Tobacco Company Examines Risks of E-Cigarette Vapor
A seven month federal study sponsored by R. J. Reynolds Vapor Co., a subdivision of Reynolds American Inc., is currently being conducted in order to conclude if there are any dangers from exposure to electronic cigarette vapor. The study will be evaluating and comparing the vapor produced by four diverse brands of electronic cigarettes, as well as against two menthol and non-menthol brands of traditional cigarettes. Ultimately the purpose of conducting this clinical trial “is to increase understanding of the composition of second-hand vapor smoke”.
Experts from around the world sent a letter to the World Health Organization (WHO) in May, recommending this exact type of study be performed in order to conclusively determine the precise particles generated by the vapor of an e-cigarette. These experts stated “it is misleading to make an issue of the presence of toxins in e-cigarette vapor without showing how these compare both to levels in cigarette smoke and to routine exposure”. R.J. Reynolds Vapor Co.’s study addresses these precise concerns presented in the letter delivered to the WHO by not only comparing the vapor from various brands of electronic cigarettes, but by also comparing the e-cigarette vapor to the second-hand smoke emitted from combustible cigarettes.
In spite of the fact that many in the public health community still do not trust tobacco industry scientists, I believe that all tobacco, nicotine and alternative products companies have a responsibility and obligation to conduct good peer reviewed science
Not everyone is pleased with R.J. Reynolds involvement in this study, especially public health officials and organizations. John Spangler, a professor at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, is a perfect example of someone who is extremely apprehensive regarding these types of studies. He stated, “Although we need to know more about second-hand electronic cigarette vapor, this study is industry sponsored, and there are strong concerns about how data are handled by industry studies”. Spangler believes the results of this study may have a difficult time being accepted in the scientific community due to what he considers are potential flaws in its initial construction. Additionally, he fears the testing is not random, and worries the final data may not be accessible for peer review and public comments.
Although these may seem to be valid points to bring up, Scott Ballin, (the previous chairman of the Coalition on Smoking or Health), strongly feels that this clinical trial should not be judged or dismissed simply due to R.J. Reynolds’ sponsorship. Ballin responded to the anti-smoking advocates’ fear-mongering statements by saying, “In spite of the fact that many in the public health community still do not trust tobacco industry scientists, I believe that all tobacco, nicotine and alternative products companies have a responsibility and obligation to conduct good peer reviewed science”. Ballin further supported his position by stating, “This is particularly critical given that we now have FDA oversight of tobacco and nicotine products, and manufacturers will be submitting science to support any modified risk tobacco product application”.
In regards to regulating these popular devices, determining the risk factor associated with e-cigarette vapor has been one of the main concerns the FDA is presently facing. Currently the FDA is accepting public comments related to how they should proceed to regulate these alternative nicotine replacement devices; however the fast approaching August 8th deadline is almost upon us. The massive popularity of the e-cigarette industry has not only created extremely devoted followers and activists, but has also produced approximately “$2 billion in e-cig revenue last year”, and is expected to reach “$10 billion by 2017” according to Bonnie Herzog, a Wells Fargo Securities analyst. With the immense amount of profit being produced by this market and the continually growing popularity of e-cigarettes, numerous analysts do not foresee the FDA implementing a complete ban of these products…at least in the USA.
Analysts from both sides of the e-cigarette debate believe that definitive electronic cigarette regulations may not be completely implemented for as long as two years. This period of time would allow the FDA and other regulatory organizations around the world time to properly review all the evidence presented to them before making any conclusive restrictions or regulations. Hopefully the results from this study can help to ease some of the FDA’s and the WHO’s anxiety related to the issue of e-cigarette vapor, and proceed to make the correct decisions when it comes to regulating electronic cigarettes.