August 2014 - |

Monthly Archives: August 2014

FDA should get tough on e-cigarettes

The Food and Drug Administration’s weak rules on electronic cigarettes came under a new round of criticism last week when 29 state attorneys general wrote the agency to say its current proposal to regulate them “fails to address matters of particular concern.”

The 29 officials, including Massachusetts’ Martha Coakley, are right on target. In April, the FDA had said it wanted to ban sales of e-cigarettes to minors. Yet it proposed to give manufacturers complete freedom to market a product that could addict a new generation of users to nicotine, expose users to many potentially dangerous chemicals, and still be a gateway back to tobacco.

The FDA would still allow manufacturers to sell electronic cigarettes with the very candy, cake, spice, and fruit flavors that were banned in 2009 for tobacco because they were luring youth into smoking. In another head scratcher, the FDA would also allow e-cigarette companies to advertise in media banned for tobacco, such as television and magazines. According to a study published last month in the journal Pediatrics, youth exposure to e-cigarette television advertising increased 256 percent from 2011 to 2013.

That figure was cited by the attorneys general in their letter, in which they urged the FDA to ban candy flavors, place the same marketing restrictions on e-cigs as for cigarettes, and strengthen health warnings. Noting studies that link adolescent nicotine use to adult memory loss, impulse control, and depression, the attorneys general suggest labeling that makes it crystal clear that nicotine “is a harmful and addictive chemical.”

The harm has become obvious as child poisonings from playing with or accidentally swallowing liquid e-cigarette flavorings have skyrocketed. They have reached such a level that a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report in April said, “developing strategies to monitor and prevent future poisonings is critical.”

The saga of e-cigarette regulation took a particularly mysterious turn this summer when Reuters reported that a key reason for the tameness of the FDA’s rules was because the Obama administration’s Office of Management and Budget significantly weakened the FDA drafts. OMB deleted language voicing concern for the safety of e-cigarettes, a proposal to review cartridges for harmful levels of toxic chemicals, and language that could have led to a ban on online sales. In a parallel revision, OMB also weakened proposed new rules for cigars and deleted FDA estimates of how many lives and how much money would be saved with reductions in cigar smoking.

OMB has not said why it weakened the rules, but the unspoken reason probably is that tobacco companies remain big players on Capitol Hill. The industry has spent $132 million in lobbying since 2009, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

That lobbying clearly has muted the cry for tough, proactive regulation. To be sure, e-cigarettes do not contain the carcinogens of burnt tobacco. E-cigarettes, with proper medical supervision, may help people stop smoking. But the fact that companies are using celebrities to market them as a way of being cool strongly suggests that the overriding goal of the industry is to get millions of people around the world hooked.

Besides the attorneys general, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the National Association of County & City Health Officials all want to ban candy flavors and subject e-cigarettes to the same restrictions as tobacco.

When President Obama signed the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, he made it clear he was disturbed that children were assaulted with an “insidious barrage of advertising” for tobacco and flavors that “make it even more tempting.”

In the five years since, the barrage of advertising and the exploding use of e-cigarettes among young people make it imperative for Obama and the FDA to listen to the pleas of the top medical societies, public health associations, and, now, the majority of state attorneys general. Without strong action by the administration, e-cigarettes will become a temptation young people cannot resist.

By Derrick Z. Jackson,

Cigarette-iquette you need to know and respect

1. Asking for a smoke

Offering a bit of change for a cigarette goes a long way in the realm of cigarette-iquette. Something as small as fifty cents at least shows that you’re willing to make an exchange, and recognize that smokes don’t come cheap. Whoever you’re asking will probably just give you one anyway, which leads to…

2. When asked for a smoke

As mentioned above, many people will/should offer a bit of change (or something in exchange) when asking for a cigarette, and if you want to be a well mannered smoker, you should politely decline. A dollar isn’t going to make or break you, and accepting makes you look a little cheap. Best to save face and just seem totally gracious and give out the smoke at zero charge.

3. Saving a cig

When someone offers you a smoke, don’t say yes, the proceed to put it away and save it for later. Even if you’re just planning on using it for batch in a joint, you look like a punk. The person most likely gave you a smoke so you could have one with them, not so you could be opportunistic and have a smoke when you like. Go buy your own then.

4. Know the smoking sitch

Everyone knows you can’t smoke indoors at bars and public places, but someone’s home/a house party is another story. Before lighting up in someone’s place of residence, its best to ask if its okay. This may seem like a “well duh” rule to follow, but to anyone who has had randos at a house party, you know that people will start smoking and give zero fvcks when drinking. Make sure the host doesn’t hate you and learn the smoking sitch.

5. Ashtrays a la max

If you are a host to a party, or helping to organize one, you best be setting up ample amounts of ashtrays. Put ‘em on tables and firmly placed furniture to avoid spillage, or by windows to implicitly direct smokers to post up near an open source of ventilation. Expect quite the ash-y floor the next day if you don’t provide a smoking receptacle. This goes for resto/bar owners too, ‘cuz any terrasse should have an ashtray on every table. What else are people sitting out there for?

6. Ashing in bottles

Another rule that mostly applies to house parties: ashing in a beer bottle is totally cool, but dumping the end of the cigarette inside is not. To avoid fruit flies from flying around the house, a host will have to wash out leftover beer bottles, which turns into a disgusting job when they have to rinse out bottles full of cigarette butts. Ash + beer rinse out pretty easy, but butts get all up in the kitchen sink, which is not a good look for a spot where you clean your dishes.

7. Pocketing lighters

We’re probably all guilty of innocently stealing a lighter from a friend right after using it. It’s a reflex to put a lighter in your pocket right after you use it, but when it’s not your own, you’re gonna seriously inconvenience the person you borrowed it off of when they need to light up next. On the other hand, if you’re lending out a lighter, keep track of where it went, and watch the hands/pockets of whoever you’re lending it to.

8. Be aware of your own smoke

No matter where you are, outside or indoors, just be aware of where you’re smoke is going. You could be on the street waiting for the bus with a mild breeze blowing that pushes all your secondhand smoke into the face of the next person in the bus line. Happily smoking, you have no clue, while the person next to you is supremely pissed off. Just keep track of where your smoke blows so as not to make anyone angry.

9. Around kids

Don’t smoke around children. Just don’t do it. The young, pink, and untainted lungs of kids don’t need you blackening them with your secondhand smoke. You probably already know not to do this, but be extra aware when in areas populated by children, like in parks or festivals.

10. On the bus

Don’t be a drunk (or sober) asshole and light your smoke in the bus right before getting out. We get it, you want to smoke, but nobody needs to smoke that badly. Wait the 5 extra seconds ’til you get off the bus and make everyone’s life a little less smoggy.

11. Non-smokers

If you’re a non-smoker in a room full of smokers, suck it up or leave the room/area. Don’t complain about the smog. If someone offers you a smoke and you’re a non-smoker, do not get all high and mighty about how smokes are bad for you or your body is a temple or some bullshit. We all know smoking is bad for your health, its literally on all cigarette packs, and you’re going to seem like a punk if you get all preachy about it.

12. On E-cigs

Vaps and e-cigs are kind of a gray area in the world of smoking. They don’t have nicotine or all the tar, so they’re technically not really smokes, and are even allowed indoors in public establishments. Still, respect that some people will still not want a bunch of vap-smoke in their face or workplace, so still pay heed to all of the aforementioned rules.

By Michael D’Alimonte. Mtlblog