Kaiser Permanente, the health care consortium that insures over 10 million Americans, is telling its members, “say no to e-cigarettes…here are 3 good reasons to give them a thumbs down.” Those reasons, straight from the prohibitionist playbook, are outdated, irrelevant, deceptive and irresponsible.
Reason #1: “Safety concerns.” KP mentions a six year old FDA study that reported traces of diethylene glycol and tobacco-specific nitrosamines in some e-cig liquid samples. As I explained, “the FDA tested e-cigarettes for TSNAs using a questionable sampling regimen, using methods that were so sensitive that the results may have no possible significance to users. The agency failed to report specific levels of these contaminants, and it has failed to conduct similar testing of nicotine medicines that have been sold in the U.S. for over 20 years.” Not only is the study outdated and irrelevant, subsequent studies have failed to find diethylene glycol in e-cig liquids.
Reason #2: “No convincing evidence they will help you quit.” As I reported earlier this year, ignoring medical literature is not just irresponsible, it’s laughable: There are legions of former smokers who credit e-cigarettes with life- and breath-saving benefits.
Reason #3: “What’s proven to work still works.” KP advises that “the most effective way to quit is to use a combination of FDA-approved medications (like the nicotine patch, gum, lozenge, or bupropion) and counseling support,” which works for about 7% of smokers in the general population. KP urges smokers to use these coping measures to “fight the urge”:
- · Take 10 deep breaths and hold the last one while lighting a match. Exhale slowly and blow out the match. Pretend it's a cigarette and crush it out in an ashtray.
- · Take a shower or bath.
- · Learn to relax quickly and deeply. Visualize a soothing, pleasing situation and get away from it all for a moment. Concentrate on that peaceful image and nothing else.
- · Light incense or a candle instead of a cigarette.
- · Try crossword puzzles, needlework, gardening, or household chores. Wash your hands, do the dishes, or try new recipes.
- · Brush your teeth and use mouthwash.
KP’s e-cigarette advice violates its mission “to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve.”