The Truth About E-Cigarettes and Vapor
By Ken Levingston | 3/30/2015
I'm No Scientist...
My name is Ken Levingston. I am not a scientist. I am not a big time professor. I am certainly not a medical doctor. These fields are all well above my pay grade and demand a level of skill and talent much greater than what I was endowed with by God. I am co-owner of your local electronic cigarette and vapor shop, Lake Charles Vapor, and that’s good enough for me. That being said, when I need to know information about possible harmful effects of products, I rely on scientific studies, not speculation. I rely on real data, not media propaganda. And finally, I rely on the source of these studies, so I verify the credentials of the persons involved in collecting the data before signing off on their findings. About three years ago, at the age of 40, I was a hopelessly addicted cigarette smoker. After 25 years of smoking a pack or more per day, I was starting to feel the effects of all the toxic poisons I had been ingesting for all of those years. I had shortness of breath, a hacking smoker’s cough, a loss of taste and smell, and my energy level was at an all time low. I knew I had to quit, but I honestly perceived it to be, well, damn near impossible. In a way, I accepted my fate, and just hoped and prayed I wouldn’t become a statistic. Then a miracle happened. While doing some research on the Internet, I found a possible solution – the electronic cigarette, or “e-cig”. I could still get my nicotine, but without the carcinogens and other deadly poisons found in a traditional cigarette. I knew that nicotine was only half of my addiction. For 25 years I had been engaging in the ceremony of lighting up, bringing the cigarette to my mouth, and watching that beautiful smoke plume every time I exhaled. The e-cig would potentially address both addictions – the physical AND the mental! Could this really be a solution for me?
The Internet, It's Not Just For Porn
I ordered an e-cig starter kit from a company over the Internet. As I anxiously awaited its arrival, I wondered if I would know how to use it properly. Was this just some Internet scam designed to play on a smoker’s desire to put down cigarettes? My questions were endless, but I was determined to give this thing a wholehearted effort. And then it arrived in the mail. This would be the moment my life changed forever.
Smoke And Mirrors
I remember looking in the mirror after the first two weeks of familiarizing myself with my starter kit and using it religiously. As I stared at myself, I thought, “You haven’t smoked a cigarette in two weeks!” At that point I became passionate about the product… so passionate, in fact, that I gave the website address to every smoker I knew. My two brothers (Ryan, co-owner of Lake Charles Vapor and Paul, sales manager) quit smoking. Their passion became as deep as mine regarding e-cigarettes. My sister-in-law, then my fiancé, then friends by the dozens all started using e-cigs and succeeding with them. At that point, our goal became to bring these products to our community in the form of a local retail shop so that we could share this amazing wonder with our cigarette-smoking brethren. On August 1st, 2013, Lake Charles Vapor was born. Since then, we have seen upwards of 2000 people stop smoking and start vaping. Every day we hear the success stories of our customers who are genuinely amazed, like I was, that they have been able to put down the cancer causing traditional cigarette and replace it with the e-cigarette alternative. We are so proud to be a part of that. And to our customers, we simply say “VAPE ON! WITH CONFIDENCE! And congratulations to each and every one of you!”
The Powers That Be
When exponential growth takes place in one industry, it can adversely affect other industries, which naturally lose business as their antiquated products are replaced by healthier and better performing alternatives. I am referring, of course, to Big Tobacco and Big Pharma, both of whom are watching gross sales drastically decline in a way they have never experienced. The e-cigarette industry threatens the makers of traditional cigarettes, a product that will kill a reliably predictable 480,000 people this year in America. It also threatens the makers of nearly worthless smoking cessation products such as the patch, the gum, and the pill (notice I didn’t use company names but I think you know to whom I am referring). Both of these industries, each of which have huge lobbies in Washington D.C. and in every state, have launched a campaign of misinformation, disinformation, and total misdirection in a last ditch effort to create fear and hysteria among the general public. I write this to engage their tactics with a campaign of my own based on facts, scientific studies, and real data.
As Promised, The Truth Part
The truth is, cigarettes contain about 50 known carcinogens and thousands of other chemicals, some that are toxic, some that are not. A substance that falls into the “are not toxic” category is nicotine. While nicotine is a factor in addicting a smoker to cigarettes, it is NOT a toxic substance. Nicotine isn’t what kills people. The health risk of nicotine is similar to that of caffeine, another addictive substance. While the juice used in electronic cigarettes may contain nicotine, it does not contain any carcinogens, toxins, or other poisons. The liquid, or “e-juice”, is essentially a mix of nicotine, vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol, and flavoring. The flavoring can be organic or artificial. Vegetable glycerin (VG) is found in the vegetables you cook and eat every day. In fact, you ingest much more VG inhaling the fumes from the vapor emanating from your stove than you ever would by inhaling second hand e-cig vapor. Propylene Glycol (PG) is found in items we all use on a daily basis as well. Your hand lotion, shampoo, perfume, and many foods you eat all likely contain PG, a fact that will be spelled out on the back of those bottles when you read the ingredients. Both VG and PG are FDA approved substances and have been deemed not harmful to your health. These are the ONLY four ingredients in a bottle of e-juice. Compare that to the ingredients found in the traditional cigarette – substances like tar, formaldehyde, methane, carbon monoxide, arsenic, ammonia, benzene, lead, and the list goes on. That makes you want to fire up a nice smooth stogie right about now, doesn’t it?
I Mentioned I Wasn't A Scientist, Right?
Earlier I stated that I am no scientist, professor, or medical doctor. Luckily for me, there exist folks that are. Many of them have performed extensive studies in the past couple of years on the first-hand and second-hand effects of e-cigarettes on users and non-users of the products. Here are some pretty bold and confident statements made by these highly qualified people:
In a report released by Business Insider on November 12th, 2013, Robert West, a professor of health psychology and director of tobacco studies at the University College London, boldly proclaimed at London’s Royal Society that, “E-cigarettes have the potential to save millions of lives. The big question is whether that goal can be realized and how best to do it…and what kind of cultural, regulatory environment can be put into place to make sure that’s achieved.”
In February, 2013, FAME Laboratory in Thessaly Greece released a research report designed to study the effects (if any) of e-cigarettes vapor on human lung functioning. Both smokers and non-smokers participated in the test, which also focused on the effects of first-hand and second-hand smoke versus vapor. The results were eye opening, to say the least. They found that vaping causes much smaller or non-existent changes in lung functioning. It found that second-hand vaping is completely harmless and also results in such a minute intake of nicotine, it’s barely worth mentioning. First and second-hand smoking, conversely, yielded the same results as all previous studies done on the dangerous effects of smoking. And those results aren’t pretty.
Finally, we have Dr. Gilbert Ross, M.D., who is the executive and medical director of The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH.org) in New York. In a Forbes Magazine article published on October 11th, 2013 entitled “Why Is The FDA Shielding Smokers From The Good News About E-Cigarettes?” Dr. Ross pulls no punches. In fact, his tone is downright accusatory. In the article he writes, “The worldwide death-toll of cigarette smoking is predicted to hit one billion this century. Despite this depressing fact, the measures implemented by the FDA thus far, ostensibly to reduce the toll of smoking, have been almost entirely lip service, without making any real impact. A relatively new method of helping addicted smokers quit has been adopted by millions of smokers – many of which are now ex-smokers — over the past few years. I refer of course to electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes). Concurrent with the dramatic spike in sales of this device comes word of historic declines in the sale of real cigarettes." Astoundingly, this nascent public-health miracle has been met with something between derision and hysteria by anti-tobacco groups worldwide and many nations are sparing no effort to discourage smokers from trying them, employing misleading (even false) alerts and dire website warnings, phony surveys, and exaggerated concerns about youth being led astray. Unfortunately, and embarrassingly for science-based public health policy, our FDA and CDC have been willingly complicit in this widespread disinformation campaign. Meanwhile they purposely ignore studies that indicate the benefit of e-cigarettes for helping smokers quit. I ask, “How could this be?” “The possible explanations are not pretty: willful ignorance, dogma based on experiences garnered in the 20th century, or greed.” “I accuse those responsible for impeding truthful communication about the real risks of e-cigarettes of collaborating in a ‘cigarette-protection campaign’, whose effects will be to discourage smokers from quitting, leading to more dead smokers.
Consider this: those who stand in the way of acceptance of e-cigarettes are acting from motivations that are far removed from public health. Nonprofit groups in the forefront of anti-e-cigarette activism, are also heavily funded by pharmaceutical companies in the business of selling near-useless cessation drugs; fact that they conveniently neglect to disclose. Meanwhile, the net result of the official campaigns: cigarette markets protected, worthless cessation aids promoted. Who profits? Not addicted smokers.” “Quitting cigarettes is extraordinarily difficult — most smokers want to quit, but of the millions who try each year, less than one in ten succeed for long. This abysmal result is improved only minimally by the currently available FDA-approved therapies. Despite these undeniable facts, the officials at our CDC and the FDA continue to tell smokers to stick with the “approved” products, and warn them against e-cigarettes — based on hypothetical fears, while perversely ignoring the body count.” So there you have it. A professor, a group of scientists, and a medical doctor all stating that the e-cigarette and vapor phenomenon is nothing short of a miracle. That’s a pretty convincing sampling of many studies that say virtually the same thing. I have enough data to fill every page of this issue of Exposure, believe me. But I think these three studies sum it up pretty nicely. And besides, don’t you think if there were real incontrovertible evidence that e-cigs posed a significant health risk, the tobacco and pharmaceutical companies would have discovered it and pressured every media outlet to make it a front- page story for the next six months? It hasn’t happened. So without the TRUTH as a weapon they can use, they are left to the only remaining alternatives…fear, lies, and misinformation.
These are people who live in YOUR community and were hardcore cigarette smokers who found freedom in vapor products and who now have a positive outlook on the future of their health.
“As a smoker for 30 years I kicked the habit with the help of an E-cig. I had a guy come into my office with one and I was very interested in how it worked and where I could get one. He told me about your store. I went there and bought a pro tank 2 and a candy cane juice flavor. Well I used it for a couple of months and now on the 20th of March will be 1 year since I quit smoking”.
“Hello people. I was a pack and a half a day smoker until my boyfriend found Lake Charles Vapor. He talked me into giving it a try. The first night I started vaping, I tried to smoke a cigarette but I could only take two drags off of it and it was nasty. From that moment on I was hooked. It has been one year since I started vaping and stopped smoking. And I owe it all to the great staff at Lake Charles Vapor. Thank all of ya'll for the support if it wasn't for the staff I would still be smoking. Thank you. And VAPE ON!”
“My husband and I both smoked for 40 years. We were introduced to vaping in January of 2014. We went to Lake Charles Vapor where Paul helped us decide what products would be best for us. After that first visit, we started vaping and haven't touched a cigarette since! Vaping gives us all the advantages of smoking without the harmful effects. I had lost most of my voice and now I can sing again! I haven't coughed in a year and I always smell good. All of the wonderful people at Lake Charles Vapor are always ready to help. Finding Lake Charles Vapor and putting down cigarettes is the best thing we ever did!”
Swing For The Fences
If you have been on the fence about trying these products until knowing more about them, I genuinely hope you will pay us a visit at Lake Charles Vapor or at our new Deridder location, Lake Charles Vapor Northside and allow us to open your eyes to what we know is a life changing product. Our customers and our professional staff have helped make us the largest retailer of high quality electronic cigarettes in the entire state of Louisiana, to our knowledge. There’s a really simple reason for that. It’s because electronic cigarettes saved our lives. And we are passionate about showing you, your family, and your friends how dedicated we are to your success.
A Note From the Editor
A Heartfelt Disclaimer
Like Ken, I am no scientist. I don't recommend our readers to start 'vaping' because I do not know every single fact about it. That and because I'm a magazine, not a doctor... I don't recommend people to do anything besides read this magazine. However, for our readers who smoke; I can state that cigarettes are terrible and I have a feeling that e-cigarettes are indeed a much safer alternative. With that being said, we want you to read our magazine forever... so if you get a chance, maybe you oughta quit smoking. Do it for us.
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