1. Angus MacAskill Angus MacAskill Canada says:

    I don't have access to the studies, but Dr Hedman's statements strike me as being too broad. A cross-sectional survey is inherently limited in what it can tell us about cause and effect. The data presented here would also be consistent with a scenario where the entire population of dual users was using e-cigs to gradually reduce their cigarette intake, on track to quitting completely.

    I don't claim that's the case for ALL dual-users, but it's surely true for SOME of them, and the study design is unable to capture this.

    Moreover, if you're going to make a claim about e-cigs' effectiveness for quitting, you can't just look at former smokers, you need to consider former vapers as well! Otherwise you're ignoring people who used e-cigs to help quit smoking, succeeded, and then quit vaping too.

    • Angus MacAskill Angus MacAskill Canada says:

      As for the question of respiratory problems, did the researchers attempt to control for frequency of smoking, or past smoking? If not, then they are probably seeing the effect of a confounding variable.

      Heavy smokers, long-term smokers, and smokers with trouble breathing are all more likely to try e-cigarettes as a substitute or a quitting aid, but to have trouble quitting completely. The same groups are likely more prone to experience a wheeze or cough, too. Taken together, this could explain why dual-users experience more frequent respiratory problems, but e-cigarettes are not the cause.

      The study author admits this possibility, but assigns it equal likelihood as a novel (and IMO unlikely) interaction between e-cigarettes and regular smoking. She then emphasizes that e-cigarettes "cannot be marketed as a safe alternative" to smoking.

      The author should have done the responsible thing and admitted that the study design does not allow her to make these kinds of statements.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News-Medical.Net.
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