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HOW SOME ELECTRONIC CIGARETTE USERS AVOID HIGHER RATES ON HEALTH INSURANCE

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It’s really not surprising that insurance companies charge higher rates for smokers. After all, smoking puts you at increased risk for cancer, heart disease, and stroke. This year, the introduction of the Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare, has caused premiums to go even higher for smokers with insurers sometimes charging 50% more if you use tobacco products.

However, once you switch to electronic cigarettes, is it fair that you should continue to pay the higher rates? After all, electronic cigarettes do not contain tobacco and they reduce the health risks associated with smoking. These products do not emit smoke and do not contain tobacco, tar, or any of the many carcinogens known to exist in combustible cigarettes. For many vapers, the potential surcharges are reason for pause when filling out insurance applications.

Typically, consumers are asked two key questions that determine if they will have to pay the higher rates: Do you currently use tobacco products? Are you currently using any smoking cessation products? Vapers must think carefully before answering these questions. On one hand, electronic cigarettes do not contain tobacco so technically, vapers can easily answer no to the first question. However, the second question can make things a little tricky.

The FDA has not approved electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation, but many people use them in that way. So if a consumer has completely stopped using cigarettes and is only vaping, then the answer to both questions might be “No” and the surcharge would be waived. In fact, the only way the insurer will even know that the consumer uses electronic cigarettes is if the information is volunteered.

Ultimately, each consumer will have to decide how to answer application questions until the FDA officially regulates electronic cigarettes and forces a legal definition. At that point, insurers will most likely be forced to automatically classify electronic cigarettes as tobacco products, forcing vapers to pay the higher rates.

 

NUMBERS DON’T LIE: YOU’RE MORE LIKELY TO BE POISONED BY TOOTHPASTE THAN E-LIQUID

Over the past two weeks, there has been a virtual firestorm as outraged vapers protest a recent article in the New York Times, which described e-liquids as dangerous and even deadly. Like most coverage from the mainstream media, The Times focused on electronic cigarettes as a lethal option and completely ignored the benefits that vaping can offer smokers.

Forget the fact that electronic cigarettes eliminate thousands of carcinogens. Ignore the fact that there is no tobacco, no tar, no ash, and no smoke. All they want you to think about is e-liquid and the fact that it contains – gasp! – Nicotine.

There is no denying that nicotine is a stimulant and drinking e-liquid could theoretically kill you. However, there has never been a single death by accidental e-liquid ingestion. The Times ignored the lack of fatalities and focused on e-liquid related calls to Poison Control, which totaled 1,300 in 2013. Around a quarter of those calls resulted in visits to a hospital. If you look at the booming electronic cigarette industry and the massive sales volume of electronic cigarettes last year, the number of calls to poison control is actually very minimal.

If you take a look at the 2012 report from the National Poison Data System, there are a number of substances that case far more poisoning emergencies and fatalities. There were 193,443 reported cases of poisoning from household cleaners. Alcoholic beverages led to 54,445 calls to Poison Control and believe it or not, toothpaste led to 20,206 reported cases of poisoning.

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When you think about over 20,000 people poisoned by toothpaste, those 365 hospital visits related to e-liquid seem almost insignificant. If the incidence of e-liquid poisoning increased to 15 times higher than 2013, it would still be less common than toothpaste poisoning. So if we are going to depict e-liquid as deadly and ban it out of fear of poisoning, it’s only fair that we outlaw the more deadly substances like household cleaners, alcoholic beverages, and yes – even toothpaste.

LEAKED MEMO SHOWS BIG PHARMA LOBBYING AGAINST ELECTRONIC CIGARETTES

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The electronic cigarette industry is rapidly growing and many smokers are choosing electronic cigarettes as a path to quit smoking. As electronic cigarettes sales boom, tobacco companies are quickly trying to recover their losses by launching their own vaping lines. Tobacco companies are not the only ones at risk for losing profits. Big Pharma is extremely invested in tobacco users with nicotine replacement therapies and smoking cessation drugs expected to be worth $4.6 billion per year by 2016. As electronic cigarettes cut into the potential profit margins, drug companies are actively lobbying to have the tobacco-free electronic cigarettes strictly regulated or banned.

The London Times was the first to report on a leaked memo from GlaxoSmithKline that revealed the drug company’s lobbying efforts. Glaxo offers multiple nicotine replacement products and they have a lot to lose if electronic cigarettes become the smoker’s choice for cessation. In the memo, Glaxo’s consumer healthcare division argued that electronic cigarettes should be regulated as medications instead of tobacco products. It went on to say that electronic cigarettes could act as a gateway, leading more people to start smoking.

As lawmakers debate how to set appropriate regulations for electronic cigarettes, there is no room for Big Pharma to cloud objectivity with selfish motivation. These drug companies should be required to disclose their funding and other involvement in electronic cigarette research because their studies are likely to be biased. Unfortunately, the drug companies have allies around the world including insiders at the FDA.

Lobbying is a major problem and the only way that it will stop is if the whistle is blown every time it’s discovered. Big Pharma has a lot of money to invest in making sure lawmakers take their best interests into consideration. Now that we know with 100% certainty that Big Pharma is targeting electronic cigarettes, is there any hope for fair regulation?

NICOTINE GUMS AND PATCHES ARE JUST AS BAD AS SMOKING

Apart from electronic cigarettes, nicotine gum and patches are two of the most popular smoking cessation products on the market. Hundreds of thousands of people use these products on a regular basis in an effort to curb their smoking. However, a recent study suggests nicotine gum and patches are just as bad as smoking.

Nicotine Gum and Patches May Cause Cancer

Harold Garner, a professor affiliated with the College of Science, the College of Engineering, and the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, found a link between cancerous cell growth and the use of nicotine patches and gum.

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Smoking vs Nicotine Gum and Nicotine Patch

There are over 4,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke, some of which includes the following:

  • Acetone
  • Acetic Acid
  • Ammonia
  • Arsenic
  • Benzene
  • Butane
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Formaldehyde
  • Lead – used in batteries
  • Naphthalene
  • Methanol
  • Nicotine
  • Tar

Opting to use the nicotine patch or nicotine gum in place of smoking greatly reduces the amount of chemicals a person exposes his or her body to, but this recent study reveals that traditional smoking cessation products aren’t always the best choice.

What’s The Best Way To Quit Smoking?

You might be surprised to learn that the most effective way to quit is going cold turkey. One study suggests that as many as 75% of all former smokers have kicked the habit by going cold turkey — using no gum, patch, or other cessation product. Granted, quitting cold turkey isn’t easy by any means, but it maintains the highest success rate of all cessation products.

Electronic cigarettes can also help smokers cut back or even kick the habit. These devices allow users to enjoy unadulterated nicotine without exposing themselves to the thousands of chemicals commonly found in cigarette smoke. And if a person wants to eliminate all nicotine from his or her lifestyle, they can do so by gradually decreasing the nicotine strength in the electronic cigarette.

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NICOTINE-FREE ELECTRONIC CIGARETTE

They may be designed as a safer method of getting the nicotine you crave, but there are nicotine-free electronic cigarettes on offer from many manufacturers. The reasons for this are simple, although it may seem confusing and counter-productive at first. Offering different levels of nicotine in the cartridges is commonplace, and the majority of manufacturers do have a nicotine-free option. The companies don’t claim that electronic cigarettes can help users quit, but research into the area does suggest that they can. As a result, many people use electronic cigarettes for that reason, and a nicotine free electronic cigarette is a useful tool for those trying to quit.

Why Use a Nicotine Free Electronic Cigarette?

You may be wondering, if you get to the point where you no longer need nicotine, why use an electronic cigarette at all? The answer comes from the fact that nicotine addiction isn’t just a physical dependence on a substance. When somebody smokes a cigarette, the nicotine fix becomes tied to the sensory experience of smoking, and they therefore become (in a sense) addicted to the sensation of smoking too. That’s why electronic cigarettes are so popular, because they’re the only alternative method of getting nicotine which is relatively similar to smoking a cigarette.

The reason somebody would use a non-nicotine electronic cigarette should now be clear. Even though they’ve managed to entirely remove their physical dependence on the substance itself, the sensation of smoking has its own addictive pull. This is why you see smokers holding pens between their fingers like a cigarette and even chewing or sucking on the end. The nicotine-free electronic cigarette preserves the sensory experience without fuelling the physical addiction. The user can still enjoy electronic cigarette flavours and the experience of inhaling vapor, and will usually strive to do it less and less as time goes by.

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EUROPEAN COMMISSION PROPOSES ABSURD ELECTRONIC CIGARETTE LEGISLATION

The arm of the EU responsible for proposing legislation has proposed a vastly disproportionate approach to regulating electronic cigarettes. It’s so extreme that it isn’t going too far to suggest that, if enacted, it would constitute a ban of the vast majority of electronic cigarettes on the market. If you’re an EU vaper and you happen to vape delicious flavours, buy anything from other countries, use tanks or refillable cartridges or buy e-liquids of over 20 mg / ml of nicotine, you can kiss your electronic cigarettes goodbye. Needless to say, opposing this proposed legislation is essential for any concerned EU vapers.

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What The Commission is Suggesting

There are a wide range of disturbing suggestions in the EU Commission’s proposed legislation, including:

  • A maximum e-liquid nicotine concentration of 20 mg / ml (despite the EU Parliament’s suggested 30 mg / ml limit).
  • No refillable cartridges or tanks will be allowed – single-use cartomizers only.
  • No more than 10 mg of nicotine in any single cartridge.
  • No flavours which aren’t already available in NRT (for example, Nicorette gum is available in a pathetic four flavours), “unless such a flavour is particularly attractive to young people and non-smokers.”
  • Demands that electronic cigarettes only “deliver nicotine doses consistently and uniformly.”
  • Only high-purity ingredients free from contaminants are to be used in e-liquid manufacture.
  • Bans any cross-border sales (so, no buying components from other countries online).
  • Bans advertising except in trade publications, or “any form of public or private contribution to any event, activity or individual with the aim or direct or indirect effect of promoting electronic cigarettes” so long as they involve or take place in several member states.
  • Requests that manufacturers and importers collect and provide a wide range of information, including annual sales volumes, information on the preferences of consumer groups such as non-smokers and young.
  • Manufacturers, importers or distributors would have to establish and maintain a system to collect information about all suspected adverse effects.

NEW SURVEY: DIFFERENCES BETWEEN DUAL USERS AND FULL TIME VAPERS

Electronic cigarettes don’t work for everybody. Some quit smoking entirely after starting to vape, some just continue smoking, and some do both, becoming “dual users.” Understanding the difference between those who exclusively vape and those who transition to dual use is an important priority for researchers.

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A new survey published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos) examines this issue, looking at information provided by over 19,000 vapers and dual users. The sample was largely composed of “dedicated” vapers, forum users and those active within the online community.

Summary of Results

  • 19,441 people participated in the survey, with the vast majority being from Europe and America.
  • Most found out about the survey through forums, and their dedication to vaping is expected to be responsible for the high rate of smoking cessation in the group, with 81 percent having quit smoking entirely.
  • As a result of participants’ level of dedication to vaping, the results might not be applicable to the general population.
  • Dual users reduced their daily cigarette consumption from an average of 20 to 4 cigarettes.
  • The vast majority of vapers believe that electronic cigarettes are safer than tobacco cigarettes, this being the most common reason for using them. However, 11 percent of users (mostly former smokers) believe that electronic cigarettes are completely harmless, which is not true.
  • Out of the entire sample, only 0.5 percent (88 people) was non-smokers at the time they started vaping, and just over half of them used non-nicotine liquids.
  • Most vapers used 18 mg/ml liquids at first, and then dropped to 12 mg/ml. Over a fifth used liquids with more than 20 mg/ml of nicotine, and these were significantly more likely to have quit smoking than those using lower levels at first.
  • 58 percent of users experienced some type of side effect from vaping, with the most common being dry or sore mouth or throat, coughing (most common in dual users) and gum problems,
  • Accidents were very rare – e-liquid exposure was the most common accident, and only 1.5 percent of participants had experienced it.

NEW STUDY: THE BENEFITS OF SWITCHING TO VAPING FOR ASTHMATIC SMOKERS

With the global push to regulate electronic cigarettes as if they’re some huge threat to public health, it’s important to remember just how much damage they could help avert. For asthma-sufferers, smoking is associated with more exacerbations of their condition, their lung function declining more quickly and the corticosteroids used for treatment creating less of a positive effect. The widespread use of vaping as a smoking substitute has understandable potential to reduce the problems among asthma-sufferers, but there was previously no research to support this assertion.

A new study from Professor Riccardo Polosa and colleagues investigates the improvements seen in asthma-suffering smokers who either notably reduce or entirely quit smoking due to vaping.

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Summary

1. Researchers looked at data from 18 asthmatic smokers who were vaping at two consecutive follow-up clinic visits between late 2012 and 2013. Baseline and pre-baseline data were also used to show that any changes weren’t part of a trend from before the individual started vaping.

2. Asthma control questionnaires, Spirometry tests and airway hyper-responsiveness tests were conducted, and any exacerbations in condition were noted.

3. After a year, statistically significant improvements were seen in Spirometry data, asthma control and airway hyper-responsiveness tests in both the full-switchers and the dual users.

4. 10 of the 18 participants quit smoking entirely by vaping, and the dual users reduced their average daily cigarette consumption from 22.4 to 3.9 after a year.

5. No participants needed to be admitted to intensive care or hospital during the study period, and the number of exacerbations decreased overall, but this difference was not significant.

6. The benefits observed in participants’ conditions are expected to be related to quitting smoking rather than vaping itself, but the research does indicate that electronic cigarettes are well-tolerated in asthmatics.

7. The small sample size in the study is an important limitation, but the findings corroborate existing knowledge about the benefits of quitting or substantially reducing smoking for asthmatics.

ABSTINENCE VS HARM REDUCTION

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Every day 1,200 people die from tobacco related cancer. Smoking tobacco is the biggest cause of preventable death in the world. There are two types of thought on how to address this problem:

Tobacco abstinence and tobacco harm reduction.

 Both of these methods have their pros and cons, however in light of the recent electronic cigarettes popularity, tobacco harm reduction is gaining support from tobacco users and professionals.

Tobacco Abstinence Hypothesis

When it comes to preventing tobacco related deaths and diseases, there has always been one goal, get smokers to quit smoking, or tobacco abstinence

But there is a massive problem with this idea of abstinence. Smokers who want to quit face extremely low odds. Less than 7% of smokers this year will succeed. Of the smokers who do succeed, many risk relapsing for the rest of their life.

Nicotine is one of the most additive substances there is, if not the most addictive substance in the world. It does not help that tobacco companies adds over 601 chemicals to tobacco to make them more addictive. It is extremely difficult to keep people from smoking once they start.

But there is another theory…

Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) Hypothesis

THR splits tobacco into two parts: the harm caused by smoke and tar, and the harm caused by nicotine. Because nicotine addiction is the main problem when it comes to getting smokers to quit smoking, THR theory looks at the harm caused by nicotine itself compared to the harm caused by smoking. The good news is that nicotine is fairly safe in low doses, comparable to caffeine in effects and dangers.

So in short, THR aims to give smokers who are unable to quit smoking an alternative source of nicotine to reduce tobacco harm.

Any type of smokeless tobacco is considered a form of tobacco harm reduction because it does not involve smoke or tar. This typically includes chewing tobacco, tobacco strips-lozenges-stick-gum, and electronic cigarettes.

Nobody is going to claim these products are 100% safe, but many claim they are safer than smoking tobacco. It is another way to approach the problem, and it is gaining popularity quickly thanks to electronic cigarettes.

VAPING AT THE OFFICE

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In the old days of the electronic cigarette boom, nearly every vaper and vaping company boasted about rights to “smoke anywhere, wherever”.

Thanks to some notable bans and regulations, this is no longer the case. Perhaps one place that has benefited from electronic cigarette use during the workday is the standard office environment, even if they aren’t yet embracing electronic cigarettes en masse.

An employee who vapes is considerably more productive, having the ability to vape in the office and not spend 10 minutes of every hour outside.

The counterpoint is the presence of vapor in enclosed spaces. While we know it’s harmless, dissipating vapor, others might be put off by wafts of what they consider to be “smoke.” It’s an ongoing debate, and one that isn’t likely to be settled until the public receives proper education on what electronic cigarettes are, and more importantly, what they’re made of.

Many large corporations tend to take a staunch anti-electronic cigarette stance. Wal-Mart includes electronic cigarettes in their tobacco bans and does not allow vaping anywhere in their stores or offices.

In more extreme cases, companies are imposing penalties on employees who use cigarettes, adding an additional surcharge on their monthly insurance premiums. However, switching to vaping doesn’t help. These companies still issue penalties to employees who use tobacco-free electronic cigarettes. It begs the question:

Why should a non-smoker pay a smoker’s fee?

Despite companies like this, there are a few other corporations that are vaper-friendly. As of January 2014, McDonald’s was permitting employees and customers to vape, both in restaurant break rooms and in corporate offices. In fact, many companies are encouraging smokers to switch to electronic cigarettes, and are even incentivizing them with free electronic cigarettes to use in the workplace.

So which is the right approach? Should electronic cigarettes be treated as tobacco products? Or should companies encourage vaping so employees will spend more time at work, and less time taking breaks?