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Ignoring science

Tuesday, Jan 14, 2014

* Chicago may ban the indoor use of e-cigs

Several aldermen continued to express concerns about the indoor ban Monday, arguing there is no clear scientific consensus that the vapor emitted from electronic cigarettes is dangerous like smoke from tobacco products.

“It is a ban, because you’re making people go outside, you’re treating it just as you would an analogue cigarette or tobacco cigarette,” said Ald. Rey Colon, 35th. “You’re lumping it together in the same category even though you don’t really have any proof that it has any harm. You’re saying ‘We’re going to regulate first and ask questions later.’ ” […]

Ald. Brendan Reilly, 42nd, suggested the City Council adopt the part of the city e-cigarettes ordinance that regulates sales while putting off a vote on the portion dealing with indoor smoking in public places until more scientific consensus has been reached on the health impact.

“I’m certainly not here to defend Big Tobacco. They’re done enough harm in this country,” said Reilly, who smokes. “But I do have friends and family members who are using (e-cigarettes) to quit, to get away from combustible tobacco that kills people.”

Tobacco has all sorts of carcinogens in its smoke. E-cigs are just nicotine and water vapor. Also, I totally agree with Reilly.

* Meanwhile, the New York Times ran an article recently on an attempt to ban GMOs in a Hawaiian county

Scientists, who have come to rely on liberals in political battles over stem-cell research, climate change and the teaching of evolution, have been dismayed to find themselves at odds with their traditional allies on this issue. Some compare the hostility to G.M.O.s to the rejection of climate-change science, except with liberal opponents instead of conservative ones.

“These are my people, they’re lefties, I’m with them on almost everything,” said Michael Shintaku, a plant pathologist at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, who testified several times against the bill. “It hurts.” But, supporters of the ban warned, scientists had not always correctly assessed the health and environmental risks of new technology. “Remember DDT?” one proponent demanded.

* The Illinois angle

In November, Washington became the latest state to reject a ballot proposal that would have required labeling of foods with genetically modified ingredients.

At the same time, Maine and Connecticut have passed laws requiring labels on genetically engineered foods. However, their laws won’t go into effect until other states in the Northeast also adopt GMO labeling laws.

Against that backdrop, an Illinois lawmaker said he will pursue legislation this year requiring labels on foods with genetically modified ingredients.

“I’m dealing with this strictly as a consumer right-to-know bill,” said Sen. Dave Koehler, D-Peoria. “I’m not saying yea or nay to the health risks. I’m saying consumers have a right to know and they can make up their own mind.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Nonplussed - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 1:14 pm:

    All of the “safety claims” made by the e-cig makers is based on a lack of studies. Although the vapor that goes into your lungs has nicotine, they claim that there is 0% nicotine in the vapor you exhale. There is no basis for their claims. They are resisting FDA regulation that would require their claims to actually be tested and proved.

  2. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 1:16 pm:

    Small amounts of exhaled nicotine was NEVER an issue with banning cigarettes indoors. It was all about the other toxins.

  3. - OneMan - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 1:22 pm:

    Sit by a couple of guys who use these things (a more complex version than a simple e-cig) it doesn’t smell and keeps them at their desks. I don’t have a problem with it.

  4. - just sayin' - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 1:22 pm:

    Nonplussed, the second hand smoke issue was about carcinogins, not nicotine. No one gets a second-hand nicotine addiction. Unless they can show some sort of evidence of second hand damage, this ban is a farce. I smoked for 20 years and tried to quit several times. The patch didn’t work, the gum didn’t work but the e-cig works. I quit 6 months ago and have no desire to go back. This is typical knee-jerk reaction from alderman with no real power so they find crap like this to meddle in.

  5. - MrJM - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 1:23 pm:

    I was for the cigarette bans at bars and restaurants because I hated going home with a sore throat and smelling like other people’s smoke.

    I really don’t care if I smell like nicotine or water vapor.

    – MrJM

  6. - Formerly Known As... - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 1:26 pm:

    Just when it seemed impossible to top the (since-reversed) foie gras ban…

  7. - Mittuns - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 1:27 pm:

    I would be careful to simply dismiss e-cigarettes as just nicotine and water vapor.

    Just a few links:

    While early research indicates that there may some pretty bad stuff in these things, I do not believe there is enough substantial evidence to push for an outright ban. They should probably contain a warning that the information/claims have not been verified by the FDA, at the least, though.

  8. - Lobo Y Olla - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 1:31 pm:

    “E-cigs are just nicotine and water vapor.”

    My favorite part about that sentence is that executives at major tobacco companies sat before a congressional committee and swore that nicotine was not addictive.


  9. - Chavez-respecting Obamist - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 1:43 pm:

    I don’t let my brother smoke his e-cig in my house. I know it’s supposedly just nicotine and water vapor, but I’m not convinced yet that is harmless to be around.

  10. - DuPage - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 1:52 pm:

    Kids going to school being attacked, robbed raped, shot, stabbed, and murdered. This happens almost everyday in Chicago.
    I think there are more important things they should be working on.
    The city council FIDDLES while the future of Chicago children BURNS.

  11. - Jimmy 87 - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 2:03 pm:

    I’m not going to say Illinois or other states should repeal or change their existing indoor smoking bans. Personally, I don’t smoke and prefer a smoke environment indoors. However, I was surprised by a study that was released over the holidays.

    In December, The Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI),”confirmed a strong association between cigarette smoking and lung cancer but found no link between the disease and secondhand smoke…The only category of exposure that showed a trend toward increased risk was living in the same house with a smoker for 30 years or more.”

    A link to the whole thing is below.

  12. - dupage dan - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 2:06 pm:

    If there is to be a label on all food products that are the result of GMO, then wouldn’t all food have to be labeled as such? Humans have been genetically modifying living organisms since at least the time of Gregor Mendel.

    Current research and practice has brought about crops that produce far more per acre than before with far less fuel use as a result of crops being more resistant to pests, weeds and drought. This makes the crops much more green than before. It is baffling why folks would be against that, in the kneejerk fashion I have read in other publications.

    The e-cig issue is a no brainer, IMO. But I guess the city council has all the info they need to pass judgment, right?

  13. - Judgment Day (Road Trip) - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 2:20 pm:

    “…legislation this year requiring labels on foods with genetically modified ingredients.”

    Where do people come up with this stuff? I mean, that’s just about EVERYTHING. Oh, and there’s this little issue of enforcement.

    Is Senator Koehler going to have enforcement of this on just Illinois companies, or does he intend to have this apply to all food related substances coming into Illinois, which is not only likely produced by companies outside of Illinois, but maybe produced by companies located outside of the United States. Hint, Hint - There’s the little issue of the Federal Commerce Clause. Something about interference with interstate commerce.

    Btw, who’s going to enforce it? Are we going to send our intrepid State Department of Agriculture SWAT teams out to become the new ‘Food Police’ and demand/fine places that have food products for sample with improper labeling?

    Or maybe we’re only going to apply the reg’s to IL companies producing food products, giving food production/packaging firms one more reason not to locate/stay in IL.

    Dave, you are coming across as being a technological Luddite here. It wasn’t that long ago that Democrats were trying to beat the hell out of Republicans over fetal stem cell therapy.
    If you were in favor of fetal stem cell technology and are against GMO, you are also being a hypocrite.

    What do you think the entire world of genetics is? Just different areas.

  14. - Urbs In Horto - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 2:31 pm:

    Rich, given the multiple studies that have disproved the “e-cig vapor is just water” canard, answer me this: When there is uncertainty as to whether and how the the use of a product will adversely affect non-users (e.g, secondhand inhalers), should the government (a) take a cautious approach, adopting regulations that protect the non-users from the possibility of harm unless and until there is a credible scientific consensus regarding the existence and scope of such harm; or (b) forgo regulation until those who suspect secondhand harm “prove” it exists? If one chooses (b), that way Thalidomide lies.

  15. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 2:33 pm:

    Pretty much from the time humans learned how to cultivate crops and breed livestock, we’ve been eating genetically modified food.

  16. - Huh? - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 2:37 pm:

    I read the NY Times article about the Hawaiian effort the ban GMOs. It was an interesting article about how Mr. Greggor Ilagan went about independently researching the GMO issue and weeding through all of the emotional issues surrounding GMOs.

    So much of politics these days is dealing with emotions rather than science or facts.

  17. - Joan P. - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 2:49 pm:

    The most shocking part of the NYT article was that a legislator actually took the time and effort to find out the actual facts about a complicated issue.

  18. - Judgment Day (Road Trip) - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 2:54 pm:

    Sen. Koehler, if you really want to get out there and stand up for all your constituents, the issue you want to get ahead on is the Internet and what is called “Net Neutrality”.

    Link to article:

    Decision got handed down today. If decision stands, expect to start to see ‘walled gardens’ all over the place on the Internet, with preferences given to players who pay for access. You don’t pay, everything’s likely to slow down.
    It’s basically saying toll road rules apply to the Internet.

    It’s an issue to get ahead on. Course, if you are Comcast, Verizon, A.T.& T. and others, you’re all in favor because it’s big money for them at the expense of the consumer. Wait for it.

  19. - lake county democrat - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 3:22 pm:

    Secondhand Smoke danger was the argument for banning cigarettes everywhere no matter WHAT consent adults gave. The burden should be on the people proposing the same ban on e-cigs that vapor/nicotine is harmful.

  20. - Going nuclear - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 4:47 pm:

    I’m pretty ignorant when it comes to GMO foods, but I read an interesting commentary on the NYT article. As folks know, this is a relatively liberal publication. Imagine if Fox News ran a piece that looked seriously at the science behind global warming. More facts and less hysteria might lead to better policy discussions.

  21. - Chavez-respecting Obamist - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 5:11 pm:

    BMC Public Health. 2014 Jan 9;14(1):18. [Epub ahead of print]
    Peering through the mist: systematic review of what the chemistry of contaminants in electronic cigarettes tells us about health risks.
    Burstyn I.

    Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are generally recognized as a safer alternative to combusted tobacco products, but there are conflicting claims about the degree to which these products warrant concern for the health of the vapers (e-cigarette users). This paper reviews available data on chemistry of aerosols and liquids of electronic cigarettes and compares modeled exposure of vapers with occupational safety standards.

    Both peer-reviewed and “grey” literature were accessed and more than 9,000 observations of highly variable quality were extracted. Comparisons to the most universally recognized workplace exposure standards, Threshold Limit Values (TLVs), were conducted under “worst case” assumptions about both chemical content of aerosol and liquids as well as behavior of vapers.

    There was no evidence of potential for exposures of e-cigarette users to contaminants that are associated with risk to health at a level that would warrant attention if it were an involuntary workplace exposures. The vast majority of predicted exposures are

  22. - Chavez-respecting Obamist - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 5:12 pm:

    The conclusions got cut off.


    Current state of knowledge about chemistry of liquids and aerosols associated with electronic cigarettes indicates that there is no evidence that vaping produces inhalable exposures to contaminants of the aerosol that would warrant health concerns by the standards that are used to ensure safety of workplaces. However, the aerosol generated during vaping as a whole (contaminants plus declared ingredients) creates personal exposures that would justify surveillance of health among exposed persons in conjunction with investigation of means to keep any adverse health effects as low as reasonably achievable. Exposures of bystanders are likely to be orders of magnitude less, and thus pose no apparent concern.

  23. - Ignatius_reilly - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 7:10 pm:

    Two points.
    The ordinance is for ’smoke-free’ environment. It is not restricted to cigarettes. You cannot smoke cigars, cigarillos, cheroots, beedis, joints, hookahs or bongs. Nor a crack pipe. So cool it with it is just nicotine and water vapor. It is the Nicotine that is the addictive drug. Why would I want to be exposed to that floating around. So stop it with this “this is safe” nonsense. I am sure all those studies were funded by the Tobacco companies.

    About the GMO. My problem is that everything is lumped in one big bag. I mean the kind of genetic modification that farmers have been doing for centuries, the Vitamin A enhanced Rice to the Tomatoes that have genes from the Arctic Char FISH spliced on. Bunching them all as GMO is not a good way to carry on this debate.

  24. - Just The Way It Is One - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 7:31 pm:

    It appears as if more info. is still needed about any harm or bad side effects that might result from inhaling this stuff, which, of course, even like REAL cigarettes, MOST folks are victims of “2nd hand smoke,” so the Public has a right to know what’s really IN this stuff, etc…!

  25. - Indeedy - Tuesday, Jan 14, 14 @ 8:07 pm:

    I think folks are trying to intercept something beyond “smoke” or “vapor.” Profitable smokers are cultivated. Making smoking look good or sound safe–especially to children—is where the fight really lives. As a person who used to manage tobacco ad accounts, I can tell you, I’d restrict e-cigs in a heartbeat. That said, earlier comments about their utility for adult smokers as an effective aide to kick the habit are spot on.

  26. - Hmm... - Wednesday, Jan 15, 14 @ 1:38 pm:

    Actually, that excerpt is from Dr. Igor Burstyn, Drexel University. You are right, it was funded by a group. But a grassroots group made up predominantly of consumers. If we want to discuss conflicts of interest, we could write a book on the FDA and Big Pharma. Research both sides of this debate and be sure to follow the money trail. I agree Big Tobacco has a dog in this fight, but the issue is more complex than the Big Tobacco smoke and mirror. Remember, we’re discussing harm reduction for the #1 PREVENTABLE CAUSE OF DEATH. If you think the health industry won’t lose money if e-cigs succeed, you’ve lied to yourself.

  27. - Unkh's - Thursday, Jan 23, 14 @ 7:05 am:

    Vaping is the way of life… first thing first the capping device is not an e-cigarette. if you are not sure look at a device.. it includes tube that host a chargeable battery, coil to start evaporate the liquid and steam to puff. the liquid may contain nicotine or may not. lets use the 0 % nicotine… the liquid contain flavor+either propylene glycol (PG) or Vegetable glycerin (VG), or a mixture of the two. A quality of liquid is just like a bottle of wine. Yes it can age for a better taste and body. So tell me why do you compare the two.

  28. - Unkh's - Thursday, Jan 23, 14 @ 7:11 am:

    I believe that our duty to chose to support the capping and vapers devices to protect our freedom to chose a healthy way of elimination of the real cigarette damage… Vaping is totally green environment… no ashes, no cig butts, no fire, no burning, and most of all no second hand smoke, but exactly the opposite it helps with clean air, aroma, and never stain your teeth or stink your cloth

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