Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

Listen to Smart Talk live online from 9-10 a.m. weekdays and at 7 p.m. (Repeat of 9 a.m. program)

Host: Scott LaMar

Smart Talk: E-cigarettes; Patient portals

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Mar 16, 2014 2:23 PM

What to look for on Smart Talk Monday, March 17, 2014:

e-cigarette 325 x 170.jpg

Electronic cigarettes are being marketed as a safe alternative to traditional smokes.  But are they?

E-cigarettes aren't approved by the Food and Drug Administration in part because there has been very little research into how or whether they affect human health.

An e-cigarette or cigar may or may not look like it's tobacco-filled counterpart.  Some resemble a pen or tire gauge.  They're battery powered and activated when the user inhales through a mouthpiece.  A heater vaporizes liquid nicotine into a small cartridge and also produces what looks like smoke.  Some don't contain nicotine.

Appearing on Monday's Smart Talk is Dr. Jonathan Foulds, a Professor of Public Health Sciences and Psychiatry at Penn State Hershey to discuss what he's learned about e-cigarettes.

Researchers from Penn State University are conducting an online survey to improve understanding of electronic cigarettes. Electronic cigarette users may complete the survey anonymously, or can provide contact details at the end if interested in participating in a laboratory study of electronic cigarette use.
Please click on the link below to complete the survey.


Dr. Jonathan Foulds

Also, patient portals could be the next big thing as part of the Affordable Care Act.

Patient portals are on-line tools where patients can go 24 hours a day to schedule appointments, check medications and doctor's notes, and get answers to common health questions.

witf reporter Ben Allen has studied patient portals and will let us know what he's found.

Listen to the program:

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  • Robert Copia img 2014-03-16 15:41

    At age 62, I have been a smoker since 6th grade. It was a part of our culture. Since my aunt’s passing in 2003, due to lung cancer caused by her smoking, I tried hard to quit. Nicotine gum helped me cut down but any kind of stress and I was back to compulsive smoking. I took the anti-smoking drug ZYBAN for two days. It made me feel very strange. Three and one half years ago, I used my first e-cig and I have been tobacco free ever since. My health has improved drastically. No coughing, The shortness of breath when climbing stairs is 90% gone. I still use the ecig and have no desire to use tobacco. I am considering going into the ecig business and I have started reading the ecig news. Banning, crackdowns, fears ,concerns, questions, gateway, fears, harming children is all that I read..
    Hysteria over a “personal nicotine vaporizer”??? A small lithium battery,( lithium batteries power cellphones, laptop computers, pacemakers equipment on jet airliners etc.,) heats an element that turns nicotine liquid ( consisting of nicotine the same as in the nicotine gum paid for by Medicare and Medicaid, and food grade flavorings, in a base of propylene glycol which is rated GRAS, generally regarded as safe) in the Code of Federal Regulations Title 21, section 184-1666, and is found in many food products, asthma inhalers, the anti-smoking drug ZYBAN, toothpaste etc,) into vapor like your tea kettle.
    I was awakened by the Bloomberg, 2/19/2014, article, “ GLAXO Memo Shows Drug Industry Lobbying on E-Cigarettes”. Glaxo-Smith Kline is the 4th largest Pharma company and it sells nicotine gum, lozenges, patches inhalers and the anti-smoking drug ZYBAN which I learned was actually the mind-altering psychiatric drug Wellbutrin. I then went on to read the Forbes 7/2/2012, article, “Feds Say Dr. Drew Was Paid by GLAXO TO Talk Up Antidepressant” Forbes in included a link to the 72 page Justice Department complaint against GLAXO which involved the illegal, deceptive and fraudulent marketing of antidepressants to children and adolescents. through their Doctors.
    New York Times 7?2/2012, GLAXO Agrees To Pay THREE BILLION Fraud Settlement ( and pleads guilty to criminal charges). after a ten year investigation started by “whistle blowers”.
    The New York Times, 12/14/2013, “The Selling of ADHD,( attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) documents the depths that Pharma will go to sell their drugs to children and adolescents through their Doctors..
    I once considered myself well-informed but until reading this material, I had no idea of the actions of BIG PHARMA, which I consider the “Crime of the Century” I encourage you to read this material.
    It is conceivable that the ecig could make nicotine gum, patches inhalers etc. and the mind altering psychiatric anti-smoking drugs (GLAXO is working on a new one GSK598809) obsolete, or at minimum reduce the sales. Big Pharma and the politicians that do their bidding agree that this cannot be allowed.
    Who is harmed by this? Those who are near hopelessly addicted to cigarettes and the thousands of dangerous chemicals they contain. This propaganda campaign by Big Pharma and the politicians that they control is simply meant to scare people especially the elderly and dissuade them from trying a “personal nicotine vaporizer”
    Take the anti-smoking drugs?? Read the black box warnings. Would you recommend them to your mother?

  • Lisa img 2014-03-17 08:23

    Having worked in QA in pharmaceuticals, I think it a lot more likely that the FDA will regulate e-cigarettes as medical devices rather than as tobacco products mostly because they contain no tobacco and are purposefully designed to deliver a drug, namely nicotine. This may be part of the delay in FDA regulation as I would imagine there has been a lot of lobbying to keep e-cigs as a tobacco product because there is little regulation of tobacco products in comparison to medical devices. The appropriate categorization would be as a medical device. Personally I would ask anyone using an e-cig within my vicinity to either move or stop. Second-hand vapors haven't been proven to be unharmful.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-03-17 08:38

    Barb from Harrisburg emails:

    Good Morning,

    If e cigs do not have the harmful smoke that is what is dangerous why shouldn't smokers be able to use the e cigs in public place's and please do not use the slight smell they put off. Because in those same public place you have both male and females wearing VERY STONG perfumes and colognes that trigger headaches and alergic reactions in many including nausea.

    Thank you

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-03-17 08:38

    Okgodana emails:

    The irony here is that E-Cigarettes receive the same social stigma as regular cigarettes and we are now hard wired to show disgust when we see some one lighting up either.
    But here in PA we have politicians(Joe Pitts if you want to mention to his name)that voted to keep tobacco subsidies while cutting food stamps and is pressing against E Cigarettes.
    I wish either smoking form wasn't around,but to me the Es are the better alternative.
    Other than hopefully jacking up the regular cigarette tax through the roof and cutting tobacco subsidies.
    The Es are the better alternative.

  • lisa.m.peach img 2014-03-17 09:13

    Age: 25. I grew up in a household filled with cigarette smoke, both parents chain smoked indoors. It was very difficult to be in a room with smokers, which made me never want to smoke. My parents both have very addictive personalities and have never been able to quit for good. That was until they found out about gaping with the . They stopped smoking on Jan 1 and haven't smoked since. They only vap now and I have to say going to their house as a non - smoker is so much more enjoyable. My brother had also started vaping on Jan1 and hasn't had a cigarette since. He used to wake up coughing and had trouble breathing, but that no longer happens. Very happy that they have found a healthier alternative to smoking.

  • Luke Wright img 2014-03-17 09:17

    This issue about e-cigs is something very personal to me. After being a five year smoker, I made the switch. The difference was almost immediate. My sense of smell and taste improved after a few days; in a week, my lung function improved. Safe to say, I am both a living example, and a strong supporter.

    Today there seems to be almost a smear campaign being run on e-cigs. Claims of anti-freeze, second hand "smoke", deadly chemicals, and others. I get my e-liquid at a local shop. Hand made. I see what goes into it: vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol, a small amount of nicotine and flavor. ALL these ingredients are FDA approved.

    Let's take a step back and examine the core irony of this argument that e-cigs are untested, and potentially dangerous. How many deaths per year are we suffering as a nation that can be attributed to conventional tobacco? Tobacco surely isn't FDA approved, yet it is sold, and is big business. These devices are something that an adult should have every right to choose to purchase and use as an alternative, as almost everyone can agree they are less harmful than cigarettes.

    The whole issue just blows my mind. I cannot understand the issue. I am saddened that it may come back to money. They are not taxed as tobacco, and the tobacco companies are losing customers.

    Please, cut through the ignorance, fund the studies if needed, do the research, but do not restrict the use and purchase of these devices as they are literally saving lives.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-03-18 07:52

    Christopher from York emails:

    I have been saying to myself over recent weeks that a segment on vaping needed to be on Smart Talk, and today my wish was granted.

    It is nice that you had a medical professional who was not particularly biased either way, but his expertise missed on numerous points.

    As a professional in the vaping business, I would relish the opportunity to explain e-cigs and personal vaporizers on a more basic and comprehensive level. The differences between smoke and vapor; the hobbyist element; clones versus originals - these are just a few areas that were neglected and may help the general public get a better understanding of what vaping is all about.

  • Lisa img 2014-03-18 09:02

    While I wouldn't argue that e-cigs are less harmful than tobacco cigarettes, do not think that they are safe either. As a non-smoker I do not wish to see e-cigs used in public places where cigarettes are banned. It is a matter of my health. The component that causes the vapor is propylene glycol. E-cig manufacturers will argue that it is safe based on its use by the pharmaceutical industry in inhalers. However, be aware that inhalers are regulated by FDA for things such as purity from toxic contiminates. E-cigs are not regulated and, therefore, no such testing is required. Also, inhalers were never intended to be used in the routine manner that e-cigs are. I am concerned that the overuse of propylene glycol could also have long-term effects. If you look at the Material Safety Data Sheet for propylene glycol you will see that there has been no testing on the carcinogenic, mutagenic, and teratogenic effects or on developmental toxicity of propylene glycol. What is known is that chronic exposure to propylene glycol may cause damage to the central nervous system and target organs. So please be considerate while using your e-sigs and don't use them anywhere that tobacco cigarettes cannot be used. While safer than regular cigarettes, they are not safer than clean, fresh air. Use them to quit smoking and best of luck to everyone in that regard!

  • Scott LaMar img 2014-03-19 12:47

    An op ed that appeared in the Philadelphia Daily News...

  • Scott LaMar img 2014-03-19 13:13

    And then there's this editorial from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

  • Lucas img 2014-03-20 03:33

    E cigarette is helpful for both smoker and people.
    1, Quit smoking,buy reducing nicotine e liquid from high to low, to 0mg.
    2, No second hand smoking.
    3, e cigarette is better than traditional cigarette. better taste, no burning, and less harmful.
    and follow is an article about how to choose e liquid to help quit smoking.