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OWN #8 | 27 May - 2 June 2019

With World No Tobacco Day this week there was an explosion of vaping (and smoking) coverage in the local media; far too much to dive too deep - however, all the links will be posted where relevant for those who want to read it all. Here however we will just touch on the most important stories of the week. To infinity and..

The World Health Organization (WHO) vs vaping (part 2)

Two weeks back (OWN #6) we discussed an opinion piece published on The Daily Maverick, which shed some light on the current state of the World Health Organization vs vaping. The piece was written by Ivo Vegter who, by his own admission, managed to quit smoking by means of vaping - he later then quit vaping as well. A thought provoking piece to be sure.

Unfortunately, it turns out that the original article was missing the links to the studies cited due to some publishing error. These have now been restored to the original article (see link below).

In response to this opinion piece, a group from the Tobacco Control Advocacy Alliance, decided to publish their own opinion piece as a rebuttal. Now since the original article had missing links to studies and articles that substantiate a lot of what Mr. Vegter was saying, these people took it upon themselves to effectively attack his integrity.

Ivo Vegter in his article, "On World No Tobacco Day, the WHO should promote vaping" (Daily Maverick, 14 May 2019) makes many unsubstantiated and inaccurate claims about e-cigarettes, or electronic cigarettes.

They go on to tell us that vaping introduces new toxic hazards into the act of smoking and is basically worse than smoking (I can't even begin to fathom this statement to be honest).

Secondly, the claim that e-cigarettes have been designed to help smokers stop is not accurate.

This last statement is utter garbage. Let me present a short summary of Hon Lik, the creator of the modern e-cigarette. Do a little research on the man and you'll be enlightened.

What would become the first commercially successful electronic cigarette is created in Beijing, China by Hon Lik, a 52 year old pharmacist, inventor and smoker. He reportedly created the device after his father, also a heavy smoker, dies of lung cancer. (from A Historical Timeline of Electronic Cigarettes)

So basically, it was purely created as a means of stopping smoking because this man lost his father to smoking. An insult from supposed Anti Tobacco advocates.

There are so many more choice quotes from this group but I'd rather keep this short, feel free to read the whole article (and if you do, be sure not to miss the response from Mr Vegter in the comments section).

Before we wrap this one up, lets just have a look at one last problematic statement - this one I take quite personally.

Additionally, what Vegter does not mention, is that the e-cigarette industry fails to list all the ingredients on the e-cigarette packs, but rather concentrates on the absence of tobacco in the product as translating into safety in their marketing.

Now, we've been manufacturing e-liquids for more than 3 years, and from our very first product we've always listed our ingredients fully - Propylene Glycol, Vegetable Glycerine, Artificial Flavourings, and Nicotine. There's nothing else in there - and the reason I know this is because I manufacture these myself.

This piece is full of reactionary, broad and sweeping statements with very little weight behind them.

It's definitely worth reading the comment to the article by Ivo Vegter - priceless.

South Africa and the 'Control of Tobacco Products and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill'

Local smoking and vaping regulations are imminent, we've know this for almost 2 years now. This is a good, and needed, thing. However, the current state of the bill would classify vaping (arguably the single most successful smoking cessation tool in the history) as exactly the same as the tobacco it helps people be rid of.

They cite all sorts of unknowns as the main reason for lobbing vaping in with smoking - clearly that doesn't make sense as smoking has been around for decades and big tobacco has proven themselves as enemies of public health. Whereas vaping, and indeed most vape companies, care about the health of people - for most of us, vaping is about harm reduction.

This fact is heavily contested, mainly because there are no long term studies to go by. However, anyone with half a brain can deduce that surely it must be way less harmful that burning tobacco and inhaling the smoke. Why? Because vaping has no combustion. Sure, there may be side effects to inhaling anything other than pure oxygen, but we live in a polluted world, where clean oxygen doesn't exist outside of canisters.

If you speak to vapers who switched from smoking, you'll get the same story every time - vaping is a life (and health) saver. When, as a smoker, you switch to vaping your health will improve drastically - this is not in our heads, we are all healthier for switching to vaping.

So this bill now wants to effectively snuff out vaping and condemn smokers to death - whereas vaping might have saved their lives. This seems counter intuitive as a "health initiative".

Yes, regulate the industry. It has to be done to ensure quality products end up in consumer's hands and that minors don't have access to these devices and liquids.

Yes, do more research on the effects of vaping - we vapers want to know the truth as much as the anti-vaping campaigners do.

But please, do not condemn smokers to death by trying to quell a technology that might scare you. Give us a fair shake, that is all we ask. Let us prove our worth.

I am aware that I did not really discuss any of the articles that were posted on the subject, they are linked below. Feel free to read as many (or few) as you want.

Harmful Flavours in Vaping

A recent study found that various e-liquid flavourings were toxic to the heart. In particular cinnamon, and menthol were found to be very toxic.

The results of this study was splattered all over the media (links below), as usual - vaping is the devil!

Turns out, this study may have a serious flaw - the tested cells were exposed to e-liquids in liquid form not as vapour.

Basically what they tested was the effect of cinnamon when ingested, not when vaped. The following is a quote by Dr Farsalinos:

I will emphasize, however, once again that the study published in JACC used e-cigarette liquids in liquid form. Thus, cinnamaldehyde in the cinnamon-flavored liquids was not different from cinnamaldehyde present in food. In fact, if the observed effects are attributed to cinnamaldehyde, then cinnamaldehyde in food products must be equally toxic to endothelial cells.

And there you have it - beware of cinnamon on your food!

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