That New Study On Kids That Vape Becoming Smokers Rebuffed!
Barely a day into the vaping new year and the worldwide mainstream media has once again jumped gleefully on the kids that vape turn into smokers saga.
Before I look at the truth behind the headlines that ‘vaping leads to kids smoking’ I’ll just say this – no it doesn’t.
There I’ve said it and nope that’s not from me but from hard scientific evidence backed by the most powerful medical institutions in the UK – I know who I tend to believe.
OK so what’s the thinking behind this latest headline that traveled the world – from the serious UK newspaper the Daily Star [coughs] to the loftier [lol] New York Post and even that well-read tome GloucestershireLive [annoying video ads alert]?
According to researchers from University of California kids that tried an e-cigarette were 2.53 times more likely to smoke within 12 months.
The study was published in Journal of the American Medical Association’s Online Pediatrics magazine and showed ‘scientists’ studied the habits of 10,000 12-17 year olds with lead researcher Dr. Benjamin Chaffee concluding:
Youths who initiated tobacco use with non-cigarette products were more likely to have smoked cigarettes one year later than were youths who had never used tobacco.
Sounds bad huh?
According to Dr Chaffee’s findings things get even worse:
In light of these observed associations between non-cigarette tobacco use and future smoking, novel tobacco products have the potential to undermine public health gains in combating the smoking epidemic.
Wow this guy’s seriously out of touch…
How can he suggest that e-cigs are undermining public health gains when even Public Health England used them in the recent Stoptober campaign as the best way to quit smoking?
Here in the UK we now know thanks to a raft of scientific studies that vaping is 95% safer than smoking – and probably higher.
Or how about the recent study by Dr William E Stephens from the University of St Andrews in Scotland who found that vaping and e-cigs were a staggering 57,000 times less likely to give you cancer?
Or – and as we’re talking about the young folk here – a UK study backed by PHE and packed with renowned medical experts – that categorically concluded Vaping is NOT a Gateway to Kids Becoming Smokers.
The Number Of Kids That Try Smoking Is Falling Dramatically
There’s your research – I’ll raise you x10+ of mine – sadly even in the face of such evidence these one shot media headline hunting scientists never seem to fold do they?
I picked out this line on my article about the study:
…regular use [e-cigs]among 11–16 year olds remains very low, at 3% or less, and remains largely confined to regular smokers.
That last bit is important – confined to regular smokers.
Look smoking among kids is dropping dramatically here in the UK and the USA with more and more realizing they are harmful to health and more importantly to them as youngsters ‘un-cool’.
Kids have always seen smoking as a kind or rebellious act or rite of passage – so to see the majority of the tiny handful that are smoking try vaping instead has to be a good thing right?
As I said in my piece given a choice of my grandson smoking or vaping – I’d buy him the e-cig and flush his fags trust me!
I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time rebuffing fake news about vaping and a quick look at the stories in the media about this shows most of them are literally verbatim from a press release with just a bit of tinkering.
It’s standard practice in busy newsrooms where the trainee gets to cut his teeth on this kind of thing – trust me I should know – you begin on wedding announcements – golden weddings and then move on to re-writing press releases!
That’s why there’s never – or rarely – another side to the story – such as quotes from those with an opposing view – the re-writer is told not to bog themselves down with such ‘trivia’ over a ‘no story’!
And that’s why the vast majority of these anti-vape stories go unchallenged and into the psyche of the public across the world.
And as night follows day the anti vape brigade including politicians take those articles as hard core undisputed fact and run with them.
A vicious circle that over the years has meant anti-vape feelings and mis-beliefs have sat high on the public opinion scale.
Study “Omits Or Obscures Important Contextual Information”
As of this morning there are few rebuttals to this ‘study’ out there but two in particular caught my eye.
The first is a tweet from Brian Carter who holds a PhD in clinical psychology and has been researching addiction and nicotine for the past two decades.
He’s also the Director of Scientific Communication for CASSA – the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association an American advocacy group – so I guess this guy knows a thing or two on the subject at hand lol.
His reaction to the study leaves you in no doubt of its ‘worth’:
The excellent blog Tobacco Truth finds a glaring error in California shock study that obviously a little bit of digging by reporters would have discovered – incidentally I was an old school reporter – these days we call the new breed ‘repeaters’ for obvious reasons.
Anyway back to Tobacco Truth that says not only are the results misleading – but completely ‘inaccurate’ as the writer explains:
Chaffee and his colleagues, including anti-tobacco crusader Stanton Glantz, omitted information that is critical to putting their findings in perspective.
Although teens trying other tobacco products were more likely to smoke, the majority of new smokers after one year came from the group that had not tried tobacco at baseline.
After one year, 219 teens had smoked a cigarette in the past 30 days, and 175 of those (80%) had never used any tobacco product at baseline.
Even though the odds of smoking were higher among youth who had tried other products, the number of smokers contributed by each of these groups was minuscule.
The Chaffee article emphasizes odds ratios but omits or obscures important contextual information.
While teens who try one tobacco product are more likely to try another, the dominant gateway in the PATH survey was from no previous tobacco use to cigarettes.
Ummm that’s what the American’s call a ‘slam dunk I believe lol.
By not mentioning the kids that smoked were not part of the baseline of those that had never used a tobacco product the numbers were at best shall we say fudged or blurred.
But as I’ve said many times – don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story…
BTW isn’t it amazing how a smallish study like this travels across the world quicker than you can roll a fag – yet positive studies barely get a look in?
Can’t imagine why…