MONDAY, March 24, 2014 (HealthDay News) Contrary to some advertising claims, electronic cigarettes don’t help people quit or cut down on smoking, a new study says.

Users of e cigarettes inhale vaporized nicotine but not tobacco smoke. The unregulated devices have been marketed as smoking cessation tools, but studies to date have been inconclusive on that score, the study noted.

“When used by a broad sample of smokers under ‘real world’ conditions, e cigarette use did not significantly increase the chances of successfully quitting cigarette smoking,” said lead researcher Dr. Pamela Ling, an associate professor at the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at University of California, San Francisco.

These findings based on nearly 1,000 smokers are consistent with other studies and contradict the claims frequently found in e cigarette advertising, she said.

“Advertising suggesting that e cigarettes are effective for smoking cessation should be prohibited until such claims are supported by scientific evidence,” Ling said.

For the study, Ling’s team analyzed data reported by 949 smokers, 88 of whom used e cigarettes at the start of the study.

One year later, 14 percent of the smokers had quit overall, with similar rates in both groups.

“We found that there was no difference in the rate of quitting between smokers who used an e cigarette and those who did not,” Ling said.

There was no relationship between e cigarette use and quitting, even after taking into account the number of cigarettes smoked per day, how early in the day a smoker had a first cigarette and intention to quit smoking, Ling added.

However, the researchers noted that the small number of e cigarette users may have limited the ability to find an association between e cigarette use and quitting.

The report, published online March 24 in JAMA Internal Medicine, also found that women, younger adults and people with less education were most likely to use e cigarettes.

One expert said the study is flawed and shouldn’t be taken seriously.

“It’s an example of bogus or junk science,” said Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor of community health sciences at Boston University School of Public Health.

“That’s because the study does not examine the rate of successful smoking cessation among e cigarette users who want to quit smoking or cut down substantially on the amount that they smoke, and who are using e cigarettes in an attempt to accomplish this,” Siegel said. “Instead, the study examines the percentage of quitting among all smokers who have ever tried e cigarettes for any reason.”

Many of the smokers who tried e cigarettes may have done so out of curiosity, Siegel said.

“It is plausible, in fact, probable, that many of these 88 smokers were not actually interested in quitting or trying to quit with electronic cigarettes,” he said. “These products have become very popular and have gained widespread media attention, and it is entirely possible that many of these smokers simply wanted to see what the big fuss is all about.”

Calling that a “fatal flaw” in the research, Siegel said it “destroys the validity of the authors’ conclusion.”

It would be a tragedy, he said, if policy makers use the study to draw conclusions about the effectiveness of e cigarettes for smoking cessation purposes.

Erika Ford, assistant vice president for national advocacy at the American Lung Association, said the study confirms what is already clear “e cigarettes are not associated with quitting among smokers.”

Ford noted that most e cigarette companies no longer make claims that their products help smokers quit. “But there is a need for the FDA U.S. Food and Drug Administration to begin their oversight of these products. It’s time for the FDA to find out which products are making no smoking claims and which ones might be in violation of current law,” she said.

States push to regulate, tax booming e-cigarette industry


WASHINGTON While waiting for the debate on electronic cigarettes to heat up on Capitol Hill, several state and local governments are pressing ahead with their own agendas for taxing and regulating the popular battery powered smoking alternatives.

Right now, there is no uniform national approach to regulating the vapor based e cigarettes. They are mostly free from federal rules and typically are subject only to state sales taxes.


But lawmakers in more than two dozen cash strapped states are racing to regulate them as a new source of revenue. For some, this means tacking on an excise tax which is a fee on a specific product, and often dubbed a “sin tax” when applied to socially shunned products like cigarettes.

Minnesota has led the charge and is currently the only state that s got a specific tax policy for e cigarettes on the books. The 2012 decision subjects vapor inhalers to a 95 percent tax that is stapled to the wholesale cost of the product.

According to the Minnesota Department of Revenue, e cigarettes are considered tobacco products and are subject to the state s tobacco tax. Distributors there are required to pay the tobacco tax or risk losing their license. Retailers must purchase e cigarettes from distributors licensed by the state and are expected to collect and remit sales tax on e cigarette sales.

In total, Minnesota estimates it will bring in $1.16 billion from all of its tobacco taxes in fiscal year 2014 2015.

Other states are taking notice.

In his 2015 budget proposal last month, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie pitched a plan to hike taxes on electronic cigarettes to match the rate of regular cigarettes about $2.70 per pack.

Supporters say increasing taxes will keep them out of the hands of children and teens.

But critics argue treating traditional cigarettes the same as e cigs will hurt small businesses and strip smokers of the incentive to quit.

Small businesses like convenience stores and especially brick and mortar vape shops will be hardest hit by this $35 million tax increase, Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist wrote in a March 11 dated letter sent to the New Jersey Legislature and shared with

Norquist also warns that raising taxes on consumers will significantly decrease in state sales, resulting in increased cross border tax leakage.

In recent years, as much as 40 percent of all cigarettes smoked in New Jersey were smuggled into the state illegally, resulting in a loss of more than $500 million in uncollected tax revenue each year, he says.

By making New Jersey uncompetitive in e cigarette pricing, the state would encourage smuggling, which will cost New Jersey small businesses tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenue, he said.

But to some, like New Jersey Democratic Assemblyman Dan Benson, taxing e cigarettes is not only a fiscal responsibility but also sends an important message to would be smokers.

If e cigarettes are taxed less than regular cigarettes, we re sending a message out there that they re somehow safer, and I think the jury is out on that, he recently told a New Jersey radio station.

Meanwhile, a similar proposal in Washington state recently died in the Legislature. That plan would have redefined vapor products the kind used in e cigarettes as tobacco substitutes and tobacco products. By changing their classification to a tobacco product, lawmakers were initially hoping to slap a 95 percent tax on them, projected to generate an additional $40 million for the state.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the vapor from e cigarettes has far fewer of the toxins found in smoke compared to traditional cigarettes.

However, the Atlanta based agency says it s too soon to say how much of a health benefit the alternative to traditional cigarettes offers. Both traditional cigarettes and e cigarettes contain nicotine.

Tim McAfee, CDC s director of Smoking and Health, says while it s reasonably certain that if someone who smokes a pack a day switched completely to e cigarettes it could represent a health benefit, there are still many caveats and buts around that.

Many argue that the reason state and local leaders are pushing so hard to tax e cigarettes is because they ve become addicted to the massive amounts of money brought in through the Master Settlement Agreement a 25 year settlement that forces the nation s top tobacco companies to pay out billions of dollars in profit to help pay for smoking related health care costs in some states.

The 1998 settlement, for example, makes Philip Morris USA, the nation s largest cigarette maker, pay $3.5 billion annually. The second largest tobacco company, Reynolds Tobacco Co., has handed out more than $2 billion a year.

In total, the landmark settlement requires tobacco product manufacturers to make $206 billion in payments to 46 states and U.S. territories.

If e cigarettes are regulated the same way, that might mean millions more for states still struggling to find financial footing following the recession.

Utah, North Dakota and the District of Columbia have included e cigarettes as part of their indoor smoking bans, setting up the argument that the vapor sticks should be regulated like other tobacco products in the state. Wyoming, Tennessee, New York and Colorado are among nine other states that have already dumped e cigarettes into the tobacco product category.