Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Great news from Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids

Yesterday Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids published a press release claiming that a new study published Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) provides evidence that e-cigarettes are a gateway to smoking. Well of course the study proves no such thing, and there is (almost, I'll get back to that) no good news coming from Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids here. I'll leave it up to Dr. Farsalinos and Professor Michael Siegel to explain why.

Now you might say that my headline for this blog-post is highly misleading. Well, I agree, I did that on purpose, to kind of underline the fact that not only is the headline in Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids' press release highly misleading, but the whole thing is just a big fat pile of lies. For a bunch of reasons, as explained in detail by Farsalinos and Siegel, the study doesn't prove the gateway theory at all. In fact it doesn't really prove anything new, even the authors of the study acknowledge that. Professor Siegel explains this:
Ultimately, what this research demonstrates is that youth who experiment with electronic cigarettes represent a sub-population of youth which is at increased risk of tobacco product use. This is a natural finding that we expected to be true and which has been documented in other studies. The study does not show that e-cigarette use leads kids to start smoking or to become regular smokers. It does not demonstrate a gateway effect.
The study authors readily acknowledge this, with the lead author making it clear that: "we cannot conclude that e-cigarette use directly leads to smoking."
As you can see, nothing really new. The gateway theory has in no way been proven, and we're still waiting patiently for the first ex-vaper, current smoker to emerge from the shadows. Kind of strange that we haven't seen a single case in so many years, and with millions of people using e-cigarettes don't you think? Also, if a gateway effect existed... isn't it a bit strange that cigarette use keeps going down when e-cigarette use goes up? Actually it seems to start going down even faster when e-cigarette use really started going up, according to Tobacco Free Kids' own numbers:

Anyway, even if I gave this post a misleading headline on purpose, it's not actually as misleading as Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids' press release. Because there is actually some good news in there: Current e-cigarette use now exceeds current use of regular cigarettes. Of course the way they present this fact is also misleading, as they deliberately fail to mention how much current use of cigarettes have gone down. If you can't see that this is good news, not bad news as these guys claim, you can't be truly concerned with peoples health. There must be something else that's more important to you...

EDIT: Just saw Clive Bates also commenting on this. Recommended reading indeed.

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