The EU Menthol Ban Could Help More Smokers Switch to Safer Alternatives


The European Union Revised Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) has banned the manufacture and sale of menthol cigarettes. Despite Brexit, this ban also applies to the UK and includes capsule, click on, click & roll, crushball or dual menthol cigarettes, and excludes vaping and heated tobacco products. The measure goes into effect on the 20th of May, and anyone caught selling the menthol products across the European Union (EU) could be fined up to €1,000.

As the US remains primarily focused on banning e-cigarettes, it has ironically so far retained a relaxed stance towards the much deadlier products.

Research by TobaccoIntelligence, an independent source of expert commentary and data about the tobacco industry, has indicated that many retailers are planning to use the shelf space previously occupied by menthol cigarettes for alternatives such as vaping and heated tobacco (heat-not-burn) products.

“The opportunities to convert menthol smokers to less risky alternatives are substantial,” said TobaccoIntelligence managing news editor David Palacios. “In the UK alone, for example, it is estimated that 1.3 million people currently using menthol cigarettes will need to find an alternative product from next Wednesday.”

The US’s senseless approach

Meanwhile, as the US remains primarily focused on banning e-cigarettes, it has ironically so far retained a relaxed stance towards the much deadlier products. For example, a legislation to ban all flavoured vaping and tobacco products in Colorado has been amended to allow the sales of menthol cigarettes.

Similarly, New Jersey lawmakers have halted efforts to stop sales of menthol cigarettes, to instead focus their efforts on a bill that bans flavours in vaping products. While as Vermont lawmakers prepare to enact a ban on flavoured tobacco and vaping products, the tobacco industry is doing its utmost to block the part of the bill which would ban menthols.

UK: Menthol Cigarettes Have Been Banned as of May 20th



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Taiwan Association Says Tobacco Harm Reduction is a Human Right


The Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (Caphra) is supporting a petition by the Taiwan Tobacco Harm Reduction Association (TTHRA), urging the government of Taiwan to allow tobacco harm reduction products, such as e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, as part of the key strategy to decrease national smoking rates.

“..the United Nations has also stated that, “raising vaping/ENDS tax and protecting the people can bring a win-win situation for the government.”

Caphra’s executive coordinator Nancy Loucas, said that this request is in line with the WHO’s recommendation that countries regulate safer alternatives to protect public health. “This aligns with the WHO declaration that health is a fundamental human right and that individuals should be given the right to determine their right to advance and protect their own well-being,” she said.

Yu-Yang Wang of TTHRA, said that while several countries are still debating vape bans, the latest WHO report from 2020 supports regulating the smoke-free products. “The WHO report stated that vaping should be regulated to protect public health. That’s why I initiated a petition on National Development Council to promote the goal for Smoke-Free Taiwan 2040,” explained Wang.

Additionally, the United Nations has also stated that, “raising vaping/ENDS tax and protecting the people can bring a win-win situation for the government.” Wang forwarded the petition to the government in time for World No Tobacco Day on May 31st. This year’s theme was “protecting young people from tobacco industry manipulation and preventing them from using tobacco and nicotine.”

Asia Harm Reduction Group Welcomes Hong Kong’s Vape Ban Termination 



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Vape Mail Ban Passes the Senate; House Votes in Two Weeks


Bipartisan legislation that will eliminate U.S. Postal Service delivery of vaping products has passed the Senate and is on the way to the House. The Senate passed S 1253, the so-called “Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act,” by voice vote on July 2.

In addition to banning shipments of e-liquid and vaping hardware by the Postal Service, the bill forces other delivery services to check ID and get an adult signature at the point of delivery for vape shipments. Delivery by FedEx, UPS or DHL is much more expensive than mail delivery, and the signature at delivery requirement will add additional cost and difficulty for vapers.

Even though a similar bill was passed last October by the House of Representatives, the Senate bill is different enough that it must go to the House for approval before it can be sent to President Trump to be signed into law or vetoed. Trump is not expected to oppose it.

The House will not be present to vote until July 20, which gives vapers two weeks to register their strong opposition to S 1253. Please encourage your House member to oppose the bill by engaging through the CASAA call to action below.

EBay sales of vaping products (mostly pod devices and refills) to youth by unscrupulous sellers will not be affected by the new law. Since eBay accounts generally have generic names that won’t be recognized by the Postal Service as vape dealers, they will continue to use U.S. Mail delivery with impunity. Of course, online dealers of illicit cannabis oil vapes—who are already violating federal law by shipping controlled substances—will simply lie about the contents, as they always have. Both groups will continue to ship to underage purchasers, whether S 1253 becomes law or not.

Because the new law requires an adult signature, and deliveries almost always happen during business hours when most vapers are working, it will create hardships for many people who simply want to get the vaping products that help them avoid smoking. Additionally, as American Vaping Association president Gregory Conley points out, the signature requirement will create unnecessary points of contact that can cause further spread of the coronavirus.

The bill will primarily affect vapers who don’t live near vape shops, and disabled vapers and others who can’t leave their homes and must order online. Because it will add considerably to the cost of shipping, low-income vapers will suffer the most.

The Senate bill was introduced by California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, but Texas Republican John Cornyn encouraged his party, which controls the Senate, to support the vape mail ban. It would not have received a Senate vote at all without the approval of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. And although the bill was approved without a recorded vote (so we don’t know exactly which Senators supported it), the bill had more Republican co-sponsors (Senators who indicated firm support before the vote) in the Senate than Democrats (14 to 13).

The success of the vape mail ban in the Senate seems to indicate that Republicans will support laws that restrict vaping products as long as they’re not opposed by the tobacco industry. That may be bad news for flavor ban legislation, which has been supported—with an exemption for products granted PMTA approval—in some states by the tobacco companies and JUUL.

The bill was supported by the usual alphabet soup of tobacco control and special interest groups. According to one of Sen. Cornyn’s two press releases bragging about the bill’s passage, it was backed by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association, Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum, California Physicians Alliance, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Children’s Health Fund, Go2Foundation for Lung Cancer, National Alliance for Hispanic Health, National Association of Convenience Stores and Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America.

Along with the convenience store and gas station associations, some vape shop owners unfortunately support online sales restrictions, and celebrated passage of the bill along with organizations like Tobacco-Free Kids.



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Australia’s Vape Ban Delayed Following Protests


Last week, the Federal Health Minister of Australia Greg Hunt said that the Department of Health was working with the country’s Border Force towards a ban on the importation of vape liquid containing nicotine. The measure was to go into effect on July 1st, and anyone caught violating this regulation was to be fined $220,000.

Hunt said that the delay to January 1st gives smokers enough “time to talk with the GP, discuss the best way to give up smoking, such as using other products including patches or sprays.”

This ban would have meant that while vapers would have technically still been able to obtain nicotine e-liquids via a doctor’s prescription, in reality not many would have managed, as only a handful of Australian doctors are willing to write nicotine prescriptions under current laws. Moreover, given the complex and time-consuming requirements of the new plan, even fewer doctors would have been inclined to write prescriptions following these changes.

As soon as this measure was announced, there was outrage and a number of organizations and entities who have harm reduction and public health, as well as 28 Coalition MPs spoke up against the ban. Australian Senator Matthew Canavan and MP George Christensen started a petition to overturn the import ban and to instead have it legalized and regulated.

Ban delayed for six months

Thankfully, in response to these actions Health Minister Greg Hunt has decided to delay the ban by six months. Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association Director Dr Colin Mendelsohn said it is a welcome delay. “I think the outrage from the community was just extraordinary. It makes no sense to make a far safer product hard to get.”

Hunt said that the delay to January 1st gives smokers enough “time to talk with the GP, discuss the best way to give up smoking, such as using other products including patches or sprays”. He said that “if still required”, vapers may still get the products by prescription.

MP James Paterson who welcomed the backdown, told Guardian Australia that “vapers will be relieved to hear they will not be cut off on 1 July from a product that helped them kick the habit”. He added that six months allows for time to prepare. “Six months gives us the time to put in place a system that ensures anyone who needs access to these safer alternatives can get it.”

The Vaping Weekly Podcast: The Musings of Lindsey Stroud; Australia Soapbox



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New Zealand’s 2020 Budget Did Not Raise Tobacco Taxes


“It’s good news the Minister of Finance didn’t use this Budget to hike tobacco tax, as has been the case for the past four years,” said Nancy Loucas, Director of Aotearoa Vapers Community Advocacy (AVCA). Loucas believes that while tobacco tax is used as a way of gaining revenue, it has a negative impact on vulnerable groups and does little to motivate the public to quit smoking.

“AVCA does not support tobacco tax hikes. Too often they’ve been used as a revenue gathering exercise and always hit the vulnerable the hardest.”

“AVCA does not support tobacco tax hikes. Too often they’ve been used as a revenue gathering exercise and always hit the vulnerable the hardest. They’re terribly regressive and I would argue have had little impact on the likes of Maori with 31% still smoking. Sure, we’ve seen New Zealand’s overall smoking rates fall to a record 12.5% low, but that’s largely due to education and the arrival of vaping,” she said.

The AVCA believes that education and the availability of safer alternatives is the way forward in decreasing smoking rates, added Loucas. “We support the Government investing in campaigns via its own Health Promotion Agency to encourage smokers to switch to vaping. However, we don’t support the Government effectively taxing our poorest households more. Thank goodness that has stopped.”

“The Government is right to stop harming smokers. It would’ve made nominal difference to our smoking rates, inflicting more pain on our poorest households. Instead, it now needs to deliver progressive vaping regulation to ensure more Kiwi smokers make the switch to something that’s considerably less harmful to both their health and back-pockets,” she said.

Big tobacco uses taxes as an excuse to raise tobacco prices

The last annual tobacco tax increase was of 11.5%, and went into effect on January 1st this year, taking an average pack of 25 cigarettes to over $41. Meanwhile, a recent analysis has indicated that Kiwi tobacco companies have been using annual tax increases to cover significant voluntary price hikes.

Professor Richard Edwards, an Otago University academic and co-director of the ASPIRE 2025 project, is pointing out that excessive and hidden voluntary price hikes are a common practice of tobacco companies across the globe. “The industry tends to portray itself as fighting tax increases so as to help out smokers, when really it is clear they often use such increases to bring in price increases that they blame on the government.”

The analysis indicated that these voluntary price increases by tobacco companies in New Zealand have been hiding in plain sight. While regular tax increases have increased the price of an average cigarette pack by approximately $1.70 per year, tobacco companies have simply added an extra $1 to go into their own pockets.

New Zealand Launches a World-First Vapes’ Recycling Programme 



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Oregon Considers Ban on Additives in THC Vaping Products


Last October, Oregon Governor Kate Brown, had announced a temporary ban on all flavoured vaping products. “My first priority is to safeguard the health of all Oregonians,” said Brown at the time. The ban was meant to be valid for six months and urged state agencies to develop a plan for warning labels, ingredient disclosures, product safety testing and a campaign to discourage vaping.

The OLCC had moved to enact Brown’s order by banning all THC vape oil products containing flavour chemicals called terpenes, derived from anything but marijuana. Following this, Oakland-based company Herban Industries had sued the OLCC arguing that the ban would cause irreparable harm and the Court of Appeals ruled in favour of the business.

By February the flavour ban was killed completely. “The flavour ban is gone,” said Sen. Laurie Monnes Anderson, at the beginning of Senate Bill 1577’s work session. Monnes Anderson said she didn’t have the votes in the Senate and attributed that to a variety of concerns lawmakers had, such as the potential hit to state revenue.

A more sensible measure

The OLCC wants to stop manufacturers from being able to mix THC oil with any additive that has not been proven safe to inhale.

In response to these events, the OLCC is now proposing a more limited ban on flavours and thinning agents, focused just on THC vaping products. The OLCC wants to stop manufacturers from being able to mix THC oil with any additive that has not been proven safe to inhale, and will allow ingredients derived from cannabis, like flavour terpenes and cannabinoids, to be added for natural flavoring, meaning that THC vapour can taste like cannabis, but nothing else.

“None of us expected that this was going to be part of what was going on this year,” said JT Thompson who runs Sublime Solutions, a THC distiller in Eugene. TJ Sheehy, who directs research at the OLCC, said that the agency’s aim is targeting additives from third-party companies that aren’t properly regulated. “We don’t believe that consumers should be guinea pigs,” said Sheehy.

The EVALI outbreak was linked to the consumption of illicit THC

Last November, the CDC had confirmed that the outbreak of EVALI is linked to THC oil containing vitamin E acetate, also known as Tocopheryl acetate, obtained from illegal sources. Sheehy said they’ve turned to a list of hundreds of ingredients to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regarded as generally safe to eat, but not necessarily to inhale. Hence why the new regulations are being proposed.

“They use things like essential oils that are for perfume. Or products for ingestion. There’s no research whatsoever about what happens when you ignite or vaporize these fatty oils and you put them into your lungs,” said Sheehy. “We can’t rely on a health investigation after someone has been harmed, to isolate the problem. We really need to take a closer look at the ingredients that are going into products before they hurt someone,” he added.

Read Further: OPB

Michigan: Proposed Bills Would Ban Vitamin E Acetate in E-Liquids



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Korean Study: The Main Factors Linked to Teen Vaping


Amongst the main factors encouraging teens to vape, the researchers found were the belief that they are less harmful than cigarettes, they can be easily concealed, that they’re easy to purchase, and the availability of different flavours.

In the study titled, “What influences adolescents to continuously use e‐cigarettes?,” 55.1% of the participants reported that they had used e-cigarettes for 6 to 30 days in the past month and 44.9% used them from 1 to 5 days.

Amongst the main factors encouraging teens to vape, the researchers found were the belief that they are less harmful than cigarettes, they can be easily concealed, that they’re easy to purchase, and the availability of different flavours.

Additionally, said the researchers, teens who have a higher weekly allowance, do not live with family, and are exposed to second-hand smoke at home, were also more likely to vape more frequently.

Increased vaping rates in Canada

Meanwhile, recent research looking at vaping behaviour amongst Canadian teens, has found that between 2017 and 2019 the rates amongst adolescents aged between 16 and 19 have doubled, and the higher nicotine content available in North America as opposed to Europe may be to blame.

Within the EU, the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) which came into effect in May 2017, bans the sales of nicotine containing e-liquids above 20 mg/ml. Public health experts have long argued that setting nicotine caps on safer alternatives such as vaping products would have a detrimental effect on national smoking rates, pushing former smokers who had switched to go back to smoking.

However on the flipside, the regulation may be having a positive effect on teen vaping rates, ensuring that teens do not become addicted to nicotine. A survey of more than 12,000 Canadians aged 16 to 19, conducted between 2017 and 2019, found that the number participants reporting previous month use had more than doubled, from 8.4% in 2017 to 17.8% in 2019.

Another blow for South Korea’s Vape Industry



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Juul Labs Donate to Politicians Despite Threats of E-Cig Bans


Being at the receiving end of multiple lawsuits and incessant scrutiny, Juul has been doing its utmost to convince the FDA and general public that it is committed to prevent teen vaping. Last Summer it announced a new product that can help monitor users by collecting information about the user such as when and where they vape, and is even able to utilize a facial recognition feature to keep it out of the hands of children. Additionally, the manufacturer has hated the sales of its flavoured nicotine pods.

Filings indicate a $50,350 donation from Juul to the Democratic Governors Association in August and September 2019, and again almost the same amount to the Republican Governors Association a few months later.

Subsequently, in what will probably be considered another desperate attempt to win authorities’ favour, filings with the state Election Law Enforcement Commission, indicate a $7,500 donation to General Majority, a Sweeney-tied super PAC, dated Jan. 24th, less than two weeks after the Senate and Assembly passed a bill supported by Sweeney, NJ A5922 (18R), that could have banned Juul’s products.

Filings with the Internal Revenue service, also indicate that Juul donated $50,350 to the Democratic Governors Association in August and September 2019, and again almost the same amount to the Republican Governors Association a few months later.

With regards to the General Majority donation, Juul said that this was effected in response to an invitation to a fundraising event for the super PAC. The donation appears to be the only state-level contribution Juul made in New Jersey.

“At JUUL Labs, our philosophy is to support people and organizations to combat underage use and convert adult smokers from combustible cigarettes, including state political committees on a bipartisan basis around the country,” said company spokesperson Austin Finan in a statement. “We remain focused on resetting the vapor category in the U.S. and earning the trust of society by working cooperatively with lawmakers, attorneys general, regulators, public health officials, and other stakeholders to achieve those goals.”

39 US States To Investigate Juul’s Marketing Practices

Meanwhile, last month it was announced that investigators from 39 states, including Connecticut, Florida, Nevada, Oregon and Texas, will be looking into the sales and marketing practices of Juul Labs, to determine whether the company is targeting youths.

The investigation will be looking into how Juul markets its products and whether the company has made misleading claims about the nicotine content in its devices. The state officials have also said that they will be investigating Juul’s claims about the effectiveness of their device as a smoking cessation tool.

“I will not prejudge where this investigation will lead,” said Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, “but we will follow every fact and are prepared to take strong action in conjunction with states across the nation to protect public health.”

The Impact of Juul on the Environment



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Thor AIO – Thinkvape review


Colored

The Thor AIO is a colorful podmod. It is not very discreet visually although the graphic lines are successful and well-integrated. But with a featherweight of 45 g, the Thor knows how to make itself forgotten. Offered at a competitive price, this is its strength.

Technical data

Size 78 x 44.5 x 26 mm
Weight 45 g
Battery 18650
Charge micro USB, external charge
Eliquid Capacity 3 ml

 

Optional screen ?

The drip tip is in 510 format. It is a little short for direct inhalation but can easily be replaced by another drip tip.

Access to the battery compartment is beneath a decorative panel. A notch on each side of the mod relieves the operation. This cut-out is well-integrated and discreet.

The pod accepts a 18650-size battery.  A strap in the cradle makes it easy to remove. Insertion of the battery is easy; the positive pole is spring-mounted. Under the Thor, there are vent holes. On closer inspection, they are only decorative and do not look into the interior of the box, which is a pity. The removable decorative panel is held in place by two strong magnets. There is no lateral or vertical play.

The fire button protrudes from the body of the mod. It is neither too firm nor too soft when pressed. It does not suffer from any parasitic rattling. At the bottom of the Thor, a small screen displays the settings.

The screen is monochrome. A “+” and a “-” button are used to adjust the settings.The mod is reduced to the strict minimum, i.e. increasing or decreasing the power output and a lock of the settings. There’s no risk of making mistakes in a multitude of menus, which probably useless for this kind of material. The screen is particularly dim. In indoor use, one can hardly distinguish the information displayed. Outdoors, it should be forgotten that a screen exists, this is a major negative point.

Correct flavors

The Thor’s cartridge has a capacity of 3 ml of e-liquid. That’s correct for a mod with the template it contains. The resistor is held in the reservoir by a series of seals. No leaks and no oozing are to be reported, even after many refills. That’s a good point. The airflow is adjusted using a small ring at the base of the resistor. It is moderately precise in use and a little too flexible in rotation.

The tank fits in its place easily and has an excellent hold. To fill it, simply lift a silicone seal. It’s simple and practical, but you have to forget about the wider bottle ends.

The Thor comes with two resistors. Both are made of mesh. One has a value of 0.2 ohms for a range of use between 35 and 50 watts. The second is 0.5 ohm for use between 20 and 25 watts. The flavors are there, the resistors do the job well. The aromatic range of each liquid is respected. The only problem that can arise is their availability. For the moment, ThinkVape is not as present as the biggest brands. It is necessary to plan resistors in advance so as not to find oneself in difficulty when it is necessary to change them.

An RBA deck can be purchased as an option to add a customized resistance to the Thor. The recurring problem with this type of accessory is the size available to “work” the resistance. Everything is much too small, and you have to be used to the rebuildable exercise to succeed in a proper assembly and cottoning without smearing your hands with liquid. Not to mention the fact that the RBA set is nothing extraordinary. The hit is a little present, the flavors weak. As it is, there is little interest in equipping its mod.

The Thor AIO is not particularly bad, nor particularly good. It is average, as several podmods are at the moment. Its featherweight and affordable price may seduce, but its almost non-existent screen and the availability of resistors are a brake.

 



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NZ’s Health Select Committee Understands The Importance of Vape Flavours 


“The Health Select Committee now better understands the importance of vape flavours in helping Kiwis quit smoking. Subsequently, we may see some sensible softening of the Government’s proposed flavour restrictions,” said Jonathan Devery, spokesperson of the Vaping Trade Association of New Zealand (VTANZ) last month.

“The Health Select Committee now better understands the importance of vape flavours in helping Kiwis quit smoking. Subsequently, we may see some sensible softening of the Government’s proposed flavour restrictions.”

This comment concluded on the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Bill, which was introduced by Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa last February and finalized last week. On introducing the bill, the health ministry had acknowledged that vaping and the consumption of smokeless tobacco products are less harmful than smoking, and that due to this, the bill will exempt these products from some of the provisions that apply to tobacco products.

“(The bill) enables all retailers to display products in-store, in contrast to requirements that require tobacco products to be out of the public’s sight,” said the ministry at the time. However, the bill was proposing a ban on all flavoured e-liquids and pods with the exception of tobacco, mint and menthol from all retail outlets, aside from specialized vape shops. “Flavours may be used to attract children and young people to vape or use smokeless tobacco products, however, they also seem to be an important factor in supporting smokers to switch,” read the bill.

On releasing the bill, the Health Select Committee called for public submissions/comments, to be sent by the 1st of April. “MPs heard from a huge number of people and organisations that said: Let’s protect our youth, but let’s also remember that the likes of fruit, dessert, and sweet flavour variations are the most popular for adults and key to smokers successfully quitting tobacco,” said Devery.

Devery had added that following the submissions, more flavours will be added to the allowed category. “We’re hopeful that about three more flavour categories will be allowed for general retail. That would reflect the fact that up to 90% of ex-smokers want and need those flavours to keep off cigarettes. Everywhere there are cigarettes but not popular vape flavours only risks smoking rates rising,” he said.

Finalized bill allows sales of flavours in vape shops only

VTANZ was also optimistic that the committee would recommend to Parliament that vaping advertising be heavily restricted and regulated, like alcohol, not totally prohibited as currently proposed by the bill. “Government expenditure is under increasing pressure. Permitting only taxpayer-funded advertising campaigns to promote the advantages of switching from smoking to vaping makes even less sense now. Vape businesses should be able to use their own profits to advertise in a restricted way, sparing Kiwi taxpayers,” said Devery.

The finalized bill as released last week, will allow general and online-only e-cig retailers to sell only three vape flavours, and all other flavours in specialty shops. Local vape group: Aotearoa Vapers Community Advocacy (AVCA) believes that a successful legislation would allow vape flavours countrywide, not just in the bigger towns and cities with brick and mortar specialist vape shops. This would ensure that any adult wishing to quit smoking would have easy access to the products.

NZ Study Finds No Teen Vaping Epidemic in New Zealand



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