Busted for Bad Research: Shining a Light on the Most Misleading Ecig Studies Busted for Bad Research: Shining a Light on the Most Misleading Ecig Studies

Countless people can lay claim to a past filled with pack after pack of cigarettes. How many friends or family members do you have that could say they used to smoke one or even two packs every single day? Yet there are millions of former smokers that can now call themselves former smokers because of ecigarettes. The most powerful testament to the efficiency of electronic cigarettes is the many changed lives all over the world. Yet each day brings about a new attack on the ecig industry through news reports, legislation, or local bans.

Why are ecigs under such constant scrutiny? A lot of it all goes back to research. Study after study has been done to learn more about electronic cigarettes. Many of these “studies” are based on erroneous research methods or have a predetermined outcome already in the mix. Once the numbers are massaged to fit a popular narrative, the media attacks and sinks their teeth into the story like a hungry lion devouring its last meal. These drive-by attacks on ecigs are creating a society that views ecigarettes as an enemy rather than a savior.

A recent report from Public Health England shows just how effective the smear campaign has been. The newly released report notes that nearly half of the population thinks that cigarettes and vaping are equally harmful and dangerous. If the vaping enthusiasts and supporters are going to change hearts and minds on this topic then it must start with clearing up misconceptions that are rooted in erroneous research. Below are five of the most commonly cited ecig studies along with an honest look at the questionable research methods involved.

Formaldehyde is Lurking in Your Ecigarette Vapor

This favorite study of the media claims that scientists were able to detect harmful levels of formaldehyde in electronic cigarette vapor. They concluded that vaping would carry a cancer risk that is 5-15% greater than traditional cigarettes. Yet further examination reveals just how these “scientist” were able to garner this information. The ecigs being used in the experiment/research were pushed well beyond standard limits.

The researchers were simulating dry puffs with a device that was pushing more volts than the typical ecig user would ever attempt. The main issue here is that real world vapers would not continue using an ecig with a dry, burnt atomizer. The taste would be horrible and even if it happened on accident once, the user would quickly correct course or stop using the ecig. Furthermore, the study failed to disclose that when the ecig was used with a traditional power setting and the unit was not dry, there was no formaldehyde detected at all.

By the standards of this study we could “research” the harmful effects of eating toast in the same way. However ludicrous this might sound, we would simply toast some bread until it was burnt beyond recognition and then test the charred remains for carcinogens. When it came back positive for all kinds of bad toxins, we would declare that toast causes cancer and try to ban eating bread in public. Apparently that is what passes as science these days.

Ecigs Are Turning Kids Into Chronic Tobacco Users

Everything is always turned into an attack on children. This study alleged that if a child uses an ecig, he is at a higher risk for using tobacco products within the next 6-12 months. The research was immediately lauded and praised within the media. Regardless of the simple fact that there are no real facts in the research, the media continues to cite this study and politicians are using it to raise the tax rates on items associated with ecigs.

Despite all the hype, a closer look reveals that the research was not research at all. It was a basic survey done among a small sample group. The teens who participated in the study were never asked if they smoked or vaped on a regular basis. Instead the researchers simply listed the teens as smokers or vapers if they had tried either item even one time. In all honesty the study’s conclusion doesn’t even make sense. If a kid is willing to try an ecig now, then why wouldn’t the same kid be willing to try a cigarette later? It has nothing to do with ecigarettes and everything to do with kids who naturally push the limits and experiment. Even the researchers placed a very small note in the study where they admitted that they could not determine that vaping led to any teen actually picking up a cigarette.

Ecig Vapor Will Damage Your Lungs 

Another world famous “study” is actually one of the more nefarious pieces of journalism we have found. Scientists were supposedly trying to determine if ecig vapor is harmful to the respiratory system. They decided to expose both human and mice lung cells to cigarette smoke and ecigarette vapor. The conclusion of the study stated that lungs exposed to the vapor were inflamed and quite damaged. Sounds bad right? Not so fast…

Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos is a world-renowned cardiologist with extensive experience in real ecig research. He has exposed this study as erroneous by showing that the researchers used insanely high amounts of nicotine to garner their results. In fact the lowest nicotine level used in the study was more than 500 times higher than what you would find in a real world smoker’s bloodstream. According to Farsalinos the study was nothing more about politics than science. Unfortunately many networks ran with the study and the damage was done before anyone could stop it.

Vaping Makes It Harder To Stop Smoking

This study is the best example of a biased research project that we have seen to date. To garner the results that they wanted, the research team collected data from a quit line where people call in if they need help with smoking cessation. Their research concluded that smokers who used electronic cigarettes were far less likely to stop smoking. Here’s the catch. They only interviewed people who were obviously still smokers and even if they had tried an ecig, they would testify that it didn’t work. If it had helped them quit smoking, they would’ve never called the quit line in the first place. The researchers were guaranteed the results they wanted simply because there was not a baseline group.

Second Hand Vapor Contains Toxins that Put the Public at Risk 

The study here really gained steam quickly in the media. Researchers claimed that ecigs released dangerous toxin particles that were harmful with even secondhand exposure. If you examine the actual data from the study, it actually shows an opposite conclusion.

Air samples were taken from a smoker’s home, a vaper’s home, and a non-smoker’s home. The particles found in the home of the vaper were massively lower than those in the smoker’s home. In fact, the particles were only slightly higher than the non-smoker’s house. To be exact, the vaper’s home had one millionth of a gram more toxins than the non-smoker’s home. However the smoker’s home had 60 times more toxins. The real conclusion to this study should have been that ecigs are astronomically safer than cigarettes and the risk associated with secondhand vapor is no greater than the risk from inhaling regular room air.

These five studies are just a small sampling of the bad research that is regularly distributed to attack ecigarettes. With such horrific myths constantly in the media, it’s no surprise that many smokers decide to just stay with their tobacco products. Bad research is causing people to keep smoking and ultimately, it will cost thousands of lives. It’s time to pull back the curtain on these bad research methods and let the media know that enough is enough. If they won’t vet their sources and check the data, they should be held responsible for the fall out, which in this case is tragic.


Katie Bercham - CocktailNerd Editor

Katie actually had a negative first experience of electronic cigarettes, picking up a cheap and horrible model from my local mall. Thanks to a chance meeting with co-editor David, she hasn’t had a tobacco cigarette in over 5 years. She brings a strong female voice to the e-cig community.