Dr. Michael Siegel, April 19, 2016
I have come to the conclusion that anti-smoking groups are simply not capable of telling the public the truth about electronic cigarettes and their health effects. From the "popcorn lung" scare to the formaldehyde scare, it has been one lie after another. And today, we can add yet another one.
Anti-vaping researchers and anti-smoking groups are now spreading the false information that when heated and vaporized, propylene glycol is converted into propylene oxide, which is recognized as a carcinogen.
For example, the Kenosha Racine and Walworth Counties Tobacco-Free Coalition claims that "Once heated into the vaporized form, propylene glycol is chemically changed into propylene oxide, which is a class 2B carcinogen as rated by the International Agency for Research."
The source of that claim was apparently an article from the always reliable Gizmodo.com, which stated: "when heated above a certain temperature, PG will convert to propylene oxide—a class 2B carcinogen as rated by the International Agency for Research."
Where did that claim come from? It appears to have come from aPopular Science article, which stated: "Furthermore, when heated and vaporized, propylene glycol--often used in e-cigarettes to form aerosol particles--can form propylene oxide, a recognized carcinogen."
And where did that claim come from? Alas, from an article written by Dr. Stan Glantz, which stated that: "When heated and vaporized, propylene glycol can form propylene oxide, an International Agency for Research on Cancer class 2B carcinogen... ."
So what was the original source of this claim? Dr. Glantz apparently got it from a research article which noted that under certain conditions, heating propylene glycol can result in the formation of propylene oxide.
The Rest of the Story
The problem is that there is something which Dr. Glantz and his colleagues are hiding and which the anti-smoking groups in Kenosha, Racine, and Walworth counties are also failing to reveal:
The "certain conditions" under which propylene glycol can be converted to propylene oxide are quite simple:
- A temperature of at least 980 degrees Fahrenheit.
Since propylene glycol boils at 371 degrees Fahrenheit, and since e-liquids are not heated above that temperature (or even close to it), these conditions can never actually be reached in the vaping process. Therefore, it is simply untrue that when heated in a vaping device, propylene glycol is converted into propylene oxide, a recognized carcinogen.
On the other hand, what Dr. Glantz and the anti-smoking groups are also hiding from you is the fact that in contrast to electronic cigarette vapor, propylene oxide is present in tobacco smoke. The temperature at the end of a burning cigarette can easily exceed 980 degrees Fahrenheit, and propylene oxide is a recognized constituent of tobacco smoke.
I find it quite appalling that anti-smoking groups and researchers are lying to the public about the presence of propylene oxide in e-cigarette vapor, but at the same time, failing to inform the public that this recognized class 2B carcinogen is present in tobacco smoke.
It has become apparent to me that anti-smoking groups and many researchers have lost interest in discouraging people from smoking. Instead, they are obsessively concerned with demonizing e-cigarettes. There is clearly something about the use of e-cigarettes that is driving anti-smoking advocates crazy. I have come to believe that what is driving us crazy is the possibility that maybe, just maybe, people are actually getting pleasure from nicotine in a way that isn't destructive to their health. I simply don't think this thought is something that anti-smoking groups can tolerate.
Hence, they must lie about electronic cigarettes. They must, like the CDC, insinuate that vaping products contain tobacco. They must inform the public that e-cigarettes are just as bad as real cigarettes.
The rest of the story is that vaping presents such an immense threat to the anti-tobacco movement that we are no longer capable of telling the truth. Our movement has deteriorated into a community of pathological liars who cannot stand the thought that there are smokers out there who are deriving pleasure from the use of nicotine without it killing them, and even worse, with the product actually improving their health.