No, this is the number of lawsuits that have apparently been filed against Pfiezer, the manufacturers and providers of Chantix, that infamous NRT drug that has fatal and near fatal consequences for quite a number of its users.
However it is still on the market. Prof Siegel in his excellent tobacco analysis blog raises this point - ‘if there were that many lawsuits filed against e-cigs, do you think you’d still be able to buy one?’
I am not suggesting that electronic cigarettes are nicotine replacement therapy, what I am doing here is questioning the regulators, the same ones that will rule on whether e-cigs will become a medicine – and if so, will it be OK for 2700 lawsuits to be filed against them, because as a medicine it’s OK to have that many?
Interestingly though, or maybe horrifyingly so, Chantix is still being prescribed and recommended as a nicotine replacement therapy drug. Apparently no further research into the possibility of it being the cause of over 3000 deaths is being done, no further research is being done to ascertain if the 2’700 lawsuits are as a result of death or injury from Chatix, because it has all be paid off. This should sound a bit odd, this should be raising alarm bells within the industry watchdogs, but it isn’t. That’s because Pfiezer have settled these 2700 cases out of court. They have paid out a whopping $237 million to these accusers, and have probably told them to shut up and go away too.
We are living in interesting times, we all know that, the financial system is disintegrating at an alarming rate, Cyprus is one experiment that is about to blow up in our faces, and we are learning more and more everyday how corrupt our systems are.
Electronic cigarettes are facing a ban in the EU despite no lawsuits being filed, despite no deaths being attributed to them, despite research proving that electronic cigarettes are less harmful than smoking.
There are a few fundamental reasons why e-cigs are not and should not be classed as a medicine.
The first reason is the way they work, not as in the nuts and bolts of how they are put together; i.e. the battery or atomizer function, but the way we vapers use them – their functionality.
We use them so we can have nicotine when we crave it, each and every time we crave it. For some that’s a few times every hour, for others it can be every few minutes. We use them in this respect pretty much the same way as we would use a cigarette.
Now compare this to the way Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) works – which is classed as a medicine.
NRT is there, as Clive Bates, former head of ASH describes as ‘background noise’. NRT is with you all the time, giving you a low dose of nicotine in a pretty much constant stream. Think of NRT patches and even the chewing gum, they release a constant, steady, slow dose of nicotine. The aim there is to eradicate cravings altogether.
Now let’s look at habits.
NRT is designed to change your habits. The ‘low level’ noise is there so that you don’t have a cigarette with a cup of coffee, or after your meal, nothing to have in your hand, nothing to have in your mouth – (unless you use the chewing gum), but it works along the principle that if you eradicate the cravings and change the habits, then you can quit smoking.
E cigs don’t alter your habits – you have the same hand to mouth action as smoking, the same inhale/exhale, the same fiddling with something in your hand, the same throat hit, you exhale vapour, you may possibly even create more habits – like the way you refill, how you mix your e-liquid etc.
Agreed, both E-cigarettes and NRT contain nitrosamines and residual contaminants, but at safe, very low levels. This shows that e-cigs are less harmful than tobacco cigarettes, but I don’t believe this is enough to make them into a medicine.
As you can see so far, with vaping/ electronic cigarettes you are simply replacing one harmful habit, for one that is less harmful.
Clive Bates argues that should the EU Commission class e-cigarettes as medicines, they will in fact be supporting the tobacco industry, the very industry they hold responsible for 700,000 deaths a year in Europe alone, as many vapers will simply switch back to tobacco cigarettes.
Professor Etter, form the University of Geneva has said, “ In the European Union, a proposal to change the Directive regulating tobacco product was announced in December 2012. In this proposal, cartridges that contain more than 2 mg nicotine, e-liquids that contain more than 4 mg nicotine per ml, or e-cigarettes that result in blood nicotine concentrations of more than 4 ng/ml (nanograms per milliliter, a very low level, similar to level observed in non-smokers exposed to light levels of passive smoking) will need to be approved as medicinal products. If implemented in this form, this directive would essentially kill the e-cigarette market, and therefore have seriously adverse effects on public health.
The question remains why do they want to do this?
Electronic cigarettes are a viable alternative to smoking; they are not a medicine and should not be classed as such.
The NHS has published a list of the ideal times for smokers to change their lifestyle, and we have hijacked this list and re-purposed it for e-cig users, as the decision to change your life style is a big one, and one that can nag at you until you do something about it. So, no more procrastinating! If you have been thinking of switching to e-cigs, maybe one of these ‘prime times’ will help you take that step.
New Year’s Resolutions… always a favourite!
I know we are now into March, but the New Year is a great time to switch. However, unrealistic targets and lifestyle changes can doom many New Year’s resolutions to failure, no matter how honest and strong the intention; a lot of resolutions struggle to continue even into February! It is estimated that 7 million will have made resolutions this New Year, (have you still kept yours?). Switching though is easy, as the hand/ mouth action is the same as when smoking, you have something in your hands, and you get your nicotine.
No Smoking Day… make it your switching day!
The British Heart Foundation’s yearly sponsored initiative endeavours to help UK smokers reduce their tobacco intake, and more than 1.5 million smokers have been helped by the No Smoking Day charity since its inception in 1983. But this doesn’t have to be day that you quit cigarettes; you can make it the day that you switch to e-cigs.
Becoming a Grandparent – (allegedly better than becoming a parent?)
The dangers of second-hand smoke are well documented. Doting grandparents will seldom want to expose their grandchildren to potentially dangerous smoke, (and some parents won’t allow it – period), and this makes switching from traditional tobacco to electronic cigarettes an increasingly attractive proposition. E-cigs don’t emit smoke, but instead emit water vapour, and the pleasant aroma of flavoured e liquid easily replaces the horrible smell of tobacco cigarettes.
Running on the treadmill with a 20 a day habit is not much fun, so if you’ve planned to get fit this year, but are having a few challenges with stopping the nicotine, then e-cigarettes can help. You still have the nicotine, still have the hand to mouth action, and you are not quitting smoking, this is not another thing you are ‘giving up’ or ‘losing’, you are merely switching to a less harmful alternative.
Going into Hospital
Mmm, not a nice one this, but as we have ‘borrowed’ this list from the NHS, we had best add it. When a smoker enters hospital, the only option is to smoke outside in the rain, complete with IV drip and stand. But did you know there are currently only a few local hospitals prohibiting the use of electronic cigarettes? Probably wise to check out your local hospital’s e-cig policy first, but you could use the time there to make the switch from tobacco to e liquid.
A recent article published in the New Scientist on the 21st Feb 2013, states that British American Tobacco (BAT) aim to turn electronic cigarettes into medicines within the UK.
The unnamed author writes (what no doubt many of are thinking as we read this incredible headline),
“ You could argue that aiming to profit from curing an addiction that you helped cause in the first place is pretty cynical.”
So how did this complete volte- face come about? What has made a tobacco company want to become a provider of nicotine replacement therapy?
In December of 2012, BAT bought a company called CN Creative, a company that own and sell electronic cigarettes. Due in part to this huge investment, and the way that e-cigarettes have exploded onto the market, BAT are now asking the MHRA and the UK regulating authorities to recognise their new product as a smoking cessation medication.
They are, I believe the first tobacco company to ask for this. And from this, one can only assume that they are well under way with clinical trials and have the data and research ready in order to prove that their product is in fact an NRT.
This is interesting, and one wonders why they want the NRT label? Why are they not happy to have a product that smokers can use without it being a ‘medicine’?
With this incredible move, BAT seem keen to recognise that the tobacco cigarettes they produce do cause harm, and this move is also on trend with other tobacco companies that are expanding their smokeless tobacco portfolio.
The article raises the usual, but as yet unanswered questions regarding electronic cigarettes; are e-cigs safe in the long term? Are they a gateway product for the youth of today to start smoking? And can they really be used as a quit smoking product?
At present the mounting anecdotal evidence surrounding electronic cigarettes is pointing in the direction that they are less harmful than tobacco cigarettes, as yet they have not been proven to be a gateway product, (quite the opposite in fact), and to add to the positivity, they have recently been endorsed by the anti smoking group ASH. But are they a quit smoking product? What makes something a quit smoking product and something else a recreational device?
But then comes the sting in the tale. The article quite rightly points out that a very similar argument has been fought for the smokeless tobacco product ‘snus’.
Evidence clearly shows that this product helps smokers to quit, research clearly shows that it is a far less harmful alternative to tobacco cigarettes, yet it is only available in Sweden.
It is banned in the rest of the EU.
However, upon closer examination of Swedish cancer and smoking rates, they are the lowest in Europe, and this can be directly attributed to the high uptake of snus.
So what is the conclusion of this New Scientist article? To give BAT the benefit of the doubt for now- and to note that harm reduction, even if proven to work, is not easy to sell to the regulators.
Simon Clark from the website Taking Liberties and Director of the smoker’s lobby group Forest has raised a very important question in one of his most recent articles posted on his site, that was triggered during an interview about electronic cigarettes on BBC Radio Jersey last week.
Do we have a consumer champion for e-cigarettes that isn’t anti smoking?
He writes that there is a thriving online community of vapers that all understand what the current proposed legislation will mean, should it be passed, but at present, they are all ‘preaching to the converted’. What is possibly happening as a result of this is a media vacuum that is being filled with proponents of e-cigarettes, but ones that are staunchly anti smoking and see e-cigarettes as a medicine akin to NRT, and want them regulated as such, because they absolutely do not see them as the recreational nicotine delivery device they are.
“Most public health campaigners who advocate the use of e-cigarettes regard them as a medicinal alternative to cigarettes and they will continue to bully and belittle smokers until they give up.”
Electronic cigarettes are used by many different types of smokers, some use it as an add on to their tobacco cigarette smoking, and quite happily switch between the two, others have completely switched to vaping but have no interest in giving up nicotine, as they enjoy all aspects of vaping, the community, the flavours, the freedom, and their desire is to continue to vape. Then there are others who are using electronic cigarettes to cut out the tobacco first, with the aim of reducing and eventually stopping their nicotine intake all together.
Simon Clark continues about the apparent lack of advocate is “The danger, if we allow it to happen, is that the most vocal advocates of e-cigarettes will be anti-smokers or others who feel the need to exaggerate the risks of smoking, the alleged risks of passive smoking or, heaven help us, the ‘smell’ of tobacco smoke.”
He states that “As a champion of consumer choice Forest is happy to support and defend the use of e-cigarettes (and other smokeless tobacco products).”