James Watt, the Vice Chair of the Electronic Cigarette Association did a phone interview with Bill Cunningham on his radio show today. The interview was specifically about those who wish to include the electronic cigarette in smoking bans. You can use the audio player below to listen to the interview or read the transcript provided:
Transcript of October 26th, 2009 Interview of James Watt, ECA Vice Chair, on the Bill Cunningham Show on News Radio 700 WLW
BC is Bill Cunningham
JW is James Watt
BC Let’s continue with more. Twenty-nine minutes after this hour, Bill Cunningham, News Radio 700 WLW.
All right. Now there’s a big story on the front page of USA Today today that says that electronic cigarettes are battery-operated devices that turn nicotine and other chemicals into a vapor that is inhaled by the user, and they’re opening a new front in the tobacco wars because they give off no carcinogens, no secondhand smoke. And the battery-operated device is made up of a cartridge containing nicotine, flavoring, and chemicals. It turns nicotine, which is addictive, into a vapor that is inhaled.
Joining me now is James Watt, and he’s, like, vice chairman of the Electronic Cigarette Association. James Watt, welcome to the Bill Cunningham Show.
JW Thank you very much, Bill.
BC Well, let’s talk about this particular cigarette. About a half million Americans are now using these cigarettes. I’ve heard ads on our radio station that talks about these cigarettes. Talk about what they are and why they were developed.
JW Well, Bill, the–the electronic cigarette was–it’s been on the market for about five plus years now, and it’s been in the U.S. for, oh, about two and a half. Essentially, it’s an alternative to a tobacco cigarette. It works very similarly in the action where you bring something up to your mouth, you inhale, you exhale.
I think that the big difference between the two products is tobacco cigarettes use combustion, where the electronic cigarette uses vaporization. There are some very distinct differences between combustion and vaporization. So many longtime smokers find it to be a suitable replacement to their tobacco cigarettes.
BC So let’s say I’m sitting next to someone in a restaurant. I’m five–five feet away or six inches away. They’re right behind me, and they’re–and they’re using one of these electronic cigarettes. Would I even know it?
JW You would, provided you could see it. With most of the batteries on them, there is an LED will light up on the end when they inhale, and you will actually see the vapor come out. With that said, if you didn’t see the light, you didn’t see the vapor, you would not know they were using it. The–
BC Do they–do they smell?
JW No, they do not.
BC So a person that uses these–a lot smokers have smokers’ breath, and you can tell they’ve smoked because the clothes stink. That wouldn’t happen here?
JW That does not happen at all.
BC So is there any emissions at all that would rise the–raise the alarms of secondhand smokers?
JW Well, that’s a good question, an I’m certainly not a doctor or scientist that could get into specifically what’s in it. I can tell you many of the things that are produced specifically from combustion simply are not in that vapor. You know, the things that are typically produced with combustion, that’s where you get your arsenic, your carbon monoxide, your hydrogen cyanide. Those things are not produced through the process of vaporization.
BC So while the story seems to say that if you’re worried about secondhand smoke, that you’re not affected by it. Are you saying that’s true or untrue?
JW I’m saying that the electronic cigarette does not produce smoke–
BC No smoke at all.
JW –firsthand or secondhand.
JW No smoke. It’s a vapor. There is a very distinct difference between the two.
BC And how expensive are these? If each cigarette has an indicator light, a battery, an atomizer, liquid cartridges, inhaler tips, how expensive is each cigarette?
JW Well, there’s a lot of different models on the market. I mean, there are disposable ones. But the vast majority are reusable, so the only thing you’re replacing is that cartridge with the liquid in it.
You know, typically, I think most smokers could see probably a forty to sixty percent savings by moving over to the electronic cigarette versus tobacco cigarettes.
BC Really? So you save money?
BC Well, many states–California, New Jersey, most of the liberal ones, Oregon–are moving now to ban this. And the argument that was used for years is that you have to ban cigarette smoking in public because of secondhand smoke, because patrons would be affected, employees would be affected.
This cigarette undermines that entire argument, and I think those who oppose it are now showing their true colors because their argument is not that it produces secondhand smoke effects that are harmful. Their argument is that the person using it is harmful. So essentially, they don’t want to ban secondhand smoke. What they want to ban is cigarette use. Haven’t they showed their hand?
JW You know, I guess that’s to each their own in interpreting their actions. But I can say including the electronic cigarette with a smoking ban that does talk about, you know, specifically the secondhand smoke and the health effects of that, including the electronic cigarette in that seems unscientific, at best. You’re including something that just simply does not produce smoke.
BC And–and similar to MADD mothers, who started out trying to ban drunk driving, which is good thing, but now they’ve turned into a temperance organization. They’ve done all they can do with drunk drivers, punishing them disproportionately many times to other crimes committed by other criminals. They have now become an organization that wants to ban the use of alcohol, which is for years they said, “That’s not our intent.”
Much like the smoke–the smoke crowd, they began for years saying, “Secondhand smoke is terrible. It’s got to be stopped.” But now that the industry and now that the scientists have come up with a way to produce no secondhand smoke because there is no smoke–it’s a smokeless cigarette–now you have the left-wing activists that want to govern someone’s behavior and tell them they can’t smoke at all even though there’s no secondhand smoke.
So much like MADD mothers, to my way of thinking, they’ve demonstrated what their intent was all along, which was to ban tobacco use. And if they want to do that, James, go ahead and do it. Be forthright. But don’t use some other means or method to get to where you want to get, and then–and then what that detour was blocked by people like your trade organization, they now say, “Well, we don’t want people even to smoke smokeless cigarettes.” Why? Well, the answer is, “We don’t want you to do it.” And–and so it’s–it’s not–
BC –it’s not about secondhand smoke. What it’s about is changing American behavior.
JW You know, some people definitely interpret it that way. I think it’s also important to understand that this product was not brought to the market by the tobacco industry. There’s no tobacco companies to my knowledge actually marketing the electronic cigarette, and there is no tobacco in it. You can have the cartridges with or without nicotine at all. There’s many users who will use the electronic cigarette with no nicotine. You know, so it’s–it’s not a tobacco product.
And I think that some of these organizations, it’s almost worse than–than the scenario that you mentioned simply because they don’t know about the electronic cigarette. There’s–I read through some of the proposals that they’re attempting to ban the electronic cigarette’s use in public places. It’s evident that they haven’t done the research to understand the product before they actually ban it.
BC Right. Well, James Watt, I’ve never smoked. I never would smoke. But I think American freedom means a lot, and if somebody wants to do this activity and no one else is affected by it, government has no role.
And, James Watt, do you want to give out a website for your group?
JW Yeah. Our website is ECASSOC.ORG.
BC All right. James Watt, good luck to you.
JW Thank you very much.