Dr. Farsalinos is well known as an advocate for the harm reduction and smoking cessation value of e-cigarettes
A significant fight for vaping, and its acceptance by the public, has been against misinformation. Lobbyists and the media feed tons of misinformation to the public about vaping’s effectiveness and the amount of harm reduction it offers. Rumors and conspiracies about harmfully laced e-liquids, or false claims about them causing conditions like COPD or wet lung have been circulating for years. These claims are ridiculous and have almost no legitimate scientific evidence behind them.
Each rumor spread is detrimental to vaping and ultimately the public’s health by making people less likely to switch from smoking to vaping. This is because they do not view it as a harm reduction or smoking cessation tool. That’s why Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos, of the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center in Greece, continues to stand up against false claims. Dr. Farsalinos is well versed on the topic, having done almost a decade of research on the effects of e-cigarettes. He’s become one of vaping’s most reliable allies when it comes to fighting the spread of misinformation. Once again he’s doing his thing, this time rebuking a study published on the American Thoracic Society’s website.
The ATS Study
The study in question, a report titled “E-Cigarette Use is Associated with Emphysema, Chronic Bronchitis and COPD,” had a rather biased push to associate vaping with these diseases. Researchers analyzed the medical history of 17 participants: how and when they were diagnosed with COPD, and when they became e-cigarette users. The title of the report may give it away, but the researchers linked these two occurrences and implied in their work that vaping was the cause of the diagnosis.
That’s why Dr. Farsalinos stepped in. He has a respected reputation in the vaping community thanks to over ten years of replications of many potentially misleading studies. His results, along with those of many other peer-reviewed studies by a variety of scientists around the globe, support vaping as vastly safer than smoking traditional cigarettes. In fact, one famous study by Public Health England found that vaping is at minimum 95% safer than smoking.
Dr. Farsalinos’ major objections were the tying of vaping to these diseases, that in most of the cases, were clearly caused by combustible cigarettes. There was one example in particular that Farsalinos pointed out: a 64-year-old retired naval mechanic. This gentleman had been a ravenous smoker for nearly 50 years. According to the records of the study, he smoked between three and four packs of cigarettes a day from the age of 16. That is 60 to 80 cigarettes a day, or 21,900 to 29,200 cigarettes a year for 48 years.
When he was diagnosed with COPD in 2001, he did not quit smoking. He continued smoking until 2011 when he was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer. During treatments, he cut back substantially to three cigarettes a day but nonetheless kept smoking. Once his treatments were over, he returned to his chimney-like three packs a day. It was not until 2013, 12 years after the COPD diagnosis, and two years after cancer that he attempted a switch to a 2nd generation e-cigarette. He found no success with it and returned to combustible cigarettes. His health continued to decline, and he was put on oxygen therapy. It was then that the gentleman switched to a 3rd generation e-cigarette successfully. From that point on the patient’s records show substantial signs of improvement.
Somehow the authors of this study used this information to audaciously imply that the diseases this man had were related to vaping, not smoking. Dr. Farsalinos rebuked “(This) is a real case of a smoker who developed serious medical conditions BEFORE he initiated e-cigarette use. People who smoke and develop smoking-related disease at some point become desperate and try e-cigarettes as an aid to quit smoking.” Farsalinos continued to say that this research does not constitute a link between vaping and the diseases, such as COPD, the researchers were focused on.
There was one sentence, Farsalinos pointed out, buried deep within the study that says “Due to the fact that the data is cross-sectional, it is unknown whether E-cigs could contribute to COPD development, or if people who have COPD are more likely to use E-cigs (possibly as a harm reduction method).” This one sentence contradicts everything the rest of the authors say about their findings. Even within this study, the statistics clearly show that the switch from combustibles to e-cigarettes helps ease several severe COPD symptoms. Rather than share this information, the authors chose to bury it under biased interpretations and a clickbait headline.
With so much up in the air for vaping’s future, improved public perception is critical. Many countries and states are working out how to treat these products in the legal system, and poor opinions and judgments by the general public will lead to more bans and restrictions on a product that could be a game changer for public health if we supported them. Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos is a fantastic ally in that fight. His willingness to replicate tests and bring to light any biased tones and outcomes is critical. Shining a light on unsubstantiated and unsupportable information is an excellent tool in the education of the masses on what vaping has to offer. At this time the majority of scientific and peer-reviewed work on the topic of e-cigarettes shows that vaping is the most effective smoking cessation tool on the market, and that it is at least 95% safer than smoking. If we, as a society, want to end smoking then the key is here with vaping. We need to support it by supporting those who would benefit from it, not villainizing it.
Is it important to call out poor research design? Do you believe that some people purposely try to harm vaping? What’s the best way to utilize vaping as a harm reduction and smoking cessation tool? Let us know what you think in the comments, and don’t forget to check back here or join our Facebook and Twitter communities for more news and articles.