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Professor Brad Rodu speaks out on the matter of eliquid flavourings.

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Against the backdrop of a class action lawsuit being taken out in the USA against a juice maker, Brad Rodu’s recent comments regarding the inclusion of certain flavourings in liquids is timely. His frustration at the intransigence of the vape industry to fully embrace Konstantinos Farsalinos’ 2014 recommendations is all-too evident.

Rodu is a Professor of Medicine and Endowed Chair of Tobacco Harm Reduction Research at the University of Louisville. He has long been an advocate of smokeless tobacco alternatives and supported the proposition of electronic cigarettes being part of a considered harm reduction strategy. He contended at one point that ecigs are: “98% less harmful than traditional cigarettes.”

He was the subject of character assassination by Stanton Glantz, who made large of Rodu’s previous funding – all of which Rodu has been open and clear about. Perversely, the same can’t be said for Glantz who receives funding from pharmaceutical companies but never declares it on any of the studies he is involved with.

“Research shows that smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes have helped many smokers quit deadly cigarettes,” Rodu is reported as saying. “Tobacco prohibitionists inaccurately portray smoke-free products as causing teen smoking, but there is no evidence for these claims.”

A class action lawsuit has been taken out against Five Pawns, an American eliquid maker, on the 11th of this month. They face allegations of misrepresenting the levels of and danger posed by the acetyl propionyl (AP) and diacetyl (DA) in their juices.

The testing that revealed the exceptional levels contained in some of Five Pawns juices came about following a study completed by Farsalinos in 2014. The research carried the conclusion: “DA and AP were found in a large proportion of sweet-flavoured EC liquids, with many of them exposing users to higher than safety levels. Their presence in EC liquids represents an avoidable risk. Proper measures should be taken by EC liquid manufacturers and flavouring suppliers to eliminate these hazards from the products without necessarily limiting the availability of sweet flavours.”

Rodu publicised his recent blog entry regarding the subject on his Twitter account this week. In it he details a cooling of his support for vaping. This, he now puts down, to there being: “no parallel body of evidence for e-cigarettes”. He continues: “But then, there is no scientific evidence that would link vapour inhalation to cancer, heart attacks or strokes.  That is significant, but as a pathologist, I must consider whether long-term vapour consumption can cause respiratory problems.  There is little human experience with intense, long-term inhalation of propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin and other agents, including flavourings.”

He bemoans the fact that since Farsalinos’ study we are still facing companies who use flavour profiles containing DA and AP – and the resulting media coverage: “Farsalinos’ study should have prompted e-liquid suppliers to abandon those agents. They have not.”

“Staff at the vape shops selling the liquids were unaware of the presence of these toxins,” he states. “It is unacceptable for any vape shop to sell liquids with flavouring ingredients that are proven respiratory toxicants.  Vapers should only use liquids that are certified to be free of these agents.”

Most juice manufacturers will be reluctant to spend money on testing while the very future of their section of the industry hangs in the balance. While vapers might appreciate seeing test results these are unlikely to happen prior to the preliminary decision being made regarding Totally Wicked’s Article 20 legal action in December.

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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