According to a research letter published by researchers from the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at UCSF (University of California, San Francisco) electronic cigarettes are ineffective as smoking cessation aids. After analyzing the habits of 88 smokers who also used e-cigarettes, scientists found they were no more likely to quit cigarettes after a year, compared to smokers who didn’t use them. Sad news, isn’t it? Relax, though, this scientific work can only be described as junk science or, at best, a bad joke.
I have to admit I was surprised when I first read a news report on the research letter recently published in the JAMA Internal Medicine Journal. The authors claim that electronic cigarettes are inefficient in helping smokers quit contradicts several other studies, including the pioneering clinical trial conducted by the University of Auckland, New Zealand, that found e-cigarettes are at least as effective as nicotine patches in helping people give up cigarettes. But after reading more about the research conducted by the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at UCSF, I realized it was nothing but another bogus study designed only to misinform the general public and slander electronic cigarettes.
So let’s take a look at what the authors of this research letter actually did. Their study involves a number of 949 smokers interviewed in 2011 and followed up after a year. Of these, 88 smokers had reported using electronic cigarettes at least once in the previous 30 days, at baseline. Researchers report that at the one-year follow-up, the rate of smoking cessation among non-e-cigarette users was 13.8%, while of the 88 people who had tried electronic cigarettes, just 10.2% had actually quit. Based on these findings, the study concludes e-cigarette use doesn’t help smokers quit. “Consistent with the only other longitudinal population-level study with 1-year follow-up that we are aware of, we found that e-cigarette use by smokers was not followed by greater rates of quitting or by reduction in cigarette consumption 1 year later,” the authors write.
I know it sounds bad, but there is a catch – in order for the findings of this shady study to be taken seriously, the test subjects involved should have had a desire to quit smoking or at least cut down on tobacco cigarette consumption with the help of electronic cigarettes. Instead, this so-called scientific research examines the rate of quitting among all users who had tried electronic cigarettes, whatever the reason. It’s possible, even highly probable, that these people had just tried e-cigarettes to see what all the fuss was about, following their rise in popularity during these last few years.
To make matters worse, the authors of the study themselves admit that of the 88 smokers who had tried e-cigarettes at least once in the month prior to their interview only 8% reported that they had an intention to quit smoking at that time (in the next 30 days). And only 39.8% of them said they intended to quit in the next six months. That means the majority of these people were not actually using e-cigarettes in an attempt to quit smoking.
Even though the authors admit 92% of these “e-cigarette users” were not using them as smoking cessation aids, they conclude that electronic cigarettes are ineffective in helping people quit. But they just said those people did not intend to quit, so… Unfortunately, like the recent bogus study that claimed e-cigarettes encouraged smoking in youth, this is nothing but junk science meant only to put vaping in a bad light. If these scientist had any intention to report the truth, they would have either conducted their research properly or at least refrained from drawing such ludicrous conclusions.
Unfortunately, as is often the case with negative reports on electronic cigarettes, their findings have been picked up by large corporate-owned news agencies and websites and will likely influence policy makers as they decide the future of electronic cigarettes and millions of users around the world. Great job, docs, mission accomplished!