2014-08-26 BBC: ” ‘Ban E-cigarette use indoors,’ says WHO”

Reminder: For a comment to be considered it must be accompanied by your full name: first name only or a pseudonym is not normally accepted. Please limit your comment to 1,000 characters (including spaces), and also avoid epithets and personal attacks.

Comic strip by Mike Peters, reproduced from St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Comic strip by Mike Peters, St. Louis Post-Dispatch 2014-08-24.
ref: http://www.grimmy.com/comics.php

The subject of e-cigarettes has surfaced again and, in addition to the WHO article below, I came across the above timely comic strip in the local newspaper recently. (Note that Mother Goose is smoking outdoors! – albeit near an open window.)

The WHO report by the BBC garnered a lot of responses. I read a few of those featured as Editor’s Picks, which unanimously favor the use of e-cigarettes as a way to either switch from smoking regular cigarettes or quit entirely.

‘Ban E-cigarette use indoors,’ says WHO
By Smitha Mundasad
BBC News Health reporter, 26 August 2014

There are more than 8,000 different flavours of e-cigarettes.

There are more than 8,000 different flavours of e-cigarettes.

The World Health Organization says there should be a ban on the use of e-cigarettes indoors and that sales to children should stop.
         In a report the health body says there must be no more claims that the devices can help smokers quit – until there is firm evidence to support this.
         WHO experts warn the products might pose a threat to adolescents and the foetuses of pregnant women.
         But campaigners say regulations must be proportionate.

Tempting flavours

According to the WHO legal steps need to be taken to end the use of e-cigarettes indoors – both in public spaces and in work places.
         And the report focuses on the potential for products to spark wider cigarette use in children.
         The health experts call for a ban on advertisements that could encourage children and non-smokers to use the devices.
         And they say fruit, candy or alcoholic-drink style flavours should be prohibited too, while the sales of electronic cigarettes from vending machines should be heavily restricted.

1. On some e-cigarettes, inhalation activates the battery-powered atomiser. Other types are manually switched on

2. A heating coil inside the atomiser heats liquid nicotine contained in a cartridge

3. Liquid nicotine becomes vapour and is inhaled. The ‘smoke’ produced is largely water vapour. Many e-cigarettes have an LED light as a cosmetic feature to simulate traditional cigarette glow.

‘Health threats’

The WHO warns exhaled e-cigarette vapour could increase the background air levels of some toxicants and nicotine.
         Jump media playerMedia player helpOut of media player. Press enter to return or tab to continue.
Observing a lab test comparing traditional smoking with e-cigarettes
According to the team while e-cigarettes are likely to be less harmful than traditional cigarettes, they may pose threats to adolescents and the foetuses of pregnant women who use these devices.
         But some researchers suggest tough regulations may prevent smokers having access to products that are potentially less harmful than conventional cigarettes.
         A spokesman for the British American Tobacco company said: “We have always said that given nicotine is addictive, minimum age laws of 18 for the sale of e-cigarettes should be introduced.
         “However, if overly restrictive regulations are introduced hampering innovation or adult usage, then this could simply stifle the growth of new products and prevent smokers from being aware of and having access to them – this can only be bad thing for public health.”
         Hazel Cheeseman, at the charity Action on Smoking and Health, said there was no evidence of any harm to bystanders and warned regulation needed to be proportionate.
         She added: “Smoking kills 100,000 people in the UK alone.
         “Smokers who switch to using electronic cigarettes in whole or in part are likely to substantially reduce their health risks.
         “Although we cannot be sure that electronic cigarettes are completely safe, as the WHO acknowledges, they are considerably less harmful than smoking tobacco and research suggests that they are already helping smokers to quit.”

Global guidelines

A UK Department of Health spokeswoman said: “More and more people are using e-cigarettes and we want to make sure they are properly regulated so we can be sure of their safety.
         “We have already set out our intention to change the law to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to children under 18.
         “The UK has an existing licensing system for higher strength products and those that claim to help people quit.
         “We are also bringing in new European rules to cover lower strength products which will ban most advertising, limit nicotine levels and set standards for ingredients, labelling and packaging.”
         The WHO’s recommendations were published ahead of a meeting involving all countries that have signed up to an international convention on tobacco control.
         New global guidelines could be agreed during the October meeting.

The tobacco lobby continues to influence legislation

Reminder: For a comment to be considered it must be accompanied by your full name: first name only or a pseudonym is not normally accepted. Please limit your comment to 1,000 characters (including spaces), and also avoid epithets and personal attacks.

My thanks to Stan Cowan, who e-mailed me several interesting articles, both about the influence the tobacco industry continues to wield, as well as a recent potential setback for them.

While it may have lost a major lawsuit – we won’t know until the appeals process is complete and a final damage figure, if any, is announced – the tobacco industry is regaining clout in some states.

John Britton in State Capitol

John Britton in Missouri State Capitol

Victor Crawford during 60 Minutes interview

Victor Crawford during 60 Minutes interview

Regarding the recent obituary of former tobacco industry lobbyist John Britton, and another, Victor Crawford, who eventually exposed dirty industry secrets before his death from throat cancer in 1996 at age 63, Stan wrote:

“Victor Crawford wanted to come clean. He knew he had done wrong.

[Please see original 60 Minutes interview of Victor Crawford by reporter Lesley Stahl at tinyurl.com/qfgvjgf]

John Britton never did express regret that his actions on behalf of the Tobacco Institute and later, Brown & Williamson, may have caused countless more Missouri youth to become addicted, additional diseases to be manifested, and more premature deaths.

You may appreciate some of the recent editorial and newspaper stories regarding tobacco industry political contributions.”

California Democrats accept more from tobacco industry 8-2-14

CA tobacco money over public health OpEd 8-7-14

What if tobacco companies were treated like other drug pushers?

Why tobacco companies deserve punitive damages 08-03-14

John Britton: A lost opportunity?

Reminder: For a comment to be considered it must be accompanied by your full name: first name only or a pseudonym is not normally accepted. Please limit your comment to 1,000 characters (including spaces), and also avoid epithets and personal attacks.

Following the death of John Britton, a good friend and smoke-free air ally, Jim Blaine, M.D., replied:

Here is his obit:


Makes me wish that I had taken the time to get to know him better. He could have been very effective if he had decided to turn State’s evidence near the end.



Interestingly, the obituary referenced above makes absolutely no mention of Britton’s highly influential and damaging work for the former Tobacco Institute. But the observation that “He could have been very effective if he had decided to turn State’s evidence near the end” is certainly valid, if unfortunately too late.

It reminds me of the late Victor Crawford, also a very effective lobbyist, who DID expose his former paymasters after contracting terminal throat cancer. He was the subject of a 60 Minutes segment and an Ann Landers column that appeared in a Spring 1995 MoGASP Newsletter, reproduced below:

Victor Crawford expose

Please click the above repeatedly to enlarge. Use the back-button to return to this page.

2014-08-06 P-D: “Lobbyist John Britton dies after a half-century as one of the most powerful people in Missouri”

Reminder: For a comment to be considered it must be accompanied by your full name: first name only or a pseudonym is not normally accepted. Please limit your comment to 1,000 characters (including spaces), and also avoid epithets and personal attacks.

The death of John Britton at age 88 proves that cigarette smoking is good for you and increases longevity. Either that, or he’d made a pact with the Devil (and the tobacco industry, for whom he lobbied very effectively in the State Capitol in Jefferson City for many years).

Even without Britton, the tobacco lobby remains very influential and I don’t expect any good state smoke-free air bill being introduced anytime soon.

I’ve featured Britton before and it’s worth revisiting this earlier blog, posted on August 31, 2009:
Columnist Bill McClellan on tobacco lobbyist John Britton, aka “Mayor of Jefferson City”

John Britton in his Jefferson City office (Photograph courtesy & copyright: Parker Eshelman)

John Britton in his Jefferson City office
(Photograph courtesy & copyright: Parker Eshelman)

The obituary by reporter Michael D. Sorkin in today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch is here:
Lobbyist John Britton dies after a half-century as one of the most powerful people in Missouri

The first two paragraphs sum Britton up well, although the full story contains interesting details of which I was formerly unaware, like his military service and education:

John Britton was a recovering alcoholic known for being ready with a case of beer for legislators in Jefferson City. In addition to being the lobbyist for the world’s largest brewery, he was the chain-smoking representative for the tobacco industry.

With his influence, the beer industry routinely stopped the state from raising taxes on its products. The tobacco companies regularly beat back every effort by the state to restrict smoking in public places.

2014-07-22 P-D: “No e-cigarettes for minors in Chesterfield after council vote”

Reminder: For a comment to be considered it must be accompanied by your full name: first name only or a pseudonym is not normally accepted. Please limit your comment to 1,000 characters (including spaces), and also avoid epithets and personal attacks.

I wasn’t aware of this step being considered by Chesterfield City Council. It should not detract from the need for FDA oversight of e-cigarettes and of their being treated cautiously, even if they hold out the prospect of a safer means of delivering nicotine than regular cigarettes.

I gave some of my reasons for supporting a veto of Senate Bill 841 relating to this issue in a Letter to the Editor, published June 29: “Don’t let industry set e-cigarette laws.

No e-cigarettes for minors in Chesterfield after council vote
• By Tara Kulash tkulash@post-dispatch.com 314-340-81145

CHESTERFIELD • Chesterfield joined a growing list of municipalities Monday that are preventing the sale of vapor nicotine products to minors, taking action one week after a potential statewide ban was vetoed by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon.
         The City Council voted 6-1 Monday night in favor of an ordinance that would prohibit the sale and possession of vapor products to those under 18.

Council member Barry Flaschbart

Council member
Barry Flaschbart

“These e-cigarettes should not be for sale to kids — I’ve gotten a complaint from a neighbor whose teenage kids were solicited to buy them in a store,” said council member Barry Flachsbart, who voted for the measure.
         Vapor products are electronic devices with liquid nicotine that claim to lack the carcinogens found in tobacco. Usually called e-cigarettes, the products produce a vapor instead of smoke.
         Many supporters of the product argue that e-cigarettes are less harmful than cigarettes and often help users to quit tobacco use.
         But the industry is largely unregulated at the federal level and may appear safer than it actually is.
         Dr. Anthony Scalzo, professor of pediatrics and director of toxicology at St. Louis University, called it “intuitive” to prohibit minors from the product.
         “The whole process of inhaling nicotine through this electronic thing, it eliminates toxins — yes, that’s the good part,” he said. “The bad thing is it’s still nicotine.”
         Scalzo said because the vapor lacks an offensive odor and lasts much longer than a cigarette, it encourages users to smoke it for longer periods of time and in public. This leads to a higher dose of nicotine over time and can lead to a stronger addiction, especially in children whose brains aren’t fully developed.
         He also said it’s worrisome that there may be contaminants in the vapors that the public is not aware of yet.
         And it’s especially concerning for children, Scalzo said, because it appears the companies are targeting them with flavors.
         “What 45-year-old guy that goes to the casino and is smoking wants bubblegum flavored? It’s appealing to the youth,” he said. “Let’s cut to the chase.”
         Parents in Chesterfield became aware of the threat and began making complaints to the city, said councilwoman Nancy Greenwood.
         Council member Bruce DeGroot cast the lone vote against the measure Monday.
         “This is too much government intervention,” DeGroot said. “Nobody has proven to me (e-cigarettes) are harmful to health in any way. Government powers should be used sparingly.”
         Several local vapor shops support the ordinance.
         Luke Ottinger, a co-owner of Arch City Vapors in the Chesterfield Four Seasons Shopping Plaza, said his shop does not sell to minors, nor does it allow parents to purchase the products for their children.
         He acknowledged one isolated incident, though, in which an employee sold a vapor product to a minor.
         The employee, he said, was fired.
         “We don’t even give warnings for that,” Ottinger said. “As far as we’re concerned, that’s not acceptable.”
         At Dorsett Vapor in Chesterfield, there’s a sign on the door notifying patrons that no one under 18 is allowed without a guardian.
         Store manager Dakota Rhoads said his shop also turns away adult customers who say they are buying the vapor products for their children.
         He said it would feel morally wrong to provide e-cigarettes to minors. “Getting them hooked at an early age is not something that we would want to do,” Rhoads said.
         Chesterfield is not the first in its ordinance. Ray Johnson, chief of the Chesterfield police, said Ellisville and Eureka have similar ordinances. Illinois also banned the sale to minors.
         Missouri legislators sent a bill to Nixon in May that would prohibit the sale to children. It would also prevent the product from being regulated as tobacco, but it allowed for changes to be made to the law if product risks were made known in the future.
         In April, the Federal Drug Administration released proposed guidelines that would prohibit the sale of vapor products to minors and require label warnings that nicotine is an addictive chemical, among other rules.
         On July 14, Nixon vetoed the Missouri legislation, arguing that the bill didn’t go far enough. He said it favored the tobacco industry because it exempted vapor products from the laws and taxes on traditional tobacco cigarettes.
         The next day, the American Vaping Association called for the Missouri Legislature to override the governor’s veto, calling Nixon “out of step with the rest of the nation” in a press release.
         More than 40 states have banned the sale of vapor products to minors.
         In the case of Chesterfield, police chief Johnson said after receiving complaint from a resident, he took the issue to the Public Health and Safety Committee, which then recommended the ordinance to the council.
         Johnson said the ordinance is not targeting any particular vapor shop.
         “We’re seeing more and more pop up around the metro area, so we’re just trying to get out ahead of this thing,” he said.

Mary Shapiro, Post-Dispatch special correspondent, contributed to this report.

2014-07-13 P-D: “Sherpa: Move to ban smoking in military needs snuffing”

Reminder: For a comment to be considered it must be accompanied by your full name: first name only or a pseudonym is not normally accepted. Please limit your comment to 1,000 characters (including spaces), and also avoid epithets and personal attacks.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch Metro reporter, Joe Holleman, also writes the Sunday “Life Sherpa” column and his latest is worth reproducing. It reflects one point of view and has some resonance, in that when you’re serving on active duty in a war zone, smoking cigarettes may not seem like your biggest concern. However, promoting cigarette smoking, even among military personnel, no longer makes any sense, if it ever did.

Maybe it seemed like a good idea during trench warfare when there were evidently long bouts of tedium separating over-the-top suicide charges towards enemy lines protected by barbed wire and machine guns. Promoting smoking in the military was certainly a wonderful boost to tobacco manufacturers, and resulted in a sudden large return of addicted demobilized military personnel in 1918.

However, to quote a well-known cigarette sales pitch, since then “We’ve come a long way baby.” That is, except for those steadfastly closing their eyes to reality and what we’ve learned about the addictiveness of cigarettes, and the disease and premature death they cause. (Not to mention the similar effects and air pollution caused by secondhand smoke.)

In fact, a legislator whom Holleman dismisses, U.S. Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, is a hero to me. As a Congressman, Durbin worked with the late U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) to pass the very first limitation on smoking in airplanes, requiring flights of two hours or less to be smoke-free – which eventually led to smoke-free flights to and from the U.S. At the time this was (and remains) an incredible victory, given the tobacco industry’s influence then and now in the Congress. (This noteworthy effort deserves a separate blog.)

Joe Holleman is living in the past, and evidently a great ally of one of the most duplicitous industries of our time: Big Tobacco.

Please note: I’ve shortened the article’s introduction.

Joe Holleman  Metro reporter

Joe Holleman, Metro reporter

Sherpa: Move to ban smoking in military needs snuffing
July 12, 2014 12:15 am • By Joe Holleman jholleman@post-dispatch.com 314-340-825450

When listening to sports radio, especially when the subject of evaluating a player’s talent arises, you might hear the phrase “eye test.” …. This simply means, after all the numbers have been crunched, what does a player look like? ….
         That’s why I propose that all legislators, and the executive branch for that matter, adopt the “ear test” as soon as possible. It would work like this:
         When proposing legislation, it shall be required that each representative read — out loud — what the bill will actually do. Forget the statistics for a moment and just see what reaction the words trigger in your brain.
         For if the ear test rule were in place, then Congress would not have recently discussed limiting or prohibiting military personnel from smoking cigarettes.
         My kingdom for an ear test, and mine would sound something like this:
         “Should the U.S. — while asking our military to face enemy guns, bombs and missiles; fly dangerous missions in airplanes and helicopters under fire; and endure nerve-wracking terror, tension and boredom in hostile locales — tell soldiers, sailors and pilots that they can’t smoke ’em, even if they got ’em?”

mogasp comment: Some fire departments have hired only non-smoking firefighters for what is also a dangerous job. To be eligible for disability due to job-related smoke inhalation it makes no sense to simultaneously permit cigarette smoking. While this is not exactly analogous, promoting the highest level of physical fitness among military personnel still makes sense.

         Many cigarette-haters will trumpet this move as a giant step in the right direction and point to the illnesses and deaths cigarettes cause.
         To be sure, I don’t disagree with those medical facts. I know personally of the damage that cigarettes cause. My father, a smoker for many years, died of lung cancer. Realizing the danger, I managed to kick that nasty habit 11 years ago, and I have no plans to put that monkey back on my back.
         Then again, I’ve been able to avoid those pesky “someone is trying to kill me with rocket-propelled grenades” stress levels.
         Heck, the worst fire I ever draw are snarky letters from soccer sycophants and animal activists. Sorry to disappoint, but those missives aren’t enough to push me back into the warm and smoky arms of Miss Winston Light.
         To no one’s surprise, I hope, this military-tobacco issue has even been the subject of a government study. One fact they managed to uncover is that smoking is higher among those who are likely to face enemy fire. (Didn’t see that one coming, did you?)

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin

         But isn’t it par for the course that our elected leaders would spend time discussing this issue? One U.S. senator, Illinois Democrat Richard Durbin, even questioned whether the military should be offering tobacco discounts.
         Durbin said, “We spend $1.6 billion a year on medical care of service members from tobacco-related diseases and loss of work.”
         Pardon me, but the pressing question about military health care is not how much we spend, but how well we spend it. Recent reports about deficiencies at Veterans Administration hospitals seem to indicate that the answer is “abysmally.”
         Thankfully, one U.S. congressman spotted the emperor jogging naked around the Capitol rotunda.
Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-CA)

Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-CA)

         Duncan Hunter, a Republican from California, got the House to prohibit placing new restrictions on legal products for the military.
         I’d like to think that Hunter — a Marine Reserve major who did three combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan — won this battle by providing his own ear test, saying:
         “We sleep in the dirt for this country. We get shot at for this country. But we can’t have a cigarette if we want to for this country, because that’s unhealthy.”
         And on that note, the common-sense lamp was lit.

Comments on-line at http://tinyurl.com/kfmpzqc. 50 as of

2014-06-29 P-D Letters: “Don’t let industry set e-cigarette laws”

Reminder: For a comment to be considered it must be accompanied by your full name: first name only or a pseudonym is not normally accepted. Please limit your comment to 1,000 characters (including spaces), and also avoid epithets and personal attacks.

I’m delighted that my Letter to the Editor, prompted by the OpEd by Ron Leone published the previous day, appeared in today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch. It’s reproduced below:

Martin Pion

Martin Pion, President MoGASP

Don’t let industry set e-cigarette laws

Ronald Leone, Executive Director of the Jefferson City-based Missouri Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association, is a master at sleight of hand. If he’s opposed to something, you can guarantee it’s in the public interest to support it, and vice-versa.
         This has been the case with his consistent opposition to repeated ballot initiatives to increase the lowest-in-the-nation Missouri cigarette tax, which is 17 cents per pack.
         What he never admits is that it’s in his members’ interests to oppose a tax hike; that it would be beneficial for public health; that it would help to deter youth smoking and reduce adult smoking and, horrors! incentivize them to quit.
         Mr. Leone’s June 25th OpEd (“Protecting kids from e-cigarettes: A common-sense approach”) in favor of Senate Bill 841 picked out the only potential carrot in the bill — prohibiting youth access to e-cigarettes — to justify what is overall a bad bill. Leone’s support confirms it should be vetoed by Gov. Jay Nixon.
         Reasons include the need for federal definition and regulation of e-cigarettes, as well as local clean air regulation, which this bill preempts.
         The health groups opposing the bill, apart from Missouri GASP, include the Greene County Medical Society, the Missouri State Medical Association, the Missouri Academy of Family Physicians, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society, the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids and the Tobacco Free Missouri Coalition.
         The public health and welfare is ill-served when we allow Mr. Leone to set the agenda.

Martin Pion • Ferguson
President, Missouri GASP (Group Against Smoking Pollution) Inc.