Tuesday, September 30, 2014

CDC Sees E-Cigarette Use at Marked Increase and Leveling Off – Tortured Logic

The CDC has released another “more of the same” report on e-cigarette awareness and use.  The lead author is Dr. Brian King; the report appears in Nicotine & Tobacco Research (abstract here). 

While the manuscript refers at least 15 times to an “increase” in U.S. e-cigarette use from 2010 to 2013, Dr. King informed the media that e-cigarette use is leveling off (example here).  Ironically, Dr. King characterized the plateau in use of a vastly safer cigarette substitute as “a positive note.”  

On what did Dr. King base his “leveling” remark?  His conclusion was cherry-picked from two out of about a hundred percentage figures in Table 2 (in yellow in the screenshot on the left; you'll need some magnification).  Those percentages were not even mentioned in the results, but Dr. King considered them important enough to highlight for the media. 

This is a perfect example of the CDC producing data claiming one thing – a “considerable,” “marked,” “rapid,” “doubling” increase in e-cigarette use – then pitching it to the media as something else – a “leveling,” which is “positive.”  The agency’s purpose is to disparage a vastly safer cigarette alternative.  

The report contains other examples of distorted logic.  A reasonable observation – “The marked increase [in use] among former smokers could be attributable to the use of e-cigarettes for cessation.” – is supported by the fact that ever e-cig use among former smokers increased to 10% in 2013.  But King and his coauthors perversely observe that “…the increase could be attributable to new initiation of e-cigarettes among individuals who had successfully quit without previous use of the product, highlighting concerns over the potential for these products to promote relapse to combustible tobacco use.”

In other words, the CDC thinks that e-cigs are a gateway to smoking because they might be corrupting former smokers who had previously been abstinent.  As Lewis Carroll wrote, “It sounds uncommon nonsense.”


Geoff Cliff said...

"Uncommon nonsense" is the name of the game for those who would deny smokers any exit path that is not approved by (i.e. profitable to) themselves.
When those who claim to be fighting a 'holy war on tobacco' start attacking the best weapon so far developed to help them achieve their objective, one has to ask what is their TRUE objective. Is it, perhaps, simply preservation of their funding from pharma, tobacco and government (ie taxpayers)? E-cigarettes are NOT cigarettes, they are NOT smoking; they should NOT be considered the enemy! And false claims used as a weapon have a nasty habit of turning out to be boomerangs!

Hans Schmidt said...

CDC, WHO, FDA ... they all distort the truth and fake statistics at will. It´s nothing new. They do this since decades. Allmost everything we had learned about smoking and nicotine is wrong: nicotine is not dangerous when taken in usual amounts, nicotine alone is not addictive if MAOIs are not present, the dangers of second- and thirdhand smoke are pure fiction ... it´s an endless list of lies. The numbers of smokers are going down since decades, lung cancer goes up. Snus is less risky as cigarettes ... and banned in the EU. The e-cig is one of the best inventions of the new century and all these nicotine and tobacco zealots (ANTZ) try to ban it. I´ll stop here. Tbc when needed.