E-Cigarettes Bring Smokers Back Inside, For Now
by: NPR Staff
Electronic cigarettes are sparking lots of skepticism from public health types worried they may be a gateway to regular smoking.
But the cigarettes, which use water vapor to deliver nicotine into the lungs, may be as good as the patch when it comes to stop-smoking aids, a study finds.
Smokers who used e-cigarettes in an attempt to quit the old-fashioned kind of cigarettes did about as well at stopping smoking as the people who tried the patch.
After six months, 7.3 percent of e-smokers had dropped cigarettes, compared to 5.8 percent of people wearing the patch.
Either way, quitting is hard. The number of people who quit was low overall — just 38 of the 584 smokers given the e-cig or the patch. That wasn’t enough people to say for sure that one approach was better than the other.
“What we couldn’t show is that [e-cigarettes are] definitely superior to nicotine patches,” says , an associate professor at the University of Auckland who led the research. He and his colleagues figured that the e-cigarettes would be much more successful, based on consumer surveys showing that people were less than pleased with the patch.
Still, Bullen says, the low quit rates are what you might expect when people are trying to quit without much counseling or support. That and the batteries kept failing in the early model e-cigarettes. “We had to keep sending out batteries,” Bullen told Shots.
All that said, some e-cigarette users were able to reduce the number of cigarettes they smoked, even if they didn’t quit.
The results were presented at the European Respiratory Society meeting in Barcelona and in The Lancet.
The researchers recruited 584 smokers in Auckland, New Zealand, who wanted to stop smoking. Half were given e-cigarettes and the other half got coupons for nicotine patches, which are typically prescribed as a stop-smoking aid. Another 73 smokers were given e-cigs without nicotine, as a control.
Those people also made progress in quitting smoking, with 4 percent off tobacco after six months. “I think that speaks to the behavioral replacement,” Bullen says. “They’re oral. They’re tactile. There’s a ritualistic thing where you prepare the product and put it in your mouth and draw on it.”
The number of children and teenagers using e-cigarettes more than doubled in a year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week. Numbers like that have in the United States worried that e-cigarettes will serve as a gateway to smoking cigarettes, which are much more toxic than e-cigarettes.
There’s not yet evidence that that’s happening, Bullen says. “I don’t think that’s an inevitable pathway.” Efforts to regulate e-cigarettes could harm current smokers, he says. “For some people I think e-cigarettes will be part of the solution. But they’re not going to be a magic bullet.”
The E-Cigarette Industry, Waiting to Exhale
By MATT RICHTEL
Published: October 26, 2013
Geoff Vuleta was in the crowd at a Rolling Stones concert last year when Keith Richards lit up a cigarette on stage, the arena’s no-smoking policy be damned. Feeling inspired, Mr. Vuleta, a longtime smoker, reached into his pocket and pulled one out himself. People seated nearby shot him scolding glances as he inhaled. So he withdrew the cigarette from his mouth and pressed the glowing end to his cheek.
His was an electronic cigarette, a look-alike that delivers nicotine without combusting tobacco and produces a vapor, not smoke. Mr. Vuleta, 51, who has a sardonic humor, clearly relished recounting this story. He is the chief marketing officer for NJOY, an electronic cigarette company based in Scottsdale, Ariz., and it is his job to reframe how everyone, nonsmokers included, view the habit of inhaling from a thin stick and blowing out a visible cloud.
Mr. Vuleta, who told his tale in the office of Craig Weiss, the NJOY chief executive, calls this a process of “renormalizing,” so that smokers can come back in from the cold. He means that literally — allowing people now exiled to the sidewalks back into buildings with e-cigarettes. But he also means it metaphorically. Early in the last century, smoking was an accepted alternative for men to chewing tobacco; for women, it was daring and transgressive. Then, in midcentury, it became the norm. As the dangers of tobacco — and the scandalous behavior of tobacco companies in concealing those dangers — became impossible to ignore, smoking took on a new identity: societal evil.
Mr. Vuleta and Mr. Weiss want to make “vaping,” as e-cigarette smoking is known in the industry, acceptable. Keith Richards might still be smoking tobacco, but in Mr. Vuleta’s vision, that grizzled guitarist’s gesture could inspire the audience, en masse, to pull out e-cigarettes. “The moment Keith Richards does it,” he said, “everyone else does, too.”
Mr. Vuleta’s words are more exuberant than the official company line, which is that NJOY doesn’t want everyone to smoke e-cigarettes but only to convert the 40 million Americans who now smoke tobacco. The customers NJOY attracts, and how it attracts them, are at the center of a new public health debate, not to mention a rush to control the e-cigarette business.
At stake is a vaping market that has grown in a few short years to around $1.7 billion in sales in the United States. That is tiny when compared to the nation’s $90 billion cigarette market. But one particularly bullish Wall Street analyst projects that consumption of e-cigarettes will outstrip regular ones in the next decade.
NJOY was one of the first companies to sell e-cigarettes; now there are 200 in the United States, most of them small. Just last year, however, Big Tobacco got into the game when Lorillard acquired Blu, an e-cigarette brand, and demonstrated its economic power. Within months, relying on Lorillard’s decades-old distribution channels, Blu displaced NJOY as the market leader.
Mr. Weiss still sees NJOY as having an advantage — in building e-cigarettes that look, feel and perform like the real thing. It’s a different strategy than that of competing products that look like long silver tubes or sleek, blinking fountain pens.
“We’re trying to do something very challenging: change a habit that is not only entrenched but one people are willing to take to their grave,” said Mr. Weiss, who is not a smoker but has tried both regular and e-cigarettes. “To accomplish that, we have to narrow as much as possible the bridge to familiarity. We have to make it easy for smokers to cross it.”
To some, though not all, in public health, that vision sounds ill-conceived, if not threatening. Among their concerns is that making smoking-like behavior O.K. again will undo decades of work demonizing smoking itself. Far from leading to more smoking cessation, they argue, e-cigarettes will ultimately revive it, and abet new cases of emphysema, heart disease and lung cancer.
“The very thing that could make them effective is also their greatest danger,” said Dr. Tim McAfee, director of Office on Smoking and Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
To achieve his ends, Mr. Weiss is building a company of strange bedfellows. He has hired former top tobacco industry executives, but also attracted a former surgeon general, Dr. Richard H. Carmona, who has join
ed the board. NJOY recently hired away a prominent professor of chemistry and genomics from Princeton to be the company’s chief scientist. The company has attracted investment from Sean Parker, the former Facebook president, and Peter Thiel, the PayPal co-founder. There has also been a celebrity endorsement from the
singer Bruno Mars.
Mr. Weiss sees his company as doing something epic. Not long after he was named its president in June 2010, he asked his psychologist if he might record his regular sessions. It was an unusual request, but he thinks that recording his thoughts might ultimately help him write a book or movie script about how he and the company made the cigarette obsolete.
“We’re at this incredible inflection point in history,” he said, adding that the company has a chance to “make the single most beneficial impact on society in this century.” ——>Continue Reading<——