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New E-Cigarette Lounges in RI Claim Vaping is Healthy - Research and Critics Disagree

Friday, July 29, 2016

 

A vaping lounge is touting its success as a "health alternative" to stop smoking -- but critics say otherwise. Photo: Flickr/vapes.com

An e-cigarette “vaping" lounge with locations in Rhode Island - including the Providence Place Mall - is touting being a “healthy alternative” to help quit smoking, but national anti-smoking groups disagree, and a new study shows vapor from electronic cigarettes contains two previously undiscovered cancer-causing chemicals.

“White Horse Vapor, a Rhode Island-based national leader in the growing vaping industry, celebrates its first anniversary as a successful national franchising company next month,” said PR firm New Harbor Group for its client in a press release this week, touting its mall and Mineral Spring Avenue locations, as well as Cavalry Bar and Lounge in downtown Providence.  “Vaping, a term used to describe puffing of an electronic cigarette, has become a healthy alternative to reducing or eliminating nicotine without the harmful smoke in tobacco cigarettes.”

Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory however recently found propylene glycol, an eye and respiratory irritant, and glycerin, a skin, eye and respiratory irritant, among 29 other chemicals released in e-cigarette vapor, which are considered “probable carcinogens” by federal health officials -- and are used in e-cigarettes to create artificial smoke.

National groups have also expressed their concerns about touting e-cigarette use as a healthy alternative when trying to quit smoking. 

“When people talk about studies that ‘confirm’ things about e-cigarettes, our point is because the FDA hasn't regulated e-cigarettes until now, there's been no-one looking at this,” John Schachter, Communications Director for the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, told GoLocalProv.com. 

“Some e-cigarette users believe that e-cigarettes will help them quit or reduce the number of cigarettes they smoke and state that they often use e-cigarettes for this reason. However, there is not enough evidence to conclude whether e-cigarettes are a safe and effective smoking cessation device,” states the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.  “The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force…recently concluded that ‘the current evidence is insufficient to recommend electronic nicotine delivery systems for tobacco cessation.”

“According to researchers from the CDC, ‘There is currently no conclusive scientific evidence that e’cigarettes promote long-term cessation, and e-cigarettes are not included as a recommended smoking cessation method by the U.S. Public Health Service,” they continue. 

Competing Studies

Providence Place Mall is one of three locations of the growing vape lounge.

In its release, White Horse Vapor, which is an 18+ establishment, claims that “vaping is 95% less harmless than conventional cigarettes because of the absence of cancer-causing chemicals found in tobacco.  Studies confirm that e-cigarettes are far less addictive than cigarettes and 50% more effective than nicotine patches in helping people quit smoking.”

“Vaping has proven to be the best way for people to stop smoking,” said Dino Baccari, Founder and President of White Horse Vapor.  “This explains its booming popularity, and why it has proven so successful in the marketplace.”

Researchers at Portland State University however expressed concerns about the safety of e-cigarettes, however, when they found that e-cigarette vapor can contain hidden formaldehyde levels five to 15 times higher than regular cigarettes.

“E-cigarettes are becoming more complicated and more like real cigarettes by the day,” said PSU Professor James F. Pankow, who participated in the study, in a previous GoLocal article. “They use extremely high temperatures to vaporize their fluids and contain high levels of chemical additives. No one should assume e-cigarettes are safe.” 

The American Cancer Society has questioned the safety of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) as well, stating the following

When the solutions in ENDS are heated, they release acetaldehyde and formaldehyde – known toxins. The flavorings in the solutions may also be toxic. Studies have shown that e-cigarettes can cause short-term lung changes that are much like those caused by regular cigarettes. But long-term health effects are still unclear. This is an active area of research, but right now not much is known about the safety of these products.

The Portland State study had detractors  — a letter to the editor at the journal of the Society for the Study of Addiction called the [Portland State] research letter on e-cigarette cancer risk "so misleading it should be retracted."

E-cigarettes will soon be coming under increased scrutiny by the FDA, which in May finalized a rule extending oversight to all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, allows agency to address public health concerns such as youth access to tobacco products.

 

Related Slideshow: Black Market Cigarettes in New England

Scholars at Michigan's Mackinac Center for Public Policy have analyzed tobacco sales data to estimate smuggling rates for each state.

The report uses 2011 data and finds that smuggling rates generally rise in states after they adopt large cigarette tax increases. Smuggling rates have dropped in some states, however, often where neighboring states have higher cigarette tax rates.

This means that people are buying cigarettes in lower-taxed states legally, and bringing them into nearby higher-taxed states to sell at a lower price with higher profits.

See which New England states have the highest percentage of smuggled cigarettes in the slides below:

Source: Mackinac Center for Public Policy; Tax Foundation.

Prev Next

6. New Hampshire

National Rank (1 is Most): 47

2011 Consumption Smuggled*: -26.8%

2006 Consumption Smuggled*:-29.7%

2011 Cigarette Tax Rate (Per Pack): $1.68

 

*Positive is inflow (smuggled in), Negative is outflow (smuggled out)

Prev Next

5. Vermont

National Rank (1 is Most): 40

2011 Consumption Smuggled*: -16.9%

2006 Consumption Smuggled*: 4.5%

2011 Cigarette Tax Rate (Per Pack): $2.24

 

*Positive is inflow (smuggled in), Negative is outflow (smuggled out)

Prev Next

4. Maine

National Rank (1 is Most): 23

2011 Consumption Smuggled*: 13.7%

2006 Consumption Smuggled*: 16.6%

2011 Cigarette Tax Rate (Per Pack): $2.00

 

*Positive is inflow (smuggled in), Negative is outflow (smuggled out)

Prev Next

3. Massachusetts

National Rank (1 is Most): 19

2011 Consumption Smuggled*: 18.1%

2006 Consumption Smuggled*: 17.5%

2011 Cigarette Tax Rate (Per Pack): $2.51

 

*Positive is inflow (smuggled in), Negative is outflow (smuggled out)

Prev Next

2. Connecticut

Overall Rank (1 is Most): 14

2011 Consumption Smuggled*: 22.2%

2006 Consumption Smuggled*: 12.3%

2011 Cigarette Tax Rate (Per Pack): $3.00

 

*Positive is inflow (smuggled in), Negative is outflow (smuggled out)

Prev Next

1. Rhode Island

Overall Rank (1 is Most): 5

2011 Consumption Smuggled*: 39.8%

2006 Consumption Smuggled*: 43.2%

2011 Cigarette Tax Rate (Per Pack): $3.46

 

*Positive is inflow (smuggled in), Negative is outflow (smuggled out)

 
 

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