Tired Electronic Cigarette Data from the Annals

I find a recent opinion piece published in the Annals really very boring. It is based on old research and studies and every aspect has been analysed, discussed and argued over numerous times before.

Still, it presents itself as being based on new research and as such warrants a response.

Note: Although one has to pay to read the full report, you can listen to a podcast discussing the issue in detail with one of the scientists here: http://www.annals.org/site/podcast/index.xhtml. You can also contact the presenter here: [email protected]

New research?

The opinion seems mostly built upon an FDA study into Smoking Everywhere and NJOY electronic cigarettes carried out last year at a time when the FDA was being sued by both companies. The FDA study stated:

Nicotine is present in both products. The Smoking Everywhere Electronic Cigarette cartridges listed as containing no nicotine in some cases had very low amounts of nicotine present. Tobacco specific nitrosamines and tobacco specific impurities were detected in both products at very low levels. DEG was identified in one cartridge, Smoking Everywhere 555 High.’

The Annal’s opinion piece’s primary complaint seems to be about the existence of nitrosamines and diethlyne glycol.

Nitrosamines: In the podcast one of the scientists mentioned the low levels of nitrosamines – without mentioning just how low they were. Nitrosamines found were 1400 times lower than those in Marlborough cigarettes and equivalent to those found in nicotine cessation aids. In case you think there is no acceptable dose of nitrosamines, consider that they are also found in drinking water considered safe for consumption.

Nitrosamines were found in liquid tested. However, further studies which tested the vapour rather than the liquid found no toxic nitrosamines.

Diethylene glycol: Of all the studies and analyses carred out, diethlyne glycol has been found in one e-cigarette of one brand, Smoking Everywhere (see diethylene glycol in electronic cigarettes). That’s not good, but hardly a reason to ban all e-cigarettes.

Incidentally, when we interviewed Carl Phillips about the FDA press release, he had the following to say:

‘The FDA study really didn’t find any cancer risk. That study was basically pure propaganda.’


Other aspects of the report (including that doctors should stop smokers from using the e-cigarette) are dealt well by other blogs on the web, so rather than repeat them I will link to them:

Professor Siegel:

‘I would argue that this advice [that doctors advise smokers against switching to e-cigarettes]  is irresponsible and misguided. The best available evidence suggests that electronic cigarettes are much safer than regular cigarettes. The levels of carcinogens are orders of magnitude lower. There is no evidence that they cause lung disease. There are no specific safety concerns that anyone has pointed out, other than the nicotine, which is of course also present in nicotine replacement products.’

Full commentary on the Tobacco Analysis Blog

Dr Ross of the American Council on Science and Health states:

“These people are going through all kinds of machinations to point out the dangers of e-cigarettes, but what about the dangers of smoking?” says Dr. Ross. “It seems like anyone can get a paper published attacking harm reduction in all its forms — smokeless tobacco or e-cigarettes — without any data.”

Full commentary on Facts and Fears

Meanwhile, Nicotine Truth complains:

‘Compare and contrast reality with fears about electronic cigarettes voiced by people who have never seen one, never talked to anyone who used one, and never bothered to read the available studies.’

Full commentary on Nicotine Truth

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