In this season of good will and peace to all…

In this season of good will and peace to all men and women, I thought that it would be remiss of us to not take the time out to reflect and share the events as they unfolded on the day that our Chief Scientific Officer, Lucy Robins, was invited to speak on Sky News about battery safety.

As members of the IBVTA, whose head office staff were in the midst of an office move, we received a call from Garry Dibley who asked if we could put anyone forward.  The timing of this seemed to be perfect as the IBVTA had finished their guide to battery safety only this week and was circulating it for sign off so we agreed to the interview.

Battery safety is something that not only affects our industry, but wider society.  In September of this year I was shocked at my own ignorance to learn of the threat that ‘button’ batteries pose to small children if swallowed. Battery safety is something that has always been on the agenda for us when selecting products, especially now that we are manufacturing our own range of hardware however the rise of rechargeable, replaceable 18650  batteries over more recent years to power the bigger devices being marketed brought this issue to the fore.

The interview was in response to a newly released video by the Fire service, showing a battery discharging in a man’s pocket after it was carried loose with coins. So in preparation we scoured the internet for media coverage.  In order to gauge the tone of reporting we checked the big hitters (or usual suspects) first.  The Daily Mail’s report was succinct and factual.  No undue hyperbole.  Not a reference to the morality of vaping or how vaping is a gateway to smoking or whether adults have the right to choose sweet flavoured e-liquid.  They pretty much recanted the core message.  Carry batteries safely and be aware of the dangers if not.

Next over to the Sky News web site.  Again, considered, not opinionated and on point with the West Yorkshire Fire Service mandate.

It was quickly emerging that the piece had rightly been put out by the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (@WYFRS) to alert people to the dangers that a loose battery can pose when in a pocket or handbag next to keys, coins or any other metal objects.

Fantastic, we thought.  A huge and welcomed opportunity to have a place on one of the largest platforms, from where we can promote the proper use of batteries.  Protect your batteries, protect yourself.

In preparation, we spoke to the Sky News producers, they asked what we wanted to say.  We wanted to distinguish between the two types of Electronic Cigarette devices available.  Those with contained power sources and an example of an 18650 and emphasize the fact that customers should always purchase from a reputable source and always use a carry case with separate cells.  The Sky News production team had been enthusing that same morning about the benefits of vaping and shared with us the impact that it was having in their social circles.

All ducks aligned, clock ticking we had a 1600 Skype test and a 1630 live time.  Lucy accepted the opportunity to speak on behalf of not only our company but also the industry.  A super informed person who has shared the negotiation table with varying members of enforcement and regulation bodies throughout the TPD implementation.  I feel it moot at this point to put on record our disappointment with nearly all of the TPD nuance and detail.  However, and critically, as a reputable business, that wishes to continue to trade legally and as founding members of a trade organisation that cares passionately, we have done our utmost to help the MHRA and Dept. of Health to roll out the law in the most commonsensical way possible, one that supports the vaping community and given the fact that TPD is LAW, we faced no option but to get on with it.

I digress…

Lucy, hair brushed and heart rate rising but not racing, steeled herself.  One last check of the notes and we even threw in the potential curve ball nasties that may come up.  “Your product appeals to children”; “You don’t know what’s in your products”; “It’s a gateway to smoking”.  All questions and debates that as operators within this industry we have mulled over and encountered myriad times.  Skype technical issues added to the tension and we had set up lights in the board room so that we could be visually, audibly and literally clear about promoting safety.

  • “Hi is that Lucy?” came the disembodied voice.
  • “Hello. Yes”
  • “Lucy Robins? One ‘b’?
  • “Yes”
  • “And you are the Chief Scientific Officer for Liberty Flights?”
  • “Yes”
  • “OK Lucy we will be going live in three minutes”
  • “OK” [Breathe in 2-3-4, hold 2-3-4, breathe out 2-3-4, hold 2-3-4 – a Quora tip I had picked up and shared with Lucy so that she could relax.]

One final prep from, off stage right.  You are the expert.  This is not a duplicitous trap to ensnare you.  We are aligning with the Fire Service to get across a key message.  You have got this.

Queue Ms Burley.

  • “Joining us now is Lucy Robins, Chief Scientific Officer at Liberty Flights, so are they safe?”
  • “Good afternoon Kay. First of all I would like to thank you for giving us the opportunity to…..[fades from my memory]

Sometimes the most effective and scary parts of a gruesome movie are those when we don’t see the carnage as it unfolds.  Perhaps we see a looming threatening shadow, or a splatter of blood.

The sensationalist diatribe that followed gave Lucy no opportunity to express concern at the, albeit rare and yet incredibly serious incidents occurring and how we might help to raise awareness by prevention.  Nor to perhaps widen the discussion to other power sources; I can remember a drill and phone batteries reference being ridden over roughshod at least once.  Not a glimmer of Lucy being able to riposte Kay’s suggestion that we should BAN VAPING ALL TOGETHER!  Throwing millions of vapers back into a life of tobacco combustion.  Not really much chance of anything that got close to a grown up discussion, in alignment with the Sky News production teams opinions (unless that was part of this Machiavellian plot).  The gravest missed opportunity by Sky was the bypassed chance to help promote the sole purpose of why we were invited.  To reiterate the message and help those in the Fire Services who give up their Christmas lunch and family time, all year round, to save lives.  Gone was the moment for us to inform vapers who may not know that they need to carry batteries properly. This was now an attack on e-cigarettes and not a discussion on battery safety.

That said, our heroine equipped herself with superb aplomb.  Skype connection dead.  Laptop closed.  Lucy had her WTF face on.  I pointed to her directly. Dead eyed her.  “YOU! Did an amazing job”.  For the briefest of moments, I feared for her well-being.  This was after all Lucy’s first major media salvo.  The only way is up.  I needn’t have had been concerned.

Met first of all by rapturous applause from colleagues at head office.  Hugs, cheers and the Rocky theme in her own head were soon followed by the phones ringing with endorsements for Lucy.  The first two of which were not even customers nor vapers.  A reflection of how as a collective, as media readers and as free thinking folk we want to be informed. We are intelligent. Educated and capable.  Give us the true facts, let us decide.

Twittersphere was a maelstrom of support for Lucy, including from Miss UK (an intelligent insightful and positive role model for women it would seem, debunking the oft over used stereotypical tags).  Surprise at the interview technique, and further debate.   The old adage of today’s news, tomorrows chip paper is truly just that old.  The spike and fall of the twitter commentary lasted for around 15 minutes.  Sign o’ the times.  Fast food, fast media, nutritionally suspect.

To, hopefully complete the circle and close the loop I would like to draw your attention to the video that the West Yorkshire Fire Service have released.  Yes, Electronic Cigarettes are mentioned, alongside hover boards and other devices.

Have a wonderful Christmas and Happy Holidays to all.  I look forward to a reduced risk 2017.

Matthew

Liberty Flights 

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Global Forum on Nicotine 2016

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The Global Forum on Nicotine (GFN) has been attracting stakeholders from around the globe for the past three years with GFN 2016 having participants from 44 countries including policy analysts, regulators, academics and researchers. The agenda for the conference brought together key industry professionals to present their research and hold rigorous and honest debates on a wide range of topics regarding nicotine and e-cigarettes. Liberty Flights Ltd. was represented by IBVTA (Independent British Vape Trade Association), and below we have summarised the presentations of interest from a few key speakers at the event.

Dr Lynne Dawkins (London South Bank University, UK)

One of the speakers at this event was Lynne Dawkins who has been conducting research into e-cigarettes since 2010, her most recent study which she presented at the GFN was ‘Compensatory puffing behaviour in e-cigarette users’.

As we all know in Article 20 of the TPD (Tobacco Products Directive) nicotine strength is limited to 20mg/ml and, around 9% of all of e-cigarette users currently use above that concentration. The experiment was to determine whether e-cigarette users self-titrate when given a lower concentration of e-liquid, to compensate for the reduced nicotine.

What is self-titration?

E-cigarette users adjust their nicotine intake to maintain a personal optimal level in their system, this is usually achieved by puffing on the device for a couple of seconds longer or taking a few short, additional puffs straight after just to get that right hit.

Study Design

Two concentrations of e-liquids were used in this study one at 6mg/ml and the other at 24mg/ml, and there were a total of 11 e-cigarette users. All 11 participants followed the same procedure throughout the study which was repeated for both the lower and higher concentrations for each participant.

The results published show that puff duration, amount of puffs and the volume of e-liquid consumed was approximately twice as much in the lower nicotine strength compared to the higher nicotine strength.

Do papers ‘puff’ less when it comes to higher nicotine?

Yes. The results from this study show that the mean puff number for 24mg/ml was approximately 50% lower than for 6mg/ml. From this we can see clear evidence of compensatory puffing when a lower nicotine e-liquid is used. The mean volume of 24mg/ml nicotine e-liquid consumed was also approximately 50% lower.

Puffin-Topography-Liberty-Flights-Lynne-Dawkins

Fig 1. Puffing Topography

Is there a difference between hit and satisfaction when varying nicotine concentrations?

During the study participants rated the hit and satisfaction they got when using each e-liquid strength. The general trend is that users get approximately a 63% hit and satisfaction rating in the 24mg/ml, compared to 47% if it is a 6mg/ml e-liquid.

Positive-Effects-Liberty-Flights-Lynne-Dawkins

Fig 2. Hit and Satisfaction differences.

Using this data, we can see the possible unintended consequences of the TPD regulations. New users that require that extra hit and satisfaction will find it even more difficult with nicotine concentrations below the 20mg/ml limit. This will generally make it harder for users to replicate the strong hit and satisfaction from traditional smoking which in turn may impact successful quit attempts.

Dr Christopher Russell (Centre for Substance Use Research, UK)

Christopher Russel Ph.D. focused his research on ‘how vapers help smokers quit’. Vaping anecdotes, when supplied on mass can become a reliable and credible source of information. This study focused on what users could do to help the next person quit, by sharing success stories and the benefits of vaping over traditional smoking.

E-cigarette users in Great Britain

In 2015, 2.2 million people in Great Britain used an e-cigarette, of which approximately 38% had switched completely away from smoking to vaping. However, there are still 36% of smokers in Great Britain who have not yet tried using an e-cigarette. This shows there is a large potential to persuade more smokers to try e-cigarettes ultimately reducing tobacco related harm.

What benefits of using e-cigarettes are experienced by users?

In this questionnaire, a total of 200 participants were asked to select any of 83 listed potential health benefits and harms of switching to e-cigarettes. At the time of the study participants had not smoked traditional cigarettes for around 14 months with 96% vaping everyday using 1 to 12mg/ml e-liquid.

Benefits-of-using-ecigarette-Christopher-Rusell

Fig 3. Changes experienced since users started vaping.

The figure above shows participants listed an improvement in their respiratory health as the top benefit from switching to e-cigarettes. Other benefits included improvements to mood, sleep and hygiene. Information like this could be instrumental in influencing a smoker’s decision to try e-cigarettes and ultimately switching completely.

What are the main reasons for e-cigarette users quitting?

Every e-cigarette user has their own personal reason for quitting, and the well-known risks attached to smoking lead many people to reduce if not quit completely. The figure shown below is users reasons for first trying an e-cigarette.

Why-User-Quit-Christopher-Rusell-Liberty-Flights

Fig 4. Reasons for switching.

The cost saving implications, smell and social stigma of smoking are just a few of the reasons many have made the switch, and this should now be relayed back to smokers that are aspiring to quit just to give them that extra push. However, they should be made aware not to expect miracles when switching and that the change can be slow before they quit the habit completely.

What possible advice can be given to smokers aspiring to quit?

A lot of e-cigarette users are experienced and knowledgeable in the potential benefits of e-cigarettes over traditional smoking already and this can be used for the benefit of traditional smokers to help them quit. Many smokers want to hear vapers stories and experiences of using an e-cigarette before making the leap. In this study participants were asked what advice they would give someone looking to make the switch and we have chosen a few examples.

‘Every cigarette less is an achievement: going again after a slip is a bigger achievement.’

 ‘Small steps taken with purpose are better than impractical giant leaps.’

‘Define yourself by your achievements not your failures.’

‘If you smoke, don’t beat yourself up, it happens. Just go again.’

 Further motivational advice can be found on Dr Christopher Russell YouTube channel: youtube.com/vapershelpingsmokerstoquit

Neil McKeganey (Centre for Substance Use Research, UK)

Are e-cigarettes a gateway to smoking or a roadblock?

This topic is much discussed leading many people outside of the e-cigarette community to have the misconception that e-cigarettes act as a gateway to smoking. Neil McKeganey in his presentation, shed some light on this divisive issue.

Neil McKeganey carried out a study in which 120, 16-28 year olds were interviewed. This study focused on the perception of e-cigarettes in the younger community, the initiation of trying an e-cigarette and the perception of harm from e-cigarettes.

What do e-cigarette users have to say?

Below are some examples of questions and answers recorded during the study.

Question: What would happen if you couldn’t vape?

Answer: I would probably smoke to be honest.

Question: Would you say it is as harmful as cigarettes?

Answer: I wouldn’t say it was as harmful as cigarettes as I would say that smoking cigarettes is really bad in that other people around can get affected. Vaping wouldn’t affect others as much because it isn’t as harmful as smoking.

Conclusion

Most young people interviewed in this study saw vaping and smoking as being associated with very different harms. The predominant view within this study was that vaping had made smoking less attractive rather than more attractive implying that it is not a gateway to smoking. It may even be a gateway out of traditional smoking.

——————-

Minhaaz Dadabhai

Scientist

 

References

https://gfn.net.co/downloads/2016/Lynne%20Dawkins.pdf

https://gfn.net.co/downloads/2016/Christopher%20Rusell.pdf

https://gfn.net.co/downloads/2016/Neil%20McKeganey.pdf

YouTube: Vapers Helping Smokers to Quit.

Launch of IBVTA

 
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Liberty Flights is pleased to announce its involvement in the Independent British Vape Trade Association (IBVTA), a not for profit trade association dedicated to representing the UK’s independent vape industry and vapers alike.

With the recent uncertainty around the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) and the changing landscape within the UK industry, IBVTA offers a progressive way for independent members to continue to work collaboratively in a challenging regulatory environment. This is most apparent in the formation of IBVTA’s Science and Regulatory Committee, where scientists with a range of experience and specialisms are coming together from the top UK companies to support the vaping industry. As part of their role they have been instrumental in engaging with the regulatory bodies, such as MHRA, as well as other professionals within the community. As a manufacturer with production facilities in the UK, this support and resource hub is welcomed by Liberty Flights and our own Chief Scientific Officer sits on the committee contributing to this collaborative approach.

Liberty Flights have always been committed to the vaping industry and providing high quality products for vapers. As part of IBVTA, Liberty Flights seeks to strengthen that commitment and ultimately drive the industry forward.

For more information, or if you are interested in joining IBVTA see the website below:

www.ibvta.org.uk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KcSf8CRt4vk

Thank you,

Liberty Flights Team

Battery Safety – Refresher

liberty-flights-battery-safety

With an increase in tabloid headlines reporting exploding e-cigarette batteries, it’s time for a refresher about battery safety and reinforce the message that good-quality batteries, from trusted sources and handled sensibly will rarely encounter problems. See our top tips and recommendations below:

Why do some batteries explode? 

If treated improperly, lithium batteries can suffer from what is called ‘thermal runaway’. This causes the battery to become very hot and vent off gas. This occurs when the separator sheet that keeps the positive and negative electrodes apart gets broken as a result of the battery being dropped or damaged. When the electrodes touch, the battery heats up very quickly causing the electrolyte solution within it to vent. The heat itself or a nearby spark can then ignite the venting fluid resulting in a fire.

What protection is in place in batteries to keep them safe for use?

Reputable manufacturers achieve reliability by adding three layers of protection to Li-ion batteries. Firstly, they limit the amount of active material whilst still achieving an effective balance between energy density and safety; secondly, they include various safety mechanisms within the cell; and thirdly, they add an electronic protection circuit in the battery pack.

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It is important to always buy from a reputable supplier who has taken the above precautions and can provide the appropriate documentation. At Liberty Flights we verify all our batteries come with a CE Certificate of Conformity, including the detailed test report. In addition, we also require suppliers to provide a Restriction of the use of Certain Hazardous Substances (RoHS) and Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) certificate, under Directive (2011/65/EU) and the supporting test report. Other reports (e.g. IEC62133, UN38:3), transportation reports and Safety Data Sheets (SDS) are also required and checked.

What can customers do to protect their batteries from damage?

We would always recommend storing and transporting loose batteries separated from one another, in non-conductive (e.g. plastic) containers. Never store batteries where they can come into contact with metal items such as loose change or keys as these can cause a short circuit.

Top Tips 

  • Manufacturer’s device specific instructions for charging should be strictly followed.
  • Always use the charger provided with the device. Incorrect or incompatable chargers can result in failure.
  • Always charge batteries on a hard, flat surface, not on soft furnishings or carpet.
  • Never leave a charging battery unattended or overnight.
  • If possible, use a charging bag to encase the charger and battery as they can offer additional protection whilst charging.
  • Once fully charged, remove the battery from the charger and unplug from the socket.
  • Do not over-tighten any screwed connections to rechargeable batteries as this can result in mechanical damage. For example, the battery can be push down onto the centre pin causing a short.
  • Never use batteries where there is visible damage to the plastic cover, terminals, insulation or case, replace it instead.
  • Do not use batteries that have stopped functioning or charging normally.
  • Do not store or use batteries in extremes of temperature, high or low.
  • Do not submerge batteries in water.
  • Dispose of and recycle batteries in accordance with your country’s appropriate legislation.

Stay safe and happy vaping everyone!

———————-

Lucy Robins

Chief Scientific Officer

 

References

 http://www.ivva.ie/latest-news/battery-safety-2/

http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/lithium_ion_safety_concerns