New study: smoking may be harmless in the 21st century

by Carl V Phillips

The abstract of the new study, just published in the Journal of Abstracts that are More Educational than an Entire MPH Curriculum:

Title: The potential harmlessness of smoking

Background: While smoking was demonstrated to be a widespread and moderately-high-magnitude health threat in the 20th century, less is known about what effects it will have in the 21st.

Methods: Systematic review of journal articles reporting measures of disease risk from smoking during the 21st century.

Results: In contrast with the overwhelming evidence that smoking during the 20th century caused death and disease, no evidence was found to support a similar claim about the 21st century. No RCTs were found, and thus the effects cannot be proven to exist. Moreover, the observational studies that reported effects of smoking during the 21st century consistently failed to control for overwhelming confounding by the well-known risk factor, smoking in the 20th century, and thus the results are highly suspect.

Conclusions: Smoking during the present century may be harmless. All smoking-related public policies that are premised on smoking being harmful should be immediately revoked, in accordance with the precautionary principle and the requirement to do no harm. Continue reading

A real peer review of Hughes et al paper on teenage use of ecigs

by Carl V Phillips

As I alluded to in the previous post, I am working on a project to review the quality of peer review of papers in the THR space. The first step in that is to write a review of the original submission to the journal. It will then be compared to what the journal’s reviewers actually wrote. It just so happens that a paper that came out today and that is currently dominating the chattering on the topic — “Associations between e-cigarette access and smoking and drinking behaviours in teenagers”, by Karen Hughes, Mark A Bellis, Katherine A Hardcastle, Philip McHale, Andrew Bennett, Robin Ireland, and Kate Pike — happens to fit the criteria for inclusion in our study. So I went ahead and wrote my review of it so I could share it before everyone moves on to a new shiny object du jour. Continue reading

Peer review and sins of omission

by Carl V Phillips

I was recently compiling a collection of journal articles related to THR for a study of peer review. (More on that before too long. Note to those who have been anticipating this work: Yes, I am a few months behind — is anyone actually surprised by that? But, yes, it is coming along.)

One thing that I was struck by was how many articles about assisted smoking cessation did not make the cut to be in our collection because there is no mention of THR. I guess it comes as no surprise when you think about it. But the sheer volume comes as a rather stark illustration for those of us whose reading is concentrated on articles that do focus on THR and THR products. Continue reading

Nice pop press article on the benefits of nicotine (outsource)

by Carl V Phillips

I am seldom inclined to outsource to a popular press article, but this article in Discover magazine, by Dan Hurley does a very nice job of presenting the case for the positive effects of nicotine in an easy breezy style. I recommend it. It is designed to just argue the affirmative case — it is not at all balanced — but arguing the affirmative case has a lot of value when most people do not even realize there is such a case. Continue reading

CDC prepares to launch massive anti-ecig lie campaign

by Carl V Phillips

In a move whose dishonesty, flouting of government ethics, and abuse of the interests of the citizenry are as great as NSA spying or concocting fake casus belli, the CDC has announced that it plans to try to discourage smokers from switching to e-cigarettes. The plan is recounted in this Wall Street Journal article. This effort could easily cause more American deaths than the Iraq war; indeed, if it takes off, it could cause more total deaths.

CDC’s decades of anti-THR lies about smokeless tobacco have played a major role in discouraging smokers from switching throughout the world, and the toll from that is huge. (Ironically, many vapers and e-cigarette supporters still believe those lies. Stockholm syndrome maybe?) That effort caused the early deaths of tens of thousands, if not millions, of people. Now they seem to be ramping up their simmering attacks on e-cigarettes to another full-blown homicidal campaign.

Continue reading

New CDC study on how to write conclusions that do not follow from the analysis

by Carl V Phillips

If you read the title of the paper (peer-reviewed journal article!), “Nicotine and the Developing Human, A Neglected Element in the Electronic Cigarette Debate” by Lucinda J. England, Rebecca E. Bunnell, Terry F. Pechacek, Van T. Tong, MPH, and Tim A. McAfee (all employees of the U.S. CDC), you might think it was a study of the effects of nicotine. But upon reading the abstract and noticing that it merely has some vague hand-waving about that, and is mostly about “needed” policy interventions, you would probably think it is instead a policy analysis. But it is neither. It is a case study of how “public health” people do not think that conclusions and policy recommendations need to be based on any analysis whatsoever. Continue reading

Science Lesson: what are vapor, aerosol, particles, liquids, and such?

by Carl V Phillips

There is much confusion about states of matter as they relate to e-cigarette “vapor”. This post is intended to explain what you need to know about them.

The word “vapor” has become a generally accepted term for “what comes out of an e-cigarette”. That means what it means, and that is fine. Common language often takes technical terms and uses them in a way that is “incorrect” if interpreted as if it were the technical term. But this can create confusion. Continue reading

Pamphlet: Tobacco harm reduction, e-cigarettes, and e-cigarette use: an overview

by Carl V Phillips

For a seminar at the U.S. Senate offices today (which also featured Gregory Conley and CASAA’s Igor Burstyn), I prepared a handout that I think is the best way to give an overview of what the title describes.

[Update: I neglected to mention that the event was hosted by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), in the person of CASAA advisor Sally Satel. They and she did a great job of planning the event and getting a lot of people there to hear what we had to say. It was a great contribution to the cause.]

It is aimed at people who know a little bit about the topic, and thus have probably heard bits of the usual misinformation, but are fuzzy on even the basics. It glosses over the health science because Igor was covering that.

I figured I might as well share it more widely: Phillips – harm reduction and ecigs handout (pdf) [updated 19mar15 based on comments plus some additional tidying]. Comments welcome and feel free to share it. We will probably turn it into some sort of “permanent” CASAA document.

The only thing from my talk that is not in the document that is worth mentioning: When talking about the myth that flavors appeal only to kids, I pointed out that, as I understand, not too far from where we were sitting there is an Official Senate Candy Dish.