Monday, 7 January 2013

E-Cig Study? What E-Cig Study?

I recently referenced an article the Daily Mail featured about a 'report' claiming that e-cigs "DON'T help fight addiction and cause harm to health".
They are used by thousands of smokers who are either looking to kick the habit or just for a healthier alternative. 
But new research has found electronic cigarettes don't in fact help quit smoking and they still posed a potentially serious health risk because they contained nicotine. 
The report warns the gadgets, sometimes known as e-cigarettes, should not be used by young people as it still delivered nicotine to the body and could lead to them taking up real cigarettes. 
The Italian Health Ministry issued the warning in a report today described the e-cigarette as 'less toxic' but warned it was not 'totally innocuous'.
You'll note that author James Rush uses the words "research" and "report", yes? ABC news went further and mentioned a "study". Because it's very scientific, so it is ... or that's what someone wants you to believe, anyway.

You see, via Steve Vape, it turns out that the study to back up the Italian Ministry's report can't be found.
In order to verify the accuracy of the report issued by the Italian Ministry of Health and determine which scientific methods were used to form the study's conclusion, this writer was unable to find any information on their website in either English or Italian. If anyone has the actual link to the report, please leave it in the comment section.
One person who did leave a comment was Riccardo Polosa, Chief Scientific Advisor to LIAF (Lega Italiana AntiFumo).
The report was commissioned end of September 2012 by the Ministry of Health. I doubt they have conducted (or commissioned) a study in such a short period of time…. It is more likely to be antismoking (antiecig) activists propaganda in response to the very positive Xmas sales of electronic cigarettes in Italy. The report is likely to be a collection of opinions rather than a proper study of adequate scientific quality. 
LIAF have posted a formal request to the ISS to review the content and scientific accuracy of the report as there is no trace of such a document in their website!
Now, we've all heard of 'science by press release' whereby claims are highlighted to the media which bear little resemblance to the study in question, but at least there is usually a study to speak of.

In this case, the Mail and other news outlets have written a pile of tosh based on what appear to be merely ill-informed - or, perhaps more accurately, policy-convenient - government opinions posing as deep scientific probing.

Still, it might keep a few thousand people smoking and lead to more healthy pharmaceutical nicotine replacement therapy sales in the future, eh?

Trebles all round.


JonathanBagley said...

I don't think the Mail will be too bothered. They know that we know it's daily health stories are garbage, but it's entertaining, lots of pages and only 55p.
Petition organised by ECITA, the ecig industry trade association. Already 19,000 signatures.

George Speller said...

Obviously they've been quoting from the brief for the "study". Oops!

Jeff Wood said...

Interesting that Riccardo Polosa works for an anti-smoking group, but takes the trouble to correct a misstatement.

Vaping does seem to be becoming more common here in Italy. In fact there are shops selling ElectroCiggie, and one has just opened in our main town. The images on the billboards project sleek sophistication, and clearly show the steam coiling above a fine woman's head. I have yet to find a chance to visit.

It is not that cigarettes are expensive here - around £4 a pack for good brands - but of course Italians can chose to give up the fags. Winters can be cold, so an E-cig in the bar instead of a smoke outside can seem a good idea.