Two new studies underway at Ohio State University aim to find out if e-cigarettes are safer than smoking. But if some preliminary statements from those involved are any indication, it seems that the researchers may have already made up their minds about e-cigarettes and are looking for the studies to confirm their bias.
For the first of the two studies, the researchers are looking for 60 people, including smokers, non-smokers, e-cigarette users and smokeless tobacco users. The idea is to compare non-smokers’ health with the health of people who use “tobacco products,” which the researchers consider e-cigarettes to be. Specifically, they are looking for exposure to cancer-causing chemicals.
Peter Shields, M.D., the deputy director of OSU Comprehensive Cancer Center, says that “there is no hard scientific evidence” that e-cigarettes are better or worse than tobacco cigarettes. He warns that e-cigarettes are a tobacco product and they should not be assumed safe until more research has been done.
Dr. Shields does not explain how, since they contain absolutely no tobacco, e-cigarettes are tobacco products. But the Food and Drug Administration would support his statement, having declared e-cigarettes to be a tobacco product, apparently because they contain nicotine. There is no indication of the type of e-liquid to be used in the OSU study, for example, the percentage of nicotine or any other specific ingredients contained in it.
The studies are being funded by the FDA and the National Cancer Institute, two organizations that have not been particularly friendly to the e-cigarette community. These studies appear to be tainted with anti-e-cigarette bias from the outset, and it seems unlikely that they will find the “hard evidence” Dr. Shields insists is necessary before anyone can assume that e-cigarettes are not even worse than smoking.
The studies were announced on November 1, and were timed to take place near the date of the Great American Smokeout on November 17th. The Great American Smokeout is a day when smokers are encouraged to quit smoking even for one day. As many smokers are turning to e-cigarettes as an alternative, the FDA and NCI seem to be scrambling for evidence on e-cigarette safety. Perhaps they should look to the United Kingdom, where e-cigarettes have been deemed by medical experts to be nearly 100% safer than smoking, or to any of the other studies that have shown no “hard evidence” of any particular dangers of e-cigarette use.
Instead, American government institutions continue to spend money on their owns studies, headed by people like Dr. Shields whose statements reveal an existing bias. The e-cigarette community should be prepared for the results of the OSU studies by considering the source.
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