Replication Study Confirms Vapes Reduce Heart Risks Compared to Cigarettes: https://filtermag.org/replication-study-heart-vaping/
High-Nicotine Vapes Don’t Increase Nicotine Use Compared With Smoking, Study Finds: https://filtermag.org/high-nicotine-vapes-smoking/
Chapters:0:00 - Intro with Joanna Junak 1:02 - Nancy Loucas on smoking and vaping in New Zealand today 7:45 - With Will Godfrey: two key recent studies support the efficacy of vaping and refute claims of harms. See the Filter article links below for more information on the studies. 10:26 - Harm Reduction experts Nancy Loucas, John Summers and Samrat Chowdhery share their thoughts on youth vaping 20:58 - We introduce our new series - GFN Voices 24:22 - Brent Stafford of Regwatch interviews Lindsey Stroud 46:53 - Closing remarks
Hello and welcome, my name is Joanna Junak and this is GFN News on GFN.TV. In today’s programme:
Nancy Loucas, the Executive Coordinator of the Coalition of Asia Pacific Harm Reduction Advocates, will share her thoughts on smoking and vaping in New Zealand today
Will Godrey of Filter will describe two significant recent studies on the efficacy of vapes
We ask experts from the UK, New Zealand and India to share their thoughts on the issue of youth vaping in their countries.
We introduce our new series, GFN Voices, capturing the views and opinions of people who attended the Global Forum on Nicotine in Warsaw this June.
And after the news, Brent Stafford of RegWatch interviews Lindsey Stroud, Director of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance’s Consumer Center in the US.
Joanna: For the last of GFN News’ series of country spotlights, we are travelling to New Zealand. Since November 2020, vaping products have been regulated under the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990. Joining us today is Nancy Loucas, Executive Coordinator of the Coalition of Asia Pacific Harm Reduction Advocates, CAPHRA. Thank you, Nancy, for joining us. Can you tell us what the situation is with vaping in New Zealand at the moment?
Nancy: Okay, well, in 2020, the regulations for the Smoke Free Environments Act passed and it included the legislation around vaping products and say for nicotine products. So e-liquid, e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products are legal and regulated in New Zealand. Sadly, Snuff and Nicotine Pouches didn't make that regulation, which didn't make a lot of us happy, but I guess they didn't understand. So that did not make the regulation. Now, the way it works with the regulation for vaping is there's a two tier system, general retailers, which is a petrol, gas station, supermarket, corner store. They can sell vaping products, but they can only sell the flavours of tobacco, mint and menthol. We have specialist vape retailers and they can sell everything. They can sell all the flavours, all the different equipment. A person who smokes can go in there and they will get help and guidance and set up with equipment and just carry on. Now, since that's been put into place, like I said, that got royal ascent in 2020 and the regulations themselves have been rolled out over the past year and a half, 18 months. So now the regulations are fully enforced. In the last year, the statistics, I can speak, the statistics have shown that over 1000 kiwis New Zealanders have actually made the switch from smoking to vaping. So that's the status of vaping in New Zealand with regulations smoking, obviously we've had 100,000 people switch, so the rate is going down. If things keep up the way they are going now, we have a goal here in New Zealand of 5% or less of the population using combustible tobacco. If it carries on the way it has been, we will meet that goal in 2025.
Joanna: Is the government of New Zealand supporting people to have better access to safer nicotine products?
Nancy: Well, they've done the regulations. The one thing that's missing is information is public information. And there was a public service program that was supposed to be rolled out and then covet happened and the money got reallocated to something else. It was the bank to Quit program and it was supposed to be a public service announcement program and public information campaign. And right now that's the number one thing that's missing. That's what we need. We have been asking about it, we have been trying to push for it because there's so much misinformation out there and so many people just don't understand. Now, I do want to touch on something. One of the things that I didn't mention previously, that I'm going to mention now, is they are going to amend the Smoke Free Environment Act because there was a discussion about tobacco specifically and the need to reduce the number of tobacco outlets that were there. Now that we have the vaping regulations and people had an option to go to vape. So by the end of this year, a couple of things are going to change. Nothing relating to vape, but all to tobacco. The first one is they want to limit the amount of tobacco retailers that are out there in New Zealand. The second one is they want to implement a smoke free generation, which basically means that people born in 2009 and later will never be able to legally purchase tobacco products. It doesn't include vape, it's tobacco products. And then the third thing, which is again contentious, is the implementation of all combustible cigarettes in New Zealand. As of, I believe 2027 will only be very low nicotine cigarettes. So those are some of the things that they're doing on the tobacco side with regards to helping cut that down. But like I said, in the vaping side, what we need, we need education, we need public education and we also need public health and the Ministry of Health to step up to the plate and knock back a lot of the anti. They’re people that are coming in now and talking about things, it's the same story that's been everywhere. Australia is in the middle of a nightmare right now with their ban, which is actually medicalization. And I guess that public health in Australia is really lobbying hard public health here in New Zealand to kind of coordinate the two systems. But they're so diametrically opposed and the government here so far is holding line with what they want to do because they understand that say for nicotine products is what's going to help them get to that smoke free 2025 goal. But they need to get out there and they need to really push back on some of the lies and some of the propaganda and educate the public so people understand what this is and why they've done it.
Joanna: Looking at the regulations in place and the information that is available to people, do you think people will want to switch and use safer nicotine products?
Nancy: Yeah, here's the thing. You're always, in any country, in any group, you're always going to have a small group of people that like to smoke and will always smoke and do not want to stop smoking. That is already been, I guess, calculated in the regulations and then the plans going forward. So that's the 5%. That's why the goal is 5% or less, because you're never going to get everybody to switch. I mean, some people really enjoy smoking. Some people enjoy smoking cigars, too. And vaping doesn't work for everybody. And there are some of us that wonder maybe if we had snoss and maybe if we had nicotine pouches, we'd be able to get it down to 3%, but we have to work with what we have. So I would say on the main, if people who smoke want to switch, it's there for them. It's available, it's accessible, and they can do it, but you have to want to do it in order to be able to do it.
Joanna: Thank you, Nancy, for sharing your thoughts. Now let’s turn to Will to hear about two significant recent studies. Hi Will.
Will: Hi Joanna. Yes, both of these studies, as Filters reported, support the efficacy of vaping and refute claims of harms. THR people would note that there is no shortage of evidence that vapes are a lifesaving alternative to cigarettes, but it matters to amplify such findings in the face of the hostility. The first of them, an in vitro study conducted by scientists affiliated with the centre of Excellence for the Acceleration of Harm Reduction, showed that vape aerosols do not produce the cellular effects caused by cigarette smoke that lead to vascular damage and the onset of heart diseases. It also found that aerosols from heated tobacco products produce substantially fewer adverse cell effects compared to cigarettes. That's great to hear when heart disease is a major factor in smoking related deaths. And the research was conducted as part of the Centre’s wider project, replicating ten studies of THR products that were originally conducted by the tobacco industry. Such research, as we know, tends to be dismissed by tobacco control as conflicted. It is therefore highly useful in the information war to have the results independently verified. The findings are a strong rebuke, wrote Helen Redmond in Filter, to repeated claims that using e cigarettes or heated tobacco products is just as dangerous as smoking.
Joanna: And what’s the other study you wanted to highlight?
Will: Well, this one addresses the spectrum of nicotine dependence that's often raised by vaping opponents. Never mind that THR proponents would dispute the contention that an activity without significant harms should be characterized as addiction. Funded by the US. National Institute on Drug Abuse and the FDA's Centre for Tobacco Products, the research looked at over 500 participants who wanted to reduce their smoking, giving them vapes of varying nicotine strength or a placebo. All the participants reduced their smoking. But the group with the highest nicotine level, Babes at 36 milligrams per millilitre, reduce their smoking the most. That won't surprise us, but what's more, and whether or not we think this matters, testing showed that those people weren't using more nicotine than they had been previously. Dual use of e-cigarettes to reduce cigarette smoking is not associated with an increase in total nicotine dependence or exposure. Researcher Jessica Gingst told filters Alex Norse. It's some welcome undermining of that nicotine dependence scaremongering.
Joanna: Thank you, Will. Young people’s use of vaping products is attracting a lot of attention around the world. In the last episode, Doctor Colin Mendelsohn shared his thoughts with us on the situation in Australia. In this episode we asked other experts from elsewhere on vaping among young people. First, John Summers, consumer advocate from the UK shared his thoughts.
John: I think the first thing we need to clear up here, vaping already is regulated, certainly in Europe and in the US. Both have legislation that restricts the sale of nicotine containing products to persons over the age of 18 years. It also prohibits proxy purchase. So nobody should purchase a nicotine product and you give it to somebody who is under the age of 18. So if we have a problem with under 18 using this, we have two issues. One, the existing laws are not being policed. Two, parents aren't parenting. I'm a parent myself, and if my son was up to something, we fairly quickly found out most of it. But the existing legislation does restrict and in theory prevent youth use. The issue is, as always, policing it and enforcing that. If there are retailers that are breaking the law, then they should be punished. Bringing in more restrictions doesn't fix that problem. If they're not being enforced, then you're still not going to fix the issue. And people will always somehow obtain these things. If you go back and look at smoking, children have historically always smoked. I can remember when I was at school. My son has told me when he was at school, he's now 19, but there were a large number of children smoking. There were very few vaping, and those that did it wasn't for a very long time. And that's borne out by the statistics. There's an awful lot of very panicked moralizing going on. Somebody sees somebody try something and that somehow in their heads equates to permanently using. And the data doesn't support that theory. Those children that are experimenting with vaping either were previous smokers or weren't, and fairly quickly give it up. They're not becoming an entrenched nicotine user. Do I think it needs to be regulated? It already is. Do I think it's a problem? Well, no, frankly, if we look at caffeine use, we don't particularly worry about that. It's a dependence or it can be dependent. For me, it's not an addiction because it's without the serious physical and mental harm. And the same thing goes for nicotine. In fact, in a lot of respect, nicotine is actually safer than caffeine, and it has usage, it has beneficial properties for some people in terms of improving attention and mood. In people who are neuro diverse, there's a whole load of things. So whether or not somebody chooses to use a substance really isn't the issue. The issue is how is it delivered and is it delivered safely. Now, we already restrict the sales, but we need to be rational. If we're talking about someone that if they didn't access a safer product was going to smoke, which is already happening, we haven't removed the dangerous product from the market that's still on sale, if we're talking about diverting somebody away from that, that's a net benefit. That's a good thing. I'd actually argue that proxy purchase persons under the age of 18 should be allowed. If you've got a child who is smoking at the moment, it is illegal to divert them onto a safer product. That's nonsensical, given that in most countries, certainly again within Europe and the US. A twelve year old child can purchase nicotine replacement therapy over the counter, no questions asked, no prescription required, no adult supervision needed. And there's no concern about that nicotine. No one's going to follow them up, nobody's going to check on them. So we're kind of panicking about something that is quite clearly and those age restrictions were set a long time ago. So we're creating a panic over something that we've already legislated for in two different respects, and one of them has a far, far lower age limit. There's some quite odd thinking going on. Of course, that's been stimulated by prohibitionist and absolutist thought patterns. But overall, if we're getting people away from the harmful thing, which is combusted tobacco, then overall that is a net benefit to society and to the individuals.
Joanna: We also asked Nancy Loucas from CAPHRA whether vaping among young people is a problem in New Zealand. Let’s hear her answer.
Nancy: It depends on who you talk to. Again, going back to those I call them the detractors, the people that are very anti nicotine and anti THR. This is also why the government has to come out with this information campaign to educate people, because there are a lot of lies out there. Now, when we talk about youth vaping in New Zealand, there are some people that believe there's a vaping epidemic, and it's a teen global vaping epidemic, and it's everywhere. But when you look at New Zealand, you look at the statistics I have a problem with that word today. And you look at the statistics, okay, what's happening is the people that are very anti vapor, anti THR, they do the usual, they conflate every use with daily use. But the statistics in New Zealand, which the public health officials and the Ministry of Health do not have a problem with, is that now, let's see, in 2021.1% of 15 to 17 year olds smoke, okay? And 5.8% of 15 to 17 year old smoke. Now that sounds like, wow, that's a lot. However, the thing that a lot of people aren't taking into consideration is that Maori students and our indigenous people are the ones that have the highest smoking rates in the country. The Maori students led the way with a massive 40% decrease in daily smoking rates since 2019, and only 3.4% of those people smoked in 2021. So when we look at the stats as a big picture, we say, no, we don't have a youth vaping epidemic. What's happening? And Ben Yudan explained this very well in his presentation at the e-cigarette summit is that the people that were smoking are now vaping. It's not that young people are picking it up and using it regularly and getting addicted. Now, we do not have that problem in New Zealand. If you were to look at some of the articles that are put out by the detractors in the media, you would think, oh yeah, but now when you look at the actual statistics, no, we do not have a youth vaping epidemic in New Zealand.
Joanna: Last but not least Samrat Chowdhery, a leading consumer advocate from India, tells us what’s happening in India among young people.
Samrat: So we live in an internet age. You cannot hide facts, no matter how much propaganda you try to spin up, right? So people are being able to go on the Internet, see what is what, see that waiting, for example, is much less harmful than smoking, no matter what the government says. So young people, at least now, in my view, we don't have real data here, but I can see what's happening on the streets. Those who are going to experiment with negotiating today are experimenting with vaping, not with smoking. And I think that's a welcome sign. There are a lot of red flags and signals being put out. Okay, this is the new epidemic. But we know studies upon studies are showing that there is common liability. The same kids would be experimenting with cigarettes, which are far more addictive and deadly. So I would rather have teams experiment with something less harmful. Which is not to say that I would want them to experiment with negotiating, but if they are going to, and if they have the propensity to experiment, then they would at least do something less harmful. So I see, at least in urban India, that there is an inclination among the youth to experiment, experimenting with nicotine than with vaping, rather than smoking, irrespective of the bank. Also, keep in mind that the bank is not effective in that sense. What it has done is pushed the whole market underground. So while you could have had a regulated market, which is responsible, which had checks and balances, now we don't have that. And that is the cause of an extent.
Joanna: In June, after being online for two years due to the pandemic, we met again in person at the Global Forum on Nicotine, in Warsaw. We captured the views and opinions of people who attended the conference in our new series, GFN Voices. Here is the first one.
:the strap line for this year's advantage tobacco home reduction. Here for good. Yeah. Do you think it is here for good?
Ben: I believe so. I think it's very hard don't see how you move back from this point. Like you heard from the guy Jaguar who talks about India, say in India those products are banned, but he lives in India, and I don't know if I can say actually, maybe don't screams in India, but for him he lives in India and he still uses e-cigarettes, so he still finds a way to get them. So even though they're bad, he can still get access, still use it and allow them to cut down on cigarettes. So I think we crossed the Rubicon. You can't go back. They are here for good. I think the biggest challenge is really getting them as many people's hands as possible. So it's here, it's not going away. But how do we get the momentum to make the most of it probably is the next big challenge on the book.
Tomas: I sincerely hope so. I mean, there's certainly a growing evidence in evidence based and it's been like I lived in Japan. Somehow there's two step forward. I'm back another two step forward and then backing up. But it's certainly moving in the right direction.
Delon: It's here for good for the 100 million users of tobacco reduction products worldwide. It is here for good for policy makers. It's not here for good. Yet I think they're still on the fence. And it's a shame. It's a great shame that they're on the fence because people are dying needlessly.
: Why are they on the fence?
Delon: I think they are misinformed. And there's a big propaganda machine on the other side making it very difficult for policy makers to distinguish what is science and what is just plain bad policy. So this type of conference is good because it tends to summarize exactly what science is important for evidence based policy making it. But what we're getting, unfortunately, in most governments, is almost a bias seeking of scare mongering evidence to make bad policy.
Judy: Yes. I mean unequivocally, yes. Because actually, once the rubbish is out of the house, it never goes back in. You can't what people do, they invent things. It's like suddenly saying, now we're going to stop cars because they're bad. You can prohibit certain areas. You might make them better. And one thing I don't think anybody ever mentioned is that everything they pretend that there will be no progress. It's as if this product now that maybe has slight imperfections that I'm not suggesting at all that there aren't any, that nothing will ever change. Of course everything gets better. That's how it works. And it won't go away because you can't put it back in the box. It exists. They could try and they could prohibit it, but then they'll be a black market, and it will be profound, and then they'll change their mind.
Joanna: And now, we go over to Brent Stafford and his guest, Lindsey Stroud, who is the Director of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance’s Consumer Center in the US. In today’s interview Lindsey talks about what has happened in the US vaping market following interventions from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Centres for Disease Control. Over to you, Brent.
BRENT: Hi, I'm Brent Stafford, and welcome to another edition of RegWatch on GFN.TV. We’re here in Warsaw, Poland for the Global Forum on Nicotine GFN 22 and with a favourite guest of ours, Lindsey Stroud. How's it going?
LINDSEY: Oh, it's going. I made it here and my bags came. Unfortunately, other people didn't get that. But we're good.
BRENT: That's good. That is great. So you're with the Taxpayers Protection Alliance and a host of other places?
LINDSEY: Yes. Yes. I'm director of the Consumer Centre at TPA, Taxpayers Protection Alliance. It's a nonpartisan think tank based out of Washington, D.C. and I handle harm reduction issues with them and other consumer issues. And then I'm also a board member with the American Vapor Manufacturers Association, and I am currently a visiting fellow with the Independent Women's Forum. So not a lot of time.
BRENT: Wow. Well, that's amazing. You certainly been a advocate for Vaping. Why?
LINDSEY: Why? Oh, like OC. Back in 2016, when I was still at the Heartland Institute, I was smoking and they had me, hey, work on our vaping portfolio. And I was a former staffer. So it was really intriguing to see all of these small businesses having to get a civics lesson pretty much and government because they were getting attacked by state, federal, local lawmakers. But then you had to bring in the courts to it. And it was kind of amazing to see this consumer product and these people just trying to help people quit smoking and how much the government was attacking. So I kind of just fell in love with it and fell in love with the people. And then I really have a disdain for lawmakers. So, you know, educating them on stuff they don't know is kind of a fun perk of mine.
BRENT: Now, that group is small business owners and people who work in that industry. Where do they stand now today in the US?
LINDSEY: Oh, it's uncertain territory as you like talking about the vape shops. Yeah. Right now with the pre market, tobacco applications are kind of everything's kind of in limbo. They were due back in September 2020 and then all these small e-liquid manufacturers had about a year that they could still be on the market without FDA authorization. And then the FDA blanketly denied almost a million flavoured e-liquid products. And so they all move to synthetic nicotine. Well, Congress earlier this year passed a law allowing the FDA to regulate synthetic nicotine as a tobacco product. So we had to do PMTA 2.0 is what I call it, and they have until July right now. So it's in a limbo period. And you still also have about 100 you have hundreds of thousands of applications that are still pending, too, with the FDA. So they didn't get they didn't get they didn't get authorization, but they also didn't get denied. So it is a regulatory limbo.
BRENT: Now come July 15th. I think that's the date, isn't it.
LINDSEY: Yeah. For the for the FDA to actually have to decide on something now because it's not a court case and I don't want to be quoted on this. I don't think that they're so stuck to that deadline as they were with the September 2020 deadline, because that was tied to the anti-well, the organ organizations is what I call them, sued going after the FDA for not doing their timetable. Right. With PMTA applications.
BRENT: Yeah, that's right. I mean, I don't think a lot of people always recognize the fact that it was the die-hard anti vaping groups led by the American Paediatric Society. Yes. That forced the FDA into this timeline.
LINDSEY: Yeah. Yeah, the FDA actually in 2017. I mean, the FDA doesn't really have the capacity if you look at, you know, just the way that their funding works. And they actually had to hire a bunch of people before 2020, but they were kind of recognizing harm reduction back in. Back in 2017, and that's where they kind of gave lower priority to those products. And it was going to be 2022 when the actual application was. And so the deadline got pushed by two years.
BRENT: Now we're looking at tens of billions of dollars overall in the US marketplace. How much of that is going to move to the black market, do you think?
LINDSEY: At least 60% if it hasn't already, because you're already seeing it in other states where they have black markets. But there's also just the counterfeit products that you also see at like C stores and stuff that there's not really a lot of oversight in there that I always go back to, like Ian Smoke, you know, and you had one of the companies that was actually working with Customs to try to get these products off the market. But it's going to be all black market. You can't close that door.
BRENT: What’s going to happen to all the vapers, not to mention the smokers that are going to lose the potential of vaping. But we're talking about former smokers in the millions that now vape that are they going to have their devices and their juices yanked away from them?
LINDSEY: Well, I think they're still going to be able to have their devices. I just do I worry for the small business people that built this this vape shop, and especially if they're playing by the rules, you know, they're subjected to fines if they're selling non FDA authorized products. So, I mean, I know there's been some clever ways that people are kind of going around with it, like whether it's, you know, just selling liquids only and then maybe having nicotine on the side. But thankfully, this industry does have a lot of a lot of the small business owners are so dedicated to the fact of helping people quit smoking that they're not going to they will stand to be arrested, which nobody's going to get arrested, but they will stand to have a lot of fines just to keep helping people quit smoking. And it's really unfortunate that, you know, it's kind of going back to the prohibition days and speakeasies in a sense that you're going to end up having and probably some weird shops. I mean, I've talked to somebody and at one stage that they talked about switching everything, saying it was CBD and you know, which is kind of do a workaround and I'm not endorsing that people, you know, so do not take that as like free legal advice or anything. But it is really unfortunate that that's where we're at this point. And it really also, if you think about it, it kind of really harms the whole issue of tobacco harm reduction when you have to make it so black market, so secretive, you know, for these people to get these products that are safer than combustible cigarettes, which are available in every C store. So it's kind of sad.
BRENT: What's been happening to the smoking rate in the US since there's been such a crackdown on these alternative nicotine devices.
LINDSEY: Well, right now, smoking, we're still going down, thank God. Now, we did see last year that there was an increase in cigarette sales. And so I'm still waiting for the I do a lot of work on the CDC data, the Behavioural Risk Factor Surveillance Survey and the Youth Risk Behaviour Survey. And so waiting for 2021 to come out, especially to look at those states. Now, you did see with San Francisco and like youth vaping, when they crack down on flavours back in 2018, you did see an increase in both vaping, but also you saw an increase in combustible cigarette use among high school kids in San Francisco from 2017 and 2019. And there is that real possibility that you kind of see it. And we're also if you think about right now, we are in and it's a bear market officially we probably heading for a recession. And so I think that's going to also impact what you're going to see on smoking rates, because you saw it in 2011 when smoking rates went back up for some reason.
BRENT: Is the US a mess?
LINDSEY: Yeah, I mean, it's pretty safe to say that one, it's the regulatory agencies with how e-cigarettes are regulated is a mess. The FDA doesn't have the proper tools to be able to even promote harm, tobacco harm reduction. It also seems that they're so busy trying to save the world. I mean, we're sitting here, they want to ban menthol cigarettes and flavoured cigars now and kids aren't even using those. I mean, you have lowest level of smoking rates among youth and you do need to address youth use of e-cigarette products. But you're sitting here worrying about menthol cigarettes. So I don't really know exactly what the FDA and our public health agencies are trying to do. It's definitely not offer adult options that are not quit or die or pharmaceuticals.
BRENT: What's the mentality, do you think, that's driving these efforts to eradicate nicotine use?
LINDSEY: Well, they don't want to eradicate cigarettes. I mean, nobody's talking about getting rid of cigarettes. I think
that there's a lot of money to be made and treating people with smoking related illnesses. And also in the states, I think the United States probably is one of the you know, when you think about globally, yeah, you have some countries that do have like monopolies and they have state owned tobacco companies. But I think the. States like really depends on tobacco and combustible cigarettes, whether it's settlement payments from the 1998 master settlement agreement or tobacco taxes. And there's a lot of money in that.
BRENT: So just I'm reading here a Wall Street Journal story from just the last day or so by an administration to pursue rule requiring less nicotine in US cigarettes.
LINDSEY: So they can't go down to zero. That's in the Tobacco Control Act. You can't completely eliminate nicotine. But yeah, they want to do less nicotine. And that is they had they've only approved one of those cigarettes and they don't even know what the market is. I think it's only going to go out into like three markets at first. So you don't even know really what the efficacy is of it. Yet the FDA denied millions of vapor products that had been used by people for ten, at least ten years. So it's I think, honestly, it's just fodder. I think it's like, you know, vaping, oh, we got to do something about vaping. We got to do something about cigarettes now. And I think Biden's kind of throwing that into his policy, not necessarily even addressing smoking. It's just part of the what is it, Moonshot or that's Moonshot. Moonshot. Yeah. So anything to get him away from inflation and gas prices.
BRENT: So in a way, isn't this just tinkering around the edges?
LINDSEY: Yes. Well, yeah, the FDA, it's really unfortunate right now. What it's June 20, 22. We've had six applications approved for e-cigarette products out of millions. And also, you know, e-cigarettes came to the United States in 2007. So it's like, you know, you've had 15 years of people using these products and it's still not good enough for the FDA, consumers actually using them, consumers quitting smoking, using these products. And it's really sad.
BRENT: Now, I notice you used the term consumers and that is used not a lot, but it's used are. Why is it that maybe the advocates for vaping and the enemies of vaping seem to both in some cases ignore the consumer aspect.
LINDSEY: Because they hate well, they hate people who smoke.
BRENT: But even on the advocacy side, though.
LINDSEY: Yeah. Oh, yes. I noticed that when I first started. I was a smoker when I first started it. So you got the disdain and you were looking at these people like but you used to smoke. I mean, come in after me and I'm on that part with, you know, like I think it's great that tobacco companies are actually being forced to change. I you do see that in the advocacy world, actually, that, you know, we're not big tobacco and that there's, you know, we can't work with big tobacco. But I always looked at it like, you know, you force big tobacco to change your you know, to change their product portfolios. You know, just looking at the states, you know, 2006 seven was first e-cigarettes introduced. And it wasn't until 2011 when a big tobacco, big tobacco company got into e-cigarettes when Lorillard purchased Bloom. And then the next year it was Altria and Reynolds that had done their own e-cigarette products. And it's pretty amazing. I mean, when you think about like, oh, big tobacco, these bogeymen and like, wow, these consumers change their product, but it would be anything in any other industry. If your consumers are going one way, you're going to do that and you see it in other industries. You saw it with like soda companies. You know, they're offering a lot of reduced lower sugary beverages, even with electronic vehicle manufacturers. You know, bringing consumers want safer products. It's kind of amazing with this space that the people who were, you know, the companies that were responsible for the harms of smoking aren't able to bring up a new product that there's this. And it would be like telling Volkswagen, you can't make an electric vehicle, you can only, only use a gas engine.
BRENT: Is there no room in the heart of an anti vapor for redemption for big tobacco?
LINDSEY: No, not according to them, which is unfortunate, because every other every other, you know, everybody's been able to kind of skate away. And I think big I think tobacco did, you know, they paid their they paid their time and they're still paying. And if especially in the states, when you look at the master settlement agreement, you know, and yeah, there is no redemption for them, unfortunately. And it's really sad because you start seeing that argument being applied to other consumer industries and unfortunately you're never going to have another thing like the master settlement agreement for any of the ailments that other goods might have, you know, other companies might have cause.
BRENT: But do consumers of vaping products in general, by and large understand that their consumer group.
LINDSEY: No. I think some of them, yeah. But I don't think they understand how big and powerful they are and how powerful their quit smoking story is. I prior I was a former staffer and I, I have done this year alone a lot of like state testimony and everything. And there's nothing more powerful than telling your lawmaker, I'm 55 years old. I smoked for 20 years and I tried everything. And the only thing that was able for me to quit smoking was raspberry flavoured E-Liquid at three milligram nicotine. And this is the device I'm using. I mean, most of them don't know it. And it's really sad because you I saw it this year with lawmakers. I mean, they're still going out with popcorn lung. The attorney general sent the letter to the FDA on June 11th, urging FDA to pretty much deny all the synthetic nicotine products or the synthetic PMTA.
BRENT: And they pointed to popcorn.
LINDSEY: Like, oh, they brought a proper in line at 2022. They still bring up popcorn lung, which is kind of sad that we that our organizations, that we haven't been able to change that narrative yet, especially when you look at the anti-groups, you know, they all have the buzz words. And I said, yeah, if you follow Elm Sprout 89 at Twitter, you can see me live tweeting some of these hearings. And it really just gets really boring when they start coming up because it's like, well, the guy sat there and said the same thing 5 minutes prior. They have all their buzz words, you know, lifetime addiction and nicotine, a big tobacco's playbook. I can't think of all of them off my head, but there's like about ten of them that they all you're going to hear at any time that one of these people come on, they're going to drop those words down.
BRENT: Nicotine harms developing.
LINDSEY: Oh, yeah, nicotine harm. And that came from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and our new FDA to our director, CTP director.
BRENT: So let me ask you this. I mean, you know, in all seriousness, I mean, as public health being malicious.
LINDSEY: Yeah. Well, I don't think being malicious. I think that there's a lot of disdain from the tobacco companies. And this is some idea that, like, tobacco is going to hook a new generation, which it really isn't. It's a consumer driven product disruption. And, you know, really, I mean, it's kind of like kind of like what the I with the iPad, the iPod did for the Walkman. And the way that we do music and everything, it completely changed the way that people can get nicotine. And also thinking of the way that, you know, the quit or die is, you know, know you can use nicotine in a safe and less harmful matter. You don't have to just quit smoking and, you know, be happy and free and everything. So I think that's what it is. I think they're mostly afraid and that they don't have control over it. I think because it's not on the FDA's part of their pharmaceutical part. I think that's what it is. Because if you look at if you look at it like even the W.H.O. isn't against harm reduction in tobacco harm reduction, they're not for consumer tobacco harm reduction. They want it to be done in like a medical you know, you go to a doctor and you're prescribed it, which I don't agree with, because it negates tobacco harm reduction and cigarettes are, you know, handed out that way you can go to a C store and go buy cigarettes. You should be able to have less harmful alternatives.
BRENT: You know, when I quit smoking, when I looked at vaping, at first evaluated it in 2015 to consider quitting smoking two packs a day, the key thing that I looked at was the availability and sustainability. I literally stood in a in a vape store and looked at all these hundreds of different flavours. And I went, okay, this is all going to be around. I can trust that this will be here.
BRENT: And it'll in Canada like.
LINDSEY: I know we wrote, we wrote on your guys’ consultation. Yeah. And you guys always look at United States. I really hate the valley, you know, the shot heard around the world and. Oh, we have to ban everything now. Yeah, that's really. That is sad. That's what I looked at. Vaping too, thankfully. I do know people. So if I have to go into the black market, you know, they can help me mix flavours and that. And I think that's what I have to be for people, unfortunately in some states. But we have states that have banned flavoured e-cigs. They can still get them. It's just I wouldn't really trust them.
BRENT: I mean, these are not issues that an upright, respectable consumer should have to deal with. No. Right. No. And it's weird because, you know, I can get my brand of cigarettes anywhere at any corner, in any city at any time.
LINDSEY: Around the globe.
BRENT: Around the globe. Yeah. I smoke Rothmans so much I can get them anywhere. So if I have to choose between the hassle that comes with vaping, you know, the stigmatization of vaping is almost greater than smoking.
LINDSEY: Yes. Oh, yes. Oh, exact. I was in an airport smoking lounge. They have them over here and Europe people. And it was kind of amazing because we're vaping and you kind of got the looks and everything and Europe's really weird. To at least I've noticed the young people, I see a lot more young people smoking versus actually seeing them vaping And I know my one of my colleagues, Martin Khalaf, is in the UK and so and he's talked about that because of the way that they've been able to market e-cigarettes as a as a cessation tool that you actually see. It's an old people vape, not young people. So but I guess now disposables have entered the I just learned today that disposables have entered the UK market. So they're expecting a wave of youth use shortly. Of course we saw it in the States.
BRENT: So in the States a lot of that disposables, when they hit the market, they played a big role because it was post Jewel. So Jewel had its effect and then the disposables came in. That has led to a lot of state.
BRENT: And you've been embroiled in a couple of them. There is Connecticut.
LINDSEY: Connecticut, Colorado. Colorado is the big one. That was the one that everyone kind of well, Connecticut was going on for years. So, I mean, this was like I think the fourth time that this and they had actually gutted it out that it didn't include menthol cigarettes because it did start it started as a full flavour ban. So menthol cigarettes, cigars, e cigarettes. And then this I think I got it out to it was like flavour banned but age restricted store so you know and that's the one thing within these groups in the United States they don't compromise it's like all or nothing. So and Colorado actually that was a full flavour ban and it actually did start like they had when it first got out of one of its committees. It did get amended. So age restricted stores would. And then, you know, the groups came in, but there was a lot of there was a lot of lobbying on that and a lot of 12 hour long hearings. And, you know, those poor bill sponsors, that was I don't know why they even thought about pulling it up. But, yeah, the youth vaping, even though youth vaping has gone down in Colorado, is really interesting that you brought up because they had just published their they do a state survey Healthy Kids Colorado survey. And I had when I was testifying they do it every other year. So they had 2019 and then 2021 was going to come out this summer and it just came out yesterday. And so that was, you know, you need to wait to see these state numbers because we've already seen national numbers where youth vaping has declined. But the groups aren't talking about that. You know, they're burying it or if they the way if you see like when they bring up the numbers, it's like, oh, I'm going to use a percent of a percent and make it seem like it's everybody. I mean, it's really not. It's unfortunate, but yeah, the news and regards to Colorado actually youth vaping is down. Unfortunately they do. You know what? I did see the numbers and I didn't have them in front of me, but I think it was about two percentage percent change increase. The reasons why they vape flavouring went up as a reason, but it's still not the number one reason.
BRENT: So vaping had some wins though.
LINDSEY: Oh, you're vaping. Yeah, it's gone down I think with the youth vaping epidemic of 2019 and that's yeah I would if you look at the youth survey, so 2015 is like when they start really looking at it, 2017, you actually see a decrease in most of the states and at the national level, at least with the CDC survey. And then 2019, yeah, you saw a huge increase in everything, but now it's gone back down to 2015 levels and if not like 2017 levels where it was lower, I think it was a fad. The cool kids are doing it. I'm going to do it. Look at this new device. I think there are a couple of devices out there that probably could have reined in a little bit sooner than what they did. But, you know, they did do the appropriate actions on some of the stuff that they did with limiting their varieties and options out there when they realized that there was a problem.
BRENT: So if you were to be honest as a researcher and take a look at what has happened, doesn't some of this demonstrate that it's not as difficult to get off of nicotine?
LINDSEY: Exactly. That nicotine addiction. I was actually thinking that the other day I was I was about to go on a Twitter thread on that that same one. I oh, this is the developing thing. Like, how did these kids quit it? Like and also the one argument that I and that's how I got started looking at the brief data and breaking it down by the 18 to 24 year olds, this idea that, oh, they're going to go from e-cigarettes to combustible cigarettes, and it's like you only see that where you limit e-cigarettes. And actually you've seen, yeah, 9.6% of current smokers or 18 to 24 years old in 2020. And that's amazing declines. I have a graph on it like I share all the time on Twitter and stuff because it was like 27%. I mean, they the 18 to 24 year olds, when you break it down by the age group, they're now on par with like the 65 plus, which was always kind of like at the low end and stuff. So it's really it's amazing. And it goes back to maybe the argument that public health does need to look at what would you rather have children? What would you rather that children? What would you rather have rebellious teenagers do? Would you rather have them smoking a combustible cigarette or would you rather have them experimenting with something that was less harmful? And quite honestly, if I was a parent, yes, I would rather have them do that. But I can also say I'd rather have them doing a regulated product. I mean, in the States and I know Canada has a problem with the opioid epidemic. And right now it's is and it's a big thing among teens. Teen overdoses what shot up in 2021 I mean and so and it's an epidemic of fake pills these kids are going out and thinking that they're taking a Xanax and it's full of fentanyl. And so when you bring and you have had instances of vapes where there have been fentanyl and I hate bringing it up, but it is the DEA had found it in 2019. A couple of the school schools have actually tested it and they found opioids and vapes. And that's super scary. And then that's where you want to have a regulated marketplace. You don't want the FDA to come down and shut everybody down because you're just going to have more instances of problems with black markets and also really unscrupulous actors that are going to take advantage of it.
BRENT: So is there anything that you think that you could offer in terms of some advice for the global audience about what's coming out of the US? And that might portend something on the positive side.
LINDSEY: On the positive side, youth vaping is down. We haven't had any cases of Evali. We have. The US will be interesting to watch because of Dr Bryan, a king who came from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, is going to be the new centre for director of the Centre for Tobacco Products at the FDA. And I wrote an op ed. I've done some research on him. He's co-authored studies by Blum, paid for by Bloomberg. He knew in January 2019 that one third of the kids that were Vaping were vaping marijuana. Yet so confusion when it came to the vaping related lung injuries. I realized that still doing research on him, so I'm wary of him. But he has co-authored some studies where he has acknowledged flavours and their role and their importance and that the people who smoke are using e-cigarettes overwhelmingly compared to non-nicotine users. I would tell global people start getting in contact with your lawmakers, let them know. Smoke quitting smoking is very personal, you know, and let them know how better you feel. A lot of these lawmakers are busy people. Vaping might be our issue and everything, but they have a million and other issues and especially if they're not into that. We're all the vaping is just non you know and they don't even care about it. But if they're your constituent you can make them care about it by just, you know, talking to them once a week. Keep an eye on the CDC numbers. I am hopeful that the 2021 Youth Behaviour Survey is coming out this summer, and then we're going to have the briefs, the adult one, too. So you're going to still see hopefully declines in smoking. And then the pandemic didn't make anything crazy. But I think that there's going to be some good news for that. I do think public health is going to bury it. But that Lindsay, I've already I will be in the minute those numbers come out I'm going to write like 20 offense on it.
Joanna: That’s all for today. Tune in next time, here on GFN TV or on our new podcast, for more tobacco harm reduction updates and Brent’s interview with Federico Fernández, Executive Director at Somos Innovación and CEO at We Are Innovation. Thanks for watching - or listening! See you next time.