Wednesday, 30 August 2017

The VLNC Junk Science Fest Gathers Pace

As I have written a couple of times recently, the FDA's announcement that they are viewing very low nicotine cigarettes (VLNCs) as a possible policy tool is extremely sinister.

Tobacco controllers have been banging on about this over the pond for quite some time now and, I repeat, it's daft and nothing but a rent-seeking scam.
It's not just questionable, it's insane. One can only assume that the people endorsing it are either corrupt or mentally compromised. 
The US FDA seems to think this is a great idea though. They will mildly relax regulations (perhaps) around vaping while at the same time taking an innocuous ingredient - nicotine - out of cigarettes but leaving all the other crap in. They couldn't be more crazy if they announced that they were to embark on an expedition to find out where unicorns live. 
So, why are they doing this with cigarettes? Well, apart from being subject to an almost Calvinist religious cult of a tobacco control industry in the good old US of A, there are also many financial pressures which mean they are reluctant to rock the boat. 
What I find absolutely astonishing above all else though, is that US-based tobacco control are even considering this. For years, they have been painting the tobacco industry as animals for producing low tar cigarettes. The fact that this was partly due to legislators forcing them to doesn't seem to matter. 
But now the tobacco control industry has had this fantastic idea that reducing nicotine in cigarettes is a brilliant new initiative, what went before seems to have been conveniently forgotten, at least in the USA. Fortunately, we are not subject to as much ignorance in this country.
But now it is being looked at by the FDA, the big wheels of the global tobacco control junk science machine are starting to turn. Grant dollars will be shovelled at the subject with the express purpose of hoodwinking the FDA into believing it is a good idea.

The latest - and by no means will it be the last - is this study released last week on the effect of VLNCs on smokers with psychiatric disorders.
RESULTS: Among the 169 daily smokers included in the analysis (120 women [71.0%] and 49 men [29.0%]; mean [SD] age, 35.6 [11.4] years), reducing the nicotine content of cigarettes decreased the relative reinforcing effects of smoking in all 3 populations. Across populations, the 0.4-mg/g dose was chosen significantly less than the 15.8-mg/g dose in concurrent choice testing (mean [SEM] 30% [0.04%] vs 70% [0.04%]; Cohen d = 0.40; P < .001) and generated lower demand in the Cigarette Purchase Task (α = .027 [95% CI, 0.023-0.031] vs α = .019 [95% CI, 0.016-0.022]; Cohen d = 1.17; P < .001).
In other words, the subjects didn't like them, so wouldn't buy them.

To the rest of us, this means that smokers will, in reality, do anything other than spend their money on VLNC because a large part of the pleasure has been removed. The response to this will obviously be a huge black market in proper cigarettes. We know this because we live in the real world.

But to a tobacco controller, it means the smokers will just quit.
CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: Reducing the nicotine content of cigarettes may decrease their addiction potential in populations that are highly vulnerable to tobacco addiction. Smokers with psychiatric conditions and socioeconomic disadvantage are more addicted and less likely to quit and experience greater adverse health impacts. Policies to reduce these disparities are needed; reducing the nicotine content in cigarettes should be a policy focus.
This is nothing but blatant sleight of hand by people with a vested interest in seeing their pay packets continue for a few more years. Nowhere in the study does it even consider what will happen in the real world, because they don't want to blur the clear message they want to send to regulators; that VLNCs are a brilliant idea with no downsides.

This is how tobacco control 'science' works. Salaries are dependant on policies; this is a policy, so let's do it. It doesn't matter to them if it works or not because they are not a results-driven industry; are entirely unregulated, and accountable to no-one except their funders who generally want the same thing as they do. Screw the public's health, they all just want to get paid.

The BMJ's Tobacco Control comic emphasises this world of flowers and rainbows in an article for their September round of propaganda.
Cigarette makers today keep the nicotine at 1%–2% by weight, having found this to be the sweet spot for creating smoker ‘satisfaction’ (one of several industry code words for nicotine addiction). Reducing this percentage by a factor of ten—to 0.1% or 0.2%—would make it very difficult for cigarettes to create or sustain addiction. Reducing it even further would make addiction virtually impossible. 
This would essentially eliminate the cigarette as an engine of addiction, while preserving many of the other reasons people smoke—to ponder the wafting of the fumes, for example, or to obtain some form of oral gratification. Or to emulate Johnny Depp or Keira Knightley. Smokers would be able to start or quit at will, without suffering the robbery of choice that defines addiction.
And as if to prove my point further, The Lancet also published an opinion piece on the subject just under a fortnight ago.
Last week, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a multiyear roadmap to begin regulating the amount of nicotine allowed in tobacco products. Researchers, including tobacco control advocates, have proposed nicotine reduction as a way of decreasing levels of tobacco use, and the USA may be the first country to seriously discuss using this form of regulation to produce a potentially less addictive form of tobacco. 
Many questions remain, but nicotine regulation may offer a promising tool in global tobacco control efforts.
So, it is apparently a "promising tool" even before they have answered these "many questions"? Isn't it odd how the precautionary principle is strictly applied to e-cigs (The Lancet amd Tobacco Control articles both mention concern that FDA controls which will obliterate the e-cig market are being delayed) and smokeless tobacco such as snus, but when it is tobacco control chasing a policy which could have vastly destructive unintended consequences, it's full steam ahead and nothing to see here?

Of course, if - as the study on smokers with psychiatric disorders did - you don't even address the possibility of the unintended consequences, and instead just pretend that they don't exist, it's easy not to have to answer those "many questions", now isn't it?

This is how it is going to be from now on in US tobacco control (and, I'm sure, consequently in other countries). Talk up the insane policy of VLNCs while stressing and amplifying the far less worrisome fantasy harm of e-cigs.

Now, which way do you think governments will jump under this kind of bombardment from the multi-billion dollar global tobacco control industry? 

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Must. Defend. The. Policy!

Those of you who use Twitter will have seen that the reason for lack of content this past week was because I was holidaying in the Dordogne. After a week of clear blue skies and temperatures of 30 plus degrees every day, I brought some weather back for you for the bank holiday weekend, you can thank me later.

In the meantime, some fellow jewel robbers have been expressing their disgust at the cruel no vaping policy at Priscilla Bacon Lodge in Norfolk where Anna Raccoon was receiving 'care' before she sadly passed away last week. The hospice has come up with a quite bizarre reason for their heartless e-cig ban.
I would like to assure you that the situation around the use of e-cigarettes was discussed at a Health and Safety meeting at the beginning of August, where consideration was taken into account about the use of e-cigarettes around compressed oxygen supplies.  The British Compressed Gas Association have produced a leaflet on the safe use of e-cigarettes which gives a clear explanation of why they are unsafe around compressed oxygen supplies, and the Trust has to ensure that patients and staff are not put at risk.  That is the reason that patients are asked not to use the devices in a ward situation where there are oxygen supplies. 
So, it was apparently all about the use of oxygen. OK, let's look at that then. Remember we are talking about a tiny, enclosed, low-powered Ego CE4 type device here.

Watch this experiment carried out in 2014 when the scare story about e-cigs and oxygen first surfaced in the media.

As you can see, oxygen on its own cannot burn, it requires a source of ignition, and even exposed terminals from a dripper can't do that on their own. Something else has to be involved to cause a problem, as the video poster says:
"It is possible, if she's got a 40 watt dripper (which sets light to bedding - DP), and her oxygen feed has oxygenated a blanket, for an e-cig to cause a fire. I don't think so myself, I suspect it might be some other source of ignition"
Anna wouldn't have even known what a dripper is, let alone owned one, and I would challenge absolutely anyone to try to light any material with an Ego. It would be like trying to start a barbecue with a TV remote control.

But still, they have their policy and they are obviously determined to stick to it. So what else does the British Compressed Gas Association guidance say? Well, there is this:
There are many electronic devices available which can help enhance patients lives, but their use in close proximity to oxygen should be carefully controlled and the risks of an ignition understood. There have been many media reports about the potential fire hazard of charging and using products, such as phones, tablets, laptops, games consoles etc. These dangers can be exacerbated when using oxygen. Patients are advised not to charge electronic devices in rooms where oxygen is being used or stored.
Hmm, that's odd. Because, you see, the hospice had no problem whatsoever with Anna charging her phone by her bedside; no problem with the rechargable radio that she had on the bed covers; and no problem with the Apple PC that was plugged in under her bed. Nor either the remote keyboard on a tray in front of her from where she wrote emails to me, amongst others.

Nope, everything else that the BCGA said should be prohibited was allowed; it was only the e-cig (not even charged in situ) which was banned. Do you sense an agenda here?

The Lodge's email continued:
Staff always look to accommodate patient’s wishes but, understandably, in a way that meets health and safety, and reasonable compromises are made where possible. 
I would like to assure you that the situation was discussed, and the reasoning explained, with the patient concerned, and the unit already has a solution in place to support patients for whom Vaping, use of e-cigarettes or smoking cigarettes needs to continue.
Wouldn't it be interesting to find out what their idea is to "accommodate patient's wishes" in this situation? You see, in palliative care, centres like Priscilla Bacon Lodge are allowed to offer a smoking room for terminally ill patients, let alone somewhere they can vape. The reasoning behind that was given in this evidence to a parliamentary select committee at the time the law was drafted.
[T]hose receiving palliative care, are unlikely to suffer any disadvantages to their health by smoking and behaviour modification will have no affect on the prognosis of their disease.
So was Anna offered the "solution in place to support patients for whom Vaping, use of e-cigarettes or smoking cigarettes needs to continue"? No, of course not, they just confiscated it. There was apparently talk of her being wheeled outside to vape at one point when a film crew - which was probably there to cover the story of her general election candidature - had come to call, but it never happened, of course.

The answer to why they didn't could be contained in the guidance from that font of all knowledge about palliative care, the British Compressed Gas Association, that Priscilla Bacon employees seem to value so much.
If it is not possible to remove the patient from a high oxygen environment, it may be best to consider non-heated nicotine sources such as nicotine replacement therapy (NRT).
Well, it was perfectly possible to remove her from that environment if that was truly the problem, but they didn't. Their only 'solution' is NRT, isn't it?

The Trust's dignity policy talks about their commitment to "support people with the same respect you would want for yourself or a member of your family" and to enabling "people to maintain the maximum possible level of independence, choice and control", but at the end of the day they couldn't be arsed to take her to a space - indoor or outdoor - where she could vape. Easier just to confiscate the thing, eh?

Because, you see, they have a policy.

H/T SC & The Blocked Dwarf via email

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Farewell Anna Raccoon

Last week I wrote about Anna Raccoon and how she had been badly treated recently while receiving palliative care in a Norwich hospice.

She had been fighting a nasty form of cancer for six years despite doctors saying she would succumb in less than one, but sadly that last fight that she would undertake in her illustrious life ended yesterday morning in the early hours. She passed away peacefully in the beautiful riverside cottage on the Norfolk Broads that she and hubby Mr G had returned to from their previous home in France once the cancer was diagnosed.

Ironically, I heard the sad news just as I was about to set off to the same area in France for a family holiday, but after the long drive the first thing we did on arrival was to raise a toast to her and the marvellous Mr G.

The Blocked Dwarf (aka Jack Ketch) has spoken with Mr G and he is heartbroken but cheered to hear that his wife had so many online friends and admirers. Jack has agreed to pass on any kind messages so do feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments here. 

Anna was most recently in the news bedbound, but I prefer this fantastic picture which is one of two on the wall of the annex G built with great views of the Norfolk wildlife and river boats especially for her. Taken in 1973, it is of a 25 year old Anna smoking Camels with a cup of tea and a slice of Battenberg cake. Beautiful, carefree, and with a world to take on in her future. I think she did exactly that, with integrity and skill.

RIP Anna, it was wonderful knowing you. 

Monday, 14 August 2017

Cruel But Sadly Not Unusual

Last week I mentioned having been gadding about Britain for a few days, including a day trip to Norwich. I had driven up there on August 2nd to see fellow blogger Anna Raccoon, about whom I wrote this last year.
Her content has been quite simply awesome. Astute and incredibly rigorous, she has attracted the respect and admiration of journalistic commentators, and regularly put many in the news profession to shame with her attention to detail and almost bloodhound-like determination to verify sources and evidence. 
Although long time readers here will mostly remember her partnering up with Old Holborn to spring Nick Hogan from prison, her articles have often been electric and searing on extremely spiky subjects. Tackling stories such as Savile from a position of accuracy rather than hysteria is not an easy thing to do, and her weaving of personal accounts into her writing - as she has done brutally in recent days - is as brave as it is hypnotically compelling.
Well, as many of you will know from reading her blog, she has been suffering from a rare but virulent form of cancer which has attacked her spine and left her paralysed and bed-bound (though still passionate and determined enough to fight the general election in June).

The Blocked Dwarf at Grandad's place explains this in detail.
Anna’s spine is what doctors refer to as ‘oh dear, not good’. Even without the BIG RED ARROW I put on [the scan picture]; even without being able to identify what is bone, what is muscle and what is nerves you can see that there is something amiss. If not, go to Specsavers. 
The Raccoon explained it thus: her doctors and carers have been puzzled why hoisting her onto the commode had been causing her ‘some discomfort’ (doctor speak for ‘PAIN’). The MRI shows that something has dissolved the ‘knobbly bits’ (doctor speak for, I assume, ‘transverse process’ and ‘arches’) of her verterbrae (T1/T2 I think but I still count on my fingers). Those boney knobbly bits protect the spinal chord which now lies open. Do I need to tell anyone that exposed spinal chord is not a good thing? Long and short the doctors are now puzzled how she has managed to live so long with being turned, manhandled and hoisted daily. 
The slightest movement of her body below the shoulders could kill her.
So at the moment they are giving her doses of an anaesthetic to paralyse her in her sleep at night so she doesn’t toss and turn and wake up dead. She can’t be hoisted on to the commode, nor even have a bed pan shoved under her and so: 
“I literally have to crap in the bed” [sic] 
Don’t forget she is still perfectly lucid, her head is clear and so she can fully enjoy the utter loss of every last scrap of dignity every single time the team of nurses have to come and roll her onto her side, keeping her in position, then clean her down. Of course the fact that the meds and the drugs haven’t destroyed her mind is a good thing but….
Worse still the exposed spinal chord also means she probably won’t be going home anytime too soon, which she desperately wants to do. 
And today G had to bring in the right tools to cut her wedding ring off her finger. The steroids have caused her fingers to swell. Yes it is only a piece of metal,’rose gold’ actually, but that bit of metal means something to her and G, they’re a bit old fashioned.
As you can see, she has already been suffering immensely with her dignity being stripped away by disease, and - since she is, to be blunt, very close to dying - had been confined to a bed in Norwich's Priscilla Bacon Lodge which is where I went to meet her. We had a good chinwag for a few hours, during which she described truly astonishing behaviour by the staff which not only compounded the indignity, but was also unbelievably cruel!

You see, she switched from smoking to vaping three years ago, and had a small Ego CE4 type device. For those who don't know what that is, it looks something like this.

It is not very powerful and gives out a tiny amount of vapour. But - and I think you can guess what is coming next - the hospice told her she couldn't use it. More than that, though, they did it in a way that was condescending and offensive. Here is how she described it by email.
What happened I found out in stages - apparently someone saw me at the week-end refilling the vape from the 'sipped case' - and told them. This evening a nurse walked over to me me and said, 'what a sweet little teddy' and proceeded to play with him - 'Oh do you keep your pen in there, good heavens no its a vape'. It was so odd that I didn't twig at first. Well, I got the rules and regulations read to me in such a patronising tone of voice.  
But it was just the way it was done, pretending to 'find' the vapeur like that, it just added to all the electricians checking plugs, and signing disclaimers for sandwiches, and everything else, I'm not a bloody child, I'm a grown woman whose been more independent than most of them can begin to imagine, and now suddenly I've lost the use of my legs and I'm treated like I'm 3 years old. 
This is apparently how staff at a hospice (run by MacMillan, according to Anna) treat someone in her dying days. Someone who worked at a high level at the Court of Protection for years as a Lord Chancellor's Visitor; has a double first class honours degree in law; is respected by top journalists for her striking writing and attention to detail; and is a Medical Claims Lawyer who has spent the last couple of months appearing regularly in the media using her impending death to campaign for more funding for the NHS.

They even said that they would (taking advantage of her paralysis) put it just out of her reach. How caring, huh? The senior doctor was called, Dr Wilkins, who explained that as there wasn't evidence to prove that e-cigs were safe or unsafe, they were banned on health grounds. On health grounds! For a woman who is days from dying in excruciating pain from cancer.

She is on a regime of intravenous Ketamine - the drug designed to stun a rampaging elephant - and Oxycodeine, but apparently nicotine is not to be tolerated.

Because, you see, they have a policy.

Now, I made enquiries and found out that they also have a dignity policy which should be adhered to in situations like this. Here is part of what it says on the one for Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust.
- Support people with the same respect you would want for yourself or a member of your family
- Enable people to maintain the maximum possible level of independence, choice and control
I'll leave you to make your minds up as to whether they have followed the dignity policy in this case, but considering the government's Tobacco Control Plan - released last month - stated that "e-cigarette use is not covered by smokefree legislation and should not routinely be included in the requirements of an organisation’s smokefree policy", you'd have thought that in these circumstances their ideological and ignorant smokefree rules could, and should, have been relaxed in favour of preserving Anna's dignity.

It seems a Director of Public Health agreed, and offered to speak to Dr Wilkins to "advise" him seeing as he is woefully ignorant on the subject. So I left that Wednesday having given Anna the DPH's number to pass on - along with a load of Nicoccino and some of my stash of Zyn - safe in the knowledge that some sense would prevail.

Not so though. I visited her again this weekend and she told me that the next day they had dismantled another vape pen that her husband - the awesome Mr G - had brought in for her. They unscrewed the top so she couldn't possibly use it and took it to the property office in this envelope.

Now, either Dr Wilkins didn't bother to ring the DPH - someone who vastly outranks him - or he did ring but decided to completely disregard the advice. You have to both marvel, and be disgusted, at the astonishing arrogance behind that.

Either way, it illustrates the disgraceful nature of the fanatical zealotry that tobacco control has fostered in the war against smoking nicotine. The 'smokefree' mantra has become a shibboleth that drives a coach and horses through tolerance, compassion and common decency.

I often remind you that we are on the side of the angels here and the nanny statists deserve a demonic eternity or even prison time, but when 'caring' professionals think this is the decent way to treat someone with possibly days left to live, they make my argument for me.

I left Anna on Saturday - after sharing glasses of pink champagne sent by one of the many admirers of her work - as the sun sank over the river Yarm and boats sailed past the riverside window of the annex her true hero of a husband had built for her last days. She is as comfortable as it is possible to be in her situation, and at least is now able to vape while she waits for the inevitable. I find it quite incredible that anyone would think it compassionate to deny her that tiny pleasure for the sake of an ignorant and arguably indefensible policy. 

Friday, 11 August 2017

The 11 Day Reprieve

Well, I knew I'd be revisiting this at some point, I just didn't expect it so very soon! Let's pop over the Atlantic again, shall we?

On July 28th, the newly-installed chief of the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), Scott Gottlieb, "announced a new comprehensive plan for tobacco and nicotine regulation that will serve as a multi-year roadmap to better protect kids and significantly reduce tobacco-related disease and death". He mentioned freezing regulations on e-cigs and the vaping world went into meltdown.

This was a "huge" announcement apparently, it was described as "momentous" and a "reprieve", some even went as far as to say they had "every confidence" in Gottlieb. I was sceptical to say the least.
The FDA's announcement relents on some e-cig rules but only on the proviso that it might make vaping more attractive to smokers who will be deprived, by force, of nicotine from their combustible cigarettes. That is nothing more than vile coercion and should have no place in a land that claims to be free. 
I cannot possibly cheer the FDA's overall plan and I don't think there is anything particularly concrete to be happy about yet anyway. Smokers are being thrown under a bus but apart from that everything else is up in the air and subject to change.
The critical point for me was that Gottlieb also announced they would be pursuing the criminally insane policy of reducing nicotine in cigarettes to "non-addictive levels" (VLNCs), thereby - simply as a numbers game - creating far more harm than they would foster by embracing e-cigs as a harm reduction tool.

I was kinda dismissed about this point. In all the excitement, this sinister and vile idea was wished away as something which wouldn't actually happen; it was just inserted as a sop to tobacco controllers, apparently. I was told VLNCs was a sideshow, an irrelevance. In the period of the delay to vaping regulations, some advanced the idea that the predicate date would surely be moved and smoking might become a niche habit! Some even said I was so heretical in my view that I surely hadn't even read the statement at all (I did. Every word. Twice)!

Then this happened on Tuesday.
Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced it would pursue a strategic, new public health education campaign aimed at discouraging the use of e-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) by kids. The agency plans to expand its “The Real Cost” public education campaign to include messaging to teens about the dangers of using these products this fall while developing a full-scale campaign to launch in 2018.
Think of the children, as per usual, but there was more.
The FDA’s recently announced plan puts nicotine and the issue of addiction at the center of the agency’s efforts.
Yes, "nicotine" addiction, not smoking.
The FDA also intends to seek public comment on the role that flavors in tobacco products play in attracting youth. 
Considering that kids and adults tend to like the same kinds of flavours, that applies to just about all of them.
Additionally, the agency plans to explore additional restrictions on the sale and promotion of ENDS, including restrictions on how products may be sold and advertised, to further reduce youth exposure and access to these products.
Advertising bans, in other words. Most significantly, however, was this ...
But, importantly, the approach also continues to focus on the need to reduce the access and appeal of all tobacco products to youth, including e-cigarettes and other ENDS, and maintains all of the existing regulations that currently apply to these products.
So nothing will change, apart from one minor detail. Instead of just destroying e-cigs as before, the FDA is now planning to use children to destroy e-cigs. As someone said on Twitter, that is one hell of a short honeymoon!

I'm not writing this to say 'I told you so', but instead to highlight it was fully expected, and for two reasons.

Firstly, the US tobacco control industry would have been ringing FDA phones off the hook squealing about the very idea of e-cigs being embraced. An inglorious backtrack like this was always on the cards and instead of thinking victory was just on the horizon, vapers should have realised a highly-funded lobby was only going to redouble or retreble its efforts to kill the future threat in its infancy. Tobacco controllers don't get any income from a vaping-based approach to tobacco and nicotine, it doesn't pay salaries you see; mortgages get in arrears; and redundancies due to funding cuts tend to ensue.

Secondly, the dismissal of VLNCs as a policy ignores how very seriously the US tobacco control movement takes the idea. For them, this is not only a game-changer but a chance to lead the world. The US hasn't even got graphic health warnings on tobacco yet due to their constitution, and American anti-smokers are constantly embarrassed by that, plain packs are a distant pipe dream for them just now. They look on with suppressed gloom as other countries (which have ratified the FCTC, unlike the US) forge ahead with prohibitionist rent-seeking, while they are left as the poor relations, the tutting of their fellow joyless brethren ringing in their ears.

But this is their real chance to be the first off the rank; to shine in front of their similarly hideous international colleagues and prove that they, too, can come up with something to bully (and kill) smokers which will spread internationally. Articles like this will only boost their resolve to work every waking hour to drive it through.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s proposal to strip cigarettes of their addictive properties has opened a new front in the international campaign to reduce smoking, with health authorities in at least four other countries studying the idea. 
After FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb suggested mandating drastic cuts in nicotine levels, public-health experts in New Zealand last week published an action plan recommending such reductions within five years. Canada and Finland say they’re looking into regulating amounts of the drug in tobacco products, while officials in the U.K.’s Department of Health have discussed the U.S. proposal with FDA representatives, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The sideshow in Gottlieb's announcement wasn't VLNCs, it was his weak 'rind and a promise' blathering about vaping and harm reduction. It was never going to last. I did think it would last longer than 11 days though, I have to admit.

Sorry, America, but you look like you're screwed as far as e-cigs are concerned. As in many other areas, US regulators seem to be shooting off at a tangent to the rest of the world and it would appear that the unique way that tobacco control is funded over there could be leading policy-making.

Make no mistake. If you want to see a relaxation of rules on vaping, the dragon that needs to be slayed is VLNCs and the vile ideology that promotes it. The proposal is far from being a benign threat, and most certainly not something that anyone in the US is driving in order to make e-cigs seem more attractive. 

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

'Passive Vaping' Bullshit In The Daily Mail

While I've been busy lately, there was an astonishingly shit article popped up in the Daily Mail last week which is a classic of the junk science clickbait genre so beloved of tobacco control.
Scientists have issued a warning on passive vaping because of toxic chemicals in e-cigarette vapour. 
People in bars where vaping is allowed are exposed to unhealthy levels of formaldehyde, which causes cancer, and acrolein, a toxin which irritates the eyes and skin.  
That is the finding of a study based on as few as three people an hour using the devices in a bar.
The word 'scientists', in this context, is used in the very loosest sense, since we are talking about Berkeley University in California. For the uninitiated, they are the same bunch of lunatics who are promoting the ridiculous quackery of 'thirdhand smoke" using grant money from the Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program (TRDRP). For an example of how that route is simply a way of creating lies with public money, do read this audit trail of how the scam works that I wrote a few years ago.

So, now we know how disingenuous they are, how did they persuade the Mail to publish such a load of nonsense?

Well, it's quite easy really. The study is here and you can see just from the abstract the problems with it.
Contributions from vaping to air pollutant concentrations in the home did not exceed the California OEHHA 8-h reference exposure levels (RELs), except when a high emitting device was used at 4.8 V. In that extreme scenario, the contributions from vaping amounted to as much as 12 μg m–3 formaldehyde and 2.6 μg m–3 acrolein.
Yes, it's the old crank-it-up-to-11-and-measure-the-bad-stuff approach again. Junk scientists cling to this method to produce their lies, even though they know very well that in real life conditions no vaper would ever push their equipment to such absurd extremes. But then, tobacco controllers are not interested in proper science, just convincing vacant journalists to produce a fraudulent headline.

If you want to read more how the power an e-cig to destruction scam works, see this review by Clive Bates including a letter to some of the researchers who were referenced in this latest piss poor study. The research cited by the Daily Mail's 'scientists' has been debunked over and over again, but they keep referring back to it because - despite their knowing it is plain wrong scientifically, so therefore fraudulent- it fits the conclusion they wish to press release to the media.

However, it's even worse than that. For a start, there were no real measurements taken for the study, it was all 'modelled' on data they extracted from elsewhere. So when the Mail article talks about "people in bars where vaping is allowed are exposed" you may be fooled into thinking that this scenario was thoroughly tested in real life by these 'scientists'. Not so, because not a single wisp of vapour was produced during the study, it was just a computer program predicting what might happen under certain scenarios.

So, of course, the frauds who produced this research entered a whole load of garbage into the computer to produce the result that they wanted to come to. Therefore, they predicted extreme e-cig emissions from a high-powered device - which most e-cigs aren't - and ignored the fact that people using those which are would instantly taste the disgusting bad chemicals and stop vaping.
These emission rates were used as inputs to calculate indoor air pollutant concentrations using home and bar scenarios as described in the Supplementary Information.
But ... it's even worse than even that! Their central assumption was that 20-40% of the vapour comes out of a user's mouth without being inhaled and do you know where they got that from?  Well, a study of how much "sidestream" smoke is emitted by smokers when smoking tobacco, naturally. The amount of vapour which escapes before being inhaled has never actually been studied, and these 'scientists' certainly didn't want to be the first ones to do so because it would have fucked up their pre-determined plan. They even admit that it's a shoddy way of doing things themselves in the study text.
It should be noted that puff duration and other topography parameters are different for conventional and electronic cigarettes, and for that reason using [mouth spill] derived from tobacco cigarettes may be a source of bias.
Ya don't say!

Because who uses high-powered e-cig devices? Well, sub-ohmers do, and anyone who knows how sub-ohming works knows that it is a vaping activity that means taking the vapour directly into the lung so - surprise, surprise - results in no vapour at all accidentally spilling out of the mouth before it is inhaled, let alone 30% of the vapour produced by the device.

If you take pretend vapour from a pretend model using a device running at unrealistic levels, and then assume 30% is spilt from the mouth and not inhaled - which is bullshit and never happens - it's very easy to then create a scenario whereby you can get a computer to measure high levels of chemicals which would never occur in the real world.

This, in tobacco control circles, is what they call "science". In all other areas, it is described as "Garbage in, Garbage Out" which - oddly enough - is a fine description of the tobacco control profession as a whole. 

Monday, 7 August 2017

Slow Handclap For The TPD

It's been another hectic week for your humble host. Quite apart from business pressures, I've found myself variously in Norwich, Brighton, rural Essex and Shrewsbury in the past few days. I will write about the Norwich leg later in the week but the Shrewsbury jaunt was for a weekend at Vapefest 2017.

It's kinda like this at Vapefest (photo from here)
I stayed in a marvellous three-bedroom house with some friends who will be known to you if you follow on Twitter, and a good time was had by all. But I think it's worth commenting on the remarkable difference between previous events (this was my third) and the 2017 version.

On the journey up the M1, my travelling companion and I had discussed how this year's Vapefest might handle the imposition of the TPD on May 20th this year. When we arrived, it instantly became very clear because it has fundamentally changed the nature of the place.

Previously, vendors would be giving out small free samplers - mostly with no nicotine although sometimes with - but these were noticeably absent this year. The TPD has put paid to that little avenue of pleasure.

There was also very little buzz around stalls selling new hardware. There were mods and new batteries but why would anyone wish to purchase a new piece of kit now the ignorant hysterical fuckspanners in tobacco control have persuaded the EU to demand limiting tank size to a risible 2ml? A lot of focus at Vapefest is sub-ohm devices running at high wattage to maximise flavour at a low nicotine level, which means that 2ml will last about the time it takes to read the stories of any interest in your free local newspaper; you'd be filling the thing every half hour or so.

However, what was most striking is that the stall-holders had almost abandoned selling pre-mixed nicotine-containing e-liquid altogether! Yes, you could buy 10ml TPD-compliant bottles but I didn't see many people doing that. In previous years 30ml, 60ml, and even 100ml bottles of ready-to-vape liquids were available at advantageous festival prices, but - of course - the TPD has ensured that those size bottles are now banned.

So the upshot is that the industry has moved to selling the concentrates (flavours) instead, to be mixed by vapers themselves. Just think about that for a moment. By observing their absurd 'precautionary principle' to supposedly protect vapers and children from the overblown dangers of nicotine in e-liquid, tedious shroud-waving tobacco controllers and their dim weasel-headed EU pals have created a situation whereby liquids are not mixed in a clean environment by professionals, but instead in kitchens up and down the country by vapers buying illicit nicotine base from China ... because you can't get that in anything over 10ml bottles either.

Instead of pharma-grade nicotine being mixed in sterile conditions with professional equipment, it is now being mixed in houses and flats using a Kenwood Chef and nicotine stored in domestic freezers, in whatever bottles are available, by people with varying levels of competence at mixing DIY juice.

Still, regulation is always a good thing, some would say. It's for safety, innit.

The government is looking for easy 'wins' following Brexit, there's one for them, right there in the TPD. What a clusterfuck.