E-cigarette regulations on the horizon in Wisconsin

MILWAUKEE (WITI) — E-cigarettes, the smokeless electronic cigarettes may be cutting edge and cost-effective, but is it costing you your body? For more than a decade users have been inhaling substances that are not regulated, but all of that is about to change.

Susanna Ryan and her sister started Brew City Vape a year and a half ago and their e-cigarette business has skyrocketed. The shop offers different levels of nicotine and endless flavor options.

E-cigarettes have a cartridge filled with nicotine and other substances. When it’s heated, through an electric charger, the user inhales the liquid and exhales the vapor. It mimics the smoking sensation without the tar and 4,000 other chemicals in cigarettes.

“It was organically developed by a pharmacist in China because he saw his father die of lung cancer and he was hoping to make a product that would help smokers be safer,” said Dr. Ileen Gilbert, a pulmonologist at Froedtert and The Medical College of Wisconsin.

E-cigarettes are smokeless, but not necessarily harmless.

Initially, the majority of the liquid used was sent from China.

Dr. Ileen Gilbert says the government got concerned after analyzing a batch.

“The Food and Drug Administration actually analyzed it the concentration and the content was not what was in the package,” Dr. Gilbert said.

40 attorneys general urged the FDA to enforce some controls. Recently the FDA announced it will regulate e-cigarettes as a tobacco product.

“That’s the act that has prevented the selling of cigarettes to minors that has taken out the flavoring that appeal to children,” Dr. Gilbert added.

But for many, the flavor is part of the draw.

“I love the fact you can try other flavors, and the minute I took a hit of it I was like ‘this is it. This is going to work.’ It’s been almost two months now, I don`t want a cigarette,” said Gloria Mendoza.

Although not marketed as a smoking cessation device, users like Mendoza say since the swap she’s stopped smoking two packs of cigarettes a day.

“I do want to work on leveling down the nicotine — so that’s what’s nice. I can work on that, where as a cigarette you can’t do that,” Mendoza said.

As regulation looms, it’s stirring up awareness and prompting studies.

“This could be a very important to employ in a full service program for smoking cessation,” Dr. Gilbert said.

While there could be some benefits, Dr. Gilbert says negatives are still unknown.

“The nicotine itself, even if there were no additional chemicals, is one of the most highly addictive substances,” Dr. Gilbert said.

Countless people are inhaling the nicotine and other substances in e-cigarettes without knowing the possible health impact.

“When the FDA did seize batches of the e-cigarette, there were nitrosamines which is a known carcinogen. There is propylene glycol which is something very close to antifreeze,” Dr. Gilbert said.

Creating an improved e-liquid was the goal of Christian Berkey — founder and CEO of Johnson Creek Enterprises now located in Hartland.

“I was trying to find a way to create smoke juice that tasted great, that didn’t have all the chemicals,” Berkey said.

Johnson Creek makes smoke juice from scratch. Berkey says the business has grown exponentially.

“Now Johnson Creek is the second largest maker of smoke juice in the world,” Berkey said.

Berkey said he’s ready for the FDA to mandate a host of protocols.

“There’s a whole set of standards, be it advertising and marketing standards, analysis standards, GNPS purity standards that regulation is going to require of everyone in our industry and a vast majority of these things Johnson Creek already does. In fact, many of them we pioneered,” Berkey said.

While the government shutdown did delay the regulations, they could come as early as this year.

“Ultimately it brings the quality to the top and it gives smokers again a really viable choice for the first time ever,” Berkey said.

Dr. Gilbert believes the government regulations may also include some sort of quality and safety control. There have been a few case studies done, one in which the battery operated device blew up, injuring the user.

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23 comments

  • Jenny

    Propylene Glycol is rated by the Food and Drug Administration as being “for the most part safe”, most commonly used in food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Please check the facts before repoting a story like this. Thank you.

    • Jeremy @ Cig Buyer.com

      Just wanted to add to your statement and say that it’s not only a food additive, but propylene glycol used in theatrical smoke machines, skin and personal care products, pharmaceutical goods such as asthma inhalers, etc. It’s been FDA-approved and proven safe in a variety of forms, including vapor.

      Yes… PG is used in antifreeze… but only as a diluent to make it LESS TOXIC.

      This story also mentioned the highly addictive nature of nicotine, but it failed to mention that it’s simply a mild stimulant, like caffeine. It DOES NOT cause cancer and is harmless in low doses.

      It’s the thousands of other chemicals found in traditional cigarettes that are the real problem. Electronic cigarettes lack these harmful chemicals and expose people to significantly less risk. Here’s a good article about what’s inside an e-cigarette: http://www.cigbuyer.com/inside-e-cigarette-liquids-and-vapor/

  • John

    Thank you for ” letting the cat out of the bag” on propylene glycol! It’s deemed safe for human consumption by the FDA and is used in food preservatives but in this Fox study it is very similar to antifreeze(?)! So the cake mixes used for birthdays, sour cream, soda, pop corn, and food coloring have antifreeze because they all contain propylene glycol! To be a journalist, at least a good one, try to have all the facts before you try selling it to the public. It is your job to put all the current facts in front of those who don’t know much about something so they can look further into the matter and come to an educated stand on it. The news has got worse over the years. It treats the general public as if they were slow unintelligent herds of cattle that spook and dart for the hills at the slight hint of danger.
    I too believe there needs to be regulation for ecigs. If it is sold to help tobacco smokers to quit tobacco, then regulate it as just that. Don’t put the fear, stigma, and taboo-ness of tobacco smoking in the same light as it’s not even in the same categorical classification.
    1) it doesn’t contain tobacco Therefore do not tax it as if it were one in the same. – the ” booming business has grown from this so tax it at it’s highest to get money now” technique/practice to get it passed in legislation as tobacco is what this is about
    2) yes there isn’t enough long term effects on the human body studies done as of lately so let’s tax the heck out of it now by categorizing it as a tobacco product. -this is seriously what is being said on everything anti-ecig article, campaign, news story if you really look at them closely. And yes there were situations in the past and early years when ecigs came out that studies have come from analysis of the liquid did come with some dangerous stuff but those were rare and never duplicated instances… hence why i say some regulation is needed. Also there are new researches done by the scientific community from publichealth studies to private funded studies recently that have data that is solid which says the threat(s) of the vapor clouds and the liquids have been proven to be well below the levels of even being remotely dangerous to anyone. Why not shed light with these studies?- bad journalism is my guess…
    3) the instance where the battery exploded is an isolated situation that could be ruled away as user error or a bad battery… hence regulation needed. It is similar to say that this holiday season someone will fall from hanging lights and decorations on their roofs and possibly die from it so we need to take a closer look at holiday lights, high roof homes, ladders, and the weather because they need to be banned. Seems silly but that is how it sounds to me reading about this.
    4) I believe… well, I know you were talking about diethylene glycol when you said very similar to antifreeze also but that is because they sound so similar to eachother. I mean they do have glycol at the end of them so they are veryvery similar… makes sense to no one with an ounce of common sense and a highschool degree. They are not one in the same.
    Again very poor slander in swaying a story for hype. Thanks Fox News. Stick to “toilets that explode because it flows backwards” and the weather because that is all you are good at. I have quit tobacco after 19 years because of my introduction into ecigs. I tried to quit hundreds of times using everything from natural medicines, over the counter patches and gums, to Dr. Prescribed meds that made me have suicidal thoughts and tendancies and the only thing that finally worked was an electronic vaporizer that delivered nicotine to by body in doses that I chose and could reduce at the time I made the choice to do so. 11 months tobacco free and i started at 24mg of nicotine and now I am at 4mg of nicotine which is equivelant to the gums you can get as a quitting tool. I tried the gum and many times found myself chewing the gum while smoking a cigarette at thesame time.
    So take it and regulate it for what it is… a medical tool to have the billions ofpeople who are smoking tobacco and killing themselves a fighting chance at life. Taxing it as a tobacco product does nothing but line the pockets of lobbyists, politicians, and tobacco companies with money. This is one of those times we can learn from the UK and regulate ecigs as medicine and a means to stop tobacco from killing another fellow human being.
    If i had cents… this would be my nickel.

    • Julee

      John et al. I’m on my first 24 hrs. on vap and I had two regular cigarettes so far. I’m excited and hoping things will be different in the next few weeks. I agree with your well thought out and researched post. I think their is enough evidence that it’s better than conventional cigarettes at least for the environment and the people around you. I think it’s better for me as well–ie. no tar and (less) chemicals. We have to start somewhere.

  • Xright

    Horse Hocky! the govt. is pissed they not getting that Tax from X smokers. Anything that deemed “bad” by the Govt. they tax the F out of and when something like this comes along that is helping millions off the smoke they want to deem it horible, of course until they get there tax. Pot will be legal eveywhere once they figure out how to tax it.

  • Tony

    When did Fox 6 become the mouthpiece for the government? This is pure propaganda to spread fear about e-cigcs. I am a e-cig user, I use blu which don’t use any harsh chemicals found in other e-cig brands. I love it, I finally can “smoke” in public again, and it has saved me so much money. I was spending $60-75 a week on cigarettes, and now I spend $17 for one package of cartridges that last me a week. Like it has been stated in previous comments the government just wants to deem this a tobacco product, even though it contains ZERO tobacco, so they can tax it as such. It should not be taxed as a tobacco product, but it will be. Why? Because if you think about it if people had their way and EVERYBODY quit smoking the economy would tank! The government NEEDS the tax money generated from cigarettes. For what you might ask? It’s actually quite amusing it’s to offset the cost of the….wait for it….Affordable Care Act and other healthcare costs. It’s why I have been stocking up on my cartridges, because I know the day is coming where the cost is going to grow to equal a carton of cigarettes.

  • Jman

    Watched the piece last night and my impressions are:

    a) glad to see a report from Milwaukee perspective on it

    b) (now to contradict my first point) sad to see a somewhat negative slant on the eCigs issue, from Milwaukee perspective.

    c) thanks for letting me/us know about Brew City Vape, as I was not aware of them until this report

    d) kept thinking the report was written / investigated in 2010, as in almost all information presented was at least 3 years old. Anyone familiar with politics of eCigs knows that literally every negative item Fox 6 alluded to, has been debunked or put into proper perspective. Fortunately, other commenters have picked apart some of those, so I don’t have to rehash that. I’ll just say if anything on report seems ‘troublesome’ then I suggest googling that information and looking at both sides of the issue. The biggest one that stood out for me, and why I feel like it is so outdated is regarding regulations and “all of that is about to change.” You could’ve said the same thing in 2009, and by golly, one of these days that will prove to be accurate. Instead, as it hasn’t come to pass yet, and thus we do have 4+ years of non regulated, free market scenario playing out, a journalist would have to be lazy and/or asleep at the wheel to realize the mostly positive impact eCigs have had on the culture, particularly for those who enjoy nicotine.

    e) science, thus far, is on side of eCigs, vaping, and second hand vapor. Fear mongering politics and news pieces are doing their darnedest to change the narrative, but IMO, that side doesn’t stand a chance. And any semblance of ‘victory’ by that side, will have repercussions that I’m fairly certain have not been thought through, yet continue in vein of fear mongering; as if ingesting nicotine is about on par with terrorism or some other act of extreme violence. Good luck with that slant on things, you’re going to need it.

  • Wendy

    Happy to say I smoked cigarettes for for nearly 15 years and with the help of Brew City Vape, I have not smoked a cigarette since March of 2013 and I have no desire. The carcinogens in cigarettes are far worse than what I got from inhaling vapor. It also took my mother who used to smoke two-packs a day to no smokes a day. Sounds like a good thing to me! Thank you Brew City Vape!

  • Kristin Noll Marsh

    Maybe FOX 6 will contact The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association next time to get both sides of the story. CASAA is a volunteer, non-profit, non-industry organization dedicated to getting the facts and scientific truth about smoke-free alternatives to smokers.

    This story neglected to mention three important, well-known facts:

    1) The FDA tested only 2 brands of e-cigarettes and those brands were sold by two companies that were suing the FDA. The FDA obviously had a vested interest in the outcome of the “testing.” The judge ruled against the FDA in that case. One of those companies is no longer in business.

    2) The “nitrosamines” the FDA found in the testing were at the same levels found in FDA-approved nicotine patches. The same “tobacco-specific nitrosamines” can be found in all FDA-approved nicotine products (at trace levels) because the nicotine is extracted from tobacco. E-cigarettes use the same nicotine as the drug companies, yet the FDA has not issued any warnings about “carcinogens” in those pharmaceutical products.

    3) Nicotine is not considered “carcinogenic” and does not cause the diseases associated with smoking, That is why the drug companies can sell nicotine products. The smoking-related diseases are linked to the other chemicals in smoke, not the nicotine.

    Additionally, researchers are finding that nicotine is not particularly “addictive” when it isn’t in smoke. Patients suffering from ulcerative colitis and treated for 6 months with nicotine patches equal to smoking 3/4 of a pack of cigarettes a day showed no sign of addiction to nicotine.

    And the FDA recently supported the safety of the long-term use of pharmaceutical nicotine products for smokers who need it to stay abstinent. Using nicotine e-cigarettes long-term to keep from smoking is absolutely no different. The nicotine in gum, patches and lozenges is exactly the same as the nicotine in e-cigarettes.l

    This is all the result of the FDA supporting the pharmaceutical industry, which provides a large chunk of FDA funding, and is directly threatened by losing profits if smokers use e-cigarettes instead. Excessive, expensive and unnecessary regulations would simply hand the industry over to the tobacco and drug companies.

  • Wanda G

    I quit smoking 22 years ago when my son was born. He’s been smoking an e cig for about a month.He’s down to 1-2 real cigarettes a. day. My only concern is that Good Moing America did a story saying e juice has been known to burn people, and deadly to small children. My sonsurrogate daughter who’s two is constantly getting into things , and now I have a new grandson. Do I have to be concerned about the e juice ???

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  • Emery

    An interestting discusson is worth comment. I doo tthink tha youu ned to wriite more oon thyis topic, itt maay not bbe a taboo subject
    bbut usualpy people ddo not sleak about these issues.

    To tthe next! All the best!!

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  • No

    Public Service Announcement: DO NOT shop at Brew City Vape in Wind Lake, WI. (http://brewcityvape.com)

    I bought an AeroTank e-cigarette tank there a week ago, then ordered a pack of dual coils online from another company (because they were $1 cheaper apiece) so I could change flavors. Went to put the new coil in and it didn’t fit. Well, turns out Brew City Vape is selling clones and passing them off as the real deal. They took out the stock coils when I bought it and replaced them with something that “was much better”- which turned out to be a single coil. (This should have been a clue, but I’m a super-new vaper and I didn’t know better.)

    I called and the person I talked to (one of the owner’s sons) brushed me off, saying they sell authentic Kangers and he’d have to talk to the person who does the orders and have him call me. Next day and no phone call, so I stopped in today to show them the problem.

    What an eye-opener. Not only did they out-and-out lie to me (first the owner said “we never told you that you were buying an authentic tank,” then another guy told me “this is an older model that doesn’t work with the newer coils”), the tank doesn’t have the name etched on it as shown on the box and there was no “authenticity code.” Of course I didn’t know about that either until I bought a REAL Kanger tank from another shop.

    They refused to return the tank (shocker), and on top of everything, the owner called me “psycho” for making a fuss, a “fat b**** and some other choice words, including that I needed to “f*** off and get out of her store.”

    Great customer service there, I’m sure you’ll be in business for a long time.

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