Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Americans for Some Nonsmokers' Rights

Proposed legislation that keeps popping up in states and municipalities across the United States contains strangely similar wording calling for e-cigarettes to be included in smoking bans. I tracked down the source of this wording to "Model Legislation" posted on the web site of Americans for Nonsmokers Rights.
I left the following message on their Contact Us page:

Can you help to protect my right to avoid exposure to smoke, as well as my right to remain a non-smoker? I smoked for 45 years and tried over and over to quit using patches, gum, lozenges, Rx inhaler, bupropion, and even hypnosis. Each time, when treatment ended, relapse began. What was causing the problem? For many smokers nicotine abstinence causes protracted cognitive deficiencies, attention deficits, memory problems, depression, and other mood disorders. I have been smoke-free since I switched to an electronic cigarette on 3/27/2009. This Chinese invention delivers nicotine in a vapor created by the same safe chemical used in artificial fog machines. My wheezing and morning cough are gone, I can laugh out loud without going into a coughing fit—and I didn’t have to sacrifice my cognitive and emotional health. Some lawmakers are proposing laws that would force me to go stand in the smoking area when I use the product that keeps me smoke-free. Vapor is not smoke. Can you help?

Today, I received the following response:

Thank you for contacting Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights (ANR) to share your story with us. We are always happy to hear success stories from people who were able to quit smoking cigarettes. Unfortunately, we are not supportive of electronic cigarette usage, even though it's not quite the same as cigarette smoke. There is still a vapor that comes off of the device is that is not proven to be safe.

Here is a link to our page on electronic cigarettes so you can get a better idea of our position: You can also find other informative links on that same page.

Thank you again for contacting us.

Best regards,
ANR staff

Perhaps it was not the wisest move on their part to direct me to their page on electronic cigarettes. Here's what I wrote back.

Dear ANR Staff:

It would be helpful if your page on electronic cigarettes provided a balanced picture of the research on electronic cigarettes. To do so, you would need to include and provide descriptions of the studies and lab tests that produced favorable results. I will provide you with some references below. Meanwhile let's examine the negative reports about e-cigarette on your page.

Although the FDA announced with great fanfare in July 2009 that it found “carcinogens” and “antifreeze” in e-cigarettes, the FDA hid the fact that the quantity of “carcinogens” found is equivalent to the quantity in an FDA-approved nicotine patch (8 ng). FDA also failed to mention that the amount of diethylene glycol detected in just one cartridge (0.01 g) is thousands of times below the toxic level. The FDA’s press conference was nothing less than a PR stunt, aimed at discrediting the products of the two companies that had the audacity to file a law suit against the Agency. Any purported toxicology report that lacks a quantitative analysis is incomplete and inconclusive. Promoting the FDA's fiction as fact does a disservice to both science and public health.

The Berkeley study published in February 2010 looked at residue from smoke exposed to nitrous acid produced by unvented gas appliances. What about homes with properly vented gas appliances? What about all electric homes? So even the dangers of smoke residue may be overblown. Worse yet, it was unethical and unscientific for co-author James Pankow to suggest that his experiment should raise concerns about the safety of electronic cigarette vapor. Dr. Pankow was free to conduct tests to determine whether e-cigarette vapor deposits any residue on surfaces, and, if so, whether that residue produces nitrosamines. He chose not to do so.

Conjecture is not scientific proof, whether that conjecture concerns nicotine residue or the fiction about flavors aimed at children. There is zero evidence that yummy flavors are tempting kids to purchase e-cigarettes. There is zero evidence that any significant number of kids are buying e-cigarettes. If the kids want yummy flavors and nicotine, they can always buy Nicorette gum and lozenges more easily and for less money. They aren't doing that, either. So maybe the whole "flavors attract children" theory is just a lot of...smoke.

Those who constructed and conducted the survey on public support for e-cigarette laws apparently failed to provide the respondents with sufficient information to make intelligent decisions.
  • Were they told that the FDA used clever propaganda techniques such as selective omission and name-calling to frighten the public about non-existent dangers of e-cigarettes?

  • Were they told that in 2008, Dr. Murray Laugesen of Health New Zealand tested e-cigarette vapor for over 50 cigarette smoke toxicants and that none were found?

  • Were they told that the FDA is so hell-bent on banning e-cigarettes that it refuses to protect public health by regulating the products under the FSPTCA?

  • Were they informed that the most likely outcome is that, unless the vendor makes medical claims, the FDA will be forced by the Federal courts to regulate e-cigarettes as tobacco products?

Obviously not, since the only scenario the questionnaire put forth for regulating the products was under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act. The survey never even mentioned the Tobacco Act.

Dr. Michael Siegel of Boston University School of Public Health worked with Berkeley researcher Zachery Cahn to review the research on electronic cigarettes. They concluded, “A preponderance of the available evidence shows them to be much safer than tobacco cigarettes and comparable in toxicity to conventional nicotine replacement products.” Additionally, consumer surveys consistently report that more than 90% of e-cigarette users experience improvements in their health—especially their lung function.

If people that directly inhale e-cigarette vapor experience health improvements, is it remotely possible that the vapor they exhale can endanger bystanders? There is no biological rationale for such a theory. Numerous labs have tested electronic cigarettes and could not find any substances in the vapor that might endanger the health of users or bystanders.

The surveys that looked at health effects also revealed that up to 80% of regular users of e-cigarettes have substituted them for all their tobacco smoking. At least two studies with human subjects showed that e-cigarettes reduce cravings to smoke. And yet your page states that there is no evidence they can help smokers quit.

A study conducted by Garvey, et al reported that approximately one third of abstinent patients at 1 year were still using nicotine gum in a study of high- and low-dependence smokers. Similarly, e-cigarette users rely on regular, frequent use of their devices to maintain their own smoking abstinence. They should not be subjected to punishment because an organization such as yours disapproves of the method they use to remain smoke-free.

Sending former smokers to the designated smoking area is at odds with the purpose of the clean air ordinances and with the stated mission of Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights. Unless you are willing to protect the rights all nonsmokers, your organization is a fraud. So I do hope you will reconsider your position. If not, you could at least rename your organization "Americans for Some Nonsmokers' Rights" just to avoid confusion.

Here are the promised links to additional research:

Bullen, et al, Effect of an electronic nicotine delivery device on nicotine delivery device (e cigarette) on desire to smoke and withdrawal. Tobacco Control.
Cahn and Siegel. Electronic cigarettes as a harm reduction strategy for tobacco control. Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 0197-5897 Journal of Public Health Policy 1–16.
Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association. Lab Reports
Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association. Informal User Survey Results.
Etter, et al. Electronic cigarettes: a survey of users. BMC Public Health.
Exponent Health Sciences. Technical Review and Analysis of FDA Report: "Evaluation of e-cigarettes."
Garvey A, Kinnunen T, Nordstrom B. Effects of nicotine gum dose by level of nicotine dependence. Nicotine Tobacco Res 2000;2:53-63.
Health New Zealand, E-cigarette mist harmless inhaled or exhaled.
Heavner, et al. Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) as potential tobacco harm reduction products: Results of an online survey of e-cigarette users. Tobacco Harm Reduction 2010 Yearbook.
Laugesen M, Health New Zealand Ltd. Report on the Ruyan® e-cigarette Cartridge and Inhaled Aerosol.
Laugesen M. Health New Zealand. Poster Presentation at the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco conference, Dublin, April 30, 2009.
Siegel, et al. Electronic Cigarettes as a Smoking-Cessation Tool: Results from an Online Survey. American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Ben Thomas Group report: No cancer-causing chemicals in NJOY vapor.
Vansickel AR, et al. A Clinical Laboratory Model for Evaluating the Acute Effects of Electronic “Cigarettes”. Cancer Epidemiology, Bio. & Prevention


  1. OK... You just ROCK! Way to go! And keep it up!

  2. Agreed! Very well done!

  3. Awesome, thank you for supporting ecigs, the best thing to happen to millions!!

  4. I like the way you roll. Thank you for standing up on my behalf.

  5. Gotta love it! I live in a house with a smoker..and my ecig still keeps me from picking up the analog habit! I can stand next to a non smoker and they are not bothered. I, on the other hand, am completely annoyed by their cologne!

  6. Did you hear back? Somehow I doubt it, these organizations aren't in any way interested in the facts, only in the regurgitated rhetoric they have swallowed from the FDA's beak.

  7. 'Sending former smokers to the designated smoking area is at odds with the purpose of the clean air ordinances' - that is so true, but hadn't occurred to me yet. I don't wanna have to go and breathe all that nasty smoke!

    Excellent article indeed. More, please.


  8. I don't think they saw you coming. That was an amazing display of science over emotion. Very well done!