A WSJ op-ed debunks e-cig "gateway"; letter in JAMA-Peds refutes their prior junk study

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TeenSmokingFive months ago, JAMA-Pediatrics published an article by UCSF s Stan Glantz and a co-author purporting to show that youthful vapers (e-cigarette users) were being led into cigarette smoking via the nicotine they absorbed from e-cigs. This assertion was found in the abstract of the piece, and in the media release, despite being specifically contradicted in the authors own discussion (a snapshot--one time picture--of a behavior cannot show a trend, by definition). Nevertheless, the take-home message was gleefully trumpeted by disingenuous e-cig haters of every stripe, including the CDC, the big public health nonprofits, and the halls of Congress.

Two tobacco and nicotine experts based in Greece and Italy, respectively, got a letter published in the same journal taking the authors AND the journal to task for their unscientific, indeed unethical and irresponsible study and its baseless interpretation. Drs. Farsalinos and Polosa have done more than their share of the still-primordial research on e-cig and vapor physiology and chemistry, and their contributions are now acknowledged even by the journal that should never have published the work of the uber-deceiver Glantz in the first place.

Another way to phrase youth seduction into nicotine addiction and eventually smoking is called the gateway phenomenon. The Glantz article referenced above formed an important pillar of that mythology, and debunking and exposing it is imperative. Alternatively, highlighting studies that clearly show the lack of the gateway into smoking via e-cigs is also important. In today s Wall Street Journal, Boston University s Dr. Mike Siegel does just that.

Dr. Siegel, an ACSH scientific advisor, points out several studies clearly showing the absence of evidence that vaping is linked to an increased incidence of cigarette smoking: he cites the Wagener study (which we covered here) and the study by Harvard School of Public Health s Dr. Varvadas, both of which fail to find evidence of such a trend. Their studies used scientifically-valid techniques to discern such, as opposed to just assuming there was one, as Glantz did.

As I ve been saying for some years now, over the next year or two, the current trickle of evidence supporting e-cigarettes benefits in helping smokers quit and the lack of adverse short- and medium-term effects will become a waterfall, impossible for the science-free opponents to ignore. These two additions to the literature are merely spearheads in that onslaught. The ideologues better help or get out of the way.