Tobacco Center Faculty Blog

November 10, 2019

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

Despite the fact that surveys show broad support among both Republicans and Democrats favor getting rid of menthol and mint e-cigarettes (along with other flavors), the Trump Administration has signalled that they will give in to industry pressure to continue to allow these important flavors in e-cigarettes?

What makes me say this?  They announced that they are supporting raising the purchase age to 21.

Increasing the legal age to sell tobacco products to 21 is a good idea, but it has been co-opted by the tobacco (including e-cig) companies as an alternative to getting rid of flavors. And menthol/mint is the most important flavor for attracting kids.

(Many people have asked me the difference between menthol and mint.  Menthol is a specific chemical extracted from mint, so all mint tobacco products include menthol.)

November 10, 2019

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

Earlier this week CDC released data showing that vitamin E acetate, a chemical used in THC and nicotine e-cigarettes, was present deep in the lungs of all 29 patients they studied.  This is important because many people have suspected that vitamin E acetate was contributing to the epidemic of serous lung injury in vapers.

Nicotine e-cigarette advocates have seized on this observation to blame the serious lung disease on THC vapes.  But, it is important to pay attention to what CDC actually said:

Vitamin E acetate was detected in all 29 patient BAL [bronchial alveoliar lavage, which yields information of what is deep in the tiny air sacks in the lungs] samples.. Among 23 patients for whom self-reported THC use information was available, 20 reported using THC-containing products. THC or its metabolites were detected in 23 of 28 patient BAL samples, including in those of three patients who said they did not use THC products. Nicotine metabolites were detected in 16 of 26 patient BAL specimens.  [emphasis added]

November 10, 2019

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

Several people have emailed me asking what I thought of the analysis “Epidemic of youth nicotine addiction? What does the National Youth Tobacco Survey reveal about high school e-cigarette use in the USA? (Preprint)” that Robert West, Jamie Brown, and Martin Jarvis posted to a non-peer reviewed preprint server.  They did this analysis to debunk concerns expressed by FDA and others that e-cigarettes are expanding the nicotine epidemic based on the huge increase in e-cig use by youth last year.  West et al’s  bottom line is: “Data from the NYTS do not support claims of a new epidemic of nicotine addiction stemming from use of e-cigarettes, nor concerns that declines in youth tobacco addiction stand to be reversed after years of progress.”

November 9, 2019

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

Dan Orenstein and I just published "The Grassroots of Grass: Cannabis Legalization Ballot Initiative Campaign Contributions and Outcomes, 2004–2016" in the Journal of Health Policy Politics and Law.  Much ot our surprise, money spent on the initiative campaigns didn't predict the outcomes.

Here is the abstract:

Context: As of November 2018, medical cannabis was legal in 33 US states and recreational cannabis in 10, mostly enacted via ballot initiative.

Methods: We identified 32 cannabis legalization initiatives from 2004 to 2016 and obtained campaign contribution and state political and demographic data. After exploratory analyses of 15 potential independent variables, we quantified effects of 4 factors (initiative year, voter turnout, population born before 1946, advocate funding advantage) on voter support and likelihood of passage.

November 6, 2019

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

The biggest problem scientists who want to help figure out what is causing the epidemic of vaping-induced lung injury is that it is impossible for investigators to study the actual products that are being used.

This is because the Drug Enforcement Administration DEA prohibits investigators going out and buying legal (at the state level) cannabis products to study.  A university that violates this DEA policy could lose all federal funding under the Safe and Drug Free Schools Act.  The only cannabis that can be studied is from a farm in Mississippi that grows it under contract with NIDA.  This cannabis is not like cannabis grown today.  DEA has said they are going to authorize more grower contracts (they just got sued over this), but is moving very slowly.  More important in terms of the vaping lung disease epidemic, even if DEA allows more growers, this will not solve the problem of the need to study the THC devices that are causing the disease.

Fixing this does not require a change in the law.  All that has to happen is for the Administration to tell the DEA to allow legitimate investigators to go buy products for study and study them.

Of course, DEA might worry that local pot shops could declare themselves researchers and exploit this rule to sell more product.

This could be avoided by implementing the following policy: