Friday, 28 November 2014

Norwegian national TV reports that yesterday's scaremongering was... scaremongering

Karl Erik Lund at SIRUS does
a great job minimizing the 
damage done by the media
UPDATE: Since I posted this, several other Norwegian media, among them the ones with the most scary headlines, have published similar articles. Happy giraffe today!

Yesterday the shocking news that e-cigarettes contain 10 times the amount of carcinogens that we've found in cigarettes was reported by most major Norwegian media. Today I'm really happy to see that NRK, the government owned broadcaster here in Norway, reports this: "Scientist rejects horror news about e-cigarettes" (in Norwegian). This was actually published yesterday evening I think. The article presents Dr. Farsalinos as the world leading e-cigarette researcher who used most of yesterday rejecting the news. They've even linked to and Dr. Farsalinos comments on the case and the Japanese report that is in fact edited by Dr. Farsalinos himself.
It was a big international news agency that today reported the dramatic conclusion of the Japanese research. The news was forwarded by media all around the world, also in Norway
Karl Erik Lund, head of research at SIRUS (Norwegian Institute for Alcohol and Drug research, a government funded organization), says in the article that "this is risk communication at it's worst". NRK called Lund to hear what he had to say about the matter and after reading the research he is disappointed that journalists don't actually check if the information they're given has any truth to it, but just reports it uncritically. He says that the article will possibly scare ex-smokers back to smoking and in contrast to the medias rendering of the report, the actual results are neither surprising nor scary:
The findings in the report is consistent with other research in the area. It strengthens the knowledge that e-cigarettes have lower concentrations of cancer dangerous ingredients than tobacco
Lund goes on to talk about the enormous variation in the products that are in the market today, when it comes to quality and security and what he feels needs to be the goal of future regulations:
At their best they are absolutely brilliant to replace smoking, at their worst, they can be hazardous products. The purpose of product regulation must be to weed out potentially dangerous products
Since yesterday however Dr. Farsalinos have updated the information on his web-page and it turns out that the research report that I, and Lund, and a whole bunch of others were, thought to be the source of the news, really isn't:
After my comment, Prof Kunugita contacted me again. He mentioned that the newsmedia reports refer to a recent evaluation of a newer-generation device, in which he found 1600μg formaldehyde per 15 puffs. It is true that this level is 10 times higher than what is present in tobacco cigarettes. However, this is an unpublished result, a single extreme case out of the many products he tested, and we do not know what went wrong in that case (e.g. high power levels, low levels of liquid inside, malfunctioning device etc).
Still, the media frenzy is completely inappropriate. This confusion shows why it is important for a new, systematic evaluation of aldehydes release, taking into consideration realistic conditions and puffing patterns together with evaluation of temperatures of evaporation. This is exactly what we are preparing to do, starting in a few days.
This still doesn't change the fact that a lot of yesterdays headlines were untruthful. As Farsalinos say, it is true that they have, in one extreme case where something obviously went wrong, found the alleged levels of formaldehyde. But that doesn't make the claim that "scientist have found that e-cigarettes contain 10 times the amount of carcinogens compared to tobacco cigarettes" true. It is still a lie. If they changed it from plural to singular form, saying e-cigarette instead of e-cigarettes it wouldn't be a flat out lie any more, but even then it would be highly misleading.
Back to the NRK article. It also has some statements from the Norwegian Cancer Society who urges the authorities to start working with regulations now and don't wait for the EU directive to come in 2016. The Cancer Society has been sceptical to e-cigarettes all the way, and refused to recommend this to people, based on the evergreen "we don't know enough"-argument. Even if they use this argument in this article, they are talking about regulating, not banning, which might be a positive trend.

NRK is, as I mentioned, the government owned broadcaster and I think generally regarded as one of the most neutral and credible sources of news here, so this article will make a great impact on the public opinion here in Norway. I just hope the same will happen in other countries as well.

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Thursday, 27 November 2014

E-cigarettes contain up to 10 times carcinogens.... NOT! (Updated)

Important update: Read Dr. Farsalinos' statement on about this:

Today a lot of major newspapers picked up on a Japanese study that apparently has found that the vapor from e-cigarettes contains up to 10 times the amount of carcinogens compared to traditional cigarettes. The Daily Mail is just one of the, and almost all major Norwegian newspaper picked up on the story with headlines like these: "Scientists say that e-cigarettes are very carcinogenic", "This is very dangerous" and "Scientist made shocking discoveries in e-cigarettes".

None of the tabloid media has from what I've seen yet provided any link to the original study, but apparently this is the one they are referring to: As you can see this study has Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos listed as an external editor. Dr. Farsalinos commented on this on his own facebook page today:
In the study you mention (table 1) the highest level they found was 8 times LOWER than tobacco cigarettes!!!
Later he refers to this article to show the amount of carbonyl compounds found in cigarette smoke:
Here they found 200ug/cigarette in mainstream smoke (what you inhale) and 880ug/cigarette in sidestream smoke!
And when asked if vaping still is safe he answers this:
If you don't vape with a dry wick, you are much better than smoking...
Cause basically, if you read the research in question, what they found is these compounds come from oxidation of e-liquid or wicking material, not from vaporizing.

Also have a look at the conclusion of the original study:
Studies have shown that e-cigarettes emit toxic carbonyl compounds, generated from thermal decomposition. These substances can have adverse health effects; however, in most cases, the levels are lower than those in tobacco cigarette smoke. It is important to expand the research in this field, to better understand the source of carbonyls emitted from e-cigarettes and find ways to reduce them.
So from the FACTS I mention above I can only draw the following conclusion when it comes to this "sensational" story that hit the world today: This is pure propaganda, based on lies probably fed to shitty journalists, hungering for their next big scoop, by ANTZ or Big Pharma themselves.

UPDATE: I also recommend reading this post from on the subject for further information:, and also this post from the Ashtray Blog:


photo credit: TaylorErinn via photopin cc

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

BMA reveals the secret to targeting children when advertising: Sex(!)

On November the 10th the first TV advert showing actual use of an electronic cigarette was aired, after ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) did some changes in the rules. Not surprisingly there has been reactions from the anti vaping movement. The ad has been accused of sexualising and glamourising vaping.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has written a letter to ASA urging them to ban the ad. They say they are concerned that VIP's latest TV ad made no reference to the fact that the product was intended for use by smokers or "existing nicotine users", and called for a "consistent approach to portraying a negative image of smoking". So basically they are, as Steve K so nicely put it, complaining that VIP is not stating in their ad that the product they are trying to sell is shit. And in a way they are also complaining that VIP is not saying that this product is meant for people that wants to quit smoking, something VIP is probably not allowed to say. From what I know you're not allowed to promote e-cigarettes as a healthier alternative to smoking, right? This in fact makes it much harder to for advertisers to target the people they really want to target, the smokers. These restrictions actually forces advertisers to promote e-cigarettes as a lifestyle product and basically target everyone. Mark Porter, the BMA’s council chair, states this:
"We believe that this advert breaches the new advertising rules by glamourising and sexualising vaping, and appealing to non-smokers."
Well, Mark, if you're not allowed to say that vaping is healthier than smoking what do you expect? Our friend Mark also couldn't resist using the re-normalizing smoking argument:
"We have repeatedly highlighted our concerns that the promotion of e-cigarettes may have an adverse impact by re-normalising smoking and indirectly promoting tobacco smoking."
First of all, Mark, smoking has never been "de-normalised", and if it had been, why on earth would vaping re-normalise it? If vaping will normalise anything it would be quitting! And of course they had to drag the children into this. According to an article in the BMJ by senior news editor Annabel Ferriman the BMA also said this in their complaint:
The adverts for VIP e-cigarettes, first shown on 10 November, have breached guidelines, by glamourising so-called “vaping”—the act of using an electronic cigarette—and by targeting children.
I highly recommend reading Joanne of's post where she rips this BMJ article apart piece by piece and I'll leave you with her comments on the above statement:
Sexualized ads targeting children? I can only imagine, and I have to admit that I am clutching at straws here, that the same arcane mental process that leads some health professionals to believe that adults hate flavors is also responsible for making them think that the primary marketing hook for kids is sex. Even if I started drinking now and continued without a moments’ break until next April, I would never understand the logic behind this insane sentiment.
Fivepawns Stingray

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Review: Sigelei 100W Box Mod - Power to the people

As I told you when I did the review of the IGO-W8 a couple of weeks ago I've been using mainly mechanical mods since I started vaping almost three years ago now, but I was thinking it was time to try out some regulated mod and see what all the fuzz with all these watts was about. There is a bunch of high watt box mods (like 50W and above) on the market today they just keep getting more and more powerful. Price-wise they vary a lot and you can get them from around £50 and all the way up to what... £500(?). The one I'm reviewing today is in the lower end of the price-scale. It's the Sigelei 100W, priced at £59.99 at UKEcigStore.

Now first of all ... safety again:
Your own safety is of course the most important thing. You didn't switch from cigarettes that would kill you slowly just to get your face blown off really really fast in a vaping accident, did you? With these regulated mods it's not so much you need to think about to vape safely, but there is one thing: Batteries. Playing around with this tool tells us that on full power this mod will drain around 16A from your batteries (remember you have 2 of them in there so the voltage over them is double). This means... don't buy the cheapest batteries you can find. Actually.. don't ever do that. Make sure you get a battery that can do 20A continuous draw, like the Sony VTC5 (or VTC4 or if the 5 is out of stock again) or the new improved AW 18650s. Now ... back to the Sigelei.

Some specs: 
  • Chip: Yihi SX330 V3 100 Watt chip
  • Batteries: 2 x 18650s (not included)
  • Output Power: 10 Watts - 100 Watts
  • Output Voltage: 1.5 Volts - 6.0 Volts 
  • Output Current: 30.0 A
  • Minimum Atomizer Resistance: 0.15 Ohms
  • Input Voltage: 6.2 Volts - 8.5 Volts
  • Input Current: 1.3 A - 20.0 A
  • Efficiency: 95% 
  • Screen size: 0.96" OLED 
  • Fire Method: Regular Button
  • Adjust Power Method: Up and Down Button
  • Software upgrade: No 
  • Connector: 510
  • Integrated charger: No
  • Material: Aluminium alloy 
  • Dimensions: 102x56x23mm

In the package:
The package includes the mod itself, a user manual, a cute little screwdriver that fits the small screws that are also included to secure the battery lid. You actually don't need to use those as the lid is also held in place by magnets. But probably handy if you're going to do some extreme sports while using this mod, or if you just don't want the 2 screw holes open.

Design and looks:
I got the silver version of the mod. It is quite a big mod, and quite heavy once you've popped in your 2 18650 batteries. It might just be me but it feels and looks a bit cheap. It might be the colour and coating and maybe the buttons that makes it look a bit like plastic, but honestly I think the black version looks better. And I don't like the font where it says 100W. It doesn't quite look 2014. They could have used the font that they use on the box or just removed the text all together. The display looks good though. Anyway it's not the most beautiful mod in my eyes, but in a way that doesn't really matter that much either, and design is not the reason you'd go out and buy one of these quite bulky 100W mods.

In use:
As I said it is a quite big and heavy mod. Maybe a bit big for everyday use, but I've ended up using it every day anyway. If you're using this with a multi-coil dripper and put it on 100W it will damn near kill you. I did this with the IGO-W8 and it was the first time I've coughed after vaping in like a year. Huge amount of vapour with just a quick push of the button. And I had to write down a "note to self: get some lower nic juice" as I got kind of dizzy after 3-4 hits. This mod really delivers the wattage it promises.

I've also used it a lot with the Aspire Nautilus, and for me around 15W is the sweet-spot with this combo. And it is a great combo indeed. Gives you a lot of flavour and vapour. And another great advantage of this is the huge battery capacity you get from 2 18650s. I think I went around 4 days without needing to recharge, and even though I use other mods as well, this was my main vape these days. So this really is a great combo if you're going out camping or something like that where you're not able to charge for a few days. Since this is a dual battery mod you can of course step the voltage down to below what the batteries give you, but not lower than 10W.

Now a couple of things I miss in this mod. First of all, I miss a USB charging option. You need to take your batteries out to charge them. I guess with the huge battery capacity you might say it's not needed, but for my use it would actually come in quite handy. If you're bringing this as your only mod for say camping it would be great to be able to charge it in the car, or when you make a stop on your way there. Another thing I noticed was that when the display shows somewhere 20% and 30% battery left, it actually starts cutting the power. I was at 30W on the IGO-W8 when this happened. I then mounted the Nautilus and turned down to around 15W and was able to keep going for a while again, but when it hit around 20% I think, it started cutting power again. So... you actually should recharge at 30%-ish. Then there is a minor issue with the power adjustment. Just clicking the adjustment buttons will change the power in 0.1W increments. Now if you want to adjust a lot it you can just hold the button down and it will start adjusting faster and faster... and a bit too fast in the end, so you suddenly end up at 10W or 100W (depending on which way you were going) pretty fast. They could have put the limit on how fast it would go a bit lower, making it easier to hit your mark, but it's not a really big issue, just takes a little bit of getting used to.

The Sigelei 100W is a real workhorse. It gives you a lot of power at a really reasonable price. It is one of the cheapest 100W box mods out there at just £59.99. It has some issues as I've described above, but some of them takes just a little getting used to, like remembering to charge at 30% and so on. In my opinion this is not the mod you go buy to take pictures of and add lighting effects in photoshop to show off your vaping forum friends. This is the mod you go buy if you want a really affordable mod that will give you lots of power for your multicoil drippers, or if you want huge battery capacity for your clearomizer tanks... or both, which is true in my case. It is actually a really flexible mod that can be used with a lot of different setups. So if you don't mind it's looks and it's minor quirks but need a flexible, powerful mod you'll get a lot of that for your money here.

Thanks a lot to Michael from UKEcigStore who sent me the mod for review. And he also provided me with a 5% discount code: vapingiraffe that you can use if you want to give the Sigelei a go.

  • All my reviews are my honest opinion even if I am affiliated with the company manufacturing or selling the product. 
  • The mod was sent to me free of charge for the purpose of this review.
  • This review contains affiliate links.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

"Particulates" in E-cigarette vapor - another fabricated issue

If it looks the same it's the same thing right? No!
The gateway argument and the risk of life-long nicotine addiction has been the e-cigarette opponent's (and Public Health's) best friend for a while, but this might be about to change... nah... who am I kidding? They'll be best friends forever. What I mean is that it should change, cause these arguments are getting weaker every day. I've written some pieces (here and here) on nicotine lately, questioning whether this dreaded drug really is addictive, and on Sunday I wrote that one of the biggest e-cigarette opponents, the CDC, have released their latest numbers and those pretty much debunks the whole gateway theory.

So what do our dear Dr. Glantz and his friends do when the bogus arguments they keep feeding their fellow e-cigarette opponents is starting to wane? Do they change their mind and say "sorry we're out of arguments, you guys were right"? Nah... they just manufacture some new issue. This time they are concerned about "ultrafine particles" or "particulates" in e-cigarette vapor.

The really, really short version of their new issue is this: "Inhaling a lot of fine particles has been shown to be a health hazard. E-cigarettes produce a lot of fine particles". The really, really short reason this is bullshit is this: "There is a big difference between inhaling solid particles and liquid particles (that should be called droplets)". For a much longer and very good explanation I highly recommend reading Clive Bates' latest blog post. Or, if you're in a bit of a hurry, or just want a simpler version, Carl Philips has written a simple version on his blog. Actually I recommend reading both when you have the time.

Fivepawns svd

photo credit: EnvironmentBlog via photopin cc

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

E-cigarette ads on Norwegian TV soon?

Norway currently has very strict rules regarding e-cigarettes. Nicotine e-liquid or e-cigarettes containing nicotine at all can't be sold, there is an 18 year age limit, and advertising is totally banned. This means Norwegians can buy their equipment from all over the world, including from Norway, but have to order anything containing nicotine from a EU country as this is legal for personal use (as long as you intend to use it to quit smoking).

However, when it comes to advertising, there are loopholes. The most obvious is the internet. There is nothing stopping companies with sites based in other countries from targeting a Norwegian audience. But there is also a loophole when it comes to TV adverts. Actually it's kind of the same thing... TV channels broadcasting from other countries are not bound by the same advertising rules as the ones broadcasting from Norway.

There are actually quite a few channels doing this. I think the original reason that some channels chose to send from the UK in the first place was the pretty strict rules we have here regarding how often you're allowed to send commercials. For example, you're not allowed to interrupt a movie to show adverts. I'm not an expert (so if anyone know this better than me feel free to comment) but actually I don't think you're allowed to interrupt any program, which has lead to some weird solutions. A football match for example, you'll often see as 5 programs in your EPG: A short pre-match, the first half, a really short discussion during the break, the second half and then the "after the match"-program in the end. This way they are able to legally squeeze in 4 commercial breaks.

Anyway, this has lead to some channels moving to the UK and these channels are bound by the British rules for advertising rather than the Norwegian ones. This of course means that they are allowed to do like ITV and start airing e-cigarette commercials. Whether they will do this or not is of course up to the channels owners. There are also other bans in Norway that these channels can avoid: You're not allowed to send adverts for alcohol or lotteries and gambling games (with the exception of Norsk Tipping which is owned by the government). Regarding alcohol adverts, none of the channels are currently doing this even if they are actually allowed to. When it comes to lotteries and gambling, most channels have chosen to send those. So what will they do regarding e-cigarettes?

There are two companies owning channels broadcasting from the UK: SBS Discovery and MTG. SBS Discovery says that they have discussed it, and if it's legal and anyone wants to do it, it is possible that they will send these commercials on Norwegian TV. MTG on the other hand say they will not as they consider this the same way they consider alcohol commercials: they want to follow the common code and norms in Norway. Without them saying this I guess this is also the reason they allow lottery and gambling commercials; since the government owned company Norsk Tipping is advertising on both TV and radio they feel that it's ok to send adverts for internet casinos, online betting and so on.

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Sunday, 16 November 2014

CDC's newest numbers debunks their own gateway theory

CDC's latest study released on Thursday this week (November 13th) shows that current e-cigarette use have doubled among middle school students and trippled among high school students from 2011/12 to 2013. During the same period smoking rates have been pretty heavily reduced. Dr. Siegel has taken the time to find the relevant numbers in the study and as usual given us the rest of the story on his blog:
During this time period, current e-cigarette use among middle-school students increased from 0.6% to 1.1%. At the same time, current cigarette smoking declined from 4.3% to 2.9%. 
Among high school students, current e-cigarette use increased from 1.5% to 4.5%. Concurrently, current cigarette smoking dropped from 15.8% to 12.7%.
Now if the gateway theory was in any way true, we would see more and more people starting to smoke as e-cigarette usage is going up. But, as CDC's numbers clearly shows, this is not the case. So, Tom Frieden and the CDC... can you please stop dragging out the gateway theory now? I know that common sense is not something you guys like to use, but now you got your numbers supporting it, so stop it please? I have another theory you could look into instead: The firewall theory.

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Friday, 14 November 2014

Nicotine addiction: When and why it all started

My post on nicotine addiction last week (Nicotine - a supersheep in wolf's clothing?) ended in a lot of questions. Now of course I wouldn't have done that without intending to give some answers, or at least attempt to do so. It appears that there is some consensus among quite a few scientists today that nicotine by itself is not very addictive. It needs some of the other chemicals in cigarette smoke to create that powerful addiction that keeps people smoking even though they are well aware that it might kill them. As professor Killeen says: the chemical addiction to cigarette smoke is indeed very real and very powerful, and nicotine plays an important role in that equation. But if you take the rest chemicals in cigarette smoke out of the equation, nicotine seems to be pretty harmless and not very addictive at all, so why is it then that nicotine has gotten all the blame?

I got an anonymous comment on one of my previous posts with a couple of links to Danish online newspaper 180grader and the excellent blog by Danish journalist Klaus K. The topic: Anti-smoking experts paid by Big Pharma. The article is written in Danish but the blog-post has been translated by Frank Davis:

In July this year a D.C. District Court documented the massive conflicts of interests of three prominent anti-tobacco experts, who, while appointed by the US government to be scientific editors for the official “Surgeon General”-reports on tobacco, received payment from pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKlein. The three experts in question are Neal Benowitz, Jack Henningfield and Jonathan Samet, and the court ordered that the FDA needed to remove them from TPSAC (FDA Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee) and it also barred FDA from using a scientific report on menthol in cigarettes from 2010, that the three "experts" were responsible for. The judge said that the advice of the three experts and their reports would benefit the pharmaceutical companies by giving a huge boost to the NRT market. You can read more about the court order here, here and here.

Benowitz, Henningfield and Samet were also responsible for another report, the "Surgeon General"-report of 2006 on The health consequences of involuntary exposure to tobacco smoke (2nd hand smoking), and Benowitz and Henninfield was also responsible for the "Surgeon General"-report of 1988. And guess what this one was about... Nicotine Addiction (!). It's not difficult to see how these two reports would benefit Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKlein and their nicotine replacement products hugely now is it? Have a look at the cover of the two reports by the way... see any logos you recognize?

The conclusion that Benowitz and Henningfield presented in the 1988 report was this: Nicotine is addictive, and that it is stronger than the addiction of heroin and cocaine. Having this report to back up their newly released nicotine-replacement product, Nicorette, was of course a huge advantage for Pfizer at the time. Klaus K sums this up pretty neatly:
There is no doubt that Benowitz ‘and Henningfield’s report on nicotine addiction was valuable for Nicorette producers. Apart from a few critical sections the report appears unilaterally as a kind of scientific advertising publication for Nicorette and other pharmaceutical nicotine products – endorsed by the US government Surgeon General.
In my previous post I mentioned several scientists saying that nicotine by itself is not very addictive. It requires the "help" of other chemicals in tobacco to cause the chemical addiction. There has been quite a lot of research done on the subject, and the scientist making this claim has new, good scientific reports supporting their claims. But on the other side, according to Israeli nicotine researchers Hanan Frenk and Reuven Dar, the Benowitz and Henningfield report seems to be virtually the only reference used when academics and journalists write about nicotine. Klaus K gives us even more indications that nicotine is not very addictive on by itself:
The addiction theory of nicotine has been laid to rest by virtually every nicotine researcher since it was demonstrated that smokers prefer nicotine-free cigarettes over Nicorette in trials. Mice and rats have never been interested in nicotine, and the researcher who originally had his name linked to the nicotine addiction theory – the Swedish medical researcher Karl Fagerström – today recognizes that nicotine is not an addictive factor in smoking.
The French smoking cessation specialist, Robert Molimard, wrote in the 2013 article, “The Myth of Nicotine Addiction” on the nicotine report that there has never been any proof that one can become addicted to nicotine, and the report therefore does not demonstrate that, contrary to the claim in the title – yet the chapter “Treatment” is dedicated to the companies’ Nicorette gum, which had just come on the market:
“In this huge book with 3,200 references, we would look in vain for a single article showing that man can be dependent on nicotine only. On the other hand, the “Treatment” chapter focuses immediately on the “Nicotine replacement therapy”. But then we did not have any hindsight about the efficiency of this new treatment, because the FDA had just approved the marketing of the 2 mg gum.”
To sum up a bit:
  • There is lots of pretty new and convincing research showing that nicotine by itself, is not very addictive.
  • The one report that is usually referenced as proof that nicotine is addictive, is written in 1988 by Benowitz and Henningfield who was (and still is, I believe) on the payroll of pharmaceutical giants that had just released a product that would benefit hugely from this.
  • The FDA is ordered by a federal court to remove these so-called experts from the TPSAC for writing reports that they and their employers would benefit financially from. Judge Richard Leon had this to say about the matter: 
“The presence of conflicted members on [FDA Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee, TPSAC] irrevocably tainted its very composition and its work product”
“the Committee’s findings and recommendations…are, at a minimum, suspect, and, at worst, untrustworthy.”
It very much looks like nicotine addiction was a lie that Benowitz and Henningfield created back in 1988 on assignment from Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKlein, for their own financial benefit. Smokers were mislead into believing they were addicted to nicotine, and that the solution was Nicorette. Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKlein needed something their new Nicorette could be a solution for, so they ordered it from Benowitz and Henningfield. But surely, these well respected companies could not do such a thing you say? Well, this is what Dr. Peter Rost, former vice CEO and whistleblower from Pfizer, has to say about the matter:
“You give them grants, you establish friendships, you make sure they become beholden to you, you start programs with them, which they can make a profit from. But they are not going to continue to get money, unless they are saying what you want them to say.
Everybody knows that this is how things work. They know it and you know it – it’s only maybe the public that does not know it.
That’s how you influence the medical establishment. Simply, with money.”
Still wondering why so many "medical experts" are part of campaigns against e-cigarettes?


Thursday, 13 November 2014

Professor Martin McKee talks about stuff he's not qualified to talk about

This morning I read this in the Independent: First e-cigarette 'vaping' advert to be shown on TV criticised for being 'highly sexualised'. Professor Martin McKee, not surprisingly, is "totally against" the new VIP advert that was shown on TV this week for the first time. This got me in kind of a bad mood.

It didn't get much better after reading this article he wrote also in the Independent: E-cigarettes should not be advertised — we don't even know how dangerous they are. Here he explains why this ad is targeting young non-smokers, clearly not something he as a professor of European Public Health as London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine is not qualified to do. I kind of felt the urge to write a long rant about why this is so wrong ...

... but then I read Redheadfullofsteam's post on the subject: The hidden power of advertizing, according to some people who know nothing about it. This made my day a lot better. I suggest you read it, especially if you're a bit pissed off by Professor McPhee's utter madness in the news. Thank you, Joanne :)

BenJohnson Stingray

Monday, 10 November 2014

First TV advert showing an e-cigarette being used

Tonight, for the first time since 1965, a woman will appear to smoke in a TV-advert on ITV. The ad, by e-cigarette company VIP, will of course show a woman vaping, not smoking, as VIP Co-founder David Levin points out in the Mirror article linked above. Until today e-cigarette adverts have been allowed by Committee of Advertising ­Practice, but showing the actual use of e-cigarettes has not been allowed out of fear that it might encourage people to start smoking. But now the Commitee has decided to allow this as long as ads do not encourage non-smokers to use e-cigarettes or be directed at under-18s.

Not surprisingly this has made so-called health campaigners furious, as they claim this will “sexualise and glamorise” the use of e-cigarettes. Deborah Arnott, chief of anti-smoking charity Ash is also concerned about this and says:
“Ash is concerned that VIP’s ads sexualise and glamorise e-cigarette use and don’t make clear these products are for smokers. If these ads conform to new rules then we’re concerned the rules aren’t fit for purpose.”
I'm having a bit of a problem understanding Deborah Arnott's logic at times. She seems very convinced that vaping is a lot safer than smoking. She has earlier stated this:
"The drop in smoking also shows that concerns that the use of electronic cigarettes would lead to renormalization of tobacco use appear unfounded.
The rapid increase in use of these products has coincided with a consistent steady decline in smoking"
(Read my post on the decline in smoking here:
Now I'm aware that there is no direct contradiction in those two quotes, but I don't see why she's so afraid that e-cigs would be sexualised and glamorised when actually she seems to understand the health benefits, and the fact that the gateway effect is pure non-sense. Oh well...

It's also worth noticing that 65% (as I'm writing this at least) that answered the poll in the Mirror article feels that ads showing people "smoking" e-cigarettes should be allowed (shame on the mirror for using the term "smoking" and e-cigarettes in the same sentence by the way). And finally I think it's worth noticing that the Royal Society for Public Health wants to rename e-cigarettes, and call the "nicotine sticks" to make them less trendy. I'm not sure I would rename e-cigarettes to make them less trendy, but I can see another reason to try to start using another term, and that is to get rid of the connection to smoking. I think the fact that they are currently called e-cigarettes is part of the reason we still see the media claiming that people smoke e-cigarettes, which of course is just wrong. Now I don't really think naming them "nicotine sticks" would make things better but I'm sure we can think of something better. What do you think? Feel free to leave a comment with your opinion.


Friday, 7 November 2014

Review: IGO-W8 (JAWS) by Youde

Ever since I started vaping I've been using mech-mods and genesis atomizers (and the occasional dripper from time to time) and I've been quite happy with my Hellfire atties and 18350 mods, but I figured with all the fuzz about sub-ohm coils and 100s of watts it was time for me to try something new. So to get started I figured I needed a regulated mod that could give me some watts and an atty that knew how to use them. With a little help from the guys at UKEcigStore I soon had a package en-route to Norway. The atty in the package was the IGO-W8 (or Jaws). I'll get back to  the mod later on and do a review of that as well.

A couple of words on safety first:
When dealing with low resistances you need to think about safety. If you don't know Ohm's law, learn it: I also highly recommend you read this post by Phil Busardo on battery safety: For your own safety and for the safety of those around you, please be careful and make sure you know what you are doing. By that I mean:
  • Know your mod: What safety features does it have? Can it step down the voltage? Where is the vent holes?
  • Know your battery: What is the safe discharge rate of your battery?
  • Know your setup: That means measure your resistance and calculate how many amps are drawn at any given voltage you plan to use. This is where you get to use your knowledge of Ohms law.

Some specs:
  • Coils: As you can see from the images the IGO-W8 has 3 negative posts and a common positive post (well depending on which way you put your battery of course), so it's built for a triple-coil setup.
  • Adjustable airflow: It has an air-control system with one "hole" pointing at each coil, and an outer brass control ring, also with similar holes that can be twisted to line up more or less with the holes in the inner wall to give you more or less airflow.
  • Juice wells: Under each coil (if you set them up where they should be of course) is a pretty deep juice well. Nice for stuffing a fair bit of cotton or silica in, so you can put quite a lot of juice in there without having it leaking out of the air-holes.
  • Top-cap: The top-cap is constructed with fins that will get rid of some heat so you don't burn your lips when vaping. Nice feature that seems to be quite popular with dripping atties these days. If you have a look around you'll find quite a few with top-caps constructed this way. 
  • Connector: Standard 510. 
  • Materials used: 304 Stainless Steel and Brass (for the air-control ring).
  • Size and weight: Diameter 22mm, Height 35.3mm, Weight 48g

Design and looks:
I think this atty looks quite nice actually. Using brass for the air-control-ring works quite well if you ask me. The top-cap fins also looks kind of cool in addition to actually having a useful function.

I'm not used to more than one coil in my atties, so this was a bit of a new experience for me. I decided to go for around .5 Ohms using 3x1.5 Ohm coils. Using 28AWG and a 2.5 mm drill-bit that means 9 wraps on each coil, something that proved to be a bit of a challenge for a guy with as many thumbs as I have. I didn't watch any videos before hand and that didn't make it easier. BUT, once you get the hang of it it's not that hard actually. After a little while I figured that I should just connect all the coils vertically to the positive connector, tighten the screw and then turn them all horizontally and connect the negatives, which would have been easier if I had 3 drill-bits of course. After connecting and adjusting the coils it's just a matter of pulling some cotton or silica through them (enough to fill the juice-wells) and juice up. I bet a lot of people can do this faster, and prettier, than me.

You can of course choose to set this atty up in a lot of different configurations but it's designed for triple coil setup and I'm pretty sure that is what will work best considering how the airflow control is designed, so you are a bit limited there. If you don't want sub-ohm setups you'll need to go for some higher resistance wire or maybe increase the diameter of your coils as fitting much more than 10ish wraps of 28AWG will give you quite a challenge. On the other hand, you don't have to use a lot of time wondering how you're going to set up your atty, so from a beginners point of view this limited setup options might as well be a good thing.

In use:
After the build was finally done, it was time to see what this thing could do. Now the mod I had at the moment did couldn't step-down the voltage below 3.7 so that means ... 25W. Around 10 more than I've ever tried before. Damn that is some vapor. Of course I had to crank it up to 50W pretty quick, and I was sure this little thing was going to explode. It snaps and cracks and makes all kind of noises and gives me a shitload of vapor and flavor. Playing around with the airflow a bit I find that it gives you more than you need at max and I prefer to keep it a lot less than that as I think it gives more flavour that way. The design of the airflow control makes it easy to adjust the amount of air you let into the atty to exactly what you want. The o-rings between the outer and inner ring is comfortably loose so its no hassle to adjust it either. The same goes for the o-rings on the top-cap actually. They're tight enough to keep the cap in place, but loose enough to make it easy to pop the cap off and drip when you need it. When it comes to the heat fins on the top-cap... they seem to be working fine... I didn't burn my lips even when vaping at 50W.

The 510 connector on this atty is not the longest I've seen. This could be a bad thing or a good thing depending on your mod-collection I guess. It will sit flush on most mods, but you'll need a mod with an adjustable center (or one that's a perfect fit). Now most mods nowadays have this so I don't think this would be a problem for many users. Anyway, if I was to say one thing I'm missing with this atty it would be an adjustable (or spring-loaded) centerpin.

I'm quite impressed to be honest. This atty costs no more than £19.99, and to me it seems like a bargain. It seems to be solidly built, o-rings are not too loose, not to tight. I bet there are atties out there that are easier to set up, but it's not too bad actually. Now at this price you don't get any fancy materials like titanium body and gold plated contacts. Overall I'd say this is a lot of atty for your money, and a great way to start exploring dripping atties and multi-coil setups.


  • All my reviews are my honest opinion even if I am affiliated with the company manufacturing or selling the product. 
  • The atomizer was sent to me free of charge for the purpose of this review.
  • This review contains affiliate links.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Nicotine - a supersheep in wolf's clothing?

Nicotine is pretty much getting the blame for the tobacco epidemic. Ask any of your friends or just random people on the street what they know about nicotine and I'm pretty sure this is the answer you'll get: Nicotine is very addictive and it's the reason people struggle to quit smoking. Some will also tell you that it will increase your blood pressure as well. This is what virtually everyone, including myself, has been saying for years and it has become a fact. It's just the way it is.

Yesterday I was reading the Asthray blog's post: Could Vaping Reduce Your Blood Pressure? It appears there is some controversy regarding this well known fact after all. One problem is that most studies on the subject have been focusing on the effects smoking has on blood pressure, not what nicotine by itself does. And then there is this: a lot of studies actually conclude that smokers have lower blood pressure, but also that smoking cessation leads to increased blood pressure. What's up with that? Part of the explanation probably lies in the fact that there is a difference in long term and short term effects. Dr. Farsalinos told the Ashtray blog this:
"There is some controversy in this area. First of all, all studies refer to smoking and not nicotine. Nicotine has immediate effects on blood pressure (acute elevation, lasting for about 15 minutes). But smoking has been associated (in some studies) with lower blood pressure. 
Moreover, some studies have shown that smoking cessation leads to elevated blood pressure. This is probably attributed to weight gain commonly observed after smoking cessation. On the other side, there are some other studies showing opposite findings.”
Clearly, more research is needed in this area, and Dr. Farsalinos is of course planning to do this.

Clicking on some of the links in the Ashtray blog post will also make you question the other well known fact that I mentioned in the beginning of this post: the common knowledge that nicotine is very addictive. This article from Tampa Bay Times discusses a study that not only finds nicotine safe, but it also seems to have some positive cognitive effects. The phenomenon that smokers are less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease have long puzzled scientists as smoking causes cardiovascular diseases that should actually increase the likeliness of developing Alzheimer's. What the scientists at Vanderbilt University's Center for Cognitive Medicine found was that it is nicotine that actually protects people from this awful disease. And it doesn't stop there. It seems protect against Parkinson's disease as well, and it boosts the cognitive function in older people showing signs of age-related mental decline. What an awful drug to be addicted to, right? If you're addicted that is. According to Dr. Paul Newhouse, the director of Vanderbilt University's Center for Cognitive Medicine, nicotine by itself isn't very addictive, it requires assistance from other substances found in tobacco to get people hooked:
"People won't smoke without nicotine in cigarettes, but they won't take nicotine by itself. Nicotine is not reinforcing enough. That's why FDA agreed nicotine could be sold over the counter. No one wants to take it because it's not pleasant enough by itself. And it's hard to get animals to self-administer nicotine the way they will with cocaine."
In their extensive research into beneficial effects of nicotine on the brain they have used nicotine patches as a way to administer the nicotine to the subjects of their studies, and according to Dr. Newhouse it has virtually no side-effect:
"It seems very safe even in nonsmokers. In our studies we find it actually reduces blood pressure chronically. And there were no addiction or withdrawal problems, and nobody started smoking cigarettes. The risk of addiction to nicotine alone is virtually nil."
Oh... there the blood pressure comes up again. It certainly will be very interesting to see what Dr. Farsalinos finds in his upcoming study on the subject. And notice this: nobody started smoking cigarettes. Nicotine itself is in other words not a gateway to smoking either... surprised?

Isn't the well known fact that nicotine is very addictive true then? I've heard this before, but have to admit I kind of dismissed it. Cause I tried e-cigs without nicotine and I do feel that only the nicotine containing ones stops my cravings for cigarettes. So it makes very much sense that nicotine is addictive. But Dr. Newhouse is not the only one that says nicotine isn't addictive. Peter Killeen, emeritus professor of psychology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has studied the subject and he says the same thing: There is no such thing as nicotine addiction (read the article for an in depth explanation of his studies). Again, it's nicotine in combination with other chemicals that creates the addiction.

Try to google "nicotine benefits". Start clicking and you'll discover there are more scientists saying the same things:
  • Nicotine by its self is not very addictive. They refer to studies showing that NRT's are not very addictive, and the fact that they can't seem to get animals hooked on nicotine alone. Where is the proof that nicotine by itself is addictive?
  • Nicotine seems to have a lot of positive effects on the brain. 
The first hit I got when I did the suggested google search was this: This adds ADHD and schizophrenia to the list of disorders that might be treated with nicotine. And it may also have a positive effect on people without any disorders. Psychologist Jennifer Rusted of the University of Sussex in Britain calls the drug “the most reliable cognitive enhancer that we currently have.” According to Rusted my former smoking habit, and current vaping habit could have increased my visual attention, my working memory, and my prospective memory (the ability to remember and implement a prior intention) by 15%. "In short, the drug seems to work by helping users shut out irrelevant stimuli so that important information can come to the fore", the article says. According to Casaa (with references to science) nicotine also relieves depression, reduces anxiety and protects against weight gain. I think we're all prone to being a little anxious at times, and stressed out, and nicotine helps us deal with that. If you've ever been a smoker I'm pretty sure you'll agree that the cravings are worst when you're a bit stressed. Could it be that the reason e-cigarettes work so well is that you're only trying to get rid of one thing at the time, the chemical addiction to cigarettes (which according to Killeen is very real), while it lets you keep the social aspect, the habit and the nicotine? Is nicotine really a supersheep in wolf's clothing?

Adding together the positive effects of nicotine and all this pretty convincing evidence that nicotine in fact isn't addictive on it's own, one might start to wonder: How and when did the whole world get convinced that it is? What or who made nicotine the scapegoat? And why? And finally, looking at the upsides of it's use, if you can administer it in a safe way (like vaping), is there any reason left to stop using it?

BenJohnson Stingray