of electronic cigarettes and their growing popularity has also likely played a role. E-cigarettes heat liquid nicotine into a vapor without the harmful by-products generated from burning tobacco. That makes them a potentially useful tool to help smokers quit, but some public health experts worry it also creates a new way for people to get addicted to nicotine.

There was no new information for adult use of e-cigarettes and vaping products, but 2016 figures estimate that three percent of adults are using e-cigarettes.

Vaping is more common among teens than adults. About 13 percent of high school students use e-cigarettes or other vaping devices.

Broken Promises to Our Children

A State-by-State Look at the
1998 Tobacco Settlement 19 Years Later

Despite receiving over $27 billion from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, the states continue to severely underfund tobacco prevention and cessation programs proven to save lives and money.

Since the states settled their lawsuits against the major tobacco companies in 1998, our annual reports have assessed whether the states are keeping their promise to use a significant portion of their settlement funds – estimated at $246 billion over the first 25 years – to attack the enormous public health problems caused by tobacco use in the United States.
Despite receiving huge sums from the settlement and collecting billions more in tobacco taxes, the states continue to shortchange tobacco prevention and cessation programs that we know save lives and money.
In the current budget year, Fiscal Year 2018, the states will collect $27.5 billion from the settlement and taxes. But they will spend less than 3 percent of it – $721.6 million – on programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit.
Meanwhile, tobacco companies spend $8.9 billion a year – $1 million dollars every hour – to market their deadly and addictive products. This means tobacco companies spend $12 to market their products for every $1 the states spend to reduce tobacco use.
This enormous gap undermines efforts to save lives and health care dollars by reducing tobacco use, the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the United States.

This report is issued by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights and Truth Initiative.

Other key findings include:

  • The $721.6 million the states have budgeted for tobacco prevention amounts to a small fraction of the $3.3 billion the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends for all states combined. Not a single state currently funds tobacco prevention programs at the level recommended by the CDC.

  • Only two states – California and Alaska – provide over 90 percent of the recommended CDC funding. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia are spending less than 20 percent of what the CDC recommends.

  • States with well-funded, sustained tobacco prevention programs continue to report 

  • significant progress. Florida, with one of the longest-running programs, reduced its high school smoking rate to 5.2 percent, one of the lowest ever reported by any state.

  • The United States has made great strides and reduced smoking to record lows – 15.1 percent among adults in 2015 and 8 percent among high school students in 2016. But tobacco use still kills more than 480,000 Americans and costs the nation about $170 billion in health care expenses each year.

    There are also large disparities in who still smokes and who suffers from tobacco-related diseases in the U.S. Smoking rates are especially high in a swath of 12 states in the Midwest and South, an area called “Tobacco Nation” in a recent Truth Initiative report. Nationwide, smoking rates are highest among people who live below the poverty level and have less education, American Indians/Alaska Natives, LGBT Americans, those who are uninsured or on Medicaid, and those with mental illness. These differences are in large part due to the tobacco industry’s targeting of vulnerable populations through advertising, price discounting and other marketing strategies.

    By fully implementing proven strategies, the states can reduce tobacco use among all Americans and make the next generation tobacco-free.


Nicotine: the helpful drug with the bad reputation

By Jim McDonald, December 6, 2017

Perhaps no commonly used drug is more misunderstood than nicotine. Because of its presence in tobacco, it’s effects are frequently confused with the effects and dangers of smoking. But the truth is that nicotine by itself, assuming a reasonable dose, is a largely benign — and even beneficial — substance. New nicotine studies are coming up with exciting applications for the oft-maligned drug.

If it weren’t typically being delivered in the unhealthiest way possible — in smoke produced by burning dead plant matter — it’s questionable whether anyone would pay much attention to such a lightweight stimulant. But because the most popular way of consuming it is in cigarettes, it will be forever tied to the damage they cause.

Confession time. Before I got involved with vaping, I honestly didn’t realize that nicotine was a mostly harmless drug. Like many (maybe even most) people, I thought nicotine bore some of the blame for the millions of premature deaths caused annually by cigarettes.

Nicotine has little to do with the cancers and respiratory damage seen in smokers, and it’s unlikely that nicotine by itself contributes to heart disease, though one known side effect is a temporary constriction of the blood vessels. The fact is, it’s the thousands of chemicals produced by lighting tobacco that are the guilty parties here, not the modest drug with the bad reputation.

Nicotine is an alkaloid found in many plants is the nightshade family, which includes tobacco, eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes, and many others. However, only in tobacco is it concentrated enough that it has a recognizable effect to the user. Ingesting enough tomatoes or aubergines to register anything on a nicotine test is probably impossible.

Because there’s more nicotine in tobacco than in any other plant, tobacco is the only source (so far anyway) for commercially extracted nicotine. When we speak of vaping nicotine, we’re almost exclusively talking about a product produced from Nicotiana rustica, a cousin of the commonly smoked species Nicotiana tabacum. Rustica produces a particularly rich haul of nic, and that’s what’s grown in (especially) China and India, and extracted for pharmaceutical products and e-liquid manufacture.

The effects of nicotine depend greatly on the method of delivery.

Nicotiana tabacum apparently tastes better to smoke and chew, but produces far less nicotine for extraction. Most of the varieties of American tobacco used for cigarette and pipe tobacco are breeds of the tabacum species. There are some other naturally occurring tobacco species, but they are rarely cultivated for commercial use.

There is now synthetic nicotine available, which some people believe could allow manufacturers to avoid the FDA’s deeming regulations, which are based on the Tobacco Control Act definition of a tobacco product as being “made or derived from tobacco.” That remains unclear though. We may not know how the FDA treats synthetic nicotine until they take action against the producers or sellers, and a court case ensues. As it stands, the FDA considers even vapes without nicotine to be tobacco products, because the same devices can be used to vape nicotine.

What does nicotine do for users?

Nicotine behaves as both a stimulant and a relaxant. According to the Therapeutics Initiative, “Nicotine is a powerful chemical that offers smokers pleasure and reward, focuses attention, suppresses hunger, calms stress, elevates mood, and relieves nicotine withdrawal.”

But all nicotine isn’t equal. The effects of nicotine depend greatly on the method of delivery. So does its potential to addict (see below). Inhaling smoke from a cigarette produces a rapid dose of nicotine to the brain — in as little as seven seconds. Smoking also delivers the highest peak blood-nicotine levels. Most nicotine users maintain a predictable range of nicotine in the system, and top it up as needed.

Nicotine users self-titrate. That is, they know from the effects they feel whether they’re consuming too little or too much of the drug. It’s easy to know when you’re getting too much from the side effects you feel, similar to caffeine use. Rapid heartbeat, headache, and nausea will result from getting too much, and the nic user simply slows down or stops till the level becomes comfortable again.

The biggest danger of vaping is open bottles of high-strength nicotine being left accessible to children.

There is little risk in overdosing on nicotine through the usual delivery mechanisms. No smoker or vaper should keep consuming nicotine after getting a headache or becoming nauseous. However, it is possible to overdose on nicotine by drinking a concentrated solution. The figure commonly quoted of 60 mg as a lethal dose comes from dubious 19th-century experiments, and has been largely debunked in recent nicotine studies. Prof. Bernd Mayer estimates 500 mg is a more likely quantity for an adult human.

That said, a much smaller dose could cause dangerous results for a child, as we described in a story last year. And in fact, in 2014 a child in New York state was killed by drinking from a bottle of powerful DIY nic (probably 100 mg/mL). The biggest danger of vaping is open bottles of high-strength nicotine being left accessible to children.

Is nicotine addictive?

The question of nicotine addiction is almost hopelessly confused by the fact that most studies of nicotine dependence were for a long time studies of smokers. It’s a relatively recent thing that scientists have looked at how addictive nicotine is without the supercharged delivery of inhaled smoke.

Much of that research came after the introduction of nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) like the nicotine patch and gum, and later vaping. In fact, that research led the FDA to conclude that over-the-counter (OTC) nicotine products are probably not addictive at all. The agency notes on its website, “although any nicotine-containing product is potentially addictive, decades of research and use have shown that NRT products sold OTC do not appear to have significant potential for abuse or dependence.”

Other nicotine products deliver the drug with less of an addictive punch than cigarettes.

“People won’t smoke without nicotine in cigarettes, but they won’t take nicotine by itself,” says Dr. Paul Newhouse, a nicotine researcher at Vanderbilt University. “Nicotine is not reinforcing enough. That’s why FDA agreed nicotine could be sold over the counter. No one wants to take it because it’s not pleasant enough by itself.”

However, when nicotine is delivered in an ultra-rapid fashion — by smoking a cigarette — the reward to the brain is almost instantaneous, and the effect is undeniable for someone accustomed to it. And tobacco smoke has other constituents like MAOI’s that increase the smoker’s desire for more. Other nicotine products deliver the drug with less of an addictive punch than cigarettes. So when you hear someone claiming that “nicotine is more addictive than heroin,” you can be sure that (A) they’re wrong, and (B) they’re actually talking about smoking.

What are the side effects of nicotine?

Nicotine causes a rise in heart rate and systolic blood pressure (because the heart pumps more blood), and it may cause vasoconstriction (a tightening of the blood vessels). According to Prof. Mayer, “These effects are mild and well tolerated.” And regular nic use seems to actually lower blood pressure.

As with every other nicotine-related topic, the cardiovascular effects of nicotine are hopelessly confused with those of smoking. Nicotine may have some small permanent effect on the blood vessels, but it’s more likely that the carbon monoxide in smoke — which prevents blood from carrying oxygen to the tissues of the body — causes the bulk of the damage. In fact, it’s possible that nicotine even promotes the growth of new blood vessels!

Nicotine’s side effects may prove valuable in treating a wide range of cognitive issues.

More interesting are the positive side effects of nicotine. It’s long been known from epidemiological studies that smokers show Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s symptoms at a much lower rate than non-smokers. Now it appears that it’s likely that nicotine is the reason.

“There is substantial evidence that stimulation of nicotinic receptors in the brain improves cognitive performance, awareness and memory, “ writes Prof. Mayer. “Thus, synthetic nicotinic receptor agonists are potentially interesting drugs for the treatment of cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s Disease.”

In fact, there have been several studies on nicotine’s effects on cognitive health, and more are in progress. In addition to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, researchers are testing nicotine on ADHD and schizophrenia patients. Nicotine’s side effects may prove valuable in treating a wide range of cognitive issues. As the current wave of nicotine studies increase our knowledge of the benefits the drug may offer as a medicine, greater public acceptance for consumer use of nicotine may follow.

Tobacco Smokers Could Gain 86 Million Years of Life if they Switch to Vaping, Study Finds

WASHINGTON (October 2, 2017) — Up to 6.6 million cigarette smokers will live substantially longer if cigarette smoking is replaced by vaping over a ten-year period, calculates a research team led by investigators from Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. In all, cigarette smokers who switch to e-cigarettes could live 86.7 million more years with policies that encourage cigarette smokers to switch completely to e-cigarettes.

Published in the journal Tobacco Control, the first study to model public health outcomes if cigarette smoking was replaced by e-cigarettes “supports a policy strategy that encourages replacing cigarette smoking with vaping to yield substantial life year gains,” says the study’s lead author David Levy, PhD, professor of oncology at Georgetown Lombardi.

For the study, Levy and a team of 10 investigators looked at such variables as harm from e-cigarettes, and amount of youth uptake, and the rate of cessation among others.

Two projections, one described as optimistic and one pessimistic, were made based on different scenarios regarding the relative harms of e-cigarettes compared to cigarettes as well as differences in the timing of smoking initiation, cessation and switching. Both scenarios conclude there still would be considerable premature deaths averted, but also a much larger number of life years saved.

The “pessimistic” scenario finds 1.6 million of these former cigarette smokers will have a combined 20.8 million more years of life, while the “optimistic” scenario calculates 6.6 million nicotine users who switch from cigarettes to e-cigarettes will live 86.7 more life years.

“In addition, there would be tremendous health benefits including reduced disease disability to smokers, reduced pain and suffering, and reduced exposure to second hand smoke,” Levy says.  “Even the gloomiest analysis shows a significant gain in years of life if nicotine is obtained from vaping instead of much more deadly amount of toxicants inhaled with cigarette smoke.”

Levy says the findings might help the Surgeon General and the public health community find a solution to their call to end cigarette smoking.

“The 2014 U.S. Surgeon General Report recommended an endgame strategy for the country’s tobacco epidemic, but no additional strategy was laid out other than the current status quo tobacco control policies,” he says.

Those policies include higher cigarette taxes, smoke-free public places, media campaigns, cessation treatment programs and advertising restrictions.

“While those policies have been effective over time — smoking prevalence has decreased markedly over the past 50 years — their impact has been relatively slow,” Levy says.

He points out that the most current and substantial research on the use of vaping shows that use of e-cigarettes can effectively help smokers give up cigarettes.

“Old policies need to be supplemented with policies that encourage substituting e-cigarettes for the far more deadly cigarettes,” Levy says. “Together, these policies as well as regulating the content of cigarettes have the potential to drastically reduce the massive harms from smoking cigarettes.”

Levy adds, “FDA Commissioner [Scott] Gottlieb recently outlined a strategy of reducing the nicotine content in cigarettes and a harm reduction approach to e-cigarettes. These approaches are right on track. While we know less about nicotine reduction than the other more traditional policies, the evidence to date indicates that this approach also holds promise, especially if smokers are encouraged to switch to e-cigarettes.”

The National Institutes of Health funded the study, which involved scientists from multiple universities and research groups. No industry funds were used. The models used in the study were developed by Levy and co-authors Rafael Meza, PhD, from the University of Michigan and Theodore R. Holford, PhD, from Yale University.

Study co-authors also include Zhe Yuan, MS, Yuying Luo, MS, and David B. Abrams, PhD, from Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center (Abrams also has appointments at Truth Initiative and at New York University College of Global Public Health); Eric N. Lindblom, JD, from Georgetown University Law Center; Ron Borland, PhD, from Australia Cancer Control, Victoria, Australia; Richard J. O. O’Connor, PhD, and Maciej L. Goniewicz, PharmD, PhD, from Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York; and Raymond Niaura, PhD, from the Schroeder Institute for Tobacco Research and Policy Studies at Truth Initiative. Goniewicz has received a research grant from Pfizer and served as an advisory board member to Johnson & Johnson, manufacturers of smoking cessation medications.

The study was funded by grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (R01DA036497), the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Intervention and Surveillance Modeling Network (UO1-CA97450), and the National Cancer Institute (PO1-CA200512).

E-cigarettes, vaping could lengthen smokers’ lives: Study

By Laura Kelly - The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Smokers switching to e-cigarettes from traditional cigarettes could lead to five million fewer deaths linked to tobacco use, according to an analysis projecting health outcomes from smoking 10 years into the future and evaluating the role of nicotine alternatives.

The findings of study, led by Dr. David Levy of Georgetown University Medical Center, were published Tuesday in the peer-review journal Tobacco Control.

Dr. Levy and his colleagues sought to evaluate the health impact of switching people from traditional cigarettes to electronic cigarettes, which heat a nicotine liquid and create a vaporized smoke for the user to exhale.

The researchers started with a Status Quo Scenario that projected the health outcomes from current smoking rates. In an “optimistic scenario,” cigarette use was replaced with vaping and health outcomes were adjusted. Of the results, the researchers projected that switching all smokers to vaping products would result in 6.6 million fewer premature deaths, with a combined 86.7 million fewer years lost.

In the “pessimistic scenario,” with smoking rates and interventions continuing as they are, there would be 1.6 million fewer deaths and 20.8 million fewer life years lost.

“Harms from cigarette smoking remain unacceptably high even though smoking prevalence in the USA has decreased markedly over the past 50 years,” the researchers wrote in their introduction.

The medical community has not fully evaluated the health effects of e-cigarettes — or vaping — but some say that the devices, by not burning like traditional cigarettes made of tar and other chemicals, provide a preferable option for people who aren’t able to give up nicotine.

Public heath interventions to reduce smoking — such as tobacco control policies, higher taxes, smoke-free public places, media campaigns, advertising restrictions and cessation treatment programs — have led to the historic declines in smoking, the researchers wrote, but that the pace is too slow in averting preventable deaths.

“The tobacco control community has been divided regarding the role of e-cigarettes in tobacco control,” the authors wrote in their conclusion. “Our projections show that a strategy of replacing cigarette smoking with vaping would yield substantial life year gains, even under pessimistic assumptions regarding cessation, initiation and relative harm."

NYC ignores science in war on vaping

By Jeff Stier

August 10, 2017 | 7:22pm

The biggest loser of the City Council’s crackdown on e-cigarettes this week? New Yorkers’ health.

On Aug. 9, the council voted to slash the number of vape shops allowed to operate and to ban new stores from opening. It’ll be devastating to small-business owners seeking to compete legally with big tobacco.

Worse, by drastically ratcheting down the number of vape shops in the city, smokers will have fewer places to buy their favored alternative to cigarettes. Sure, they could still buy online, but they’d be missing out on individualized guidance on which products will give them the best chance at quitting.

Vape-shop owners are typically former smokers who saved their own lives by ignoring the advice of nanny-staters and quit smoking aided by e-cigarettes. They’ve become entrepreneurs whose businesses succeed when smokers quit. Now, both are more likely to fail.

It’s hard enough to even begin to make the effort to quit smoking. We know how addictive cigarettes are. But smokers considering e-cigarettes are being discouraged in the face of misinformation coming from once-trusted groups like the American Heart Association and American Lung Association. Both groups actively supported the vape-shop ban.

Big Pharma, which funds such groups, is concerned that the pesky vape shops are rendering their largely ineffective FDA-approved anti-smoking products obsolete.

The council just doesn’t get it. Vape-shop staffers, with their real-world success stories and product knowledge, have the potential to be highly effective, especially for entrenched smokers who were unsuccessful with other methods.

What’s more, unlike floundering taxpayer-funded health counselors, already forbidden from giving smokers factual information about e-cigarettes, vape-shop employees don’t cost taxpayers a penny. (Unless we consider the lost tax-revenue from cigarette sales.)

Yet instead of welcoming vape shops, the city wants to shut them down.

Uncle Sam, thankfully, is moving in the other direction, finally. Obama-era regulations would have banned almost every e-cigarette that’s ever been used to quit smoking. But as FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb stated when unveiling a new federal approach, “The overwhelming amount of death and disease attributable to tobacco is caused by addiction to cigarettes — the only legal consumer product that, when used as intended, will kill half of all long-term users.”

The FDA’s new comprehensive approach to nicotine regulation envisions a world “where adults who still need or want nicotine could get it from alternative and less harmful sources.” Unless of course they live in New York City, where vape shops would be as obsolete as pay phones.

And it’s not just the Trump FDA touting e-cigarettes to help smokers quit. In July, UK health agency Public Health England released its long-awaited tobacco-control plan, which ambitiously seeks to cut regular smoking among 15-year-olds from 8 percent to 3 percent or less and to reduce adult smoking from 15.5 percent to 12 percent or less.

The plan calls for “permitting innovative technologies that minimize the risk of harm,” and to “maximize the availability of safer alternatives to smoking” — e-cigarettes, for example.
Unlike New York, England will “seek to support consumers in stopping smoking and adopting the use of less harmful nicotine products.”

PHE even boldly recommended that vaping not be included in “smoke-free legislation and should not routinely be” banned in workplaces. In 2013, through the “smoke-free” law, New York City nixed vaping, which produces no smoke, not only in bars and restaurants, but outdoors at parks and beaches.

It’s not as though vaping helps only Brits quit. Last month, a National Institutes of Health-funded study, using US Census Bureau data, found that “the substantial increase in e-cigarette use among US adult smokers was associated with a statistically significant increase in the smoking-cessation rate at the population level.”

The US and UK governments see lower-risk nicotine products as a tool to bring smoking-related diseases down to levels not seen in generations. But in New York City, legislators want to recklessly regulate responsible vape retailers out of existence. What are they smoking? Perhaps the city’s sky-high cigarette taxes cloud their thinking.

E-Cigarettes Vs. Pharmacotherapy: Why Nicotine Is Helping More Americans Quit Smoking

Jul 26, 2017 By Lizette Borreli 

Cigarette smoking habits have been declining in the United States over the past decade. Prevention efforts, anti-smoking laws, a hike in cigarette taxes, and research on smoking and health risks have led the country's smoking rate to reach a record low of 15.1 percent. Now, a study published in the British Medical Journal suggests e-cigarettes have proven to be more useful than pharmacology in helping adults quit smoking traditional cigarettes.

The 2014-2015 Current Population Survey-Tobacco Use Supplement (CPS-TUS) survey, a national survey of adults 18 and older conducted to acquire information about the changes in the country's use of tobacco products, found smoking cessation rates rose to 5.6 percent — a 1.1 percent increase from the annual rate in recent years. The 1.1 percent increase represents about 350,000 additional smokers who quit in a 12-month period. Researchers believe smokers were able to curb their tobacco cravings with e-cigs, which prevented a relapse.

Read More: E-Cigarettes May Not Be A Gateway To Smoking

The University of California San Diego School of Medicine and Moores Cancer Center research team noted the conjunction of national tobacco control media campaigns in 2012 and the popularity of e-cigs in 2014, are contributing factors to the high quitting rate.

"Use of e-cigarettes was associated both with a higher quit rate for individuals as well as at the population level; driving an increase in the overall number of people quitting," said Shu-Hong Zhu, study author and UC San Diego professor of Family Medicine and Public Health and director of the Center for Research and Intervention in Tobacco Control, in a statement.

Organizations like the U.K. Center for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies and the University of Geneva's Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine have touted e-cigs as a smoking-cessation tool. Unlike nicotine chewing gum and patches, e-cigs, which heat nicotine-laced liquid into vapor, mimic the experience of smoking a cigarette. Moreover, they do not contain the harmful, cancer-causing chemicals found in traditional cigarettes.

To examine the effects of e-cigs use on quitting smoking, Zhu and his colleagues collected data from the US Census CPS-TUS. It’s based on the largest representative sample of smokers and e-cigarette users available. Survey participants who used e-cigs were more likely doing so to quit smoking traditional cigarettes.

A total of 65 percent of smokers who used e-cigs within 12 months had attempted to quit smoking traditional cigarettes, compared to 40 percent of smokers who didn't use e-cigs. Overall, 8.2 percent of smokers who used e-cigs as smoking cessation successfully kicked the habit. Meanwhile, only 4.8 percent of smokers who did not use e-cigs were successful. More than 70 percent of those who quit smoking recently were successful, but they used e-cigs daily to prevent a relapse.

Zhu notes those who use e-cigs are a self-selected group.

"They may do better with e-cigarettes because they may already be motivated to quit," he said.

Zhu added: "It is important to look at the entire population including users and nonusers to determine if the overall cessation rate went up or down.

Read More: Is Vaping Really A Healthy Alternative To Smoking?

Other study limitations included not addressing the long-term effects of e-cigs or investigating if the use of e-cigs leads people to start smoking. Nor did the researchers explain details about the type of e-cigs being used, or if other smoking cessations tools like pharmacotherapy were used at the same time. FDA-approved pharmacotherapies for smoking cessation include: bupropion SR, nicotine gum, nicotine inhaler, nicotine nasal spray, and the nicotine patch.

Pharmacotherapy has been shown to help some people to quit smoking, but not at the same rate as e-cigs. Prior to e-cigs, the rate of smoking cessation among the entire population did not change significantly, despite the advocacy of pharmacotherapy. 

Yet, a substantial amount of evidence suggests e-cigs are a safer alternative than cigarettes. For example, a 2016 study found e-cigs release far less formaldehyde than tobacco cigarettes. Traditional cigarette smoke is estimated to raise a smoker's' risk for cancer by less than 1 part in 1,000, therefore, the risk of formaldehyde in the vapor of e-cigs is not as significant.

Current approaches for smoking cessation do not work for a vast majority of smokers; this calls for the need of alternative approaches, like e-cigs.

"Other interventions that occurred concurrently, such as a national campaign showing evocative ads that highlight the serious health consequences of tobacco use and state tobacco control efforts, no doubt played a role," said Zhu, about the high numbers of smoking cessation.

However, he emphasizes the current study gives e-cigs a strong case for contributing to an increase in Americans quitting smoking at the population level.

E-cigs possess the potential to reduce a deadly habit that is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the U.S.

Smokers Switching to Vaping See 66% Respiratory Improvements


Confusion and misconceptions exist about vaping. This is especially true for its ability to help those who want to quit smoking cigarettes. Many assume that because nicotine is delivered that is just as bad as smoking cigarettes. While both contain nicotine, they are very different products. Vaping is newer and while it hasn’t been around as long as smoking cigarettes, it has been heavily studied.

Those who are anti-vaping claim more research is needed. They do not understand the technology of the vapes and assume they are just like cigarettes. Some outright ignore the overwhelming scientific studies and expert opinions. To say that it is just as dangerous as smoking tobacco products are utterly false, yet many still do.  Thankfully more studies are coming out to fight these lies.

A recent UK study is debunking previous claims that smoking and vaping causes an increase in lung infections. This study shows that respondents switching from smoking to vaping for two months saw large respiratory improvement by 66%. This is amazing news for those seeking to stop the damage to their lungs from smoking but struggle to stop and have given up. You can easily see potential this will have for long time smokers who struggle with current respiratory issues.

This will be good for those who wish to avoid long term lung problems and just vape for good.  Smoking also exposes others to its harmful effects through second-hand exposure. Children are a great example of how second-hand cigarette smoke is a health risk. With vaping, there is no risk of second-hand smoke to cause respiratory problems.

If you smoke, you have the risk for respiratory problems and should seriously look at switching after reading this. As you smoke over the years, this risk will only get worse. Even if you quit after smoking 20 years, horrible illnesses like emphysema may come back to haunt you. For those who need to quit it can be one of the hardest things they’ll ever do. It makes sense to make it easy and permanent, vaping provides this option for many.

There is one recent study that overwhelming shows less toxic exposure for those who vape. Dr. Maciej Goniewicz vaping study shows that e-cig vapor has far less carcinogens than the smoke from combustible cigarettes. This study showed that after two weeks of substituting vaping over smoking carcinogenic levels fell by 64%. Knowing how harmful these are to our health it is good to know those who switch will start to see an immediate decrease in carcinogenics in blood levels.  

It is time that the anti-vapors stop and listen to reason and common sense. The time has come to embrace this as a better alternative to smoking cigarettes. In fact it should be encouraged from medical professionals. Those who make the transition should be given support for their efforts and not ashamed. Ignorance is a choice, and it’s time to embrace the overwhelming research.

If you are looking to stop smoking once and for all, then try vaping and don’t look back. You are making a choice your body will thank you for. The decreased carcinogens entering your body matched with having less lung issues is worth making the switch. Continue to do what is right for your body.

While there is a lot of misconceptions and misinformation that doesn’t mean it’s true.  It is important to educate others and promote the science and findings. Most people, when presented with facts that come from reputable research groups, will have a greater understanding and become pro-vaping.  

The health benefits versus smoking are tremendous. The ability to allow the older population alternatives to smoking is important.  Just as encouraging young smokers to make the most healthy choice when doing so. Vaping provides a healthier alternative to smoking and those who make the switch usually don’t go back.

Let’s face it, other methods to replace nicotine, like patches or gum, fail miserably.  At least vaping has great odds of keeping people from going back to smoking.  Encourage others to go this route and enjoy using your lungs for activities you might have given up when you smoked. Remember, results are seen quickly and your body with thank you for it.

Should e-cigarettes be exempt from FDA rules? A House panel says yes


ules? A House panel says yes



Manager of Brooklyn Vape store Mohammed Isa smokes an e-cigarette in Brooklyn, New York, U.S., January 18, 2017. A House panel is again trying to exempt increasingly popular e-cigarettes from new Food and Drug Administration rules. Photo by REUTERS/Joe Penney.

WASHINGTON – A House panel is again trying to exempt increasingly popular e-cigarettes from new Food and Drug Administration rules.

The legislation approved Wednesday by the Republican-controlled Appropriations Committee would prevent the FDA from requiring retroactive safety reviews of e-cigarettes already on the market. It would exempt some premium and large cigars from those same regulations. E-cigarette products introduced in the future would face the safety reviews.

The development comes as the Trump administration has delayed enforcement of the new FDA rule and the e-cigarette industry is hopeful that efforts to roll back the Obama regulations will advance both as legislation and through several pending lawsuits.

Supporters say that “vaping” is far safer than smoking tobacco cigarettes and that the products, which generally heat a liquid nicotine solution into vapor, can help tobacco smokers quit. They say FDA rules would lead small companies that produce the products to go out of business rather than undergo expensive regulatory reviews.

“E-vapor products are 95 percent less harmful than combustible cigarettes,” said Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., a co-sponsor of the plan. “I want to help people in our country, America, to cycle off of cigarettes.”

READ MORE: Does vaping save smokers or create new nicotine addicts?

But most panel Democrats said the products are dangerous and are targeted at children.

“While we do not know what is in e-cigarettes, study after study finds that most show high levels of formaldehyde and other cancer-causing chemicals,” said Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., who said the products are geared toward getting children hooked on nicotine with flavors such as Fruit Loops and Gummy Bears.

“The FDA would never be able to put the genie back in the bottle, unable to regulate or even know what is in these products, forever,” Lowey said. A move by Lowey to defend the FDA rules was blocked by a 30-22 vote.

The provision to undercut the FDA rules was attached to legislation funding the agency’s budget for the fiscal year starting in October.

Democrats succeeded earlier this year in blocking the move to exempt existing products on an earlier spending bill.

Public health groups say the regulations could allow many newer tobacco products to escape scrutiny just as more people, including teenagers, are using them. Cigarette smoking has decreased in recent years, but vaping and cigar smoking have risen. The nicotine-infused vapor of e-cigarettes looks like smoke but doesn’t contain all the chemicals, tar or odor of regular cigarettes.

“There is no public health justification for these provisions, and our kids will pay the price if they are approved,” said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “These provisions are part of the tobacco industry’s multi-front attack on the FDA’s 2016 rule.”

The FDA rules will require e-cigarette brands marketed since February 2007 to undergo premarket reviews retroactively. The FDA will then ensure the product is “appropriate for the protection of the public health.” If not, the agency could take it off the market.

Youth smoking is down, but thanks to what?

We received some welcome news this week from the Food and Drug Administration: Cigarette smoking by high school students has been cut in half since 2011, from 15.8 percent to 8 percent — a remarkable and previously unanticipated public health victory.

Unfortunately, it appears federal authorities may be misattributing the cause. In his announcement about the news, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb attributes most, if not all, of this reduction in smoking to "The Real Cost" campaign, a federally-sponsored program that has only been in place since 2014. That's notable, among other reasons, because teen smoking had already fallen to a rate of 9.5 percent by 2014.

Despite substantial evidence in federally-sponsored surveys in the U.S. and abroad showing that remarkable reductions in teen and adult smoking have been concurrent with the increasing popularity of e-cigarettes, the FDA announcement makes no reference to the possibility that much, if not most, of the recent reductions in teen smoking may be attributable to the availability of e-cigarettes.

In fact, Gottlieb urges continuing efforts to reduce teen use of all nonpharmaceutical nicotine delivery products, while endorsing expanded efforts at smoking cessation that rely on the pharmaceutical nicotine gums, patches, and other products that have proved to be of only marginal effectiveness over the past four decades.

These efforts are driven by unfounded fears that use of e-cigarettes will lead teens to progress to traditional cigarette smoking. But even with a growing number of U.S. and British data sets on the topic, there is not a single reported case of a nonsmoker who initiated consistent nicotine use with e-cigarettes and then transitioned to consistent use of tobacco cigarettes.

This public health victory is too important to leave to chance and guesswork.

If Gottlieb has evidence to support the claim that The Real Cost campaign "has already helped prevent nearly 350,000 kids from smoking cigarettes since it launched in 2014," he should present it to the public. Regulators and public health authorities also should present and discuss the evidence for and against the possibility that the availability of e-cigarettes and related vapor products may, in fact, have played a major role in securing these reductions in smoking.

This is important, because recently promulgated regulations from the FDA threaten to eliminate more than 99 percent of e-cig products from the marketplace before the end of 2018, including all or almost all of the vape-shop component of this industry. The limited data available strongly suggest that the vape-shop products — with their ability to customize devices, flavors and strengths of nicotine to satisfy the preferences of each smoker, and modify the flavors and strength of nicotine over time to prevent relapse to cigarettes — may be more effective than the mass-market products in achieving and maintaining reductions in smoking in both youth and adults.

This week's news marks a tremendous step toward reducing the 480,000 deaths we continue to see each year from smoking-related illness and disease. But it is essential to remember that substantially all of those deaths are due to a single product — the combustible cigarette. Deaths from all other tobacco products are so few and so hard to discern from background noise that they aren't even included in the statistics.

There is one outcome the FDA should feel comfortable predicting: If e-cigarettes are wiped off the market in the United States, nicotine consumers left with nowhere to turn to satisfy their cravings will return to smoking much more harmful, and more deadly, combustible cigarettes.

Joel Nitzkin is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. He is a senior fellow for tobacco policy with the R Street Institute.