An enemy of vaping calls it quits!

Extremist anti-nicotine CDC chief Frieden has been called “a nanny’s nanny”

A powerful figure in the Obama administration’s public health war on vaping will leave office on the same day Donald Trump is inaugurated. Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced that he will resign on Jan. 20.

Frieden was appointed to run the agency by President Obama in 2009, just as the FDA began seizing shipments of e-cigarettes coming from China, which led to the court case (Sottera v FDA) that prevented the government from regulating then as unlicensed drug delivery devices.

He arrived in Washington fresh from his stint as New York City’s health commissioner under billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg. Both New Yorkers were anti-tobacco zealots, and at the CDC, Frieden expanded his extremist views to include nicotine itself. He became a regular critic of vaping. He has never shied away from twisting the facts and misrepresenting the data to make the prospect of widely available vapor products seem like a threat to the very future of the nation.

The CDC director turned what should have been a celebration of the huge smoking decline into a symphony of mights and maybes, ifs and mays

He even went as far as issuing a press release that buried the story told by the data in his own survey showing the largest drop ever in teen smoking. Instead, he turned that wonderful fact into a diatribe against a “disturbing” increase in teen vaping. The CDC director turned what should have been a celebration of the huge smoking decline into a symphony of ifs and mays, mights and maybes, about the dangers of teen nicotine use.

That 2015 Frieden performance inspired a spectacular essay from risk communication expert Peter Sandman, wonderfully titled “A Promising Candidate for Most Dangerously Dishonest Public Health News Release of the Year.”

“What might lead 12 public health experts to co-author a report that papers over the comparative risk of vaping versus smoking? I don’t know. Something deeply ideological, I think. Something puritan and fundamentalist.”

Peter Sandman

Puritan and fundamentalist, that’s our CDC director. And, luckily for everyone actually concerned with public health, he’ll soon be our ex-CDC director. He didn’t get away without leaving a parting gift though. The recent Surgeon General’s report on “youth” vaping was largely his project, put together by the CDC Office on Smoking and Health.

For a doctor who took an oath to “first do no harm,” he sure did a lot of it, probably scaring thousands of people away from products that might save their lives. For vapers and anyone interested in low-risk nicotine products being available to smokers and maybe even encouraged, Dr. Frieden’s departure couldn’t come too soon.


USA: Former director at CDC commends e-cigs for smoking cessation

Last month in December, Michael Eriksen, who is a former Director of the Office on Smoking and Health at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and is currently Dean and Regents’ Professor at the Georgia State School of Public Health, attracted significant attention online by tweeting in favour of electronic cigarettes.

In his tweet, Erikson retweeted and commented about a status from a vaping advocate which talked about ex-smokers helping current smokers quit the deadly habit via vaping. “This is what’s exciting about #ecigs and #vaping…peer to peer helping smokers quit combustion. Lets end #smoking as we know it!”, read Erikson’s tweet.


But why did this tweet attract so much attention? Because the CDC is criticised by health experts for releasing misleading information about vaping, in relation to the risks from exposure to vapor as opposed to the ones from exposure to cigarette smoke. On one occasion the agency shocked many in the Public Health industry by approving an extremely “light” cigarette which would give smokers the same amount of toxins and carcinogens, whilst eliminating most of the nicotine that they actually crave, and hence would make them smoke more of these in order to satisfy their addiction.

On a positive note, data released by the CDC last November proved that the majority of smokers quit successfully with the assistance of vaping products, hence proved the infamous “gateway” theory wrong.

US smokers feel that their government is standing in their way to quit

Erikson’s tweet was met with comments by hopeful vapers who feel that their government has singled them out and is coming in the way of them quitting smoking instead of supporting them in doing so. Whilst many referred to the fact that the CDCand the government in general has been opposing their efforts to quit with the help of the proven effective devices, many others appreciated the former director’s support.

As more and more data is becoming available about the effectivity of e-cigarettes as harm reduction tools, and their benefit is becoming undeniable, the hope is that the FDA will have to revoke it’s harsh regulations and more smokers will be able to use the products un harassed, and who knows..maybe one day they will even be encouraged to do so as in countries such as the UK.


Smoking projected to kill 8 million a year by 2030, WHO says

Smoking costs the global economy more than $1 trillion US a year, and will kill one third more people by 2030 than it does now, according to a study by the World Health Organization and the U.S. National Cancer Institute published on Tuesday.

That cost far outweighs global revenues from tobacco taxes, which the WHO estimated at about $269 billion in 2013-2014.

“The number of tobacco-related deaths is projected to increase from about 6 million deaths annually to about 8 million annually by 2030, with more than 80 per cent of these occurring in LMICs [low- and middle-income countries],” the study said.

Around 80 per cent of smokers live in such countries, and although smoking prevalence was falling among the global population, the total number of smokers worldwide is rising, it said.

Health experts say tobacco use is the single biggest preventable cause of death globally.

“It is responsible for … likely over $1 trillion in health care costs and lost productivity each year,” said the study, peer-reviewed by more than 70 scientific experts.

The economic costs are expected to continue to rise, and although governments have the tools to reduce tobacco use and associated deaths, most have fallen far short of using those tools effectively, said the 688-page report.

“Government fears that tobacco control will have an adverse economic impact are not justified by the evidence. The science is clear; the time for action is now.”

Plain packaging legal dispute

Cheap and effective policies included hiking tobacco taxes and prices, comprehensive smoke-free policies, complete bans on tobacco company marketing, and prominent pictorial warning labels.

Tobacco taxes could also be used to fund more expensive interventions such as anti-tobacco mass media campaigns and support for cessation services and treatments, it said.

Governments spent less than $1 billion on tobacco control in 2013-2014, according to a WHO estimate.

Tobacco regulation meanwhile is reaching a crunch point because of a trade dispute brought by Cuba, Indonesia, Honduras and Dominican Republic against Australia’s stringent “plain packaging” laws, which enforce standardised designs on tobacco products and ban distinctive logos and colourful branding.

The World Trade Organization is expected to rule on the complaint this year. Australia’s policy is being closely watched by other countries that are considering similar policies, including Norway, Slovenia, Canada, Singapore, Belgium and South Africa, the study said.


I’ll say it again: E-cigarettes are still far safer than smoking

Despite evidence suggesting e-cigarettes are far less harmful than smoking, more people than ever believe them to be just as harmful. Professor Linda Bauld discusses the evidence

January is a time for New Year’s resolutions and if you’re one of the world’s one billion smokers, your resolution may be to stop smoking. For some people, this year’s quit attempt might involve an electronic cigarette, and a recent study in England, published in the BMJ, suggested that these devices helped at least 18,000 smokers to stop in 2015 who would not otherwise have done so. That’s very good news, but will there be as many quit attempts in 2017 as there have been in the past with e-cigarettes? I’m not so sure.

Since I last wrote about e-cigarettes in this column one year ago, headlines about the dangers of these devices have continued to appear and show no sign of abating. The result is clear. More people believe today, compared with a year ago, that e-cigarettes are as harmful as smoking. In fact these incorrect perceptionshave risen year on year, from fewer than one in ten adults in Great Britain in 2013 to one in four this past summer. Surveys of smokers show similar patterns, with an increasing proportion believing that e-cigarettes are more or equally harmful than tobacco.

Yet we know that these harm perceptions are wrong. There is now very strong evidence, from a range of studies, that vaping – inhaling nicotine without the combustion involved in smoking – is far less risky than smoking cigarettes. Just a few months ago this body of evidence was brought together by the Royal College of Physicians who published an authoritative report analysing dozens of studies and concluded that the hazard to health arising from long term vapour inhalation from e-cigarettes is unlikely to exceed 5% of the harm from smoking tobacco. The RCP, and since then other UK doctor’s organisations such as the Royal College of General Practitioners, have made clear that it is important to promote the use of e-cigarettes, along with other non-tobacco nicotine products (like Nicotine Replacement Therapy such as gum or inhalators) to smokers who are trying to quit. The work of these organisations is underpinned by a consensus statementendorsed by many of the main health charities and public health bodies in the UK. They agree that vaping is safer than smoking, and while these products are not risk free and should not be promoted to children or never smokers, they have a legitimate and positive role to play in tobacco control.

But this consensus is not shared around the world. The regular stream of mediascare stories driving harm perceptions often originates in other countries where there is no such view about relative risks. Some media headlines are driven by poor science but others originate from reports by credible organisations who focus on the absolute risk of any e-cigarette use without comparing it to smoking (which is uniquely deadly and kills one in two regular users). 2016 saw at least two major reports of this kind.

In September the World Health Organisation published a report that set out a series of steps on e-cigarette regulation for countries signed up to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, a global public health treaty. These options were primarily about banning or severely restricting the sale, distribution and marketing of e-cigarettes. The WHO report was comprehensively critiqued by theUK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, but its findings mean that e-cigarettes will continue to be unavailable to millions of smokers in many countries who have banned these devices or are considering doing so.

December 2016 saw the publication of a review authored by the US Surgeon General, which focused on e-cigarette use in young people. This described e-cigarette use as a public health concern, arguing that e-cigarettes are now the most commonly used tobacco product amongst US youth and that nicotine use in any form is unsafe for young people and also pregnant women. While some of the science in the report is accurate, the conclusions endorsing heavy regulation of e-cigarettes were not. The report did not compare the risks of smoking and vaping, failed to make clear that e-cigarettes are not tobacco products, and drew conclusions about nicotine that would also apply to Nicotine Replacement Therapy – which is safe and licensed for use in pregnancy and by young smokers. It also endorsed policies which could deter current smokers from switching to e-cigarettes. American scientists have critiqued data from the USA that provided the basis for the Surgeon General’s report, but it is likely that this publication will contribute to public perceptions that e-cigarettes are dangerous.

These two reports largely ignore the fact that there are already measures in place in many countries (including all of the EU) to protect the public from any risks from e-cigarettes. These include policies like age of sale, limits on advertising and child- and tamper-proof packaging – all important to protect children while still allowing sales to adult smokers and ex-smokers. Concerns about exploding batteries and nicotine poisoning can also be dealt with by following simple safety rules, such as those set out by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

I believe that e-cigarettes have huge potential to save lives by providing an alternative to smoking. Yet this can only be realised if we address negative harm perceptions and communicate honestly with the public. Ongoing research can help with this, and 2016 has seen the start of important studies, many commissioned by Cancer Research UK, which will tell us more in the future. We also need to keep our eye on new technology, such as heat not burn tobacco products, which are emerging and about which we know little. Only time will tell whether the UK’s positive approach towards e-cigarettes strikes the right balance between risks and benefits. For now, however, we must do all we can to encourage smokers to try to stop at New Year or any other time. For those trying with e-cigarettes, this is a positive choice that should be supported.

Linda Bauld is Professor of Health Policy at the University of Stirling, Deputy Director of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies and holds theCRUK/BUPA Chair in Behavioural Research for Cancer Prevention at Cancer Research UK. She is a former scientific adviser on tobacco control to the UK government and chaired the NICE guidance group on tobacco harm reduction.


Vaping boom in Russia

According to information provided by the Professional Alliance of players on the Russian market of electronic Nicotine SystAccording to information provided by the Professional Alliance of players on the Russian market of electronic Nicotine Systems, the e-cigarette market could have been of $280 Million in 2016.ems, the e-cigarette market could have been of $280 Million in 2016.

This country accounts for 147 millions of citizens among which about 1.5 million of vapers. The 55 millions of smokers constitute a large reservoir for the expansion of vaping in the neer future

Even if other economic studies are not so favourable for Russia, the e-cigarette market would be booming in the country. About 1,000 vape shops and 200 webstores are selling vaping products. Russian vapers would also be fond of “vape cafés“, sorts of bar-like vape shops where people can sit and try their hardware or juices. Their number could be close to 240, according to

In an interview to the Courrier de Russie, Igor Samborski delivers some of his impressions on the success of the e-cigarette in his country. Igor who has contributed to the development of vaping in Russia, explains that part of this success is explained by a very high smoking prevalence of about 39%. Another part of the success is due to a large popularity of hookahs, a pretty similar product, according to the businessman.

Points of sale of e-cigarettes also benefit from the fact that Russian vapers adopted open systems, electronic mods with tanks, at the expense of disposable e-cigarettes. The absence of a specific regulation is another trigger of the expansion of this market in a strict political context of tobacco control.