Smokefree Activist Tries Electronic Cigarette at Vaper’s Conference

Bill Godshall of SmokeFree Pensylvania has sent an email  describing how he attended a vapers’ festival – and tried out an electronic cigarette! We’ve published, with his permission, the whole report on our website – See Bill Godshall reports on VapeFest. Below we have included extracts from the report:

“This past Saturday morning I drove to Vapefest 2010 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Fredricksburg, VA to attend the world’s largest gathering (so far) of electronic cigarette consumers (who prefer being called “vapers”) organized by the National Vapers’ Club…

“Considering that the fundamental tenet of all toxicology is “the dose makes the poison” (e.g. consuming two gallons of water can kill a person) and that I experience severe headaches when exposed to even low levels of secondhand tobacco smoke, pesticides, glues and perfumes, I decided to expose myself to massive levels of e-cigarette vapor.”

Vaping for the first time

Deciding passive vaping wasn’t enough, Bill decided to try out vaping himself.

“Since I haven’t consumed nicotine since 1979 when I quit “cold turkey” my two/three pack a day cigarette addiction, Vapefest 2010 organizer Spike Babaian gave me a “no nicotine” vaporizer (that are used by about 10%-20% of vapers who have weaned themselves off nicotine) containing a “one day” disposable cartridge.  Similar “one day” cartridges that contain nicotine are roughly equivalent to 15 tobacco cigarettes.

“Over the next six hours, I deeply inhaled about 100 puffs from the vaporizer before it stopped emitting vapor.  The only noticable symptom during and/or after my direct vaping experience was a bit of “dry mouth” that an was alleviated by an occassional drink”


Bill made a number of observations during the festival, including that:

  • every vaper had been a cigarette smoker until they discovered vaping during the past year or two,
  • nearly all vapers had been heavy smokers who had previously consumed one to three cigarette packs per day,
  • the vast majority of vapers exclusively switched from smoking to vaping, while 10%-20% still smoked cigarettes occassionally,
  • nearly all vapers I spoke to indicated that their breathing, taste and smell had significantly improved,
  • many vapers had unsuccessfully tried to quit smoking using nicotine gums, lozenges, patches and/or other Rx drugs,
  • all attendees distrust and have a seething hatred for the FDA and others that are trying to ban vaporizers and/or vaping,- most attendees had considered themselves either apolitical or liberal, but nearly all now dislike Obama and Democrats for trying to ban e-cigarettes.
Bill also found a deep mistrust and bitterness towards the anti-smoking lobby, who, after being paid vast sums bu the pharmaceutical industry, have been campaigning to have the electronic cigarette banned.
“As the only smokefree policy activist in attendance, the most common questions I was asked included “Why do e-cigarette opponents:
  • – lie and scare people about the health risks/benefits of vaping compared to cigarette smoking?
  • – have no respect for my right to decide what I put in my own body?
  • – want to ban these products that are the only thing that got me off cigarettes?
  • – want to force me to go back to smoking cigarettes now that I’ve finally quit?
  • – hate smokers and vapers, and/or want to harm/kill us?”

Why do anti-smoking activists oppose the electronic cigarette?

These questions were not easy to answer, Bill explained:

“…especially since I’ve been asking many similar questions during the past 18 months about e-cigarettes (and during the past decade about smokefree tobacco products as harm reduction alternatives).”

He then went on to suggest an article by Alderman, Dollar and Kozlowski entitled: “Understanding the origins of anger, contempt, and disgust in public health policy disputes: Applying moral psychology to harm reduction debates” in order to get an insight into the opposition to the electronic cigarette.

He himself blamed an extremist puritan attitude towards tobacco:

“… some abstinence-only activists (many of whom are government health officials or heads of well financed anti-tobacco groups that have received lots of drug industry funding) want to eliminate all tobacco/nicotine use and/or ban all tobacco/nicotine products (except nicotine gums/lozenges/patches that are marketed only for temporary use as smoking cessation medicine).”

The Electronic Cigarette’s Effect on Bill

Bill estimates that while he was in the hall the equivalent of between 2000 and 3000 cigarettes were smoked. One of the reasons he was there was to measure his own reactions to the electronic cigarette:

“As one who experiences severe headaches, sneezing, watery eyes and other sinus problems from exposure to very little secondhand tobacco smoke (a key reason I’ve been an outspoken smokefree indoor policy/law activist since 1986), I’m delighted and relieved to report that I experienced NO adverse reactions during or after my mega exposure to e-cigarette vapor.”

No Interest in Research

Bill Godshall admitted that a personal experience was no substitution for laboratory tests, but explained that he had been trying to get tests and studies performed on e-cigarettes, vapour and air quality performed for several years, but with little success. This occasion was no different.

“Several days before Vapefest 2010, I invited many tobacco control advocates, researchers and public health officials to attend the event (and invited some researchers to bring testing equipment to measure air quality inside the conference room).   Unfortunately, I was the only person from the tobacco control community that was interested enough to attend the event.”

Praise for the Vapers

Bill praised the Vapers who organised the festival for doing more than tobacco control professionals to help smokers – and criticised those attacking the electronic cigarette:

“Ironically and tragically, while e-cigarettes appear to pose the greatest threat yet to the future of the cigarette industry, efforts by the FDA and others to ban the sale and/or use of e-cigarettes primarily protect cigarette markets and make it even more difficult for smokers to quit.  So it is vitally important to continue asking why some tobacco control activists are aggressively campaigning to protect the cigarette industry at the expense of smokers and public health. ”

That is also why Smokefree Pennsylvania and other tobacco harm reduction advocates have been urging the FDA to reclassify and to reasonably and responsibly regulate e-cigarettes as tobacco products (instead of trying to ban them by claiming they are drug devices), and have been urging the FDA to begin to truthfully inform smokers and the public that e-cigarettes and other smokefree tobacco/nicotine products are far less hazardous alternatives to cigarettes that pose no known risks to nonusers.”

Well done to the Vaper’s Club for holding a groundbreaking electronic cigarette festival (the proceeds of which were donated to Vaper’s research – and a huge thanks for Bill Godhall for his illuminating report.

6 thoughts on “Smokefree Activist Tries Electronic Cigarette at Vaper’s Conference

  1. Very interesting and informative. It shows the value of e-cigarettes to ex-smokers who still need/want nicotine, getting this in a carcinogen-free vapour and not producing an unpleasant and unhealthy atmosphere for others.

  2. At last some sense from the antismoking lobbyists, even if it is only one, its a start. Hopefully the the MHRA will consider further testing before their one size plan puts us back into the tobacco companies hands.

    I guess the goverments really are missing the taxes!!

  3. We had a similar experience to Bill. We invited public health organisations to participate in research – this was before they came out so strongly against the electronic cigarette – but they refused. Then they say no-one should use them because no research has been done!

  4. Well done Bill!
    Dare I say, A breath of fresh air to the debate.

    We seem to have a competition between those who do vape and those who do not but now Bill is neither and good to know he spoke favourably

    great article!

  5. It’s funny how real cigarettes are known to kill and cause great illness and are still here and yet e-cigs might be banned in some places for no reason. Of course we all know the reason – there’s no money in healthy people and not as much for the huge tobacco companys. They’d rather have a population relying on Big Pharmas drugs to keep us just about alive from the adverse affects of real tobacco.

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