back to article 'Electronic fags' are useless - US prof's startling claim

An American professor has called for urgent regulation of so-called "electronic cigarettes", devices which are supposed to give a nicotine addict a hit of their drug without falling foul of smoking bans. But Professor Thomas Eissenberg of the Virginia Commonwealth Uni isn't objecting to the battery-powered eCigs on the grounds …


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  1. Psychotext

    Not my experience

    I can't speak for the electronic cigarettes the professor tested... but I was given one of these to try and I got a severe nicotine rush from it. Turned out my so called friend had filled it full of ultra high nicotine 'e-juice' (~32mg equiv). Wasn't funny. :(

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Such a cunning plan

    Make sure fags are banned everywhere, move the addicts over to eFags, wait a bit, announce they've been smoking nothing but air all for ages, so they've effectively stopped smoking. By then not a problem because real tobacco is nowhere to be had.

    And now this professor type guy, he went and done torpedoed the cunning plan. What a fag.

    Mine's the trenchcoat, no the dark one without the nicotine stains, thanks.

  3. Tanuki
    IT Angle

    The obvious answer is...

    Genetically engineer a 'functional food' hybrid between the tobacco- and coffee-plants. Then you can get both your nicotine and caffeine-fixes combined into one easy-to-swallow shot.

    I propose to market this under the name Caffotine(tm).

    Fuelled by this stuff, programmer-productivity would soar world-wide! Though you'd probably still need a team of non-Caffotine-enhanced debuggers . . .

    1. frank ly

      Another Possibility......

      ......would be to cross a tobacco plant with a tomato plant and then..........oh wait, The Simpsons already did it.

    2. CD001

      sign me up

      Sign me up as a guinea pig / alpha tester of your new Caffotine(tm) - sounds just the ticket to me :)

      1. Ben Holmes
        Thumb Up

        I don't even smoke...

        ...and that sounds awesome. Point me in the direction of the dotted line!

  4. TeeCee Gold badge

    Electronic fags?

    I read that in "translate from US Engrish" mode and had a *really* nasty RoTM moment.

    The machine uprising was a short war and the human race was buggered right from the word go.

    1. Jess--


      you owe me a keyboard

    2. Anonymous Coward

      May have been short...

      But the uniforms, OMG(!) they were so cute!

      Mines the one that matches my shoes. Don't you just love them?

  5. Erik Olafsen
    Thumb Down

    Hanh on, hang on:

    Hang on: They deliver NO nicotine, and yet they are ultra-dangerous 3rd hand smoke killers??


    1. Ed Blackshaw

      I won;t for one minute suggest that ciggies aren't bad for you

      However, there are certain groups who have taken the anti-smoking idea and run a little too far with it. Whilst there is a clear and definite risk from smoking, and a clear, but lesser risk from second-hand smoke, there is no statistically proven risk from so-called 'third-hand' smoke, i.e. smoke on clothes, etc. Some folk are just pushing an agenda for the sake of pushing an agenda.

      1. Rod MacLean

        RE: I won;t for one minute suggest that ciggies aren't bad for you

        ...and the people who complain loudest about cigarette smoke hardly bat an eyelid when walking down a buzy street full if pollution emitting cars!

        Of course, since the world economy is based on oil, any attempt to do anything about it would be shouted down by the-powers-that-be very quickly indeed...

      2. Lab Monkey


        In this months PNAS journal they are publishing evidence of exactly that......

  6. this



  7. e4tmyl33t

    As an e-cig user...

    I can definitely say that there is nicotine delivered. I've been using an e-cig exclusively for almost 6 months now and it is definitely delivering nicotine, possibly better than an actual cigarette ever did.

    I'm just saddened at all the BS the US is going through because of these devices. I'm glad the US Supreme Court ruled that the FDA has no regulatory authority of them.

  8. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Nicotine is a poison.

    And in any room where you smoke, the nicotine and other smoke elements stick to the walls, quietly mutate into more serious carcinogens, and leach back into the air that you breathe. If you live in that room for a significant part of the time, you might as well be sucking the other end of the cigarette that's in the smoker's mouth. Whatever doesn't go into their lungs essentially bounces off the walls and ends up in yours.

    In other scary news at : "Radon is a radioactive gas released from the normal decay of uranium in rocks and soil. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and is associated with 15,000 to 22,000 lung cancer deaths each year." It leaks up out of the ground and is concentrated in indoor spaces, you see.

    So don't live in a house, basically.

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Nicotine is a poison.

      Aaaaaand we're back in the thread from the other day with no mention of electronic cigarettes necessary. Amazing. You should all go into politics.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Nice wanker comment

      Don't want to get to far off topic, but I've had it with these kinds of weak logical and scientific leaps. I would believe a room that has never been cleaned with a chain smoker living in it full time would have lots of carcinogens etc on it, but casual and intermittent smoke won't make any difference. It's all about the concentration and exposure. IMO, it's gonna have to be the everyday crazy amount of smoking for it to have SOME kind of "third hand" effect.

    3. Snert Lee


      The only thing that causes cancer is saliva. But only when swallowed in small amounts, over long periods of time.

      (Yes, I did steal that from George Carlin.)

  9. Youngdog

    Well I am an eCig user

    My lady hates me smoking so I have an eCig I use when at home/on holiday etc.

    With a full battery and fresh cartridge I get enough of a hit in a few puffs to quell the raging nico-beast within that constantly scratches at my brain if I don't get a fix. I can easily go for two weeks using the eCig alone without ever being tempted by the more flammable plant-based alternative.

    Now I am fully prepared to admit that this is a psychological/psychosomatic effect but, if this man is right, wouldn't that suggest that tobacco is not actually physically addictive? And wouldn't that absolve tobacco companies of a fair share of the blame as their customers would be enjoying a life-style 'choice' rather than a drug-fuelled obligation?

    It is a shame that this 'Golden' Virginian is an independent unbiased scientist as, with his subtle ability to kill two birds with one stone, he is exactly the sort of person Phillip Morris should have on their payroll.

    1. Bill Neal

      Think about it

      independent unbiased scientist ... exactly the sort of person Phillip Morris should have on their payroll. He probably already is, to attack another business which is quickly taking more market share.

  10. Mark York 3 Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Electronic fags?

    You know I hate to ask

    But are 'friends' electric?

    Only mine's broke down

    And now I've no-one to love

    Mind you it could have been worse "Down In The Park with a friend called 5"

    Wot no nostalgia icon? PH because she has to get new friends every year.

  11. Annihilator

    Stop wasting time on e-cigs

    Why have the cig industry not invested in a cigarette that's poison free, but just as enjoyable (it can be addictive too, y'know, to keep their customer-base). The e-cigs are pretty much just nebulizers, and rob you of the whole lighting experience.

    I only say this as a cold-turkey non-smoker for over 4 months now who still misses it terribly, but knows he's better off without it.

  12. FiveFingers

    Who pays the Profs wages?

    From what i gather e-cigarettes work quite well. I have been watching a few vlogs on youtube and everyone using these devices reported that they worked. The problem is that nicotine probably isn't the only addictive substance in a fag. The tobacco industry have their grubby fingers in many pies, i would like to look through the Profs accounts before i beleive a word he says. The best cure for smoking is Alan Carr's book 'easy way to stop smoking'. I've been off them for 4 years now.

  13. Rob 30

    @Stop wasting time on e-cigs

    i've heard the reason they won't develop nice healthy ciggies that deliver vitamins and minerals instead of tar and nicotine, was that doing so would be tantamount to admitting the current ones are unhealthy and open themselves up to all sorts of sueing.

    as to e-cigs, i have one and think it's feckin brilliant, i've used it on the plane and purely based on years of smoking experience i'm pretty damn sure it does deliver nicotine, and very well too.

    it's as close to smoking as you can get without actually burning anything, throat hit & all, top stars from me. maybe he tested a crap version.

  14. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Nicotine *is* addictive

    Hence it's manipulation (over decades) by tobacco mfgs.

    It's also carcenogenic. Which is a smal side effect they've never quite got rid of.

    Still as long as there are new smokers to come along this is an acceptable cost of doing business*

    *At least that was the basic business model they used for decades, untill their private files hit the internet.

    1. Scott Wichall

      John Smith 19 - Nicotine Is Carcinogenic

      Fail for you:

      "The carcinogenic properties of nicotine in standalone form, separate from tobacco smoke, have not been evaluated by the IARC, and it has not been assigned to an official carcinogen group. The currently available literature indicates that nicotine, on its own, does not promote the development of cancer in healthy tissue and has no mutagenic properties. "

  15. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Way ahead of you all

    In this here brown envelope, I have a full report on the nefarious effects of not third-, not even fourth-, but seventh-, yes I said seventh-hand smoke.

    The results are positively frightening and dangerous enough to guarantee that the US is going to invade Chili forthwith to put a stop to this intolerable and insidious campaign against the health of its citizens.

    Mark my words : seventh-hand smoke will doom us all.

  16. ratfox

    Electronic fags are useless? eButts don't work as advertised?

    Took me a while, between the fags and butts...

    Who cares? As long as people are happy puffing them.

  17. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Third hand, and nicotine-free ecigs

    I don't believe in this "third hand" effect. I've been in rooms that were COATED in tar, I couldn't smell a thing. I mean, the room was nasty, it was probably unhealthy to touch the walls, but it was NOT permeating back into the air!

    Re: the Ecig. If they delivered no nicotine, it would explain the youtube video I saw though... this guy was demoing one, after like 5 minutes I was just thinking "FFS, quit smoking already! WTF!!" He must have puffed through AT LEAST 10 cigs equivalent, and was still going (to demonstrate the battery life, and longevity of the cartridge.) I was just waiting for him to turn green and lose his lunch, and he never did.

  18. Apocalypse Later

    I've taken it up

    I quit smoking real cigarettes 40 years ago, but have taken up the electronic variety recently. Of course they delivery nicotine. Mind you, they are fiddly, and you are constantly recharging batteries and refilling or swapping the cartridges in order to keep the vapour coming. Sometimes the battery doesn't connect properly when screwed in, too, at least on the model I use, but when vapour is produced, you definitely get a hit. I don't know what the professor is doing wrong, but there are plenty of possibilities.

  19. Darrell

    Absolute Poppycock

    There is no medical evidance that smoking tobacco actually does you any harm!

    Its the paper they wrap it up in.

    Thats what should be banned

    Look at the evidance for evil paper! it gives you cancer when paired with innocent Tobacco, it will cut you up as look at you, Nazi properganda was printed on it, you have to destroy trees to get it, and the most compelling argument. Its 99% of the ingredients used o make the Daily Mail!

    What we need is a non paper substitute!

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    plenty of nicotine in eCigs

    One blast and my lips were tingling for an hour...

  21. MrEDJay

    VCU and Phillip Morris Really Good Bed Partners.

    Ummmmm Just so you all know this.

    VCU is in cahoots with Phillip Morris...

    So, You might want to actually look a little further into the whole E-Cig ordeal than this post and others.

    You might try looking at personal experiences. Heck, check out youtube and you will hear plenty of success stories about how this product IS changing peoples life for the better.

    I am a Personal Vaporizer user, and I can tell you right now.

    It is VERY satisfying.

    Just please, know that VCU is actually limited on what type of information they can give out because Phillip Morris has a whole lot of say about what they ALLOW them to say.

    You can actually just google "VCU and Phillip Morris" heck, i'm sure you don't even have to put the word "AND" in there and you'll get some information.

    Keep on Vapin

  22. Robert Carnegie Silver badge


    The Phoilip Morris Owning Everything Group, Inc., changed its name to Altria. Altria owns a wide range of premature death products, possibly including Kraft cheese (correction: not any more, they sold it, what did they do with the money) and in that case I suppose now Cadury chocolate (c'mon, you know "Death By Chocolate" is a documentary). They are big and you can't live, I mean die, without them. Just be aware that the profit from any of these products is funneled into tobacconist activities.

    (Yes - I review and edit to correct facts, but not arguments. I'm thinking of going into politics.)

  23. Framitz

    No Nic? B! S!

    I started using 'e-cigs' in May of '09. I was able to replace my Marlboro with an e-cig out of the gate. I had no withdrawal symptoms. There is absolutely nicotine delivered using the e-cig in fact it's not too difficult to overdose and get dizzy. I use several makes and models and use e-liquid at 18 to 24 mg / g nicotine.

    I have smoked about 5 cigarettes since May 09, I don't miss 'em, but do try one on occasion to remind myself how nasty they are compared to e-cigs.

    Of course it is in the best interest of big tobacco and big pharma to discredit e-cigs because they are MUCH CHEAPER and much LESS DANGEROUS to HEALTH than tobacco or stop smoking aids.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Spooky sh*t

    Youngdog wrote, "It is a shame that this 'Golden' Virginian is an independent unbiased scientist as, with his subtle ability to kill two birds with one stone, he is exactly the sort of person Phillip Morris should have on their payroll."

    And that scared me a bit. The thing is that this Golden Virginian is NOT an unbiased scientist. And he IS on Phillip Morris' payroll in that VCU has sponsorship deals with Phillip Morris which include such contract terms as all publications being reviewed by the tobacco giant before release, and nobody being allowed to talk about Fight Club. As for the study, it was poor in my opinion (small sample of cheap generic-brand e-cigs used, no instruction to the participants on how to use them properly, etc.), and it makes no serious effort to explain why hundreds of thousands of users do get at least an apparent nicotine hit from e-cigs, and so on. And of course it has not been peer-reviewed.

    Also, if the findings were correct, it would imply that smoking is not nearly as physically addictive as everyone's been saying, and the belief that one is inhaling nicotine, along with going through the motions of smoking, is enough to satisfy a smoker, which means if anything the results should prompt LESS regulation of tobacco and (especially) tobacco-free nicotine products.

    Anyway, there's no doubt that nicotine exists in the e-cig vapour, at least with some models and cartridge types, other studies have already confirmed this. And the absorption of nicotine via the lungs is not exactly a novel concept. For that reason alone the study is highly suspect.

    As for third-hand smoke, nitrosamines are deemed carcinogenic, but it is still all about the quantities you're exposed to. Most (all?) plants in the nightshade family contain nicotine and nitrosamines, and since apparently tobacco-specific nitrosamines can form from nicotine, then you're exposed to TSNAs when you eat a potato or a tomato. So... whatever happened to science being quantitative? It seems that all standards of science and reason go out the window as soon as tobacco comes up, not the least shining example of which is this conflation of tobacco and nicotine that is causing so much grief for e-cigs, despite their obvious potential for saving lives.

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