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Inadequate research - examples of the major misleading studies on e-cigarettes

Today, many people have quit smoking. But how many more friends and acquaintances who smoke one or more packs of cigarettes per day we still know?

Now, thanks to e-cigarettes, millions of smokers can refer to themselves as former smokers.

The introduction of e-cigarettes has changed great many lives across the globe. However, every now and then, the e-cigarette industry is being attacked by means of new misleading reports, prohibition laws and distribution restrictions.

Why are e-cigarettes under focus? Yet again, it all boils down to the research results published in the media. More and more new studies are conducted to thoroughly learn the effects of e-cigarettes. Many so-called "scientific studies" are based on incorrect research methods, or the desired result has been predetermined. And once the derived numeric values have been shaped into the desired narrative, the media grabs it like a hungry lion attacks its last meal. These intentional attacks make people see e-cigarettes as harmful rather than a healthier alternative to using tobacco.

A report on public health recently published in the UK clearly showed just how much these defamation campaigns actually effect the population - nearly one half of the population considered e-cigarettes and vaping just as hazardous and harmful to health as smoking of regular cigarettes.

If vapers and supporters of e-cigarettes wish to change public opinion, it must begin with disproving the misconceptions promoted among the population through inadequate research. The following is a list of five most cited statements from studies on e-cigarettes, accompanied by rebutting explanations.

Formaldehydes in e-cigarette vapour

This study popularised by the media claims that scientists have found that the vapour of e-cigarettes contains formaldehydes in concentrations which are harmful to human health and that due to such concentrations the risk of carcinoma is 5-15% higher as compared to smoking regular cigarettes. A more thorough analysis of this study shows how the arguments of these "scientists" have been actually obtained.

In the experiment, e-cigarettes were used in a way which most certainly is unconventional for e-cigarette users. The atomizer was overheated using high power to create the dry puff effect, whereas in reality, no e-cigarette user does so. The vapers do not use overheated atomizers because the taste of the resulting puffs is repulsive, and should such situation accidentally occur, the e-cigarette will not be used before the problem has been eliminated. Further, the study failed to note the fact that no formaldehydes are generated, if e-cigarettes are used within the prescribed power range and coils are not left dry!

Similarly to the method employed in the study, we could highlight the harmful effects of eating toast bread. As ridiculous as it may sound, we can draw parallels between the methods of the said "scientific study" and the toast bread example - the bread is heated until completely burnt and then it is analysed to determine the content of carcinogens and other toxic compounds. Naturally, it leads to the conclusion that the concentrations of toxins are dangerously high, and the authors declare that eating toast bread causes cancer and try to prohibit the public from consuming toast bread... unfortunately, studies employing such methods are called scientific research...

E-cigarettes turn the youth into active tobacco users

Let's talk about teenagers. This study claims that the use of e-cigarettes by young people entails a considerably higher risk that they will start consuming tobacco products in the following 6-12 months. The study results were disseminated by the media at lighting speed. Regardless of the fact that there is no actual proof to support this claim, the media still disseminates misinformation which is in turn used by politicians as a basis for increasing the tax rates applicable to e-cigarettes.

If you ignore the media fuss and delve into the study report, it appears that it is not actually a research project. Instead, it is a survey among a small sample group. The teenagers participating in the survey were not asked whether they were regular smokers or e-cigarette users. The youth were simply divided into two groups - smokers or e-cigarette users - even if they had tried one or the other only once in their life. To be honest, the conclusions drawn on the basis of the results of this study are absurd. A youngster who tried an e-cigarette once could then just as easily try a regular cigarette once. There is no link to e-cigarettes, and the individuals concerned were regular youth who were simply directed to try and test new things. The authors noted in the results that they failed to prove that vaping lures youngsters into tobacco use.

Using e-cigarettes is harmful to lungs

Yet another world-famous „scientific study“ effectively amounts to one of the dumbest media coverages ever. Probably, the scientists tried to prove that e-cigarette vapour is harmful to the respiratory system. They examined lung cells of humans and mice after contact with regular tobacco smoke and e-cigarette vapour. They found that lungs which came into contact with e-cigarette vapour suffered from notable damage. It sounds scary but let's dig deeper. Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos is a globally recognised cardiologist with extensive experience in studying e-cigarettes. According to him, the results of the said study are unprecedented, because abnormally high amounts of nicotine were used during the trials. The smallest amount of nicotine used was 500 times larger than the amount present in the blood of a tobacco smoker. According to Dr. Konstantinos, the said study is far from science, but unfortunately, the study results spread fast and wide before anyone managed to react.

E-cigarettes do not help quit smoking

This study is one of the best examples of biased research ever seen. To obtain the desired results, data were collected from people who had called the help line for quitting smoking. The results supported the argument that smokers who used e-cigarettes failed to quit tobacco use. The point is that the survey included individuals who, at the time, were clearly addicted to tobacco products and, having tried the e-cigarette only once, claimed that it was of no help. However, individuals who have used e-cigarettes and consequently quit tobacco use no longer call the help line to get help for quitting smoking. The authors of the study obtained the desired result because the target group was not valid.

E-cigarette vapour is hazardous to bystanders, i.e. passive vapers

This study was disseminated by the media very quickly. Media published results which implied that e-cigarette vapour is so toxic that it endangers even bystanders, i.e. passive vapers. Delving into the study results shows that actually they support the contrary. Air samples were taken from the indoor air of the homes of smokers, e-cigarette users and non-smokers. The concentrations of toxic compounds in the indoor air around e-cigarette users were notably lower than those in the indoor air around regular smokers whereby the difference between the quality of indoor air around non-smokers and e-cigarette users was very small. To be accurate, the indoor air around e-cigarette users contained only one millionth of a gram more toxins than in the indoor air around non-smokers. However, the indoor air around smokers contained 60 times more toxic compounds. So, based on the results of this study, it would be accurate to say that the vapour from e-cigarettes is notably cleaner than cigarette smoke, and that people inhaling the same indoor air as e-cigarette users are not at a considerably higher risk than people inhaling normal indoor air.

These are only some examples of inadequate studies which are published for the purpose of achieving negative media coverage for e-cigarettes. Hence, it is no wonder that after reading such horrifying myths the regular smokers decide to continue using tobacco products. Misconceptions concerning e-cigarettes do not promote quitting smoking and this leads to the destruction of thousands of human lives. It is time to stop the dissemination of misinformation in the media and reveal the truth. The media is responsible for negative consequences, if data sources and data are not verified.

Based on the article: http://www.cocktailnerd.com/busted-for-bad-research-shining-a-light-on-the-most-misleading-ecig-studies/
Author of the cited article: Katie Bercham

Presentation of Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinose at the Global Forum on Nicotine held in Warsaw in 2015

Global Forum on Nicotine, Warsaw, 2015

In his presentation, Dr. Farsalinos explains the problems related to the methods and principles employed in research concerning e-cigarettes. Further, he gives examples of how media has gravely misinterpreted the research results.