The Electronic Cigarette Industry Trade Association (Ecita) has been seeking to dispel myths associated with e-cigarettes, saying that they are a demonstrably safer and healthier alternative to smoking.
Reacting to a story published in this newspaper (TMID, 21.06.2012) entitled ‘Electronic cigarettes not considered legitimate therapy to quit smoking’, Ecita (EU) Ltd president Katherine Devlin provided what she said were “scientifically factual responses” to a number of concerns about e-cigarettes. She said that while it is correct to say that e-cigarettes are not ‘quit smoking medication’ and that all such claims in any Maltese advertising are illegal, e-cigarettes are not tobacco products either.
The Environmental Health Directorate has warned against advertisements featuring the electronic cigarette, saying that although products and smoking devices (simulating cigarettes or tobacco) such as electronic cigarettes are not illegal, their advertising and use is regulated by a legal notice (LN 22 of 2010).
The Environmental Health Directorate said electronic cigarette advertisements are on the increase and “this advertising and the claims made go contrary to established legislation”.
The legal notice in question says that electronic cigarettes are considered to be tobacco products with respect to advertising and their use in public places.
Among other things, Ecita said electronic cigarettes do contain cancer causing chemicals, but these are found at comparable, that is, not dangerous levels, to those found in existing Nicotine Replacement Therapy products.
The levels of TSNAs (Tobacco-Specific Nitrosamines) detected by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were too low to allow them to be quantified, but it was less than 0.0000021%. Indeed, the TSNAs detected by the FDA were below the level set for the Nicotrol Inhaler (which is approved for use worldwide).
“In its press release, the FDA made much of the fact that the Nicotrol Inhaler was used as a control. However, the level of TSNAs in the inhaler was not actually tested, making it of very limited use as a control for this test.
“This omission led the manufacturer of the product tested to commission an independent third-party analysis of the FDA’s testing procedure for this so-called ‘scientific research’. This analysis – by a well-established company with accredited expertise – was very critical of both the methods used and the conclusions drawn, particularly with regard to TSNA levels.”
Ecita quoted public health physician and respected international expert Michael Siegel as saying that had the FDA acted in an objective manner, it would have had to also urge the public not to use nicotine replacement products, since they have carcinogens in them.
In a study carried out in 2010, Prof. Siegel argued that what we do know of e-cigarettes is already enough to conclude that they are far safer than real cigarettes. He had said: “The truth is we know a lot more about what is in electronic cigarettes than in regular cigarettes. Our review shows that carcinogen levels in electronic cigarettes are up to 1,000 times lower than in tobacco cigarettes.”
Ecita also tackled other issues such as the effect of propylene glycol and vegetable glycerine, the toxicity of nicotine, and the amount of nicotine contained in the e-liquid. The trade association said the idea that the liquid contained 18% nicotine is a miscalculation. Cartridges and e-liquid for electronic cigarettes often contain 18mg/ml, but this is 1.8%, not 18%.
“Due to a ‘quirk’ in the système internationale (SI) for weights and measures, the measurement of a litre does not ‘fit’ into this system. This means that it is quite common for mistakes to occur, as the size of the units is not the same, despite having the same prefix (milli, or thousandth).”
On passive ‘vaping’, Ecita says there is no risk from inhaling the vapour directly, so there can be no concern about inhaling it as side-stream vapour, and on the risk of overdose, the association says that the habit of ‘vaping’ directly replaces the habit of smoking, and includes the natural (and often subconscious) self-regulation of nicotine intake: as a smoker reaches the limit of their own individual nicotine tolerance level, they are naturally induced to slow down or stop for a while before smoking again. Vaping works in precisely the same way.
Further information on e-cigarettes can be obtained from www.ecita.org.uk.
The truth is we know a lot more about what is in electronic cigarettes than in regular cigarettes. Our review shows that carcinogen levels in electronic cigarettes are up to 1,000 times lower than in tobacco cigarettes – Prof. Siegel.