Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Time for a Xmas break :)

2014 is coming to an end and it has been a year of quite a few ups and downs for us vapers. We had the TPD approved in Febuary, the WHO reports this summer and finally the COP-6 farce in October. But I've also seen vapers and others fighting hard throughout the year, pretty much debunking all the various theories and attacks that the ANTZ has launched. As we're soon entering 2015 and regulations are getting closer it's important that we keep on fighting. Especially here in Norway I've seen the media turning a bit in the right direction after some fantastic work by the Norwegian Union of Vapers (NDS) and independent vapers and of course SIRUS, and I'm hoping the rest of the world will follow in 2015. Winning the media over will be the key to success, and in my opinion this is where we need to focus our work in 2015.

It's been my first year as a blogger and I've enjoyed it a lot. I've learned a lot, and I'm looking forward to keep on doing it in 2015 as well. I already have a couple of cool reviews lined up for you guys. But now, it's time for a proper Xmas break, so I'll probably not be posting again until January. If you're after some good blog-reading this Xmas I recommend having a look at the Vaping Militia 2014 Authors Choice.

I hope you all will have a fantastic Xmas and wish you a happy new year. See you all in 2015.

AspireAtlantis Subtank

photo credit: Bugsy Sailor via photopin cc

Friday, 19 December 2014

New report from Norway: Electronic cigarettes - usage patterns, user groups and user culture

Last Friday (the 12th) the Norwegian Institute for Alcohol and Drug Research (SIRUS) released a report on e-cigarettes with focus on usage patterns, user groups and user culture. I talked to Rikke Tokle, who is responsible for the study, in January when the project was in the start up phase. She said back then that "the background for SIRUS to start this project is the desire for more knowledge and focus on the users and their experience with using e-cigarettes". 

Sirus published an article on their web-page on Friday where Tokle talks a bit about the report. The report and the article is only available in Norwegian at the moment, but I asked Tokle about this and the plan is to release an article in English based on the report later on. The summary of the report is also written in English, and is now available at the last pages.

With Christmas coming up and everything I haven't had the time to read the whole report yet, but I had a brief look at it and it looks like a good read (if you can read Norwegian of course), having a lot of statements from the users that Tokle interviewed in the study. The report is mainly based on interviews with 16 vapers recruited from different channels to avoid selection. In addition to this Tokle has also attended a "vape meet" and observed user controlled websites. So the main objectives of this report is to document how e-cigarettes are used, who uses them, how they got introduced to them and the users perspective on some of the political aspects of vaping. It's not a report that aims to debunk or prove any theories or health consequences of e-cigarette use, but it aims to document the user culture and the users views on things. I think this is quite an interesting angle as I can't recall having seen anything like it before. It's actually not a study of e-cigarettes but a study of e-cigarette users and usage.

As I've said before, I think if you really want to know something about vaping, you need to talk to vapers. A lot of vapers are very updated on vaping politics, the market and maybe most importantly the science and research done on the subject. There is still a lot of so-called experts in the media claiming that "we don't know enough yet" or "there is not much research done on the subject yet". In my opinion, with all the easily accessible research available just a few clicks away, such statements disqualifies anyone from being described as "an expert". SIRUS shows with this report that they have understood this and they have also done so in the media on several occasions as well, with Karl Erik Lund referencing up to date science on the subject (as opposed to certain others that points to out-of-date reports on products long gone from the market).

I'm looking forward to reading the whole report as it is the first report I've seen with this focus on the vapers and their experiences and thoughts on the subject. It is 134 pages long so don't even thing about asking me to translate the whole thing. Hopefully the above mentioned article will be released soon. However, with a lot of help from google, I've translated the article that SIRUS posted on their web-page for those of you who don't read Norwegian (which according to my statistics should be most of you):
A minority of smokers who have switched to e-cigarettes has plans to stop using e-cigarettes. This is shown the first Norwegian study of e-cigarette users.

The use of e-cigarettes is increasing, but there is currently little Norwegian research on the subject. In the report "Electronic cigarettes - usage patterns, user groups and user culture" Rikke Tokle has interviewed users of e-cigarettes, participated in "vape meets" and observed Norwegian vaping web-sites.

The report documents the perceptions and attitudes of users of electronic cigarettes in an early phase dispersion product. The phase is characterized by a lack of clear rules for the application and acquisition, and that the media conveys inconsistent messages about risk.

- E-cigarettes seems to be a successful smoke substitute because the product addresses both the physical addiction to nicotine and the psychological addiction to action and smoke ritual. Vaping is a way to keep the "smoke habit" without smoke, says Tokle.

Many of the interviewees stated that they aim to vape nicotine free [e-juice] and that they actively step down on nicotine strength with the goal of total nicotine freedom.

A harm reduction alternative to tobacco

- For smokers e-cigarettes can be a harm-reducing alternative to tobacco cigarettes because nicotine is delivered without exposing the user to tar and many of the harmful gases released during the combustion of tobacco, says Tokle.

I the report she shows that the motives for using e-cigarettes are closely related to the informants' smoking career and addiction. Quitting smoking emerges as the primary motivation for the use of e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes seems to be crucial for many of the informants' freedom from smok today. The health aspect is the primary reason for wanting smoking cessation.

Used by various groups

The report indicates that the use of e-cigarettes have gained a foothold in different groups of smokers. For daily smokers vaping is an important and integrated part of the day. They vape in situations where they have previously smoked.

Occasional smokers often tell about double use and situation dependent use, where e-cigarette usage is "for fun", as opposition, or are motivated by practical reasons.

"Versatility" also seems to affect patterns of use in that vaping can be done at several and "new" places, such as inside nightclubs, workplaces, dining places, while reading, or in front of the tv. This seems to increase the frequency of use compared to conventional cigarettes.

Smokers are the primary audience for e-cigarettes according the informants in this study, which is supported by the fact that all of them has a smoking career. The informants can be divided into three user groups:

  • The first group are those who use e-cigarettes to quit smoking and to maintain smoking cessation. This user group appears to include the majority of vapers today.
  • Activists and committed "enthusiasts" can be referred to as a separate group. Vapers that may be linked to this group is characterized by enthusiasm for e-cigarettes. This becomes apparent through participation in forums like the one run by the Norwegian Union of Vapers, wishes to recruit smokers to vaping, and for some, working closely with the authorities to influence regulation. This group also houses the "particularly interested", where vaping also has a hobby aspect.
  • A third group that differs from the former are "trendsetters" and the recreational users of e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes appears here more as a selected accessory than as a smoking substitute. The news value and the "future element" of e-cigarettes is positively described. The informants that may be linked to this community seems to be mainly gifted young adults. Some are active in the nightlife.
Dissatisfaction with current regulations

Views on current regulations and the authorities' handling of e-cigarettes are characterized by discontent. The informants appear to be particularly frustrated by the current market situation and the ban on sale of nicotine e-juice from Norwegian retailers, as several of them states that this affects the weakest and most dependent smokers. Several of them also believe that online shopping exclude older people. The planning of orders in relation to shipping and customs can complicate smoking cessation and the transition to vaping for some.

The informants instead calls for regulation and standards for increased product safety. Some of them, especially those very involved informants, also express fear of over-regulation that could lead to narrowed product variety, higher prices and standardized products with little appeal to smokers. There is also scepticism about decisions made in the EU's tobacco products directive that will prohibit threshold values above 20 mg / ml nicotine.

There are differing opinions on how e-cigarettes should be distributed. The proposals range from pharmacy and liquor store to night clubs, kiosks and grocery retailers. There is consensus among the interviewees that there should be 18-year age limit for the purchase of both e-cigarettes and e-juice.

Subtank Fivepawns

Friday, 12 December 2014

Is this the official gateway theory debunking week?

I can't help but noticing that this week the gateway theory has been given
another couple of devastating wounds. This thing seems to be pretty hard to get rid of, it has already been dealt enough damage to kill it several times. Maybe this is because it was never based on reality or common sense in the first place, so real facts can't kill it cause it's supporters don't really care for those anyway?

Yesterday I wrote about the Penn State study that showed e-cigarettes are in fact less addictive than cigarettes. Today I saw that The Health Survey for England 2013 found that E-cigarette use rare in non-smokers. (Yeah, I'm a bit slow, I know it.) I don't really see the need to write a long comment on that, but I'll try to express my thoughts on this very briefly: Well, duh!?

I'd also like to recommend one of the most amusing comments of this week: Dick Puddlecote's comments on the survey that he published yesterday. Make sure you follow the last link in his post as well as it is also quite an amusing read. Have a nice weekend!

AspireAtlantis Subtank

Thursday, 11 December 2014

BIG Surprise: Vaping is LESS addictive than cigarettes

A lot of you have probably read about the new study from Penn State’s College of Medicine that concluded that the addictiveness from e-cigarettes is lower that that of cigarettes. The study was released on the 9th, I think, and was commented quite a few places. Klaus Kneale from ecigadvanced.com has written a great comment that you can read here.

The fact that e-cigarettes seems to be less addictive than cigarettes isn't really shocking to most vapers. I can tell from my own experience that I don't get the nicotine cravings are not as strong as they used to be and I can go a lot longer without my e-cigs than I could without a cigarette when I was smoking. Coincidentally I actually had a go at this this Sunday, when I left was going to a meeting. I was about to put some vaping gear in my pocket as I usually do when I go out, but decided that since it was probably going to be a short meeting I didn't need it. The meeting ended up lasting for 3 hours. Back when I was smoking I would have been trembling anxiously within an hour... but now I didn't even think about it before I got home.
The researchers suggest that this reduced addictiveness may be related to the products’ inability to deliver nicotine as effectively. While this is almost certainly true, other researchers and preliminary evidence suggests that, in the absence of smoke (and many other constituents found in tobacco cigarettes), nicotine just isn’t as addictive when delivered via vapor.
My thoughts exactly, Klaus. When I first read about the study this was the first thing that came to my mind as well. I wrote a couple of posts (here and here) about the addictiveness of nicotine earlier as well, referring to the work of Professor Peter Killeen among others. Killeen has also commented on vaping on youtube, and I highly recommend you watch this and listen to what he has to say about it:

What I personally find quite interesting is this part:
"We know nicotine is a big player in the addiction to cigarette smoke. Inhaled cigarette smoke is very addictive, and it's very fatal to a large proportion of people who use cigarettes or other forms of inhaled tobacco. How about vaping? How about inhaling nicotine? A lot of the assumptions that the scientists have made over these decades about the addictive properties of nicotine are wrong. They are wrong because they are always looking at nicotine addiction in the context of cigarettes and other inhaled tobacco products. Nicotine by itself has never been shown to be addictive. Nicotine by itself has never been shown to be addictive in individuals who have not smoked cigarettes prior to using nicotine"
The reason I put the last part of the quote above in bold is that this is one of the reasons that the gateway theory is invalid. As Steve K's puts it, this is Another Hole in the Gateway.

Fivepawns Stingray

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

How many e-cig studies can you fit in your hand?

Yesterday Steve K made me aware of this "Decent Article Derailed by Japanese Study". Reading the original article I see that the Japanese horror story and the following copy-paste journalism is still doing a lot of damage, kind of destroying an otherwise pretty good article about e-cigarettes. And then there is this:
The combination of uncertainty and the small handful of studies published to date mean that e-cigarette use is a gamble. There’s just not enough information to say for sure whether they are bad for you, or rather just how bad they are for you, considering the initial argument that they are far less harmful than tobacco.
Small handful of studies? I do realize that USB memory sticks today can fit a shitload of data, so technically this might be true, but seriously I do not think that was what they meant by this. Have a look at this study by Frank J. Domino, MD, published yesterday. The authors found and reviewed 99 full-text research papers. Is that a handful? Or how about all the studies collected on ecigalternative.com. Can those fit in your hand? As I said above, I assume that when they say a handful that is figuratively speaking, and in my opinion, if you are capable of using a handy tool called google, you should be able to dig up a lot more than a handful of studies. In fact I would say that Dr. Farsalinos studies alone would be around a handful... maybe two. But still I see the same thing in the media all the time: There is not much research done in the area yet. How is it even possible to state that when you obviously are able to access the internet... oh wait.. I just got it: Copy-paste journalism again. Damn...

AspireAtlantis Stingray

photo credit: M Prince Photography via photopin cc

Friday, 5 December 2014

YOU can get the truth out there!

Last Friday and on Tuesday I wrote that Norwegian media was pretty quick to retract the horror story was published in media all over the world that week. And still I haven't seen many non-Norwegian media doing this yet (although I wrote about one on Tuesday). But today I was made aware by Dan MacDonald (author of argvargen.wordpress.com) on twitter that Swedish News agency FinWire (@FinWire) has published an article retracting the news. They did this after Dan saw their original article and made them aware of what Norwegian media was writing and Dr. Farsalinos' statements on ecigarette-research.com. It's a perfect example of what we as vapers can achieve if we just keep on fighting. I strongly urge vapers in other countries to write to their news agencies, newspapers and any journalists that might be able to get the story out. Dan made it happen and so can you! Now let's hope the Swedish media picks this one up.

Here's the article they published, translated by google and yours truly:
AFP recently reported that e-cigarettes contain up to ten times more carcinogens than regular tobacco, citing research by Japanese researchers. Other prominent scholars however, tone it down and thinks that what was reported in the media does not match the actual research. The Norwegian NRK wrote in an article last week:

- Even in the worst product tested the values of the carcinogen formaldehyde that were
six times lower than in tobacco, says Konstantinos Farsalinos, which is considered a world-leading researchers in the right e-cigarettes.

Even Karl Erik Lund at the Norwegian Institute for Alcohol and drug research is sceptical after reading the Japanese report.

- We've made chemical content analyzes for 7-8 years and all analyzes performed so far goes in a completely different direction than the news agency reported here, said Lund to NRK.

- This is uncritical dissemination of a comment that does not reflect the content of the report and are liable to scare smokers from harm reduction nicotine intake, says Lund.

coolfire Stingray

Thursday, 4 December 2014

E-juice review: Devil Kiss and Danger Island by No1Ejuice

No1Ejuice says they want to provide "all the top brands" of e-liquid from one shop, and they are starting to have quite a good lineup of top-brand juices: Ben Johnsons, Five Pawns, Suicide Bunny and Mad Alchemist just to mention a few. They also keep working on adding new premium brands to their list all the time. Their prices are not bad either, and they do have some pretty good offers from time to time. To me it looks like they aim to be a juice vendor first and foremost, but also stock some basic starter kits and some of the most popular equipment from Aspire, Kanger and even Vaporshark at decent prices. But they also have their own range of e-liquids, currently consisting of 4 juices after they recently added a two new ones. Today I'm reviewing one "old" and one "new" juice from this range, Devil Kiss and Danger Island.

Devil Kiss 
Tested on: IGO-W8/Sigelei 100W (@ around 30-35W)

Devil Kiss is one of the two juices they started out with in this range. Well, to be honest I don't really know if they started with one or two juices when they started, but at least this one was there first time I visited their web-page. They describe it as a "succulent sweet grape flavour followed by a subtle hint of mint taste that will leave you feeling like you had a sweet delicious treat". Well, to be honest I don't think this description quite hit the spot. Now this might have to do with me trying it on a dripper and high wattage, but to me the mint taste are not a subtle hint. To me the mint and the grape are pretty much equally present. But that is not necessarily a bad thing. On this kind of setup I think their own description of the juice is a quite a bit off, but on a lower wattage setup it might be. So why didn't I try this? Well, even though the description wasn't spot on, that doesn't mean it's not good. I was actually going to leave some to test on the Nautilus, but I found myself chain-vaping and suddenly I was going to drip some more and the bottle was empty. The taste is pretty unique, I've not tasted anything like it before and as you might have guessed (since the I emptied the bottle without noticing) I kind of liked it. I do think this might be a hate/love juice though, at least on high power like this. A lot of flavour, and a very distinctive and unique flavor... that's like the recipe for a love/hate juice. The samples I got was 6 mg/ml nicotine and they are all 70/30 PG/VG. Throat-hit was pretty strong as you can imagine on this setup, and 6 mg/ml was perfect as well. Anything more and I'd get dizzy for sure.

Danger Island 
Tested on: Aspire Nautilus/Sigelei 100W (@ around 15W)
Danger Island is one of the two juices they recently added to the range. It's a
coconut/watermelon blend with a touch of creaminess. This time they are spot on with their description. As I said above, might have to do with the equipment and wattage used. Usually I find coconut kind of a hard taste to like in e-liquids. It usually gets to sweet and kind of sticky, and once it sets in the wicking material I get a feeling it gets even sweeter and more dominant. In this juice however I don't get that feeling. The melon kind of balances it out, and renders it more mellow. Again I discover a taste combo that I hadn't even thought of myself, and it works pretty well. It's not to sweet either, making it an easy juice to like if you ask me. None of the flavours are especially dominant over the others, and none of them very strong. It is a bit difficult to describe... I think soft is kind of the best word I can think of, this is a soft juice, or maybe calm. It would work great as an all day vape, the only thing I'm worried about is that it might be a bit boring in the long run.

I do recommend trying these juices out, especially the Devil Kiss, as they are both unique, interesting  and at the moment pretty cheap as well (£3.50 if you hurry).

  • All my reviews are my honest opinion even if I am affiliated with the company manufacturing or selling the product. 
  • The juice was sent to me free of charge for the purpose of this review.
  • This review contains affiliate links.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

E-cigarette regulations, who wants it and why?

Ivo Vegter
We all know there is a lot of organizations and individuals out there calling for strict regulations or even bans on e-cigarettes. Looking at the proven benefits of vaping and the research done on them, e-cigarettes could (and probably will) save the lives of millions of smokers, by replacing the most deadly consumer product on the planet with a product that will do anywhere from 95 to 100% less harm to its users. So why is it then that some people and organizations are so eager to get rid of them?

Via the NDS (Norwegian Union of Vapers) official Facebook page I came across this great article by Ivo Vegter that sums up a lot of the reasons, and I though it deserves to be shared as much as possible: Only Big Tobacco and Big Pharma want e-cig regulation. It's a great read with a lot of good links to relevant information. Highly recommended by the Vaping Giraffe.
The tobacco industry is not unique. Both it and the pharmaceutical industry would like to monopolise the e-cigarette action. And government is only too happy to sacrifice public health to big business lobbyists. The truth is that they are safe to use and effective to quit smoking. If governments were consistent, they’d hand e-cigarettes out like condoms.
I totally agree Mr. Vegter. Sadly though, I think it's more likely that they'll ban condoms, arguing that they might be a gateway to unprotected sex.

Fivepawns Stingray

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

The "10-times-more-harmful-than-cigarettes-scare", copy-paste journalism and what made the difference in Norway

As most of you probably are aware of on Thursday last week media all over the world, including Norway, started reporting the 10-times-more-harmful-than-cigarettes-scare. I'm still seeing some of the slower ones running this story, as it's still turning up in my daily google news searches. The story was fed to the media by news agency AFP, and from there it got published uncritically all over the world, doing a lot of harm, and ultimately scared a lot of vapers back to smoking cigarettes. I think this is a good example on how the media of today has turned into nothing but a tool for people with an agenda and a couple of braincells to spread their message all over the world, without anyone questioning whether the information is true or not. The vast majority of so called journalism today apparently consist of just copy-pasting the most shocking news, as fast as you can, so your employer can sell their ads at the highest price possible. It doesn't really matter that much if the information is true or not, since as soon as your horror headline has been clicked, the ads are doing their job; generating income for the website owner.

It was today I saw there first story from a source outside Norway where they actually question this information: http://goo.gl/RZtcSj. Inquisitr finally seems to have found the statement posted by Farsalinos at ecigarette-research.com. About time I would say. It's quite interesting to read the comments below this article. Have a look at the link posted by Norbert Zillatron, connecting the Japanese scientists to the WHO: http://goo.gl/6Co9bw. Now read the first paragraph again and connect the dots.

There might be other media as well that I'm not aware of that are coming forth now, but here in Norway the media started reporting that the horror story from Thursday wasn't all true already on Friday morning. Some actually already on Thursday evening. I've been wondering this weekend why this happened here, and not everywhere else in the world.

I contacted Karl Erik Lund at SIRUS and asked him a bit about what happened as he was doing a great job in the media, explaining the true story. He says that a journalist working for nrk.no that was also about to publish the horror story called him to ask about it and when hearing Lunds points of view on the story decided to publish a whole different story, debunking the horror that other media had published during the day. The race of true journalists may not be totally extinct anyway, at least there is one here in Norway. However it is a bit worrying that she seems to be a bit alone, even in her own organization. The horror story was actually aired on national TV at about the same time as her debunking story was published on nrk.no. The story was aired 19.12 and the article published 19.23. This is the clip where the horror is presented on TV on Thursday evening (thanks Helge Andersen for putting this on youtube):

"E-cigarettes contain 10 times as many carcinogenic substances as regular cigarettes. This is shown by a study conducted by the Japanese National Institute of Health. The World Health Organization advocates to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, and also showed that the vapor from these cigarettes are dangerous to fetuses and young children."

The next evening however they aired this "apology":
"In Dagsrevyen [Newsnight] yesterday we said that e-cigarettes contain 10 times as many carcinogenic substances as regular cigarettes with reference to a study conducted by the Japanese National Institute of Health. We emphasize that this result was only detected in only one of the cases that the Japanese scientists examined. The results in general showed that the level was lower in e-cigarettes than in tobacco."

Two people made a huge difference here in Norway, I believe ultimately saving lives: Kjersti Strømmen, a true journalist that actually did her job properly and Karl Erik Lund, who always speaks the voice of reason when this kind of madness comes along. Big thanks to both of them. I really really hope Strømmen will continue to dig a bit more around on the topic of e-cigarettes, and I hope (and I really believe he will) Lund will continue his efforts to get the truth about e-cigarettes out, to regulators, politicians and the general public. But Strømmen and Lund was not alone. I've been asking around a bit and a lot of people from the NDS (Norwegian Union of Vapers) Facebook group did a lot of commenting on articles and sending emails to journalists, using whatever contacts and means they had available. I think this combined effort was what made most newspapers publish "clarifying" articles the morning after, linking to Farsalinos and Lunds statements. The work of Lund, Strømmen and Farsalinos, of course, gave all the emails and comments the weight they needed to make the media turn around in this case.