Hello all and welcome! Dawn here, and as you may know this is the fourth part of A Clean Cigarette’s, E-Cigarette Summit blog series. It’s focused on taking a quick look at each of the amazing speakers who attended this groundbreaking event. If you have not read the first three parts consider taking a peek Here I, Here II, and Here III for a look at what we have already talked about. In addition please keep in mind that this blog series is done in order to report on what took place at the E-Cigarette Summit. The thoughts and views may not represent A Clean Cigarette’s thoughts or views. A Clean Cigarette brand electronic cigarettes DO contain nicotine. Nicotine IS an addictive substance. A Clean Cigarette is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any illness. Nothing you inhale into your lungs besides clean air is good for you.
Now onto the good stuff:
At this point in the E-Cigarette Summit, which was held on May 8th, 2017 in Washington D.C., we have heard from a few speakers on both sides of the e-cigarette aisle. We have heard from supporters (Enthusiasts) and we have heard from opponents (Skeptics). Both sides have had some interesting things to say so far.
As I said in part II of the series, reporting fairly on both sides of the debate is extremely important to us here at A Clean Cigarette. In fact, that was the main purpose of the E-Cigarette Summit in the first place. This event gave policy makers, public health specialist, scientist, and other e-cigarette industry shareholders the much-needed opportunity to bring all the currently available evidence to one platform. Then to discuss and talk about that evidence in a productive way to hopefully influence future regulations. So maybe those regulations will not only keep the industry in mind, but that keep the public health impact of this industry at the forefront of the decision making.
That is really where our next speaker steps right in, Professor Andrea C. Villanti is the Director of Regulatory Science and Policy at the Schroeder Institute for Tobacco Research and Policy. Prof. Villanti came to the summit to primarily speak on what is needed to fill the voids in the available electronic cigarettes studies and evidence. Her no-nonsense way of breaking down what needs to be done to improve e-cigarette research through measurement and design really explained why the available evidence is so hard to interpret.
Prof Villanti touched on the differences between, Never Smoker, Ever Smokers Daily Smoker and Regular Smokers as well as how those terms relate to terms like Ever Vapor, Never Vapors, Daily Vapors and Regular Vapors. How these terms are used can vary from study to study and survey to survey. That simple fact makes it very difficult to really interpret what is being shown.
In one survey that was mentioned jr. high and high school youth were asked about whether they had “ever” used an e-cigarette or vapor product. An extremely high number said yes to that question. The ever users were then lumped in with the regular users. The data was then used in various arguments against the e-cigarette and vapor industry. The evidence seeming to indicate that a larger than anticipated number of youths had taken up vaping/ e-cigarette use and that these users were, in fact, most likely to be Daily users.
Further surveys of the same group of students asked that if a vapor unit or e-cigarette product had ever been tried,
See how that information changes the data? Or at least how that Data can be interpreted? Instead of this evidence supporting the theory that vapor products and e-cigarettes will likely start youth on a nicotine habit, it appears to support the idea that kids who “try” it do not appear to stay with it as Daily users or even as Regular users.
I know it’s a bit convoluted, but as you can see the way ever vs never vs regular vs daily is used and interpreted can really make a huge difference in how evidence is used to establish policy and regulations regarding this industry. It is for this reason that Prof. Villanti claims more thorough surveys and observational studies must be completed and that it is important that we “qualify the differences” for “public health impact“.
For my part: According to Prof. Villanti’s e-cigarette summit write up her primary focus is basically on improving tobacco control policy and programs. She seemed to really want to help this industry, as well as public health officials, bring forth the best evidence possible. Creating more thorough surveys and working diligently to bring that information forward in a uniformed way, seems like great advice to me. I know it would sure be a huge help people like me. Standardization of the evidence would mean I could more accurately report on the information as it becomes available with less risk or misinterpretation.
Our next speaker at the summit was Dr. Robin J. Mermelstein out of Chicago Illinois. She is a professor of psychology and distinguished professor of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, directs the Institute for Health Research and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Right from the onset of the summit, Dr. Mermelstien was fully focused on each of the speakers and the evidence that each speaker had to present. At first, I could not figure out whether she would fall on the skeptic or the enthusiast’s side of the conversation. By the time she started talking I understood fully why that was. She appears to be both. And that is very exciting!
Basically, Dr. Mermelstein very sincerely wants to find an alternative to burning tobacco. She fully understands the millions of lives that are lost to its deadly grip every year. She has no apparent doubt that burning tobacco is a scourge to humanity and that finding a realistic alternative to its deadly form of nicotine delivery should be a top public health priority. That being said she is not willing to blindly follow the trends, she wants true evidence to prove not just that e-cigarettes are safer than burning tobacco, which is where most of the studies and evidence data is focused, but that e-cigarettes actually help smokers to quit smoking.
According to Dr. Mermelstein IF e-cigarettes can be proven to be as effective at helping smokers quit as the enthusiast believe then to be, then all efforts should be made to create an e-cigarette friendly environment in an effort to encourage the overall switch from burning tobacco-delivered nicotine to electronically-delivered nicotine. Examples she offered regarding what an “e-cigarette friendly environment” may look like included allowing for indoor use of electronic cigarettes, exempting e-cigarette from tobacco taxes, raising the age on traditional tobacco purchases and allowing for advertisements of e-cigarettes to reflect the reduced harm claims as well as the smoking cessation claims. But before any of this can take place real and solid evidence must be presented.
As far as evidence goes, it comes as no surprise, that the reduced harm side of things seems to have her convinced. It’s the smoking cessation side of the issue, she and others like her want to see more about. In particular, she would like to see how many smokers are really switching completely and how many smokers are using products such as e-cigarettes at the same time as smoking burning tobacco. It’s these “dual users” that appear to have Dr. Mermelstein questioning whether e-cigarettes are really the public health hero they seem to be or whether they are just another way for people to stay addicted to their burning tobacco. It’s a fair question.
For my part: I appreciate Dr. Mermelstein’s sincere want to follow the evidence and do what is truly best for public health. I can also appreciate her unwillingness to just buy into a trend without all the information. In fact, her passion to find the truth regarding e-cigarette akin to my passion to educate on the truth in regards to this issue.
Now I understand that finding evidence for Dr. Mermelstein seems like it should be a simple fix. I mean we have tons of testimonies from smokers that have switched off of burning tobacco and a fair amount of those testimonies come from people that claim to have used our product (although we do not advertise it as such!) to quit smoking completely. But while the testimonies are powerful, they are not scientific evidence. Which is exactly what Dr. Mermelstein says that we need more of, evidence. I agree with her and look forward to seeing where this amazing lady goes in search of the truth in the near future.
Well, I had hoped to get through three speakers today, but as I look down at the over 1500 words I have here already, it occurs to me that I may need to cut it short at just these two. I do hope you will check out part five next week and if you have any questions on these speakers or anything we have covered regarding the electronic cigarette summit please feel free to drop me a line at AccAnswers@gmail.com. Also if you would like more information on A Clean Cigarette brand electronic cigarettes please visit acleancigarette.com or any of our 18 Michigan store locations. Thank you for stopping in and have a great day!