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Professor Shows Study Proves Vaping Isn’t Gateway To Smoking

Dr. Stanton Glantz, a major opponent of e-cigarettes and vaping, is excited over the results of a study that was conducted at Virginia Commonwealth University. The study shows that students who tried e-cigarettes were 3.4 times more likely to be smoking real cigarettes a year later. This fits right into Glantz’s theory that the use of e-cigarettes is a gateway to tobacco smoking. But the study resulted in some other important findings, which Glantz chose to ignore.

The students in the study who were “smoking cigarettes” a year after first trying an e-cigarette were not necessarily smoking cigarettes on a regular basis. In fact, out of 3,757 students involved in the study, only six were regular cigarette smokers a year later. “Smoking cigarettes,” which was shown to be 3.4 times more likely for e-cigarettes users, can actually be defined as having smoked at least one cigarette or experimenting with cigarettes and e-cigarettes at the same time. But the headlines reporting the findings of the study are phrased in a way that is designed to make people think that these non-smokers who tried e-cigarettes ended up being pack or two-a-day tobacco addicts a year later.

Choosing only certain results of studies to publicize is known as cherry picking, and it happens when someone has an agenda that is only supported by some results of a study. Those results are publicized, while results that don’t fit the agenda are ignored. For e-cigarette opponents, the Virginia college study is all about the “gateway effect” that they insist happens; non-smokers trying e-cigarettes and then winding up switching to real cigarettes and getting hooked. Dr. Glantz is part of the camp that wants very much to convince people that the gateway effect is real, and then use it as a reason to tax, restrict or outright ban e-cigarettes and vaping products.

A close look at the study by Dr. Michael Siegel, a health sciences professor from Boston University School of Public Health, shows us all the findings of the study, including the ones that Dr. Glantz completely ignored. One major finding of the study was that there was no evidence that students who used-e-cigarettes at the beginning of the study were more likely to be regular smokers a year later. There were only six out of 3,757 who were regular smokers at the end of the one-year period; 20 had used cigarettes during the year but completely quit and were only using e-cigarettes at the end of the year; and 35 had been using both e-cigarettes and cigarettes at the beginning but had quit smoking and were only using e-cigarettes at the end of the end.

Considering all the findings, a more honest and accurate headline for an article might be “E-cigarette use is unlikely to lead to a smoking habit.” Six out of 3,757 people suggests that the gateway to smoking is extremely narrow.

Electronic Cigarettes • April 5, 2017

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