Dr Baron was interviewed by James Dunworth or ECigaretteDirect. Thanks to James for this information. (What follows is the transcript from the video footage of the interview.)Does nicotine cause cancer?
No, nicotine absolutely does not cause cancer. Thatís been categorically proven. What causes cancer is tar. Itís the burnt organic substance thatís deposited in the respiratory tract when a person inhales cigarette smoke or tobacco smoke. Nicotine is a chemical which is contained in tobacco leaves and released in tobacco smoke, which acts on the brain and has, actually, a number of pleasant and beneficial effects on the brain. Nicotine itself has been known about for many decades, and nicotine, by itself, to the best of my knowledge, has never been proven to cause disease. It does have a slight stimulant effect, though, and so of course, if a person should overdose somehow on nicotine, by consuming massive doses of it, then one could imagine that they could have some of the symptoms associated with over-stimulation, like a rapid heart-rate, or an elevation in their blood pressure. But I have heard some people allege that nicotine can cause heart attacks and strokes. That has never been demonstrated in any kind of evidence-based, peer-reviewed literature. In the medical literature you wonít find anything like that. So nicotine is not what causes disease. Nicotine is what gets people addicted to smoking and using tobacco. If you can separate out the nicotine from the tobacco, then you remove the disease-causing elements of tobacco smoke. Thatís why nicotine products, many of them are already approved by the FDA and available without a prescription. There are perhaps 4 or 5 different ways that you can purchase and use nicotine. If nicotine caused cancer by itself, I donít think the FDA would have approved it as an Ďover-the-counterí drug.Do the cartridges contain disease-causing agents?
Based on the research that Iíve been provided with, and the background information that Iíve received from SmokeStik and from the scientific literature, I canít find anything thatís released in the vapour that comes out of SmokeStik when itís used that could cause disease. Now, let me qualify that. Many physicians would talk about Ďaddictioní as a disease, and I would agree with that. Addiction can be classified as a disease, and I think the disease model of addiction is an excellent way to approach people who are addicted to the use of substances or behaviours that are harming them in some way, or negatively impacting their lives. But nicotine alone, and addiction to nicotine only causes harm in association with tobacco use. So if you want to play a semantics game, you could say, yes, the nicotine causes addiction, or sustains an addiction that a person may have from smoking cigarettes. It doesnít solve that problem. But then the next logical question is, well, whatís the problem with being addicted to nicotine if youíre not using a tobacco product? And in my opinion, there is no problem. If I have a smoker that tells me that theyíve completely switched from using tobacco products to using a nicotine only product Ė whether itís Nicorette gum, or a patch, or a nasal spray, or a lozenge, or a device like an electronic cigarette such as SmokeStik Ė and they canít seem to get themselves to stop using the nicotine substitute, I congratulate them on having made a healthier choice, on having made a lifestyle choice that will significantly reduce their risk of heart disease, heart attacks, stroke, and there is a long list of cancers and other diseases that are caused by tobacco use. One of the other very toxic chemicals that is released in tobacco smoke, that has no appearance at all and is not present in the vapour released from a SmokeStik electronic cigarette, is carbon monoxide. I think most people will know in the general public, that carbon monoxide is something thatís bad for you. Thatís what comes out of car exhausts, and thatís how people have accidentally or intentionally died using inhalation of car exhaust fumes have died. Carbon monoxide is a dangerous chemical, and cigarette smoke contains carbon monoxide. The vapour released by an electronic cigarette such as SmokeStik does not. Itís a very simple vapour.
After that extremely long-winded answer, the short-winded answer is there is nothing that I know of in the vapour released from SmokeStik that has any disease-causing properties.What is propylene glycol?
Here is a substance which is really just a substrate around which a vapour can form. In the same way clouds need dust particles to form from the water vapour around the dust particles. In order to form any type of vapour there has to be something around which for the water to condense, so the propylene glycol is the inert chemical that passes in and out of the human body without... being unchanged and with no effect, and itís been studied as far back as 1946. I have a paper on my desk from 1946 that shows that it was studied and had no effect on human beings.How does SmokeStik work?
The SmokeStik itself has three simple parts to it. Thereís the battery and thereís everything else. The other two parts are right here. (Dr Baron demonstrates the parts of the electronic cigarette....) It produces a little puff of white vapour and you can see that it dissipates quite quickly as well.Can you use SmokeStik in public places?
If there is a location where tobacco smoking is banned or illegal, then I donít see any reason how use of an electronic cigarette like SmokeStik would qualify for that restriction. Itís not tobacco, and therefore, exposure to the vapour thatís released one someone either puffs on it or exhales a SmokeStik, canít harm another individual. It canít create any of the illnesses or problems that are caused by tobacco smoke. Now, I canít tell you whether or not someone might be irritated by it, or take offence by it, or consider it (in their opinion) to be inconsistent with a smoking ban, but weíre going to have to develop a new language for this because, prior to the existence of electronic cigarettes, there was no such thing as non-tobacco smoke. Itís unfortunate that, in order for people to understand what weíre talking about, we have to refer to it as Ďsmokeí and ĎSmokeStikí, but what weíre really saying is that itís an alternative way of smoking, not that it releases smoke. Because really what smoke is, is the tarry residue and the multiple chemicals that are released from the burning of an organic material. When you burn anything that is a solid substance, smoke is released. Nothing is being burned in the SmokeStik. All thatís happening is youíre heating up a liquid to the point of becoming a vapour. So referring to it as Ďsmokeí doesnít make sense at all. Therefore, considering it subject to a smoking ban doesnít really make sense either. Now if youíre banning the act of putting something in your mouth and puffing, then I suppose youíre banning this. But if what youíre banning is the production of smoke, and Ďsmokeí is the way I just defined it, then thereís no reason that this should be subject to that kind of a restriction.If parents use SmokeStik, are their children at risk?
A young child, and even a not-so-young child, may not necessarily be able to make the distinction between a parent who is using a SmokeStik and one who is using or smoking tobacco, and itís important that a parent make that choice. If theyíre going to use it in the presence of a child, if theyíre going to take the risk... and take it upon themselves to have the responsibility of having to explain why theyíre using it, and maybe this is a parent who formerly used more tobacco and is trying hard to use less tobacco, and the child wants that, and the parent wants that, and they explain to the child that this is a way for them to start to use less tobacco. So you have to, obviously, be dealing with a child thatís of a certain age to be able to understand that sort of thing, otherwise youíre just modelling a Ďsmoking behaviourí which could be confusing to a child.
As far as whether the exhaled vapour, or exhaled mist, can affect the child negatively or cause any kind of illness or disease, itís the same answer we talked about with second-hand smoke: the answer is no. Thereís nothing in this vapour thatís harmful to a childís respiratory tract in just the same way itís not harmful to a by-standerís respiratory tract, who is an adult.Does SmokeStik produce third-hand smoke?
With SmokeStik, we are not dealing with tobacco in any way, shape or form. We are not dealing with smoke the way I defined smoke which is the gaseous residue released by the burning of a tobacco leaf or any other substance. Thereís no burning taking place, there is no combustion, there is no release of smoke particles, which is tars, residues, ashes into the air. Therefore, how could any of that stuff wind up being impregnated into a fabric or a curtain or a rug, or clothing? It canít. So, yes Iím familiar with the new information about third-hand smoke. I think itís important that we have learned to recognise that that is a risk. I donít think that SmokeStik, in any way, shape or form, has something to do with that risk, or could create that risk, or contribute to that risk, because, once again, despite the name ĎSmokeStikí, and if we decided to define [the motion of using an ecig] as Ďsmokingí, it doesnít create smoke using the definition that I created for us.Is SmokeStik safer for the environment?
You know, I donít actually know. Iím not familiar with data regarding the amount of smoke and carbon monoxide released into the atmosphere, and whether thatís contributing to greenhouse gases and global warming, and all that sort of thing...Cigarettes are the most littered item in America and the world. Cigarette filters can take decades to degrade. Not only does cigarette litter ruin even the most picturesque setting, but the toxic residue in cigarette filters is damaging to the environment, and littered butts cause numerous fires every year, some of them fatal.
Well with the parts that I just showed you with the SmokeStik, well, hereís the disposable parts which we just talked about: thereís this rubbery-plastic plug that comes with a new cartridge, thereís the cartridge housing itself, and thereís the wrapper it came in, all of which are recyclable. And so if a person has the wherewithal, or the sensibility to simply just stick it in their pocket until they get to a place where they can recycle it, then this is not going to contribute to the litter problem that cigarette butts do. So obviously, weíre going to have to train people to do that, but itís certainly... the opportunity is there to not create additional litter because there wonít be any residue from half-smoked cigarettes or cigarette butts. Theyíre just recyclable cartridges.Is SmokeStik a viable replacement for tobacco smoking?
Yeah, I think itís very viable and very exciting. I think that it is more proof of the fact that people donít smoke because theyíre poorly-educated, or unaware of the unhealthy effects of smoking tobacco. They smoke Ė and Iíll give you an example of the conversation I have with the patient Ė I will say to them, listen, I understand that youíre not stupid; you understand that smoking tobacco is unhealthy for you. And I believe in my heart that if there were some way that you could smoke less and carry on and get some of the same gratifications or pleasures or positive benefits that you feel youíre getting from smoking, that you would do that. People smoke because they like it and they like the effect it has on them. Whether itís the effect of the nicotine, and the fact that nicotine can have some positive effects on the brain in terms of calming and concentration and alertness and... you know, thereís a reason why people want Ďcigarette breaksí. Itís not just a break from work, itís because it actually helps them relax. Itís a little bit of a paradoxical effect because technically, nicotine is thought of as a stimulant, and yet it actually calms people down. Talk to a smoker and theyíll tell you that. But what they want is the whole social activity thatís involved, the oral activity thatís involved... this is a very viable alternative to smoking tobacco cigarettes. And we need to appeal to the intelligence of the American people, because they know that this is... that smoking tobacco and using tobacco Ė smokeless tobacco as well, by the way, also causes cancer; this is not necessarily a substitute for smokeless tobacco, but if someone who uses smokeless tobacco is willing to try using an electronic cigarette and they find that to be satisfactory to them, then thatís a healthier alternative for them as well. So I think, as many politicians say, we need to give the American public credit for their intelligence and any intelligent American knows that smoking tobaccoís bad for them and this ought to be a much healthier alternative.