The Oxford English Dictionary named "vape" - the word used for the act of drawing on an electronic cigarette instead of a burning stick of tobacco - as its 2014 word of the year.
"You are 30 times more likely to come across the word vape than you were two years ago, and usage has more than doubled in the past year," Oxford staff editors said.
The apparent rise of e-cigarettes was cited as the reason for the skyrocketing use of the word, along with countless debates over the safety of using the devices long term.
In other words, there was a lot packed in to this week's 58 minutes, including a lot of bullshit to dispel, a bunch of great callers, and even one who totally disagreed with me on e-cigs and children. That was fun.
P.S. During the show, a caller questioned the facts of a quote I read on air from a press release issued today by the Freedom to Marry organization, citing the first Mississippi mayor to call for marriage equality in the state. The quote in question was from the group's President Evan Wolfson, who said in the statement: "More same-sex couples are raising children in Mississippi than in any other state."
The caller, appropriately, challenged the veracity of the statement, and I promised I'd look into the details, since I had just received the release prior to air time and didn't have the details handy. Now I do. Here's where that claim comes from...
Missouri's Democratic Governor Jay Nixon had an opportunity to encourage people to quit smoking. He didn't take it. In fact, he actually made the choice to help encourage people to continue smoking, despite the fact the deadly habit kills nearly half a million people in the U.S. alone each year.
On Monday, the Governor vetoed Senate Bill 841. While the legislation would have restricted the sale of nicotine vaping products such as e-cigarettes to minors, and required sellers to receive a license from the state, it also exempted the non-lethal devices and products --- which are quickly becoming very popular as a method to quit smoking --- from existing laws and taxes levied against harmful tobacco products.
"This bill appears to be nothing more than a thinly disguised and cynical attempt to exempt e-cigarettes from taxes and regulations protecting public health," Nixon said in his veto message.
This sort of dangerous short-sightedness, unfortunately, is not unusual for Democrats, of late. It also flies in the face of both science and common sense...
LONDON (Reuters) - A group of 53 leading scientists has warned the World Health Organisation not to classify e-cigarettes as tobacco products, arguing that doing so would jeopardize a major opportunity to slash disease and deaths caused by smoking.
The UN agency, which is currently assessing its position on the matter, has previously indicated it would favor applying similar restrictions to all nicotine-containing products.
In an open letter to WHO Director General Margaret Chan, the scientists from Europe, North America, Asia and Australia argued that low-risk products like e-cigarettes were "part of the solution" in the fight against smoking, not part of the problem.
"These products could be among the most significant health innovations of the 21st century - perhaps saving hundreds of millions of lives. The urge to control and suppress them as tobacco products should be resisted," the experts wrote.
UPDATE 5/30/2014: Here's the complete open letter to WHO [PDF]. In fact, the details are rather remarkable, as they speak to almost every single piece of dangerous anti-vaping propaganda I've heard since I began researching this issue.
Here's a few more key snippets from the group of scientists, speaking to those very issues, pretty much smacking down every bit of that irresponsible, unscientific propaganda that has been used by governmental bodies to date to make quitting smoking with the use of vaping technology much more difficult...
There are a number of reasons why it's difficult to stomach the claim that New Jersey's Republican Gov. Chris Christie is concerned about "public health". His newest proposal for a pricey new excise tax on e-cigs is just one of them.
In 2010, Christie slashed $7.5 million --- virtually all of the state's investment --- in smoking prevention and cessation support from the state's "Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program". As a result, the American Lung Association (ALA) now ranks NJ as 50th in the nation on this issue, recently noting, they are "the only state in the country to provide no state funding" for such programs.
Christie's gutting of the state's once-robust program has resulted in an "F" grade from the ALA on both "Tobacco Prevention" and "Cessation Coverage", leading them to write: "This lack of funding to help tobacco users quit is a stark contradiction with New Jersey's high tax rate of $2.70 per pack generating over $700 million each year in revenues."
Thus, it's all the more absurd to hear the "fiscally conservative" Christie administration now calling for a massive new "sin tax" on e-cigarettes, which are known to be a far safer alternative to smoking, since "vaping" includes none of the deadly toxins, such as tar and carbon monoxide, found in combustible tobacco.
But "conservative" hypocrisy aside, what makes Christie's new tax and spend plan even more absurd is that his state Treasurer is now claiming their "main concern is public health."
On Thursday I was invited to discuss the issue with Ian Levitt of the Daily Report, the afternoon drive time show on KTNF, Minnesota's great Progressive AM950. Minnesota now joins the growing list of places where legislatures are considering a ban on vaping in public spaces because...well, I guess because they want more people to keep smoking rather than quitting via the non-smoking alternative of vaping. (I'm sure there must be some other reason --- and we discussed that a bit during the show --- but whatever that reason is, as is the case here in Los Angeles, it sure isn't based on science or public health benefits, as my interview with L.A. City Councilman Paul Koretz, who sponsored and voted for the ban here, made very clear a few weeks ago!)
It's time that Progressives (not to mention Democrats, but I don't necessarily hold out much hope for them) get on the right side of this issue. Here's my conversation about e-cigs and ill-considered bans against them, with Levitt yesterday...
To his great credit, according to the Star Tribune, MN's Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton has signalled the state's proposed ban goes "too far". So the bill has been sent back to committee in the state Senate.
"Dayton said he would sign a bill to restrict children's ability to buy e-cigarettes and to keep the product out of schools, but he would likely oppose making them subject to the indoor air law," the paper reports. "Dayton told the Star Tribune that he's not convinced there is definitive evidence that secondhand vapor poses a danger similar to secondhand smoke."
Here in Los Angeles, while the City Council voted to ban e-cig use like cigarettes, in public spaces such as parks, beaches, restaurants, bars, clubs, work spaces etc., Mayor Eric Garcetti has yet to approve the new ordinance. He can be contacted here, if you'd like to ring in with your thoughts on the new ban which is sure to make it harder for smokers to vape and, therefore, to quit smoking entirely.
If you have any questions about the effectiveness of e-cigs, feel free to ignore my own testimonial (vaping has allowed me to stop smoking immediately after decades of being a smoker) and take a look at some of the almost identical testimonials from former smokers in that Star Tribune article I linked to previously on the Minnesota ban now being considered.
I haven't gotten to go to the phones for weeks on the KPFK/Pacifica RadioBradCast, so that's what we did on this week's show. No guests. Just me, a few rants, lots of callers (and, of course, Desi Doyen and the latest Green News Report).
The rants included more on the mad media misinformation/neo-con war-baiting over Ukraine (which, thankfully, it appears Obama no longer seems to be falling for or taking the bait on); the Democrats woeful 2014 campaign plans and --- the one that got ALL the phone lines ringing off the hook --- the rapidly increasing media disinformation about e-cigs.
Lots of good calls, but my favorite on that last was from "David in Los Angeles". I think his opinion may be a nearly perfect distillation of the entire, insane backlash against the public health miracle that is vaping. David describes his concern: "We don't want to encourage the behavior of smoking, even if its not harmful." My question to him is, "Why?" He explains: "because it's the perceived behavior that is negative." You'll have to tune in to see how that call, and all the others, worked out.
It was a very lively show this week. Hope you'll enjoy it...
For all of the long-time smokers who are quitting or have now quit the deadly habit (myself included) thanks only to the miracle of e-cigs (which offer none of the thousands of known, harmful byproducts of smoking tobacco), it's remarkable to see anti-smoking zealots actually fighting against their use in myriad ways.
Several weeks ago on my KPFK/Pacifica Radio show, I interviewed Paul Koretz, one of the L.A. City Councilmembers who, beyond all reason --- and without a single shred of scientific data to back up his reasoning --- recently voted to ban vaping in all the same places where smoking is banned (on beaches, public parks, inside work places, restaurants, bars, etc.) Those who vape, if L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti decides to approve the City Council's ridiculous and dangerous ordinance (as other mayors have done in other cities) would be consigned to having to go outside to a smoking area to use their safe, odor-free vaporizer.
As one caller to the radio show pointed out, that ill-considered policy is akin to forcing recovering alcoholics to go sit in a bar. It's almost assured to keep more people smoking rather than quitting. That, even though, as Koretz admitted to me on air, there's a "99% possibility" that vaping is "much safer than smoking" and the former. (And he was low-balling that number, no doubt.) The former President of the American Lung Association describes the L.A. ban on vaping as "misguided" and "a public health disservice".
Which brings us to Monday's New York Times, where the Idiotic War on Quitting Smoking continues with a misguided hit piece on e-liquid --- the "juices" used in e-cig vaporizers --- headlined "Selling a Poison by the Barrel: Liquid Nicotine for E-Cigarettes"...
On Tuesday, the L.A. City Council voted to join cities like New York and Chicago by banning e-cigarette use in the same public spaces where tobacco use is banned, such as "farmers' markets, parks, recreational areas, beaches, indoor workplaces such as bars and nightclubs, outdoor dining areas and other places where lighting up is banned."
On this week's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio I spoke with L.A. City Councilmember Paul Koretz (CD5) about why they voted to impose the ban, despite the dearth of evidence that e-cig 'vaping' is harmful to either the user or anyone else, and the evidence (include my own personal story) that vaping is, hands down, the most effective way for smokers to stop smoking. In fact, as I describe during the show, I view it as a "miracle" that will save countless lives and that banning it --- or making it harder to vape in any way, without good reason --- will, quite frankly, result in countless unnecessary deaths.
Even Koretz admitted during my interview that there's a "99% possibility" that vaping is "much safer than smoking".
But he was low-balling it, frankly. As you'll hearing during the show, this is a very personal issue for me. But you can decide for yourself if Koretz makes the case for the L.A. City Council's ban. Either way, the ban will only go into effect if Mayor Eric Garcetti approves it. Garcetti can be contacted here.
My great thanks to Koretz for joining us at the last minute, and for sticking around for tough questioning from both me and callers.
UPDATE 3/7/2014: PandoDaily's David Holmes pulls together a lot of the known (and unknown) information about e-cigs and describes the L.A. City Council's ordinance "to treat e-cigarettes like conventional cigarettes" as "irrational and bad policy."
[T]his proposal is misguided because it would do a public health disservice, discouraging smokers from switching to less-harmful electronic cigarettes that do not combust tobacco and therefore, do not create second-hand smoke.
As a former president of the American Lung Association, I have seen how e-cigarettes have become the subject of much confusion and misinformation, which has led to a classic case of guilt by association.
E-cigarettes may deliver nicotine and look like cigarettes. But there the similarities end.
Including e-cigarettes in the city's smoking ban would be a step in the wrong direction. It would send the unintended message to smokers that electronic cigarettes are as dangerous as traditional cigarettes, locking many smokers into traditional cigarette use. This is a public health outcome we do not want.
E-cigarettes are a fundamentally different product from combustible tobacco cigarettes and should not fall under the same rules and restrictions. Rather, we should encourage current smokers to move down the ladder of risk by implementing regulations that recognize these differences.
As a society, we should continue our laser focus on eliminating tobacco use. But a premature "regulate first, ask questions later" approach that equates e-cigarettes to combustible tobacco cigarettes only serves as an obstacle to that goal. The Los Angeles City Council should pause its campaign against electronic cigarettes until the FDA experts offer guidance on how the product should be regulated. To do otherwise is to ignore an opportunity to save millions of smokers from a lot of harm.