Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: E-cigarettes and the path of least harm

25 Responses

  • BenWilson,

    It was, he thought, a reasonable form of harm reduction, esecially for the opiate users.

    What was his rationale there? Meth is already vaporized, just using a different method. I don't know about opiates, I guess as an alternative to injecting it's safer. But as an alternative to putting it in a glass pipe and heating it to vaporization with a lighter, I can't see much difference except that it would be able to be done in a much stealthier way, and would permanently contaminate the vaporizer.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    The alternative case is put here, but it's not exactly a balanced look at the issue.

    But this recent study is interesting. It compared vaping not only with smoking but with long-established nicotine replacement therapy systems (i.e.: patch and gum). The results were quite encouraging.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to BenWilson,

    What was his rationale there? Meth is already vaporized, just using a different method. I don’t know about opiates,

    To be fair, I think he was referring mostly to opiates, where the benefits are clearer.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    To be fair, I think he was referring mostly to opiates, where the benefits are clearer.

    Because of injecting?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    If your intention is to get people to switch from smoking, then it’s important that the alternative actually works for them. Any current vape seller will tell you that customers returning to complain that their gear isn’t working is quite a burden. A dairy owner’s not going to be interested in offering the necessary advice.

    With a lower end price at 1/3 of what one currently pays for a 30g pouch of tobacco which might last a week, they’re replaceable. Making the nicotine e-liquid available domestically outside big cities is needed – it’s probably unrealistic to expect a dedicated specialist store to open in every one horse town. To be most effective it must be at least as convenient to buy the nicotine e-liquid as it is to buy tobacco products. I don’t think you’d suggest that businesses shouldn’t sell petrol unless they can repair your car.

    Exciting times!

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • william blake,

    There is some evidence that suggests that 2nd hand vape is a respiratory irritant. Which presents the problem of least harm isolation. It's not fair to throw the vapers in with the leaf smokers as that is a proven carcinogen but not fair to add another irritant on the large minority of people who are hypersensitive to the increasing amounts of chemicals, fragrances and hydrocarbons that render them unwell. There should be a special room for lynx wearers as well.

    Since Mar 2010 • 378 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to william blake,

    a special room for lynx wearers

    a group, after all,
    desperately waiting to have someone tell them to “Get a room!”

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1886 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    Here's my experience.

    I've been a smoker since my late teens. It was a thing back then. Both of my parents smoked, tobacco advertising was highly misleading -- "Nine out of ten doctors smoke Lucky Strike" -- and the majority of my peers were smokers. It was normal to smoke.

    Over the years I've tried to give up a number of times. I almost succeeded in going cold turkey when I left the UK in 1992 by giving away my Zippo and Marlboros at Heathrow and flying through Singapore where public smoking was banned. That lasted for nine months until I returned to London for a few months work and fell back into the old habit.

    In recent years I tried gum, I tried Champix... nothing worked. Then for my birthday last year my wife gave me a small vape. That was the day I quit tobbaco for good.

    My first e-juice came from Cosmic Corner who offer a range of flavours, with those containing nicotine coming from under the counter, no questions asked. The flavour was called Marlboro (some IP problems there, surely?) and the label has no reference to nicotine or any information about the strength. It all seemed a bit tacky.

    Then I discovered Dunedin's Vapourium which is a superb little shop. Not only are identical vapes much cheaper, but their staff are well-informed and they make their own juices. Once you become a member of their nicotine import club, you can choose the strength of nicotine you require. I started with 12mg and over a few weeks cut down to 6 and then 3mgs. Nowadays I vape a mix of 3 and 0 = 1.5mg. I aim to lose the nicotine altogether this year.

    Hone Harawira would have it that I've just swapped one addiction for another. That may be true, but I know that I've swapped an addiction that was destroying my health and would eventually kill me for another that's at least 95% less harmful, tastes a damned sight better, costs less than a quarter of the price and is a lot more fun. It's a no-brainer.

    It's sad to see big tobacco trying to gain a hold on the vaping market. These are the same people who lied to us for decades and caused the deaths of millions of people.

    If you're a smoker I urge you to give vaping a try. If it works for you, stop putting money into the pockets of Phillip Morris and BAT -- they're evil corporations. Support your local vape shop or buy online from credible places like the Vapourium. Your older self will thank you one day.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1385 posts Report Reply

  • bob daktari, in reply to Alfie,

    I've a very similar experience to you (been vaping - argh I loathe that term - for a couple of years now), though haven't really tried to cut nicotine levels as much as I could but am happy with where I am...

    I've saved a lot of money... feel healthier... smell nicer... and while I still buy the very occasional packet of marlboros for occasions (I like smoking) I also know never have to because of my addiction - which is liberating in itself

    I've managed all of this without trying to give up nor pretending I am

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 537 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Alfie,

    Hone Harawira would have it that I've just swapped one addiction for another. That may be true, but I know that I've swapped an addiction that was destroying my health and would eventually kill me for another that's at least 95% less harmful, tastes a damned sight better, costs less than a quarter of the price and is a lot more fun. It's a no-brainer.

    Harawira's spouting puritanical nonsense. Both smoking and vaping feed the same addiction. As you've testified, vaping is vastly less damaging, and may literally be a life-saver for those unfortunately disposed by their genetic makeup to nicotine dependence.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    Both smoking and vaping feed the same addiction.

    That's true, Joe. But I was pleasantly surprised to discover that for me, a large part of the appeal of the smoking experience (as stupid as that may sound) wasn't purely the nicotine addiction, but the enjoyment of playing with and manipulating the smoke. Think smoke rings and the like. My vape gives me that same reward without any of the downsides.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1385 posts Report Reply

  • william blake,

    Attachment

    .

    Since Mar 2010 • 378 posts Report Reply

  • Walter Nicholls,

    the blanket decision to ban vaping wherever smoking is banned isn't entirely logical:

    I can't possibly agree. It's about not losing ground, which has taken decades to gain, granting the populace the right to clear (not saying clean <g>) air. We can choose not to smoke*, but we can't choose not to breathe. (* ignoring addiction for a moment). My children consider smoke-free environments normal and I'd like to keep it that way. That doesn't mean cafés and the like can't keep or even enlarge 'vaping permitted' areas ... but not on the bus, please.

    [ Bit late to the party here because I didn't have my PA password reading on my phone yesterday]

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Jul 2008 • 38 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Alfie,

    but the enjoyment of playing with and manipulating the smoke. Think smoke rings and the like. My vape gives me that same reward without any of the downsides.

    That's why the kids vape zero!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Walter Nicholls,

    That doesn’t mean cafés and the like can’t keep or even enlarge ‘vaping permitted’ areas … but not on the bus, please.

    Certainly not on the bus! But forbidding people to vape in their own dwellings isn't all that helpful.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Brown,

    It;s a hollow win, more of a victory for the Big Tobacco lobby I feel. They've managed to hobble vaping and give it the same restrictions and therefore social stigma as cigs.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2013 • 136 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Alfie,

    If you’re a smoker I urge you to give vaping a try. If it works for you, stop putting money into the pockets of Phillip Morris and BAT

    Thank you for your post Alfie, inspiring, I was wondering if you or anyone else might have any recommendations for buying an e-cigarette as I need a new one and choice appears far more daunting now than when I got my last one – also any tips for use/ care etc?

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Vaper and the Trails...
    a band name going begging?

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7887 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie, in reply to mark taslov,

    I was wondering if you or anyone else might have any recommendations for buying an e-cigarette

    If you'll allow me to be pedantic for a moment, I associate the term "e-cigs" with those things the tobacco companies are selling, as opposed to vapes which is a more generic term and can be nicotine-free. I'd like to see the word cigarette disappear from our vocab before too long. Along with tobacco and lung cancer.

    There is a bewildering choice available these days. The little pen-type vapes are alright if you want to test the waters, but they have poor battery life and the plastic tanks need replacing quite often.

    While I haven't tried many serious vapes, I settled on an Innokin Coolfire IV which suits me perfectly. The battery is grunty enough to work all day, both wattage and temperature are controllable and it produces a huge amount of vapour. It's a neat toy.

    also any tips for use/ care etc?

    That part is pretty straightforward. Apart from charging the battery every now and then via USB, you'll need to change the coil (around $3) every month or two. I'm guessing the rechargable batteries may need replacing at some point but mine are still going strong after nine months. And that's about it.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1385 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Alfie,

    That's awesome Alfie, and thanks for the language correction, makes sense.
    Much appreciated!

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    Attachment

    The exhaler.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4310 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    WTF has happened to vaping lately? O'K, there were four or five deaths in the US but they were caused by contaminents added to backyard THC-infused vape juice. The delivery method wasn't the problem.

    I can understand Trump & his cronies move to ban vaping. For a crooked administration in perpetual chaos with 40,000 gun and 50,000 US opioid deaths every year, having a whole four deaths you can blame on something entirely different provides a welcome distraction to feed to the masses via the battle-proven Fox and Facebook influence machines.

    Does this flimsily-evidenced hysteria need to carry over to New Zealand? Really? Jenny Salesa thinks so.

    Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa said she would introduce a bill on vape regulation to Parliament in a few weeks which would limit vape flavours to tobacco, menthol and mint.

    What an outstandingly dumb idea. That's like trying to solve NZ's far more serious problem with alcohol by legislating that the only beers you will be able to buy from now on will be either DB or Lion Red. And away with your chardonnays -- the brave new world of Salesa's imagination is likely to be restricted to just a couple of generic flavours of cask wine branded 'Drainwater' to further discourage young drinkers.

    Meh.

    This complete lack of common sense hasn't stopped some school principals from jumping onto the hysteria bandwagon cos... prohibition works, amiright?

    As a former smoker I never had much time for ASH, but they seem to be the only group taking an evidence-based approach to vaping at the moment. Ben Youdan from ASH says the ban will not have the desired effect.

    He said surveys showed some year 10 pupils had tried vaping, but very few were regular users.

    "We know that probably around about a third have tried even just a single puff of an e-cigarette or a vape device.

    "Still, less than around 3% are daily or weekly or regular vapers, and of those who are, almost all of them are, or were, smokers."

    From my perspective, none of the medical options like patches and pills ever worked for me in the long term. Vaping was the one tool which finally allowed me to kick tobacco, phasing out nicotine entirely over six months. If we're serious about kicking tobacco, vapes should be made available to addicted smokers via doctors. They work.

    By the way Russell, I've seen you mention elsewhere that we should stop referring to the "at least 95% safer" when discussing vapes. That was the conclusion of Public Health England's expert review in 2015. It's one of the more credible studies available it would be remiss to dismiss its findings that "e-cigarettes are around 95% safer than smoked tobacco and they can help smokers to quit." I've yet to see plausible evidence to contradict that figure.

    Most smokers turning to vapes are likely to choose a tobacco flavour initially, but it's not a particularly pleasant taste and you experiment until you find one or two flavours which suit you better. They become a portable and pleasant little background aroma to your life.

    Banning flavours or restricting them to just three foul-tasting options will either drive people back to tobacco or straight to the black market, where supply will always expand to meet demand. Of course a few people might get sick or die from inhaling contaminents in backyard juice, but that's just the price of freedom. Or something.

    Double meh.

    This government has more important issues to deal with. Buying into a Trumpian distraction and introducing legislation to tackle a problem that doesn't really exist seems like a pointless waste of time and energy.

    Maybe just stick with the evidence on this one?

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1385 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    Here's more info on the vitamin E acetate used to thicken black market THC oil, and why it should never be used in vaping liquids.

    Note that no credible vaping company in the US uses this product. It's only being added by a few bad guys in the black market to cut their products and to give the false impression that their oil is thicker and therefore higher quality.

    If Jenny Salesa wants to leave her mark, by all means ban vitamin E acetate in vaping products. No local products will be affected and nothing will change.

    Banning vape flavourings which have helped so many of us to ditch tobacco, when they have nothing whatsoever to do with the recent US deaths, is a foolish response which is pretty much guaranteed to drive a number of ex-smokers back into the hands of tobacco companies.

    Counterproductive. Much.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1385 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Alfie,

    When the alternative to vaping is smoking, known to kill massive numbers of people, both fast and slow, I'm struggling to see what the deal is here. OK, it might get new people who were not already smokers, especially children. But again, so might cigarettes. I know which one I'd rather they were doing. Which is not to say that e-cigarettes are known to be harmless, it's just a balance of harms thing. And yes, I expect dangerously doctored cannabis extracts are another unintended consequence of prohibition, all the more reason to end that. Sadly, it's probably still safer to smoke weed than vaporize it, just for this reason. Which again, is not known to be perfectly safe, but again, balance of harms.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie, in reply to BenWilson,

    Sadly, it’s probably still safer to smoke weed than vaporize it...

    With oil mixes, yes. Safety is very dependent on what has been added. However when you're vapourising dry material there are no additives and you're only extracting the important bits. IMHO it's one of the purer consumption methods.
    (Five stars)

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1385 posts Report Reply

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