Friday, 31 January 2014

Yeah, yeah keep throwing irrelevant numbers at us... where are the vapers that converted to smoking?

After watching the FBI show I wrote about yesterday on NRK (Norwegian government-owned radio and television public broadcasting company) web-tv I read the article mentioned at the end of the show here: (Sorry about all the Norwegian articles guys, hope the google translation is not too bad).

Again I'm baffled by the fact that the Cancer Society seems to be so opposed to e-cigarettes. I really struggle to see why. And to add to that, they keep throwing irrelevant numbers at us. Again it's this new american study that they claim supports the theory that vaping is a gateway to smoking. Well allow me to explain once again why these numbers are at best irrelevant. This is what the "Facts"-box on the side says (I've changed the order here to make things a bit clearer):
  • 1379 Americans, average age of 24, smokers, non-smokers and former smokers were followed for a year.
  • 7.4% of the ones that hadn't already tried e-cigarettes tried them this year. - What does this really mean? Well, it says nothing about if these were former smokers, smokers or non-smokers. It is hence completely irrelevant and does not support the conclusion at all.
  • 21% of the smokers, 11.9% of former smokers and 2.9% of the non-smokers had tried e-cigarettes during that year. - For the smokers this is great, they are trying to quit, for the former smokers it probably prevented a relapse to smoking and for the non-smokers... well it only says they tried it, not that they kept on doing it. I myself have a lot of friends, non-smokers, that have tried my e-cigarettes once or twice. Actually most of my non-smoking friends have, so they would have had to answer yes on this as well. To be honest I'm surprised the number is that low. But as you can see, it gives us no indication on vaping being a gateway to smoking. It's completely irrelevant.
  • According to the scientists that did the study, there are indications that the belief that e-cigarettes are less harmful than normal cigarettes can get more young adults to try them. - I actually got to agree with this, but this has nothing to do with the numbers they present. And most of these are probably smokers, former smokers or people who would be tempted to try real cigarettes. This is just common sense. If you believe there is a less harmful alternative to cigarettes you would be pretty stupid not to try it wouldn't you? And IF some of these actually are people who wouldn't have taken up regular smoking, but take up e-cigarettes anyway, WHY on earth would they switch to smoking afterwards. There are certainly NO numbers here supporting that. 
So, why do some people use these numbers as proof that vaping is a gateway to smoking? Wouldn't it be better to refer to a study of vapers who have never smoked for a year and count how many of those that take up smoking? Well, of course this study doesn't exist... you'd have a hard enough time finding enough never-smoking vapers. If you did however I think counting to 0 should be pretty easy. Actually, if someone comes up with ONE vaper who has never smoked a cigarette before starting to vape, and then becomes a regular smoker, I'll eat all my hats, smoke my socks and put a pink background on this blog for a month.

Then there is this other sidebar with a list of potentially carcinogenic substances found in e-cigarettes. The source of this information is given to be the french consumer magazine "60 millions de consommateurs". Well, this so called scientific research has been ripped apart by Dr Farsalinos so I'm just going to give you the a couple of links so you can see for yourself. His analysis of the original article here:, and another answer after they tried to "clarify" what they really ment: I don't really think I need to comment on that further.

Now I do understand why big tobacco and big pharma would try to spread fear and loathing in this matter, and I do have a sneaking suspicion where funding for some of this "research" can be traced back to. But what I don't understand is why the Cancer Society does it. Why do they keep on ignoring the fact that there IS a lot of science that shows e-cigarettes could dramatically reduce the number of new cancer patients? They keep on saying that this research just doesn't exist. But apparently they do search for studies on e-cigarettes, as they seem to find the reports that conclude e-cigarettes are some kind of new devilry that we need to stop before it's to late. Don't they have the same version of Google that I have?


  1. A really good break down of the facts, I actually believe this must lead the Norwegian Cancer Society (kreftforeningen) to do some thinking and alter their stand on vaping. I believe there is a time for everything, and you have to pick your fights, a nicotine addictive free world is Utopia.

    1. Thanks madmia :) Nice to get some feedback. I do hope the Cancer Society reads this as well, and if so I'd really like to hear their comments.

  2. I beg to disagree. A world where people are not allowed their small vices is in my opinion not a utopia. I would call it a dystopia.

  3. My sister is s non smoker but vapes as a way to surpress appetite since it comes in such delicious flavors. She gets 0% nicotine... She had never smoked in her life but loves this as a way to cit back on sugar cravings!!

    1. That's very interesting. Maybe vaping could have more purposes than we think of now? But she has no need to go from vaping to smoking right?

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