July 14, 2018

Rebuttal to flawed “study”

Read the full article for complete breakdown of this report

“The authors use some phrasing that a careful reader could charitably interpret as saying, “merely being a vaper does not mean that someone is will soon quit smoking,” which is a valid interpretation of their results. But a few bits of subtle language is not good enough. The authors undoubtedly knew that their results would be interpreted as saying, “taking up vaping for the purpose of quitting smoking is useless or counterproductive,” and indeed some of their language basically says that. This is an obviously invalid interpretation.

It turns out that buried in the tables is some useful information about the use of vaping to quit smoking. For subjects who made a self-defined quit attempt during the study period, those who did so by trying to switch to vaping were smoking-abstinent at follow-up (“had quit” in the language of the paper) more than 20 percent of the time. This is quite impressive given that, as explained above, the population sampling method excludes almost all smokers who are inclined to switch to vaping quickly after trying it. This contrasts with only a few percent who became abstinent when their quit attempt included NRT or other “approved” methods.

Also buried in the results is the fact that subjects who started vaping during the study period were much more likely to have become abstinent at follow-up than those who vaped at baseline (though still at a rate lower than the unexplained strangely high rate for the non-vapers). This is consistent with the above observations: Some smokers tried vaping for the first time sometime that year and quickly quit smoking because of it. By contrast, for most of those who were already vaping at baseline, that possibility was already in their past; they were still smoking and thus in the study only because switching had already not worked for them. It is also interesting that more than a third of the vapers (at baseline) who became smoking abstinent also gave up vaping. This suggests that they were among those who vaped only because it was part of their smoking habit, not because they wanted to use it to replace smoking.”

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