A new Harvard ecig study is making the rounds in the media quickly, playing into the hands of anti-vaping groups. The research paper was based on data from 51 different brands in the marketplace and the results seem to astound a great deal of people. The media and certain researchers are talking about diacetyl and popcorn lung as though they are uncovering breaking news. They are not.
Dr. Konstatin Farsalinos has been studying this for years. His research team discovered that many low quality and unprofessional eliquid vendors were using flavoring with diacetyl. Despite this finding, Dr. Farsalinos acknowledged that vaping is safer than smoking by many orders of magnitude. What this does mean is that consumers have to be careful about what they are buying. Always look to ensure that the ejuice that you buy is diacetyl free.
The top rated electronic cigarette companies do not use diacetyl in their ejuice blends. Companies like VaporFi, Halo Cigs, Apollo eCigs and others all have state of the art labs and follow standards that surpass those of the food industry. They do not use diacetyl in any of their eliquid blends. They have independent lab testing to verify the purity of their eliquids. It is easy to avoid diacetyl. Just stick to the best ejuice vendors like VaporFi, Halo, Apollo and Mt Baker, all great examples of quality, professional vendors that back up their diacetyl free claim.
There are some bad apples that do use diacetyl. Many of these tend to be boutique eliquids that are sold by people who are just not qualified to make eliquid. They may have great intentions but at the end of the day they just do not know what they are doing. Once again, the main point is that diacetyl in eliquid is something that is easy to avoid and is in no way shape or form a reflection of the benefits and possibilities of vaping.
In response to the media frenzy evolving out of the matter, Dr.Farsalinos, the world’s leading authority on the subject, was disappointed in the immediate and totally out of context reaction. Like I said, while this may be news toUS researchers, this is something that Dr. Farsalinos has been talking about for years. In response, Dr. Farsalinos Tweeted, “A new study finds diacetyl in e-cigarettes but exaggerates risks and fails to discuss smoking.”
The conclusions drawn from the research essentially tell us that as the ecig flavors additive Diacetyl is really, really bad for you. It causes what is commonly known as popcorn lung, a condition that is irreversible and causes asthma-like symptoms such as wheezing, dry cough, and shortness of breath. In truly severe cases, a lung transplant is the only option.
If the symptoms sound scary, that’s because it is. There is no joking around when it comes to popcorn lung, an issue we have already covered here and one that is incredibly important to the vaping community. We don’t want to see any vapers suffer from the effects of popcorn lung. The entire point of making the switch away from traditional tobacco cigarettes to electronic cigarettes is to minimize exposure to such threats. Tobacco cigarettes, by the way, also contain Diacetyl as one of their thousands of additives.
The disease we now call popcorn lung is known as bronchiolitis obliterans. It is very serious and should not be taken lightly because it has the name ‘popcorn lung’. It was given that name because the condition began to be diagnosed in popcorn factory workers a little over a decade ago. The cause was eventually traced to the fumes emitted by the buttery flavoring that is added to microwave popcorn.
That buttery flavoring is diacetyl. It is recogized as safe as a food additive but as it turns out it is quite dangerous when inhaled. Are you at risk from the delicious smell of buttery popcorn? Probably not in extreme cases you may be. A Colorado man who ate bags of microwave popcorn on a daily basis for 10 years was diagnosed with popcorn lung and sued the popcorn company for damages in 2007.
The only problem is, this “new” ecig study doesn’t really tell us anything we don’t already know. We’ve been talking about Diacetyl in ecig flavors for a long time now, specifically pointing out which eliquid brands do not contain it. We even quoted the figure in the new study, which says that 74% of eliquid brands are using Diacetyl to help flavor their ecig juice. This isn’t really news at all, despite the new Harvard research. Yet that is exactly how the media is framing it, with one headline saying this is an “e-cigarette health scare,” as if this is coming out of nowhere.
Why does the media like to use that type of descriptive language? Well it sure does sell papers, or get people to click on links to read their article.
Ecig Study Doesn’t Mean Vaping Is Dangerous
It also ends up painting vaping as dangerous, and this ecig study doesn’t really tell us that at all. What it tells us is that Diacetyl can be quite dangerous, and vapers should stay away from it. This is another throw the baby out with the bathwater type of response to what is conveniently a controversial topic. It’s not like you can’t vape without this chemical being in your ecig flavors, so why not just call for it to be removed?
It reminds me of the fact that Coca-Cola actually used to contain cocaine, which is where the name comes from. Does that mean that we needed to stop drinking cola? No, it just meant that they needed to stop putting cocaine in a drink that was quickly growing in popularity! Of course cola is bad for you for other reasons, like the mass amounts of sugar, but that’s a point for a site about the evils of sugar, not the evils of smoking.
Clearly Diacetyl is a problem and the easiest way to get around that now is to simply buy from respected brands that do not put that chemical in their ecig flavors. You don’t need an ecig study to tell you that. You may say that 74% of the market is a lot to avoid, but I would remind you that the majority of the market is made up of small home-brew brands that you haven’t heard of. Even if you have heard of them, you shouldn’t be buying from someone who probably spent a grand total of $130 to get up and running as an “eliquid vendor,” making the stuff out of their bathtub. That’s just bad news.
I have one last point about the ridiculous way that this ecig study is being portrayed. The headline in Gizmodo describes the ecig study as being brought to you by “reliable Harvard scientists,” but they are anything but that. David Christiani, the Harvard professor who co-authored the study, may have been right about Diacetyl and even that 74% figure (which we already knew). But he takes this opportunity to make a point that isn’t relevant to this study and is flat out wrong.
Christiani was quoted saying “In addition to containing varying levels of the addictive substance nicotine, they also contain other cancer-causing chemicals, such as formaldehyde, and as our study shows, flavoring chemicals that can cause lung damage.” We gloss over the fact that he wrongly portrays nicotine as the problem here, which we know it isn’t because the tar and thousands of chemicals in tobacco cigarettes are the real issue with smoking. He casually drops in the already-defunct formaldehyde claim so as to further tarnish the name of vaping.
This is just wrong, even if we should expect it by now. So when I woke up and read this new ecig study, I wasn’t surprised nor was I scared. What I was concerned with is how it will be used as more ammunition by anti-vaping activists to prop up the story that electronic cigarettes are bad for you or flat-out dangerous. Unfortunately, I was right and this means we have to keep getting the word out and setting people straight. The future of vaping depends on it.