On the lack of research in the media

Every once in a while a media article happens to come to my attention that makes me fall over in utter disbelief. Not simply due to the complete lack of understanding of the subject matter, but the complete disingenuity that the author takes to make as many bonkers points as possible.

It may be early in 2017, but this one is a strong contender for worst article of the year.

Step forward Jacqueline Lee of The Highlander and her article on the supposed lack of medical research for e-cigarettes and marijuana.

Yes, you read that right. Apparently there is a lack of medical research on e-cigs. So the one hundred and ninety-eight reviewed by Public Health England studies in 2015, and the 200 hundred plus reviewed by the Royal College of Physicians. Let us not forget that Canada – you know, the ones that are almost as bonkers about e-cigs as the State of California is about life in general – have also released a review of the evidence, which unsurprisingly comes to the same conclusion as PHE and the RCP.

Yet, the author of this article goes on random tangents such as:

Within the past decade, e-cigarettes have been marketed as the safe, economic-friendly alternative for users to get their nicotine fix instead of from cigarettes via nicotine-infused oils like peanut oil.

Absolutely no-one would ever use peanut oil in an e-liquid. Ever. There are four key components to an e-liquid. Propylene Glycol. Glycerol. Nicotine. Flavouring. That is it. None of those remotely resemble an “oil”.

What separates vaping and marijuana from cigarettes, though, is ultimately the lack of extensive medical research into them which severely delegitimizes them.

Good grief! There are over 500 studies, ranging from the very well done to the utterly absurd. “Lack of extensive medical research” my arse! Sure, there are meta-analysis which have selection bias and a whole host of other confounders which will skew the results (are you listening Rotund Reaver?), along with studies that quite frankly don’t deserve the name “study”. Yet there are hundreds of the damn things.

This is also the same for FDA’s recent regulations on vaping and how it focuses on the nicotine danger instead of on promoting more scientific research into its benefits and health risks.

This is the same FDA that happily associates itself with utter bollocks in the form of calling e-cigarettes a tobacco product courtesy of a legal definition!

While there is pushback from marijuana and e-cigarette users on government oversight, it is undeniable that cigarettes’ extensive research, both nationally and globally, has only been successful because of the American Cancer Society’s strong government oversight since the 1960s and certain landmark research.

If you are looking for “landmark research” it was the Royal College of Physicians in 1962 that first came out with the “links” between smoking and disease. It took the Surgeon General and cohorts a further two years to follow suit. The ACS are predominantly responsible for denying access to reduced risk products and have lobbied extensively against their availability.

As such, it is too early to proclaim that vaping and marijuana are better alternatives in terms of health and safety than cigarettes because of the lack of medical research initiated by the government.

Utterly wrong statement. There is a plethora of scientific evidence to support a cautious, though welcoming approach to e-cigarettes as a harm reduction product at least. Just because research isn’t “initiated by Government” doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist or is worthless. There are far better scientists employed in the industry and independent sectors than you’ll ever find in tobacco control or public health.

When one thinks of the benefits of vaping, its lowered nicotine count and use of natural oils is strongly emphasized as more environmentally and health friendly than cigarette use. Yet, these websites citing its benefits usually are the vape vendors and supporters who fail to cite solid scientific research behind those statements.

This author has a serious bee in her bonnet about oils. There aren’t any oils in e-liquid! Also, now that the regulatory landscape has shifted in favour of Big Government, vendors are explicitly forbidden from mentioning any health benefits or cessation claims. If you’re going to write about this stuff, at least know what you’re talking about!

Recently, more research has pointed toward its health risks, such as an American Chemical Society paper finding up to 31 compounds that are potential carcinogens and respiratory irritants.

Found at levels that aren’t exactly a biological concern when the devices are used correctly. However, if someone decides to abuse their device by overheating the atomiser then not only will the resulting aerosol be completely unpalatable, Darwinism will also apply.

However, compared to vaping, weed does show more promise as a medical drug, such as its use as treatment for chronic pain. Despite weed being around historically for far longer than vaping has as a popular drug, the lack of proper research really does harm its legitimacy as an entirely beneficial drug.

There’s plenty of evidence, not least in the Monitoring the Future survey, the Smoking Toolkit Survey and the CDC’s Morbidity Weekly Reports that e-cigarettes have been a part, possibly a large part, in driving down the smoking prevalence rates wherever the use of e-cigarettes is on the rise. Coincidence? Unlikely.

Within society, the popularity of weed and vaping appears to be more a result of its trendiness rather than them serving as an actual healthier alternatives to smoking.

No, e-cigarettes are a consumer driven product that has rather successfully done what public health have failed to do. Provide a suitable alternative to smoking for millions worldwide.

In fact, the haziness behind both drugs only serve as further evidence of a need for the government to step in and encourage more research and laws for them.

No. No. No. Jesus wept. There is absolutely no need for further government intervention in this industry at all. The interventions that have happened are having adverse effects – inclusion of vaping in “smoke free” legislation not only forces vapers to find other locations to enjoy themselves, but it also deprives local businesses of footfall. Taxation, another one of the State interventions, has successfully managed to close a number of smaller independent vape stores – which a number of US public health officials are heralding as a “success”.

A note to Ms Lee. If you’re going to write about e-cigarettes, it might be wise to read up on the subject first instead of spouting utter nonsense.

(image credit Catmando/shutterstock.com)

16 thoughts on “On the lack of research in the media

  1. I can’t believe you let this gem go without fisking it as well: “The paper found that the byproducts from the natural oils increase the likelihood of the vape’s heating coils malfunctioning and resulting in explosions.” Utter bollocks!

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  2. It’s horrific that she talks about oils in ecigs. Some inexperienced, uninformed DIYers might read that trash and think it’s fine to use them.

    I always think that these totally biased pieces are via press releases written by those with vested interests. It would be impossible for any journalists, even poor ones such as this one, to do any research without coming up with studies from both sides and to my knowledge, there aren’t any talking about peanut oil.

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    • There are still some vapers that refer to the e-liquid as “oil” – not many granted, but some. Just another example of a lack of education.

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    • Oh, I bet Stan Glantz has had some thoughts along those lines. A little bit of misinformation goes a long way, especially if it emanates from Stan’s rear orifice.

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  3. Look on the bright side. Couple of slivers of cod and some potato shavings, and you’d have fish’n’chip flavour vape! :) You could even add a dash of vinegar!

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