Article Video – More to the Flag Officers October 7, 2019 By Anna Von Reitz

Help support the work of Anna and the Living Law Firm here https://paypal.me/annavonreitz/20 or look for the PayPal button on http://www.annavonreitz.com
Link to original article http://www.paulstramer.net/2019/10/more-to-flag-officers.html
Download and print http://annavonreitz.com/moretotheflagofficers.pdf
Ed’s YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnjHRMflqs9CFCx6k07h2bw
Watch on YouTube https://youtu.be/7zk6ZoImotI

The Top 10 Ways to Raise Your Vibration in Earth’s 5D Shift

By Open,

You often hear about the need to ‘raise your vibration’ in the ongoing consciousness shift that is sweeping across our planet. Further on I share Openhand’s top 10 ways for doing so, but before that, it’s essential to understand what is ‘raising your vibration’? What exactly does it mean, because clearly there’s plenty of misconception going on and it’s important to get it right if we are to align with the unfolding 5D Shift…

What is Your Vibrational Frequency?

We know everything in the Universe consists of energy vibrating at particular frequencies. This happened as the Universe sprang into being from the singularity; consciousness emerged as ripples of awareness cascaded outwards, progressively extending in wave length and thereby increasing in density. The dynamic came into the form of the Universal Torus, where Unity consciousness is flowing through standing waves of different dimensional frequencies – the dimensions of separation consciousness in which we exist today.

Now depending on the inquiry and learning your soul is configured to explore, and the karma you need to process through, it will get drawn into particular densities to have those evolving experiences. So here we are in human form, in the physical, emotional and intellectual densities for example. The soul engages through them, identifies with the density for various karmic reasons and so fragments, forming eddy currents of attachment through which to work.

Your vibrational frequency depends directly on the degree that this fragmentation into the lower densities happens. The more attached you’ve become in the physical for example, lowers your frequency into that density of being – or else emotional or intellectual for example. Your overall vibrational frequency becomes (essentially) the sum total of these attachments and interactions…

Your vibrational frequency could best be defined as the dimensional density in which your centre of your consciousness now resides – the 3D for example.

How Do You Raise Vibrational Frequency?

The raising of your vibrational frequency begins to happen as you start to realise your interconnection with the Universe and the deeper meaning of life. Or else there’s a powerful surrendering moment as you realise the fruitlessness of struggle in life. This surrender begins to free up the soul, which comes active in your life, reminding you of the universal connection.

Progressively, the soul’s mainstream takes over, on a journey back to the source within. Thus our Ascension begins, and as it does so, the shift starts to pull on the buried fragments of soul that have become lodged in life’s density. These reflect outwards, manifesting mirroring experiences for you to work through and let go of attachment. As the fragments reintegrate through this retrieval process, then the soul starts to shift internally into higher vibrations. Thus your vibrational frequency rises.

So raising vibration becomes a progressive journey of reintegration of soul through internal shifts of consciousness.

Raising Vibration Towards the “Event”

It’s becoming increasingly clear that the earth is going through a phenomenal transformation right now. In fact when you explore deeper, it’s not just the earth, but our entire solar system too, as the galactic core is beginning to trigger a shift into higher states of consciousness. This will likely lead to the sun going into a Nova Event, with a powerful burst of charged particles and solar plasma radiating out into the solar system. There’s clear geological evidence that this happens in cycles, of which the consensus appears to be every 12,000 years. The last one happening around that period ago, bringing the ice age of the Younger Dryass to a sudden, abrupt end. It unleashed huge deluges of water across the globe, probably accounting for the myriad of mythologies about the sinking of Atlantis.

The energy is now building towards the culmination of another, similar, Event. In fact I maintain we can ALREADY witness and feel the early impact in the field. It’s for sure having a radical impact on our climate, as well as those of other planets in the solar system too, and it’s also beginning to impact humanity and society.

As the energy progressively surges through our galaxy in this building pulse, then it’s going to compel a raising of consciousness. Consequently there’s a growing wave of souls waking up. But crucially, this infusion of light is also stirring up the ‘sediment’ at the bottom of the pond.

Hence the shadow side of humanity is revealing itself now strongly too. This process of revelation of light and shadow will greatly intensify as we move forwards into the climaxing Event.

It’s essential to state, that this building shift will NOT raise your vibration of itself. It can inspire it, but the inner work has to be done by the being. Only you can make the changes necessary. How then are the best ways in which to actively raise vibration in this ongoing shift?

Openhand’s Top 10 Ways to Raise Vibration

1) Inner Inquiry: probably the first step is to become the observer of yourself – to be committed to witnessing yourself through all events and circumstances of your life. This way, identification with the ego personality is internally challenged. You start to know yourself more as the soul consciousness which is animating the ego personality. This is an essential step to begin the shift in vibration.
Trial this Ascension Meditation for Becoming the Internal Observer within the Shift

2) Formal Meditation & Spiritual Practice: after the initial soul connection it becomes essential to integrate more soul on a day by day basis. And so regular daily meditation and spiritual practice become utterly essential. Especially apply pranic breathing meditations and spiritual practice that challenge identification with the ego identity and help you attune more to the soul.
Sample this Breakthrough Breathing Meditation for Deeper Soul Alignment

3) Chakra Attunement: the soul infuses through the various densities of existence through the chakras. Where these get blocked, greatly determines your overall vibrational frequency. So apply chakra attunement meditations on a regular basis to free up the movement of soul into and through the various densities. This will help expose attachments in the external, that you may release them.
Here is a suggested Chakra Attunement Meditation

4) Connection with Nature: the natural vibrations of life resonate strongly through all the myriad of plant and animal forms around us. Simply sitting in nature and being attentive internally to the effect, can resonate reconnective soul frequnecies that release attachment to lower densities and raise vibration. It is essential however to be the witnesser of yourself whilst engaged with nature.
Apply this Six Senses Walk Approach to a Deeper Connection with Nature

5) Loving Sexual Intimacy: sexual intimacy, either with yourself or with a partner, leads to the orgasmic completion of your soul’s journey back to the source within. Thus it’s not only a deeply enjoyable practice, but also highly evolutionary. Through the practice of tantra, we master how to unleash soul through the densities, but consciously reuniting it at the source within. It’s a powerful way to progressively riase vibration, providing there’s no attachment to the external within the experience.
Explore Sacred Sexuality in this Openhand Forum

6) Deep Consciousness Bodywork: we need to bring full awareness into and through the physical in order to expose where the soul might be attaching in that density. This could be happening because of life’s conditioning or some kind of embodied trauma. And so through the practice of deep consciousness bodywork, for example yoga, tai chi and dance, we can bring deep awareness into the body and unravel through the locations of unconsciousness.
Here’s an Explanation of Openhand’s soulmotion practiced at our Events

7) Conscious Diet & Inner Purification: your body becomes your temple to the divine. And so it needs to be purified through a high pranic diet. Which means the transition from dense processed foods with toxic additives, to a more plant based diet that facilitates the free flow of soul. Also detoxifying the influences you take in on a daily basis – minimising screen time for example and getting rid of excess clutter in your life. All of which helps harmonise the internal vibration.
Explore Openhand’s Conscious Cafe for Tips and Advice

8) Intermittent Fasting: fasting is a powerful method to still the internal physical and emotional metabolism. As these processes quieten, the consciousness of the soul can more easily permeate through. Integrating extended periods of daily fasting, 18 hours for example, builds this more coherent beingness into your daily life. The body heals and rejuvenates more quickly plus the soul is liberated through the process to progressively hold a higher vibrational frequency.
Fasting to Raise Vibration, Expand Consciousness AND THRIVE!

9) Unleashing Creativity: your soul consists of various frequnecies of beingness, which want to come alive and create abundantly. Each of these frequencies can get supressed and lost in the density of life. Unleashing your creativity through art, music, dance, video, audio and writing (for example) can help to activate all the various frequnecies in your soul ray harmonic. And so it can animate more into higher vibrational expression. Hence it’s utterly essential to explore your creative joy. What fires your passion?
9 Ways to Unleash Your Greatness by Recognising Your Soul Ray Harmonic

10) Following Signs and Synchronicity: the Universe is doing its upmost to reveal you as a multidimensional cosmic being, at one with everything. It does this through reflective signs and synchronicity. Spend as much time as possible “freewheeling” and simply picking up this “treasure”. As you witness signs and synchronicities on your path, explore how each makes you feel inside. What new frequencies of being want to now come alive? What is the higher dimensional message? The purpose is to progressively raise your vibration.
Deeper Understanding on What Signs and Synchronicity are Working to Reveal

The Impending “Event” Impels us to Raise Vibration

Whether knowingly or not, we are all engaged by the most phenomenal shift of consciousness in the history of our planet and humanity’s journey on it. We are moving toward an epic convergence of various solar and galactic cycles that are due to complete within a few decades. The Pole Shift, Grand Solar Minimum and Galactic Superwave are all converging that will instigate the breakdown of the old consciousness and unleash a higher harmony of existence. It is this infusion of light which is ALREADY challenging the old consciousness structures in society and bringing progressively more souls awake. But we cannot wait for this climaxing “Event” to do the work for us. You have to ready yourself now, by integrating soul through the lower densities so that your vibration can naturally rise in the Shift. Then ultimately as your physical body falls away, you continue on in the spirit light body in the higher dimensions of consciousness.

To conclude with, it’s something I worked to convey in this video, amongst the stunning setting of the Crystal Castle in Byron Bay. It seemed entirely appropriate….

I wish you well raising your vibration in this phenomenal shift. And if you’d like more guidance and support, I suggest coming along to one of Openhand worldwide events… Raise Your Vibration at an Openhand Event

See you down the flow Slightly Smiling

Open HeartPraying Emoji

 

Source: https://wakeup-world.com

Article Video – Further Clarification for the Flag Officers and Everyone Else: October 7, 2019 By Anna Von Reitz

Help support the work of Anna and the Living Law Firm here https://paypal.me/annavonreitz/20 or look for the PayPal button on http://www.annavonreitz.com
Link to original article http://www.paulstramer.net/2019/10/further-clarification-for-flag-officers.html
Download and print http://annavonreitz.com/furtherclarificationtoflagofficers.pdf
Ed’s YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnjHRMflqs9CFCx6k07h2bw
Watch on YouTube https://youtu.be/X31-D_rSkXU

Water Poisoning Alerts Hidden From Public

Each year, red flags over toxic drinking water are raised across the U.S., with reasons varying from location to location. One major problem is aging water pipes, which have become an increasingly common source of toxic exposure.1

In a 2013 report,2 the American Society for Civil Engineers warned that most of the drinking water infrastructure across the nation is “nearing the end of its useful life,” yet little has been done to address our crumbling infrastructure in the years since.

Making matters worse, recent media coverage make it clear that many toxic water incidences are covered up and hidden from the public, which at times has had lethal consequences.

In short, if you’re counting on your local water utility to warn you about problems with your water supply, you could be placing your health at risk. Your best bet is to be proactive and make sure you filter your drinking water to the best of your ability, no matter where you live.

EPA Gets Failing Grade for Water Alerts

In a September 25, 2019, report,3,4 the Office of Inspector General (OIG) — which is part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency yet independent as it receives separate funding — criticizes the EPA and water utilities around the country for their failure to provide consistent and accurate reporting of drinking water risks. The OIG’s investigation identified several problems that could place public health at risk from contaminated water supplies, including the following:5

Some primacy agencies (agencies with the primary responsibility for enforcing water regulations) are not consistently fulfilling their responsibility to enforce public notice requirements. Specifically, violations are not consistently reported and tracked, and public notices are not consistently issued.

The EPA’s oversight protocols do not cover all public notice requirements and as a result, some primacy agencies do not know whether the public water systems under their supervision are properly notifying consumers when safety violations occur.

All public water systems are not held to the identical compliance standards by the EPA and primacy agencies.

Primacy agencies use inconsistent methods to record violations and identify problems with public notice in the national drinking water database. Because the EPA’s information about public water systems’ compliance with public notice requirements is incomplete, the agency cannot properly monitor compliance.

The EPA’s public notice guidance given to primacy agencies and public water systems is out of date and does not fully reflect current regulations.

Public water systems lack accurate guidance about current tools available to provide public notices and may therefore “miss opportunities to efficiently inform consumers about drinking water problems.”

According to the OIG report:6

“We made nine recommendations, including that the EPA require primacy agencies to comply with oversight requirements related to public notice and to follow data reporting requirements.

We also recommended that the agency update public notice guidance, define the acceptable methods and conditions under which notices can be delivered electronically, and improve public notice violation information in the national drinking water database.

The EPA provided acceptable corrective actions and estimated completion dates for six recommendations. Three recommendations are unresolved, with resolution efforts in progress, because the action official for these recommendations, the Deputy Administrator, did not respond to our draft report.”

The three recommendations that remain unresolved include:7

  1. Requiring EPA regional administrators to comply with public notice requirements.
  2. Requiring regional administrators to verify that primacy agencies within each region fully implement oversight of public notice responsibilities.
  3. Directing each region to require primacy agencies to adhere to requirements for accurate quarterly entry of public notice violation data into the Safe Drinking Water Information System.

Lead-Tainted Water Becoming Nationwide Concern

The fact that public warnings about water safety violations are not being consistently issued is a grave concern, seeing how prevalent water contamination around the U.S. has become.

A September 11, 2019, article8 in The Atlantic addresses the growing problem of lead-contaminated water. Aside from the well-publicized lead controversies in Flint, Michigan, and Newark, New Jersey, U.S. cities known to have exceeded EPA action limits for lead include Portland, Oregon; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Providence, Rhode Island; Passaic, New Jersey and Tualatin Valley, Oregon.

In Newark, after lead levels were found to exceed federal limits three times in a row in 2018, the city issued water filters to some of its residents. Many others have been advised to drink bottled water ever since. However, evidence suggests the problem goes back far longer than 2018. As reported by The Atlantic:9

“A sample of Newark children under the age of 6 tested in 2016 found that about a quarter had measurable levels of lead in their blood. The following year, more than 22 percent of drinking-water samples tested in the city were found to have levels of lead exceeding the federal standard.”

Fortunately, Newark is now in the process of replacing all lead service lines. The same cannot be said for many other areas, though.

According to a Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) report10 issued in 2018, EPA data showed nearly 30 million Americans drank water that violated the EPA’s lead and copper thresholds between January 2015 and March 2018. Of those, an estimated 5.5 million were drinking water with lead levels exceeding the EPA’s action level for lead, set at 15 parts per billion (15 ppb).

Water Infrastructure Is Crumbling

As noted in the NRDC’s report, 15 ppb is not a “safe” level, but rather the level at which mandatory action is required to reduce the amount of lead in the water to avoid health complications. What’s more, the 15 ppb action level is based on adult metabolism, not children’s. In reality, no amount of lead is considered safe at any age, even by the EPA.

This goes right back to what I mentioned in the beginning — that drinking-water infrastructure in the U.S. is breaking down, and the appropriate investments have not been made to keep the infrastructure safe.

In Newark, many of the service lines are a century old! Water treatment technology is also lagging behind in many areas. As noted in The Atlantic:11

“According to [NRDC senior director for health programs, Erik] Olson, replacing all the lead service lines in the U.S. could cost $30 billion.

It’s a hefty-seeming sum, ‘but that’s the kind of investment that society made when these water systems were being built 100-plus years ago,’ he says. ‘We have been living off of the investments of our great-grandparents for decades.'”

Glyphosate Increases Lead in the Water

Historically, for five decades Flint, Michigan, had received its water from Detroit, originating in Lake Huron. However, in 2013, a tragic decision was made to temporarily supply the city with water from the Flint River as a cheaper alternative until a new water pipeline could be built coming directly from Lake Huron.

A study conducted by Marc Edwards of the Flint Water Study research group demonstrated that water from the Flint River was 19 times more corrosive to lead than the original water from Detroit.

The Flint River and its tributaries drain an agricultural region in Genesee and Saginaw counties. Soybeans, corn, wheat and hay are the main crops in Genesee county. Glyphosate is heavily used on these crops, both to control weeds and for dry-down at harvest.

Furthermore, Saginaw County is a major supplier of sugarbeets, which are genetically engineered to be Roundup Ready. The river has also served as an unofficial waste disposal site for refuse from local industries on its shores, including meat-packing plants and paper mills.

A likely reason why the water was so effective at stripping lead from the pipes is glyphosate contamination in the water. The first patent on glyphosate, issued in 1961, was for an application that involved its use as a descaling agent to clean mineral deposits from pipes and boilers in residential and commercial hot water systems.12

So, the glyphosate essentially chelated the lead out of the pipes and transferred it into the water. Once the water was consumed, the lead detached from the glyphosate in the person’s stomach, thus contributing to lead toxicity.

A recent Frontline documentary, “Flint’s Deadly Water,”13 points out that part of the issue was a water treatment plant that had been out of operation for many years and was not functioning properly when the water supply was first switched. Chlorine treatment is effective for breaking down glyphosate nonenzymatically, but was likely inadequate under the unusual circumstances of this water switch.

Water Fluoridation Also Worsens Lead Crisis

The increased presence of lead in drinking water is made all the worse by the fact that most areas are still adding fluoride to their municipal water supplies.14,15 Research shows fluoride actually leaches lead from water pipes with lead in them, thereby increasing the levels in the water. As reported by Fluoride Action Network in 2005:16

“A combination of chloramines and fluorosilicic acid, especially with extra amounts of ammonia, leaches lead from meters, solder and plumbing systems, according to Richard P. Maas, Ph.D. and Steven C. Patch Ph.D., co-directors of the Environmental Quality Institute at the University of North Carolina, Asheville.

Chloramine, a combination of chlorine and ammonia, is a water supply disinfectant. Fluorosilicic acid, the chemical used by over 91% of U.S. fluoridating communities, attempts to improve dental health in those who drink it … Maas said, ‘Tests showed lead levels three and four times higher in water with that combination of chemicals …’

These new findings may help explain earlier published, peer-reviewed research by Roger Masters, Ph.D. of Dartmouth College and Myron Coplan. Their studies show a link between water fluoridation status and elevated blood lead in children.

Elevated blood lead levels are linked to developmental delays in children under age six and fetuses. Lead can adversely affect almost every organ and system in the body. The most sensitive is the central nervous system, particularly in children. Lead also damages kidneys and the reproductive system.”

Legionnaires’ Disease Cover-Up in Flint

Recent media reports also warn that cases of Legionnaires’ disease — a severe and potentially lethal form of pneumonia — have been covered up, putting people’s health at serious risk. The Legionella bacterium thrives in warm, fresh water and is typically contracted by inhaling contaminated water vapor. It is not contagious between individuals.

In Flint, Michigan, a widespread outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease coincided with the city’s switch to Flint River water.17 In this case, residents were left in the dark not just about rising lead levels in their water, but also about the presence of this deadly bacterium.

As reported by PBS,18 it was one of the largest outbreaks of Legionnaires’ in U.S. history, killing 12 and sickening more than 90 people — at least those are the official numbers.

Unofficially, a review of death records suggests the death toll may have been far greater, as 115 residents died from pneumonia during the years of the outbreak, which lasted from 2014 through 2016. According to PBS:19

“Epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists told us that some of those people could have been Legionnaires’ disease cases that were left undiagnosed, untreated and, ultimately, uncounted.”

Disturbingly, NBC reports20 clusters of Legionnaires’ are still popping up in Flint to this day. Between January 1 and August 30, 2019, there were 16 confirmed cases.21 Flint isn’t the only place where the Legionella bacterium is wreaking havoc, though — and being covered up by authorities.

Legionnaires’ Is Being Covered Up Elsewhere as Well

A May 6, 2019, article22 in The Sun reported the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs covered up Legionella contamination at a Loma Linda hospital in 2017, putting both patients and staff at grave risk.

Between 2017 and 2018, the hospital’s water supply tested positive for Legionella no less than 33 times, yet staff were not informed of the findings until June 2018, after a whistleblower complaint had been filed. As reported by The Sun:23

“Department of Veterans Affairs officials failed to notify physicians in 2017 about Legionella bacteria found at the VA Medical Center in Loma Linda, posing a public health danger and possibly causing at least one doctor to contract potentially fatal Legionnaires’ disease, according to a federal report …

The 26-page VA report substantiates a whistleblower complaint filed in February 2018 with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel by two doctors and six nurses at the Jerry L. Pettis Memorial VA who alleged hospital officials concealed the Legionella discovery for months …

The report acknowledges that, despite evidence in 2017 of Legionella in the Pettis Medical Center’s water system, VA officials didn’t develop an effective strategy to deal with the problem until contacted in June 2018 by the Southern California News Group.”

Similarly, a February 27, 2019, article24 in Georgia Health News reports cases of Legionnaires’ disease in Georgia have risen fourfold over the past decade — from 43 in 2008 to 189 in 2018 — and fivefold across the U.S. since 2000.

Surprisingly, 80% of the Georgia outbreaks have occurred in health care facilities. As for why the disease is on the rise across the U.S., no one knows, but it’s likely due to a convergence of factors, aging infrastructure being one of them.25

Filtering Your Water Is a Necessity

The take-home message from all of this is that you cannot rely on authorities to warn you about potential problems with your water. In many cases, public notices will be issued, but there are no guarantees.

Sometimes violations fall through the cracks due to poor documentation, reporting or oversight, as highlighted in the OIG report. Other times, violations are covered up — perhaps for political or financial reasons.

While lead and Legionella were the focus of this article, these are certainly not the only concerns. A 2017 analysis26 by the Environmental Working Group of water samples from nearly 50,000 water utilities in 50 states found 267 different kinds of toxins, including 93 linked to cancer and 63 suspected of causing developmental harm to children.

Among these hundreds of chemicals of concern, chromium-6 — an industrial chemical that is not regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act — was found in drinking water in all 50 states at levels above those thought to pose a cancer risk, as was 1,4-dioxane, an industrial solvent. Nitrates, stemming from industrial agriculture, were also found at potentially risky levels.

Your safest bet is to take precautions to keep your family safe by installing a quality water filtration system in your home. As for the type of filtration system to get, there are a variety of options, most of which have both benefits and drawbacks.

Below are a few of the most common options. Allergy & Air’s 2016 article,27 “Water Filters: The Many Ways to Purify Your Drinking Water,” lists several more. Ideally, you want a filtration system that uses a combination of methods to remove contaminants, as this will ensure the removal of the widest variety of contaminants.

Reverse osmosis (RO) — In addition to removing chlorine, inorganic and organic contaminants in your water, RO will also remove about 80% of fluoride and most disinfection byproducts (DPBs).

Drawbacks include the need for frequent cleaning to avoid bacterial growth. Your best alternative is to use a tankless RO system with a compressor. Cost is another factor, as you may need the assistance of a plumber to get the system up and running. RO will also remove many valuable minerals and trace elements along with harmful contaminants.

Ion exchange — Ion exchange is designed to remove dissolved salts in the water, such as calcium. This system also softens the water and helps prevent the creation of scale buildup.

While advantages include a high flow rate and low maintenance cost, Sciencing points out the disadvantages, which include “calcium sulfate fouling, iron fouling, adsorption of organic matter, organic contamination from the resin, bacterial contamination and chlorine contamination.”28

Granular carbon and carbon block filters — These are the most common types of countertop and undercounter water filters. Granular activated carbon is recognized by the EPA as the best available technology for the removal of organic chemicals like herbicides, pesticides and industrial chemicals.

One of its downsides is that the loose material inside can channel, meaning the water creates pathways through the carbon material, thereby escaping filtering.

Carbon block filters offer the same superior filtering ability but are compressed with the carbon medium in a solid form. This eliminates channeling and gives the ability to precisely combine multiple media in a sub-micron filter cartridge. By combining different media, the ability to selectively remove a wide range of contaminants can be achieved.

JUUL E-Cigs Going Up in Smoke

Just over five years ago I began warning of the dangerous effects of vaping on human health. In response to the current overwhelming evidence this practice is damaging children and adults, CBS, WarnerMedia and Viacom dropped all advertising for vaping.1

They named the growing number of teenagers using products designed for adults and the rising number suffering lung damage linked to vaping as the reason for pulling the ads. JUUL has now suspended their advertising in the U.S. for digital, print and broadcast media, which had topped $104 million in the first half of 2019.2

The San Francisco-based company also announced it would not fight the federal administration’s proposed ban on flavored nicotine products and would comply with further policy changes.

JUUL Labs was founded in 2007 based on the thesis project of two Stanford graduates3 and quickly became the most popular vape manufacturer. In December 2017, Kevin Burns was hired as the CEO based on his previous manufacturing background, as the company recognized the need to produce e-cigarettes on a broad scale.4

In late 2018, Big Tobacco company Altria invested $12.8 billion for a 35% cut of JUUL Labs. The deal based JUUL Lab’s value at $38 billion,5 which CNBC reports has “dropped sharply” in recent months, taking Altria with it.6 While Big Tobacco companies like Altria will probably recover, the time may have come for vaping to go up in smoke.

FDA Says Mistakes Were Made

NPR reports analysts believe JUUL’s decision to stop fighting regulations against the sale of flavored e-cigarette pods may be an effort to stop an even bigger potential problem for their company — banning JUUL from selling any vaping products at all.7

During hearings at a subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Ned Sharpless, acting FDA commissioner, was asked if the rising number of illnesses related to vaping represented a massive regulatory failure. Sharpless responded to Congress:8

“In retrospect, the FDA should have acted sooner. We should have acted to regulate these devices sooner. FDA is not pursuing any actions associated with personal use of any vaping products, our interest is in the suppliers. But to be clear, if we determine that someone is manufacturing or distributing illicit, adulterated vaping products that caused illness and death for personal profit, we would consider that to be a criminal act.”

In comments written for the subcommittee9 on electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), it appears the company’s strategy to voluntarily take flavored e-cigarettes off the market may have had the intended impact.

Sharples remarked the policy of banning flavored e-cigarette products had the potential to change if companies could create a product meeting Federal approval. In what sounded like backpedaling, which could lead to further mistakes at the expense of health and wellness, Sharpless said:10

“This policy would not mean that flavored e-cigarettes could never be marketed. If a company can show through an application to FDA that a specific product meets the standard set forth by Congress, then the FDA would authorize that ENDS product for sale.”

Policy Changes May Move Sales Toward Traditional Cigarettes

Multiple other policy changes have been made by JUUL in an effort to stem backlash against the company, starting with their public move away from the “Make the Switch” campaign. The FDA cautioned this campaign may be seen as an illegal act since it markets e-cigarettes as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes.11

Burns recently stepped down as CEO, being replaced by K.C. Crosthwaite, who had been the chief growth officer at Altria.12 Crosthwaite grew up in the tobacco industry, having started his career at Altria when he was 22.13 University of Notre Dame assistant professor of management Tim Hubbard wrote to The New York Times about the changes JUUL is making to affect public perception:14

“When compared to traditional tobacco products — which have remained on the shelves for decades despite being proven dangerous — e-cigarette makers have failed spectacularly. Bringing in a traditional tobacco executive who knows how to market and manage government relationships with deadly products matches the firm’s needs.”

This switch raises a number of red flags since Crosthwaite will be bringing experience from one of the most regulatory-savvy industries. Despite a long history overflowing with scientific evidence that cigarettes are an addictive killer, Big Tobacco has been successful in keeping them on the shelves.

Crosthwaite is now setting his sights on the international market as the U.S. struggles to determine how closely they will guard the health of their children and voting adults. At a meeting at the company headquarters Crosthwaite announced to employees,15 “International expansion continues to be a huge opportunity given the number of smokers around the world.”

In addition to agreeing to the ban on flavored products representing the majority of JUUL’s sales, the company also stated they would not attempt to influence legislation designed to eliminate advertising aimed at teenage users.16 amid all the media attention, Altria and Philip Morris announced they were calling off merger discussions and instead would focus efforts toward new technology:17

“’While we believed the creation of a new merged company had the potential to create incremental revenue and cost synergies, we could not reach agreement,’ said Howard Willard, Altria’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. ‘We look forward to continuing our commercialization of IQOS in the U.S. under our existing arrangement.’”

Investment advisers see the challenges now faced by e-cigarette companies as a potential benefit for traditional cigarettes. The New York Times18 writes the market research firm Nielsen reported that as JUUL sales slowed in recent weeks, the decline in sales traditional cigarettes have experienced in the past years19 has also slowed.

Traditional Cigarettes Aren’t Traditional Anymore

Philip Morris designed a new device20 that looks amazingly similar to an e-cigarette. They received clearance from the FDA to market in the U.S. beginning in the fourth quarter of 2019. The device, called the IQOS, heats tobacco rather than burning it. It first made an appearance in Japan and Milan in 2014 and has a preliminary U.S. market release planned for Atlanta.21

Philip Morris submitted two applications — one to sell the device and one to advertise it as less dangerous than cigarettes. To date, the FDA has not decided how the device could be marketed, but the director for the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, Mitch Zeller, made a statement the authorization of a product should not be construed to mean the product is safe.22

Even without approval for marketing the device as safe, CNBC calls the decision a win for both Philip Morris and Altria as the device23 “… is a key component of both companies’ futures as they try to pivot past cigarettes.”

Although the FDA believes the data suggests the device will not be attractive to nonsmokers and teens, they are placing restrictions on the marketing plans, especially those used online and in social media. Philip Morris calls it “Tobacco Meets Technology,”24 and describes “sophisticated electronics” at the core of the device that heats tobacco enough to release nicotine without generating smoke.

What is released is a nicotine-containing vapor Philip Morris classifies as a “smoke-free product.” The Truth Initiative25 points out while Philip Morris makes the claim the device is less toxic, multiple researchers26 find data Philip Morris produced does not support their own claims. One researcher concluded while the device may expose users to reduce levels of some toxins, it also increases the levels of others.

Just as the FDA completely missed the mark of the overwhelming appeal JUUL had to teens, the Truth Initiative believes the same is happening with the IQOS, otherwise known as Heatsticks or Heets. They point to research published in Tobacco Control in which researchers wrote:27

“Marketing efforts to portray HTPs as sleek, exclusive items akin to iPhones could find success among American teens and young adults, and researchers are already warning of growing interest and potential demand within new markets.”

And28

“Just as e-cigarettes, particularly the JUUL-style, promoted with a modern, high-tech image and harm reduction and ‘smokeless’ messages, appeal to adolescents, it is likely that IQOS, marketed in a similar manner, will also appeal to adolescents.”

Take Steps to Quit Smoking

Once you stop smoking, your body begins to heal and undergo significant changes in the following days, weeks and years. Many have been successful at stopping unaided, but I believe the secret is to first get healthy, which makes quitting easier.

Exercise is an important part of this plan, as is healthy eating and the ability to deal with your stress levels. As you move forward in your plan to quit smoking, consider additional steps to help make the process easier. Below are four of my past articles that offer practical strategies:

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