Monthly Archives: October 2014

What is peer review really? (part 5)

by Carl V Phillips

Returning to this series, I previously explored Myth 1, that peer reviewers have access to more information than any other reader of the paper. On to Myth 2 (and, again, the order of this presentation is based on narrative convenience, not necessarily importance).

Myth 2: Health science reviewers have the skills and incentive to do the job they are assumed to be doing. Continue reading

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Smoking trends don’t show whether ecigs are “working”. Ever. So quit it!

by Carl V Phillips

Live by the sword….

A new study by Goniewicz et al. found that smoking and e-cigarette trialing[*] are both up in Poland. They conclude based on that (yes, just on that — my sentence fully sums up their results), “Observed parallel increase in e-cigarette use and smoking prevalence does not support the idea that e-cigarettes are displacing tobacco cigarettes in this population.” It turns out that simple sentence is wrong in its details (the trend was not remotely parallel) while right in its conclusion. But that is only because the conclusion is basically always true: There is no conceivable data from population usage trends that could either support or deny the conclusion that e-cigarettes are displacing cigarettes. Continue reading

Sunday Science Lesson: association vs. causation + knowing the difference between good news and bad

by Carl V Phillips

This article in JAMA, which shows an association between smoking and a cancer-causing HPV infection (oral infection with HPV-16), is not really about THR. So I will post it under my broader and underused “Sunday Science Lesson” series. There is a minor bit of anti-THR lying in it: They bundle in the smokeless tobacco users with the (10 times as many) smokers in their analyses, pretending that those exposures are similar. As a result, they refer to what is really smoking as “tobacco use” (and even worse, “nicotine use”) in the title, press release, and body of the article. But that is not my point today. Continue reading

ANTZ try to redefine “astroturf” to mean “anything they don’t like”

by Carl V Phillips

CASAA is amused, proud, and annoyed (but mostly amused) to be the topic of a new research paper. Of course, we have been mentioned in papers a dozen times before, not including in our own work, and are most proud of being mentioned as the sponsor of Igor Burstyn’s seminal paper. But never before were we the main subject of the study. Of course, the paper was written by ANTZ and so it should come as no surprise that its main claim is a serious lie.

The paper, by Jenine K Harris (Washington University in St. Louis), Sarah Moreland-Russell, PhD (WU), Bechara Choucair (Chicago Department of Public Health[*]), Raed Mansour (CDPH), Mackenzie Staub (WU), and Kendall Simmons (WU), published at Journal of Medical Internet Research, is actually a little bit interesting. Continue reading

Snus in Finland, a brief follow-up

by Carl V Phillips

A few days ago, I mentioned (buried in a longer analysis of another topic) Brad Rodu’s post that reported an estimate of the additional smoking in Finland caused by the EU snus ban. A recent news article (h/t SnusCentral; note that I have not been able to find a more complete source for the results that are reported) reports that personal importation of snus into Finland has increased remarkably in the last year. This is seriously good news for THR in more ways than one. Continue reading

Random observations about e-cigarette policy, terminology, and relationships

by Carl V Phillips

Four items, related primarily because they resulted from my observations over the last few days, though there is an underlying theme to be found.

Item 1: Many of you have no doubt seen this story that appeared in Business Week and various other publications via the Bloomberg feed. At the Global Tobacco Networking Forum, Reynolds CEO Susan Cameron made clear that a much-criticized line in the Reynolds comment on the FDA proposed regulation of e-cigarettes had not been misinterpreted.  The line, which basically called for the banning of open-system e-cigarettes, might have been a trial balloon, but it was certainly not a gaffe. Cameron made clear Reynolds’s support for that position. Continue reading