E-cigarettes can now be prescribed as a medical quitting aid, but is this a good thing?
Because a medical e-cigarette raises quite a few questions:
- How bad can e-cigs be for you if such a dated product has proved safe as a medicine?
- Will the medical e-cig actually be of benefit post TPD, when a fair few of the devices available now, could be taken off the market and there is less choice for vapers to progress to?
- Will this change the perception of e-cigarettes to become nothing but a medical quitting aid?
- Is there a need for one?
- Will British American Tobacco (BAT) actually manufacture it, as sales of ciggie-likes are not that great?
Prior to the Public Health England (PHE) report, all vapers were telling the government, in no uncertain terms, that once the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) comes in, the only e-cigs available might be the ciggie-likes owned by the tobacco industry and that the TPD amounted to a ban.
Hot on the heels of the publication of the PHE report the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) granted a medical licence for an e-cig.
PHE in their report clearly cry out for a medical e-cigarette and they state, ‘given the potential benefits as quitting aids, PHE looks forward to the arrival on the market of a choice of medicinally regulated products that can be made available to smokers by the NHS on prescription. This will provide assurance on the safety, quality and effectiveness to consumers who want to use these products as quitting aids.’
It is understood to have taken several years to get the licence, a lot of money was spent and now British American Tobacco (BAT) owners of the licenced e-cig are not sure if they are going to manufacture the e-cig; ‘they are reviewing the market’. Whatever that means.
But look at this quote from an article in the Daily Mail, by Dr Tim Ballard, vice-chair of the Royal College of GPs, he said: ‘Potentially, there may be a place for the prescription of the medical e-cigarette, but GPs would be very wary of prescribing it until there is clear evidence of safety and efficacy.’
Why would anyone write that about a medicine, when surely gaining a licence means it is safe and does what it says it is going to do? (As said in the PHE quote above). Perhaps the doctor in question is just against e-cigarettes? (We must bear this in mind as a possibility, as the article was in fact a list of the flawed research that was produced last year).
Perhaps the PHE report is spot on, and e-cigarettes are pretty much OK for the short term, so much so they can get a medical licence?
Will other tobacco companies now follow suit? Will we find ourselves in the incredible situation of several tobacco companies selling you the tobacco, and then the medication to get off the tobacco?
Will a medical e-cigarette, due to its constraints become another NRT with the same dismal 93% fail rate after one year?
Which leads to the next question, of how effective will the e-cigarette be in weaning folk off tobacco?
We know that many start with ciggie-likes, but pretty rapidly progress to second, third, fourth generation e-cigs, as they need that technology; the longer battery life, the better flavours, throat hit etc. to keep off the cigarettes.
Then we get to the question; do we need them?
To date almost 4 million smokers have used or are using e-cigarettes on a daily basis, not all have switched entirely, but is there a part of the market, as some have highlighted that won’t switch until they are medicalised?
Do they need that sense of security that a medical licence will provide, that sense that the GP knows they are OK and they might help? Are we being selfish in not believing they will work, and not allowing people the opportunity of medical e-cigs just because we fear the mission creep of governments, and the fear that once it truly is seen as a medical quit aid, it by default becomes a medicine, and then all e-cigs need a licence?
We have to bear in mind that the MHRA always wanted e-cigarettes to be regulated as medicines, and with the TPD coming into force; they kind of have their way. After all, who is the “responsible authority” for e-cigarette notification and adverse effect recording for the UK? Somehow MHRA managed to get the job, even though e-cigarettes escaped blanket medical device regulation. Already some e-cigarette companies are teaming up with Pharmaceutical companies; will they soon gobble up e-cigarette companies with the same fervour that Big T did, and will they soon be announcing their own medical e-cigarette?
As you can see, this subject raises so many questions, what do you think?
How does this headline: Teenage perceptions of electronic cigarettes in Scottish tobacco-education school interventions: co-production and innovative engagement through a pop-up radio project…
Turn into a tweet from the World Lung Foundation: Alarming study among teens in #Scotland finds that #e-cigarettes do act as a gateway to #tobacco.
That turns into this headline: Pupils ‘use e-cigarettes as gateway to smoking’
When the report said nothing of the kind?
Several writers have taken up this story, and I am going to give you a short précis of the research and then try and lead you through what happened – it’s not rocket science, but it shows the way the media and some that don’t like e-cigarettes work.
The genuine research looked at just under a couple of hundred teenage kids from Scotland, between the ages of 13-16. They asked them about smoking and their opinions (meaning this is qualitative research,) on an initiative that included a theater production and special smoke free classes. This was done in the attempt to try and curb the uptake of smoking amongst youngsters.
At no stage were the 13-16yr olds deliberately asked about e-cigarettes. That was not part of the research. The e-cigarette discussion took place after the research interviews, and according to several sources, only one 13-year-old girl made a comment.
Dr Siegel, a scientists with decades of tobacco research under his belt stated of the study, “the only reference to e-cigarettes as a possible gateway is a barely coherent statement of one student who said: ‘ … ah [I] think that’s why most people go on tae [to] fae [from] e-cigarettes to actual [cigarettes], just to see what it’s like, the actual wans [ones], an’[and] then they get addicted tae [to] it.’”
The researchers did not conclude that e-cigarettes were a gateway to smoking, so how did this research end up being reported that way?
Because, according to the Daily Caller online paper – the World Lung Foundation (WLF) put out that tweet, that was then picked up by Journalist, who ether didn’t read the research, didn’t understand the research, or couldn’t care less, and they then turned the research into click bait.
Click bait is when a headline draws you into a story, that may or may not be true or may or may not even represent the title.
Why did the WLF put out that tweet? Was it a deliberate spin? We may never know, but on checking over the weekend the tweet was still there, and there appears to be no correction given, despite being asked several times for one.
In America, this story has brought out the ire of some of their advocate groups, and President of the American Vaping Association, Gregory Conley told the Daily Caller News Foundation, “this is yet another example of how anti-vaping activists are willing to say or do anything to further their ideological war against a far safer alternative to smoking.
“The well-paid executives at the World Lung Foundation know that the science on vaping clearly points to it being a gateway out of smoking rather than the opposite,” he continued. “Regrettably, these executives have insisted on prioritizing their own ideology and continued employment over the truth, so we can expect their misleading statements to only get worse.”
Due to this type of journalism and the insatiable need for ‘likes’, it is becoming increasingly harder for vapers to sort the wheat from the chaff when it comes to sensationalist reporting vs. genuine research about e-cigarettes.
How do you know which stories to trust and which to ignore, especially if they have big names on them like the World Lung Foundation?
As somebody that keeps an eye on the news there are a few go to resources that I use when the ‘click bait’ appears and here they are in no particular order:
Forums – UKV, ECF
Twitter. – Follow prominent vaping advocates and organizations.
I know it’s much easier not to investigate the scare stories, but unless we do, and unless we call them out, as many have done with the above mentioned story, the click baits will continue and more people will be put off vaping, as the statistics are clearly showing. More and more people believe that e-cigarettes are as harmful as smoking or even more harmful, (up from 8% in 2013 to 22% this year), when this clearly is not the case.
So if you see some e-cig click bait – click away to one of the trusted sites, get the genuine picture, then click back and leave a comment on the click bait article – it’s one sure way to help eradicate ignorance and fear around e-cigarettes.
Recent figures released show that women now make up 53% of vapers in the UK.
The reasons often cited for so many women now vaping – at least over a million if we stick to the 2.4 million figure, is that they are vaping to save their appearance and to stop them from getting fat.
There are several e-cig websites designed specifically for women, and with e-cigarettes allegedly designed just for women. Having had a look at one of the sites, their main e-cig, I must admit could easily be mistaken for a mascara wand.
Displayed prominently on the same home page are several articles dedicated to smoking and weight, social smoking, smoking and wrinkles and second hand smoke, next to a picture of a baby. They advertise their e-liquid flavours as ‘kissable’ and depending upon your level of feminism this could be quite funny and cute, or totally offensive.
Looking at it from a marketing standpoint, this is astute marketing in a world that appears to be geared toward the men. Buxom bikini clad women are more the norm for e-cig advertising, and when researching for this post I even found a Pinterest page dedicated to ‘female vapers’, and yes, it was bordering on the soft porn side.
Another theory as to why women are now overtaking men is that women have a different quit process to men. Women need the ‘smoking cues’ more than the men, i.e. the hand mouth action. A trial that looked at the difference between men and women using NRT found that after 6 months, the relapse was higher in women.
Yet another theory is because celebrities vape.
Again, your feminism may kick in here, or not, but so far we have looks, weight, babies, different quit process and celebs. The reason any woman does anything really??
If women are leading the vaping revolution, why does the market continue appear to be geared towards men? Is it because men are buying more of the big gear? The box mods? Market research has shown that women want something simple and easy, especially on a night out. It is during nights out apparently that many women briefly go back to smoking, as they find it easier than fiddling around with a 3rd generation e-cig.
So, gathering all these reasons up it makes women out to be fairly vacuous; weight, looks and copying celebrities, but I’m pretty sure there are more reasons, such as feeling better, better flavours, more fun, cheaper and yes, vaping probably won’t give you the wrinkles that smoking will.
But once we get past the stereotypical, there are some tough vaping questions that relate only to women, such as pregnancy and breastfeeding.
It is not recommended to vape while pregnant, as nicotine narrows the blood vessels and during pregnancy this will affect the blood flow to the placenta – the organ that provides nourishment and oxygen to the foetus. The general opinion is that abstinence is best during pregnancy. Nicotine apparently also passes through to the breast milk, so again abstinence is best.
There have been no studies done regarding pregnancy and e-cigarettes, hence the advice for caution.
Your body will undergo a few changes if you have managed to switch completely, or seriously cut down.
There are many pages of information online about what happens after you have stopped smoking, so here is some information if you’ve switched to vaping.
Not everyone will experience these changes, not every one will experience them in the same order, at the same time in their journey, or for the same length of time, but there are around 6 changes that you may notice:
- You will feel thirstier. You may find your mouth is drier than usual. PG and VG that are the main ingredients in e-liquid are humectants. This means they attract/ draw water to them, and as a vaper this includes some of the moisture in your mouth. As you adjust to vaping, to avoid that dry mouth feeling consider increasing your water uptake. Signs of dehydration can often be a headache and not feeling too great, so have a bottle of water handy at all time, drink several litres a day, and you should feel fine.
- Your sense of smell and taste will improve, and you may find you are more sensitive to certain smells than you were before.
- After 2-3 weeks of loving vaping, you may experience what is known as vapers tongue. This is normal, and happens to most of us. There is no real explanation for this, some say it’s because after your taste buds come alive, they may have a ‘relapse’ before coming back even stronger – others say it’s because of using the same flavour too much – but you essentially stop tasting your e-liquids. The solution is to vape something completely different, and that generally resolves the problem.
- Lung purge…. Sounds horrid, but this is your lungs finally having the chance to get rid of some of the gunk that has been accumulating while you were smoking. You may cough much more, have more phlegm, but see this as a detox and clear out. Obviously if you are concerned at all, visit your Dr, but after a week you should feel better and you may find that your morning cough has gone.
- Yup, teenage acne may come back – again this is a sign of detox, your skin is an eliminatory organ of your body, and it makes sense for your body to get rid of toxins via the skin – hence the spots. But don’t fret, they don’t last too long!
- General sense of well being increases. Many find that you can run up the stairs now without getting out of breath, and when many vapers visit their doctors, their lung function is improving, and they just generally feel better.
So here are a few things that may or may not happen to you as you switch, or during those first few months of switching to vaping. Know that they are normal, but of course if you are worried at all, do get yourself checked
Please don’t groan if you are reading this and thinking why don’t they shut up about this….
I understand you too might be fed up with all the politics and campaigning, but this is our vaping future – so please keep reading as to why I’m writing about this yet again.
The Article 20 team have a date for their day in court; October the 1st, in the afternoon. The European Courts of Justice are in Luxembourg, so no, we are not asking you to fly there and support them on the day – though if you did feel like doing this – it would go down a storm!
What we are asking you all to do is support them in getting the signature numbers up as high as possible for the petition handover, which is scheduled for the 29th September, 11 am outside the Department of Health.
Current figures are just over the 61K mark, and it would be fantastic to reach 70K.
The handover of the petition is historic, as it shows the Department of Health, (who agree with the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), and quite like Article 20 which they are defending in the CJEU –) that many in Europe see it as a terrible law and that it needs to be thrown in the bin and everyone start from scratch.
Should Article 20 be implemented in the UK, which is due to happen in May of next year, it will decimate vaping and possibly have the result of many that did vape, return to smoking. The devices they currently rely upon will become illegal, so once the devices start to show signs of wear and tear, there will be no other option than to try the ciggie-likes or go back to smoking.
Many will say – ‘well they should just stop altogether’ but as we know, this quit or die attitude serves no one and helps even less.
If you like vaping, your family and friends like you vaping – please ask them to sign the petition, and then, if you can – rock up outside the Department of Health and support the handover.
The address is: Richmond House, 79 Whitehall, London, SW1A 2NS.
The nearest tube station is Westminster tube station, on the circle and district lines http://www.londontown.com/TransportInformation/Attractions/Whitehall/e437f/
There will be vaping advocates there – but the more vapers that turn up the louder and stronger we will be heard.
This is your future health they are legislating on – and if it’s important to you – then please – take some action? Please help?