My individual comment on the #FDAdeeming Regs.

From: Alex Clark

To: FDA Center for Tobacco Products

RE: FDA, Docket No. FDA-2014-N-0189, Regulatory Information Number (RIN) 0910- AG38


August 8, 2014


I am writing to you as one of the primary stakeholders in this issue – as a consumer.  The proposed FDA regulations (Deeming Tobacco Products To Be Subject to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, as Amended by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act; Regulations on the Sale and Distribution of Tobacco Products and Required Warning Statements for Tobacco Products) should be designed to protect me and millions of other consumers.  However, it is clear that the FDA is preoccupied with the impact on an unrealistically small portion of the industry.  It is also apparent that the justifications for this proposed rule are supported, in large part, by politically motivated misinformation that is better suited for sensational headlines in the media.  Allowing such a bias to work it’s way into policy is counter to the mission of the FDA to protect the public and ensure our access to quality products.  Not only is this obviously damaging to consumer welfare, but it erodes any confidence we might have in federal regulatory agencies.

There are other aspects of this proposed rule that limit consumer awareness about these products.  It is an apparent effort to limit information that would empower us to make better choices.  For example, the inquiry into appropriate labeling requirements for tobacco products suggests that FDA would require all nicotine containing products (with the exception of approved cessation products) to display an addiction warning.  This is, of course, offered without any investigation into the harm of “addiction”.  Rather, the FDA seems to rely on the common notion that “addiction” is a disease for which there is no convenient pharmaceutical cure.  Addiction is casually accepted as the root cause of the suffering and moral compromise experienced by addicts.

This is counter to a more enlightened view in which substance abuse is a symptom of a larger spiritual and emotional crisis.  If federal regulatory agencies are to take the reins on combating or preventing future generations from becoming dependant on culturally deviant substances and/or activities as a means to alleviate the pains of modern life or personal trauma, it might be more productive to have a conversation about subjects including current population level attempts at social engineering and the effect such efforts have on our collective psyche.  Or perhaps we need to re-evaluate our priorities as a society.  Neither of which can be accomplished by restricting public access to valuable, honest information and the tools to understand it.

That having been said, it is obvious that such an “addiction warning” on low risk products like e-cigarettes is a thinly veiled attempt to mislead consumers into believing that these products are equally as harmful as combustible tobacco.  Such disregard for consumers’ right to unbiased information is irresponsible, irrational, immoral, and downright patronizing.  Furthermore, muddying the waters of the larger discussion on addiction can’t be ignored as having a net negative effect on the evolving clinical and common understanding of the issue which, in turn, negatively impacts public health.


I became a full-time smoker shortly after earning my driver’s license.  Smoking was a quick and relatively effective means for coping with the anxiety of driving.  From the age of 16, I was a two pack-a-day smoker for the better part of 21 years.  The last 4 of which, I used nicotine gum at home and smoked one pack per day at work.  In my 21 years as a smoker, I made 3 quit attempts.  Once “cold turkey” and two other times with the aid of nicotine gum.  Each attempt resulted in less than 24 hours of complete abstinence from smoking.  Although during my last attempt I had been smoke free with the aid of nicotine gum for two days prior, once I was back at work the 4mg gum proved to be ineffective.  I made it ⅔ of the way through my work day when I realized I felt inebriated from the withdrawal.  I came to the conclusion that I would need to buy a pack of cigarettes and resume smoking if I was going to be physically able to drive home that night.

A couple of weeks after the disappointing experience of my last quit attempt I decided to try an e-cigarette on a whim.  The $10 disposable devices I selected offered a proof of concept that I might be able to switch away from combustible tobacco.  I spent the rest of that weekend researching and ordering devices.  The only cigarettes I had after my first e-cigarette encounter were on Monday as I waited for my “starter kit” to arrive in the mail.

Since switching to electronic cigarettes a year and a half ago I have not smoked a single cigarette.  I’ve noticed my senses of smell and taste have returned and I don’t get winded as easily (although, I suspect my sedentary work and leisure activities will be my next hurdle).  I also don’t experience headaches as much as I used to.  Admittedly, I am inconveniently reminded daily of my desire to smoke (similar to the experience I have with recovery from other substances).  However, I have found e-cigarettes to be a useful and enjoyable tool in my daily struggle to remain smoke-free.

I discovered very quickly that the low power, mass produced “cig-a-like” products were not enough to fully replace my dependance on smoking.  Although the placebo like “proof of concept” aspect helped to get me through my day, there was an obvious discrepancy in the amount of nicotine they delivered (after some cursory research, It is my understanding that there are other ingredients in combustible cigarettes that I had become dependant on).  Using more capable devices seemed to fill the gap for me.  This being the case, if “advanced devices”, “open systems”, and high nicotine concentration e-liquids (i.e. 24mg/ml +) are regulated off the market, I am concerned that I’ll be tempted to return to smoking.  Although I would be able to substitute cigarettes with a smoke free option like snus (which I already use where laws prohibit vaping), there are significant elements of vaping/smoking that oral tobacco can not effectively replace.

On the other hand, over the past year and a half I’ve acquired enough knowledge of advanced devices that I’m confident I’ll be able to continue successfully using them.  There is also an established “DIY” community with an evolving collection of online resources that I will be able to consult for information and instruction on making my own e-liquid at home.  Similarly, there is an established community of “modders” who are able to produce and instruct others in making advanced devices.  Sometimes the plans call for components that require machine skills and tools but, for the most part, advanced devices can be made from components readily available in hardware and electronics stores.  I am also confident that fully assembled devices will still be available in private, online groups despite and likely in defiance of any regulation.

In addition to the threat of having advanced devices and open systems regulated off the market, it is being suggested that the FDA strictly regulate the wide variety of flavors, reducing them to traditional menthol and tobacco.  This is a mistake as many of us have come to rely on the cornucopia of flavor options as a means to distance ourselves from the traditional combustible tobacco experience.  Using myself as an example, I enjoy at least 3 different flavors throughout my day.  Unlike the brand loyalty I experienced as a smoker, my inclination as a vaper is to explore.  The variety of flavors and devices keeps me engaged with the product and less likely to seek other sources of nicotine.

Again, if this wide range of options were to eventually become narrowed to traditional tobacco flavors, I would have little problem accessing the knowledge to make my own flavored liquid at home.  To be honest, I’m a little surprised I haven’t started doing this already.  It’s also well within reason that the same groups I would turn to for information on producing my own liquid at home would be able to connect me with other “DIY” manufacturers that would be willing to sell me a completed product.  Of course, I would be doing this with the full knowledge that I am risking exposure to potentially harmful contaminants that may have been missed in an unverifiable quality control process as black market manufacturers are understandably not very public with their manufacturing practices let alone their physical address and phone number.


Another dimension of these products that lacks consideration in the FDA’s calculations is the community that has developed around them.  It is a fair assessment that the vaping community might be described best as an informal support network for recovering smokers.  Although on the surface the community appears primarily concerned with proper and effective use of the products, there is an underlying encouragement among vapers to make positive health choices and remain smoke free.

In fact, prior to the proliferation of brick and mortar vapor stores, there are accounts of online vendors making special trips to help individual customers that had run out of supplies and were dangerously close to relapsing.  I have witnessed the same camaraderie and support between individuals over great distances as well.  Although the former example can be callously dismissed as motivated by profit, the latter is, undeniably, motivated by goodwill and speaks to the general atmosphere of the vaping community which includes participation from vendors.  In areas where brick and mortar stores are common the accounts are less dramatic but, no less heroic.  Retail locations have become popular gathering spots where vapers can help each other, both with product assistance and moral support.  Although the community lacks the same guided soul searching and emotional work required in other, well known self help programs, the goal of supporting a person’s choice to move and stay away from harm is the same.

It would be fair to argue that the organic development of this informal support community is making measurable progress in reducing the overall smoking rate.  Possibly more so than previous, funded tobacco control efforts.  If the FDA is to allocate financial resources to study e-cigarettes and other novel nicotine products, the vaping community would be a good place to start.  It should go without saying that this research should (and can) be performed in advance of any finalized regulation.


It is disappointing to see that one of the most significant decisions I’ve made in my adult life to improve my health has become part of a larger political tug of war (perhaps Chess is a more apt analogy as consumers are clearly pawns here).  The weekly, almost daily, back and forth regarding the opinions of the scientific and public health community on the safety and efficacy of e-cigarettes is exhausting.  It is, no doubt, reminiscent of the decades long debate over the health consequences of eggs.

That having been said, one of the obvious casualties in this debate will be the public’s trust in health groups, federal regulatory agencies, and legislators who blindly beat the drum for empty “feel good” laws.  An even more disastrous, possibly unintended consequence of politicising the tobacco harm reduction debate is a growing mistrust of the scientific community.  It is unfortunate to see highly educated and well qualified people who have become public figures in the anti-smoking movement presenting misinformation and hyperbole as fact.


As a matter of formality and in the spirit of redundancy I would also like to state that I support the Comments submitted by The Consumer Advocates for Smoke Free Alternatives (CASAA) in it’s entirety (Tracking number: 1jy-8do4-hbnw).  I am currently serving as an unpaid, volunteer board member of this organization, which essentially means I am still an individual consumer.


Thank You!


Your Comment Tracking Number: 1jy-8dom-o4ws

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#NewJersey’s Governor Christie wants to Tax #ECigs – My Testimony Expressing Opposition

On March 12th at Montclair University, the State Assembly Budget Committee held the first of four public hearings on the Governor’s proposed budget for FY2015.  Prior to the hearing, the only publication available to either the public or the committee was the Summary.  As the hearing began, we were all informed that the Detailed Budget had been released that morning.  At the moment, the tax parity for Electronic Cigarettes is just a proposal.  There is no pending legislation that makes it so and the only mentions of it are in the press, the Budget Summary, and a $35million dollar jump in the revenue from Cigarette Taxes in the Detailed Budget.

Speculations abound as to what exactly the state thinks constitutes an equivalent tax on ecigs, but the sentiment from the Budget Cmte. in Montclair was that “this is just a proposal” and every year the “Treasurer can be creative” with finding sources of revenue.  Electronic cigarettes may be one of these things.

Nonetheless, the Governor has kicked a hornet’s nest and New Jersey Vapers and Vendors alike are not likely to let this pass without a fight.  On that note, the following is my testimony presented to the Assembly Budget Committee complete with links to the science and analysis submitted in support of my argument.


The Governor’s budget proposal for FY2015 includes a proposal to levy taxes on electronic cigarettes that would bring these products “in line” with combusted tobacco cigarettes.  The Governor’s impetus for this PUNITIVE Tax is predicated on the BELIEF that Electronic Cigarettes pose an equivalent or similar threat to the health of New Jersey residents.  On the contrary, it is the potential public health benefit of these products that make the Governor’s proposed tax reckless and harmful.

Historically, tax increases on Combusted Tobacco Cigarettes are credited with contributing to the managed, incremental decline in smoking rates.  More importantly, the high cost of purchasing cigarettes is regarded as an effective deterrent to youth initiation of smoking.  In combination with FDA approved cessation products, counseling, and free quit-line support, Tobacco Control Experts are hopeful that the national smoking rate will be reduced from 18% today down to 12% in ten years.  Certainly, this is a modest goal and possibly an attainable one. However in practice, this strategy has largely been a failure with only approximately 3% of smokers managing to quit permanently every year.  This statistic is not helped by the fact that traditional quit products like nicotine gum and “the patch” have a failure rate of 93-97%.

It has been said, not just by advertising and industry, that Electronic Cigarettes have the potential to make smoking obsolete within a generation.  Even the most recent Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health points to the potential net benefit electronic cigarettes could be for public health.  With the right combination of tailored regulation and cost incentives, ECigs might end smoking as we know it.

Unfortunately, New Jersey’s currently hostile treatment of these products in combination with this proposed tax will only protect combusted tobacco products from competition.  Beyond leveling the playing field in favor of combusted tobacco products, taxing ecigs at the same rate as Combusted Tobacco Cigarettes sends the message to smokers that the two products are equally as harmful.  Even strident Anti Smoking Activists can’t support this assertion and, in recent testimony from city council hearings across the country, they have admitted that the only real justification for discouraging public use of ecigs is their resemblance to smoking.  Simply put, the unsubstantiated Fear that these products will “ReNormalize” the behavior of smoking is their strongest argument for discouraging use.  To the contrary, it is just as likely, if not more, that public use of these products will make Quitting Smoking more popular than 50 years of Anti Smoking Activism could have imagined.

It was the resemblance to smoking that made my own switch to electronic cigarettes almost effortless.  The ritual and motions of smoking remain mostly intact, yet the toxic smoke and tar has been removed.  After being a heavy, unrepentant smoker for 21 years I stopped smoking 48 hours after trying my first ECig.  As of today, I have been Smoke Free for One Year and One Month thanks to my switch to electronic cigarettes.

The products most visible to current smokers contemplating the switch to an ecig are what we refer to as “cig-a-likes”.  These first generation devices are known for their limited efficacy and relatively poor performance.  They are limited by battery life, nicotine content, and the poor efficiency of the atomizer within (not to mention, the initial cost of these entry level devices is almost as expensive if not more than combusted tobacco cigarettes).  However, despite their limitations, they can be an important introduction to the larger universe of second and third generation devices and liquids.

As a former smoker progresses through the devices, their chances of remaining smoke free is likely to increase.  They are also purchasing these specialty products through local brick and mortar stores.  These New Jersey retailers are able to provide valuable information and instruction to the consumer so they can get the best experience possible.  If the initial cost incentive to purchase a relatively simple and ultimately poor performing “cig-a-like” is taken away, if expensive advanced devices and craft liquids are priced out of reach for already economically challenged consumers, it is almost a certainty that smokers will continue to choose combusted tobacco cigarettes instead.

The evidence that has been or will be provided in support of the Governor’s proposed ecig tax comes from an outdated 2009 report produced by the FDA, a misreported 2013 study from the CDC, and a recent publication from UCSF that draws magical conclusions about use among young people.  I have provided, along with my testimony, analysis of these studies that refutes their claims.  I have also included independent research supporting the claim that these products are relatively safe and effective.  Additionally, you will likely be hearing testimony from another New Jersey resident Gregory Conley.  He is an expert on this subject and would be a valuable resource for any questions you may have.  Please consider this information before jumping to the conclusion that Smoke Free Electronic Cigarettes should be treated like deadly combusted tobacco products.



Michael Seigel “Most Recent Data from UK Points to Substantial Public Health Benefits of Electronic Cigarettes”, 02/10/2014 –

Igor Burstyn, Phd “Peering through the mist: What does the chemestry of contaminants in electronic cigarettes tell us abot health risks?”, Aug, 2013 –

Brad Rodu “The CDC Abuses the Facts About E-Cigarettes – parts 1 & 2” 12/04/2013 –

Carl V. Phillips “Stanton Glantz is such a liar that even the ACS balks: his latest ecig gateway “study”, 03/07/2014 –

Janci Chunn Lindsay, Ph.D, “Technical Review and Analysis of FDA Report: ‘Evaluation of e-cigarettes’”, 07/30/2009 –


Thanks For Reading!

Happy Vaping!

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ASH UK lies to censor criticism: bogus legal claim against critic

#FF @TobaccoTacticss @ALAvsTHR  @carlvphillips @CASAAmedia

– Even if I’m just “re-blogging” something, I promised myself I wouldn’t let January pass w/out a post.

– Fight for Your Right to Vape – Daily Action Plan:

Anti-THR Lies and related topics

by Carl V Phillips

As you know if you read this post from a few days ago, @TobaccoTacticss is one of the most spot-on critics of the lies and other evils of the tobacco control industry.  The anonymous author is also clearly strong supporter of THR.  Thus, it is in the interests of all of us who dare criticize that rich, powerful, and genuinely evil industry to publicize the fact that ASH UK is attempting to censor that feed.  (I.e., please publicize this, write your own blog about it, etc. to whatever extent possible.)

[UPDATE: This is being done.  Enjoy in particular this tweet and the blog it links to.]

@TobaccoTacticss received the a notice from Twitter that several posts had been removed based on this complaint:

== Reported Twitter account: @TobaccoTacticss

== Description of original work: Several copyrighted photographs taken from our flickr account.

== Description of infringement:…

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E-cigarettes: The Jury is Out…But It Shouldn’t Be on Extending the NYC Smoke-Free Air Act to Their Use

So, while my comment hangs in moderation limbo, I figure

“I can haz WordPress too”. :

MrAlexC on December 18, 2013 at 10:48 am said:
Although it’s true that “Big Tobacco” companies have entered the e-cig market, the fact of the matter is they are late to the party. They’ve been playing catch-up for a couple of years now. What the anti-tobacco industry won’t tell you is that “over-regulation” of electronic cigarettes will actually make it easier for Big Tobacco to dominate the market. BT is in the best position to not only comply with new regulations, they are also better equipped to construct them.

As an ecig user (vaper) I’ll continue to be happy about being a “walking billboard”. I’ve shared my story dozens of times with smokers who went on to try electronic cigarettes as an alternative to smoking – a Less Harmful Alternative. This is the experience that inclusion in NYC’s SFAA will damage. I know that had I not seen someone actually using an ecig in person I would still be a smoker today.

Furthermore, the statistics on youth initiation on electronic cigarettes is misleading. Ok, well, actually, the way it’s being presented is misleading. What the numbers really show is a decline in smoking relative to an uptick in ecig use. In short, this means that adolescent smokers are switching.
If kids were initiating on electronic cigarettes and moving into lighted tobacco the numbers would be different. What Dr. Healton and others are promoting is a short list of emotionally compelling “What-Ifs”. It should go without saying this is not science and it’s certainly not substantial enough to amend or create policy. Ultimately, tactics like this will make harm reduction less attractive to current smokers and the consequences will be measured in lives.

NYC Coalition for Smoke-Free City Blog

cheryl_healtonOur Guest Blogger today is Dr. Cheryl Healton, Dean of Global Public Health at NYU and the Director of the Global Institute of Public Health.  She weighs in on the proposed legislation to extend the NYC Smoke-Free Air Act to include e-cigarettes:

The New York City Council will vote tomorrow whether to extend the NYC Smoke-Free Air Act (SFAA) to e-cigarettes. This decision is a key turning point for tobacco control policy and will have potentially broad national and even global implications. How e-cigarettes will influence youth entry to tobacco use and the efforts of people to quit smoking and to stay quit remain unknown, but the net impact could be dire.

Who is the e-cigarette industry?

Increasingly the e-cigarette industry is owned by the tobacco industry, an industry that would not be permitted to exist were it invented tomorrow because it would violate the consumer protection laws of all states…

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E-Cigs & Vaping, Do Our Policy Makers Ask Real Questions Before Deciding?

Q:” …has our clinical sciences and testing improved in the last 50 years?”

A: “Indeed it has. And I would like to state, up front, that any person, entity or group claiming that there is no evidence that using e-cigarettes is much safer than smoking is either ignorant, misinformed or (as much as I hate to use this term) lying.”

Cherokee County Republican Party

Recently I posted a series of questions on Facebook for our Community, the Tahlequah City Council, and the Cherokee County Health Coalition to consider in regards to the proposed Vaping/E-cigarette ban ordinances that are being promoted around the State.  Below is my original commentary and questions in black with research and answers provided by Kaye Beach, an independent researcher and activist that has over the years shown herself to be a wonderful asset to the people of Oklahoma in helping keep everyone informed on many issues our State faces.

If you are interested you can find more on Kayes work Here.

Dr. Shannon Grimes, Chairman
Cherokee County Republican Party


The discussion about prohibiting Vaping products continues in our community. I think we would all agree that there are a great many serious questions that need to be asked and addressed when we are looking to limit and control…

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My Predictable Foray into the World of Complicated Vaping – Part 1: the Vision Eternity RBA

At any given moment my desk is cluttered with layers of art-in-potentia, bills (current, overdue, and ignored), and a sprawling collection of vape gear. So of course, the next logical step for me was to add RBAs-and-the-like to the mix.  I have officially arrived at the point where I need some sort of plastic organizer box to keep everything straight.


Vision Eternity RBA

Vision Eternity RBA

My first step down the tinkery-atty-rabbit-hole was the Vision Eternity.  Dan at Good Karma Vapor  ( set me up with this gem and I’m pleased to finally enjoy it. I say finally because right out of the box the performance wasn’t ideal (for me).  The atomizer came with a pre-made, 1.7ohm coil wrapped around four 1mm silica wicks.

So, straight out of the box I hooked the Eternity up to my Vamo.  At 8watts the flavor was burnt.  I dialed it down and eventually found something acceptable.  I also found it performed ok at 4 volts on my eGo twist.  However, overall it was not the experience I’d hoped for.  The flavor was a bit muted and it seemed to suffer from poor wicking.  In a last-ditch-effort to get some use out of the Eternity, I screwed it down on my SMOK E-Pipe Mod and it’s been there ever since.

Vision ET - List of Contents

Vision ET – List of Contents

The Vision Eternity RBA is a complicated looking piece.  There are Seven pieces to this thing (eight if you include the cartridge).  However, keep in mind that it can be set up as either a dripping atomizer or with an eGo-T refillable cartridge.  In the eGo-T set up, it clocks in at 7cm.  It’s not the most compact RBA, but on my SMOK E-pipe it’s stealthy (a tip from Dan that’s become an all day rig for me).


After a week of using the Eternity’s factory wick and coil, I needed to change it out.  Instead of using one of the two replacements that came with it, I decided to build my own.  I ditched the multiple 1mm wicks for 2mm silica that extends down to the drip well and wrapped a 1.3ohm coil.  It’s amazing what a difference .4Ω will make.  It’s wicking properly and the vapor production is more on par with what I’m used to.

After about a month of use I started getting a burnt taste again.  I’d already come to the conclusion that 1.2ohms was what I was looking for in a coil and the larger wick stuffed into the drip well had solved the wicking issues.  Certainly this new disappointment was not the result of magic.  So, after replacing wick and wire two times, I decided to take another look under the hood.  Sure enough, the wick that’s housed in the “Ego-T Needle Base” (part ‘D’ in the instruction manual – “#1” in your hearts) was scorched at the bottom (the part that actually touches the coil).

My first approach was to grip the wick with tweezers and pull.  This resulted in little bits of wick being ripped off, but did not remove the entire length.  Further investigation (by which I mean poking at it with an exacto knife and a push pin) revealed that the wicks were held in place at the tip of the spike by a little piece of wire (and possibly some sort of adhesive).  I bent the wire up and pushed the wick out with a push-pin.

Replacing the wick was actually very simple once I figured out how to remove the old one.  I took two lengths of 1mm silica wick and folded it over a length of 32 gauge kanthal wire.  Using the wire as a guide, I threaded the wicks up through the spike, leading the wire out the opening at the tip.  The procedure is the same as what you’d do to thread wick through a coil wrapped on a blunt needle, screw, or paperclip.  Once the wicks were pulled secure, I folded down the wire and clipped off the excess flush with the spike.  The last thing to do is trim the excess wick sticking out the bottom.

[Almost immediately after writing this I discovered that I was again experiencing wicking problems.  I decided to replace the 1mm wick with 2mm.  One length folded over and installed as described above.  Burning flavor gone… for now – Happy Vaping.]


Overall, I’m on the fence about recommending the Eternity to random strangers.  My experience has been rewarding and it’s a slick looking piece, but that hasn’t been without a few days of less-than-stellar vapes.  If you opt for the Eternity, be sure to give yourself plenty of room for disappointment.  You should also refrain from walking around saying things like “failure is not an option”.



Thanks for Reading, Good Luck, & Happy Vaping!



Help CASAA Help You!  Join and Fight the Lies!

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“Peering through the mist: What does the chemistry of contaminants in electronic cigarettes tell us about health risks?” – Igor Burstyn, PhD

The link to this study on the Drexel site is a dead end. So, in the interest of keeping it searchable, Here’s a new one.:

Igor Burstyn – Peering Through the Mist …

Happy Vaping (& Reading)


[update]: The link was broken due to site maintenance.  It has since been restored.  Here it is:

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