Nicotine, The FDA, and the Electronic Cigarette
April 2nd, 2009
So. Today has been a frustrating day! We have been researching the jurisdiction of the electronic cigarettes and it is anything but straightforward. It is actually becoming quite painful. Have you ever picked a scab just to pick it? This is one of those cases.
With all of this talk regarding the FDA needing to provide approval over the electronic cigarette, many new and interesting things have arisen. First, it seems evidently clear that people are not understanding exactly what an electronic cigarette is. And not what it is as in, it’s a battery and an atomizer which is a vaporizer which are completely legal, but that the electronic cigarette is a vaporizer that can vaporize liquids that do not contain nicotine.
In several conversations, one with an elected official, one with a news reporter, and one with a customs agent, all were shocked to hear that the electronic cigarette does not magically fill itself up and that there are solutions that offer no nicotine. Classifying the electronic cigarette as a drug delivering device seems like just deciding that all chewing gum is a drug because one kind of gum has nicotine in it.
Well, this frustration led to some further research about nicotine itself. We have found it extremely interesting that when searching the FDA website, we cannot, in fact, find ANY reference to them actually having control over nicotine. When you search Nicotine, they send you to On March 21, 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration lacks the authority to regulate tobacco. Therefore, FDA no longer maintains its Children and Tobacco Website.!
In 1994, the then Director of the FDA, Dr. David Kessler, issued a statement arguing that the manipulation of nicotine makes cigarettes pharmaceuticals. It was at this point, that the FDA decided it was time to take control of the tobacco industry. In 1997, a judge ruled in favor of the FDA. That was then appealed and taken to the Supreme Court, where it was stated that the FDA has clearly stated throughout the past that it had no desire to control tobacco and that ruling overturned the earlier courts decision. This brings us to where we are now.
Nicotine is not necessarily controlled by the FDA. It does seem to have control when said company wants to make a health claim. For instance, NicoWater. Everyone remembers this as the water that could help you satisfy your nicotine cravings. Now, it is important to note that they did attempt to go homeopathic, but unfortunately, the nicotine prohibitionists decided to take action, so the lobbying against NicoWater began. Upon this outside influence, the FDA acted by claiming that NicoWater didn’t file paperwork properly and removed their approval.
The other fatal flaw in this scenario was putting NicoWater in the same cooler as regular water. It did contain nicotine, no matter how small and diluted, and any smoker can agree, it should probably not be in the reach of children. (But neither should caffeine, but that is another battle!)
Back to nicotine. So, in our travels, we were also introduced to a brilliant piece of writing by David Sweaner, Senior Council for the Non-Smokers Rights Association, who wrote a fabulous essay on Alternative Nicotine Delivery as a Harm-Reduction Strategy. Simply brilliant. This piece was presented at the American Society of Addiction Medicine Conference in 1995 & 1996 and The Health Education Authority Seminar on Alternative Delivery Systems, in 1996. Although a wee bit ahead of his time, it is fitting we should find it now, considering the Waxman Bill is getting ready to grace the Senate with it’s presence and may have unexpected implications.
Basically, what Sweaner’s essay says is that the cigarette industry has had years of a monopoly. By doing this, tobacco has been turned into a death carrier and impounded upon by the evils of addiction based profiteers. What we need to do is strip away these additives and look at nicotine for what it really is. And what it really is, is an addictive substance with far fewer health risks than it’s carrier.
By doing this, we can begin to stop demonizing nicotine users, as we certainly do not demonize coffee drinkers (even though caffeine falls into the same family as cocaine and amphetamines). We need to focus on cleaner ways of allowing people to use nicotine, without the touch of the pharmaceutical industry and the completely laxidasical haphazardnous of the tobacco industry. There needs to be a medium where nicotine users have an option that is viable for them. This medium, while needing some regulation, needs to be open for the free market so that small businesses and new ideas can be pushed out into the market. They need to focus on tobacco harm reduction which in turn, might actually get people un-addicted to nicotine. Holy Shocker! Some logic from a non-smoking crowd!
Basically: The quit or die method, should simply die.
So here we are in 2009 at the Waxman Bill. The Waxman Bill may have implications for Nicotine and the FDA. It will tell any new product emerging into the market, sure you can play but if you don’t have a maximum of $100,000,000.00 to play ball, then don’t come a knocking. To users it says: Do you enjoy nicotine? Well great! Come on over to the pharmaceutical counter and lets see what we have for ya! Here’s some Chantix. It might not get you to quit smoking, but if you fall into the category of some of the users, you will commit suicide and then all of your problems will be solved.
Op! If you commit suicide your insurance won’t cover your death? But hey, and you have to digg deep for this one, a study was done by the Royal London School of Medicine that found the typical patches, gum etc over help to only one in five people and those people only manage to stay off of the cigarettes. Shhh… We found that one on the FDA’s own website!
Or better yet, reside yourself to an early death and go the other route. That’s right! Smoke Tobacco. The proven recipe of our founding fathers altered and changed. Made more delicious and deadly. Made just to our liking. At least someone is getting their tax dollar revenue before you die. It is far safer than some propylene glycol, flavorings and nicotine. Tobacco cigarettes have been scientifically proven to kill whereas the electronic cigarette seems to be getting a hard time before the results are even in.
It all sounds scary and guess what? It is! It is a sad day when an alternative to smoking hits the world, like the electronic cigarette, and even one good doctor is quoted as saying “you are probably getting more nicotine than you would be getting in a cigarette simply because filter cigarettes tend to dilute the nicotine that is being inhaled and in this one you get the pure effects”. I especially like the “probably”.
So for those of you who are interested, there is no bleak end to the electronic cigarette future. There are currently active suppliers participating in the formation of an Electronic Cigarette Association. The first meeting will take place April 11th & 12th in Chicago. Here, the group will determine acceptable trade practices and a goal for to betterment of the industry and it’s consumers. This isn’t an unregulated group of shady back alley dealers. This is a group of ex-tobacco smokers who think that the electronic cigarette is exactly what it is, an alternative to tobacco. A better (in my opinion) way to intake nicotine, which is a completely legal substance for adults. The electronic cigarette is not a smoking cessation device.
We are going to fight this every step of the way because well, it is ridiculous that the peacock is taking over the zoo. Sure the road is going to be bumpy. And hopefully, the Senate will take note from their fellow Congressmen who smoke Electronic Cigarette and ensure tobacco smokers have rights and options.