The Week in Vaping – Issue Six

Hi everyone! Welcome to issue six of The Week in Vaping, where we discuss all of the latest news from the world of vaping. This week we’re bringing you attacks on public health research, questionable gateway studies and more. To find out what’s been happening read on.

Peer-Reviewed Public Health Journals Under Attack

The most interesting, and worrying, news this week has been the release of a new paper calling public health research into question by focusing on studies in the field of tobacco harm reduction (THR).

Authored by Carl V. Philips and Igor Burstyn of the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association, alongside Executive Consultant at Carter and Day Brian L. Carter, they question the perceived wisdom that peer reviewed journal articles are the gold-standard of public health research.

The authors reviews 12 papers on THR and found that the current system is woefully inadequate when it comes to spotting errors and correcting inaccuracies. They noted that the vast majority of papers contained no substantive comments, with all of the papers suffering from “major flaws” which were not corrected after being peer-reviewed.

When comments were made they generally focused on areas which were “not even the most major flaws”, and in the one case these flaws were noted they were ignored and the paper was published with no significant changes.

These papers are the research pieces used when it comes to drawing up regulations for products such as tobacco and electronic-cigarettes, meaning it’s no exaggeration to say that these are the decisions which could save millions of lives. If these decisions are wrong purely because of badly-researched journals we all need to worry.

The Gateway Effect

Yet more research on the gateway effect now. This has been one of the major risks to be pointed at since vaping first exploded into the public consciousness a couple of years ago.

This paper, put out by Tobacco Control, studied 2338 students in Hawaii and stated that it proved the assertion that teens who use e-cigarettes are more likely to then go on and try the real thing.

However, quite a worrying headline is quickly dismissed by the actual content of the paper. The first thing to note is that an electronic cigarette user was defined as someone who’d tried vaping once, someone who vaped every day, and everyone in between. The definition of cigarette smoking was similarly distorted.

Although these types of definitions have no basis in serous scientific fact they do allow the flexibility required to come to the scary, headline-grabbing conclusions the authors of the paper were looking for.

The paper stated that 31 to 38% of students used electronic cigarettes and 15 to 21% of students smoked, which is definitely a high number. Using the generally accepted definition of user (this being used in the last month) these percentages fall down to 8% and 4% respectively.

There were a number of other flaws present in the paper, included exaggerating the number of students, as the results were actually only based on 1070 students rather than the 2338 claimed.

Despite all of this, the paper got a large amount of news coverage and resulted in another bout of mass-panic, once again proving that fear is more important than facts when it comes to a lot of the news.

Thanks for reading our latest issue of The Week in Vaping. If we’ve missed out a major story or you’ve got any opinions on what we’ve discussed today be sure to leave a comment. We’ll see you again next week.