Friday, November 13, 2020

Another Groundless Gateway, Courtesy of Children’s National Hospital


Pediatrics, the flagship journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, published an article two and a half years ago asserting that e-cigarettes are a “gateway” to smoking.  After extensively analyzing the data from the FDA’s Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health, or PATH, on which the claim was based, I concluded that the study was so flawed that it deserved retraction.  I discussed this in several blog posts (here, here, here and here).

Now it’s déjà vu all over again.  Pediatrics has published another article by researchers at Children’s National Hospital and other institutions that is being touted by a CNH press release: “E-cigarettes can be a ‘gateway’ to conventional cigarette smoking for teens who had no prior intention to smoke.”

The hyperbolic release has generated headlines like these:

“E-cigarettes Can Be A ‘Gateway’ To Smoking For Teens!!!

“Vaping Lures Teens to Smoking: Study”

“Study: Teens Who Vape Are 4 Times More Likely to Smoke Cigarettes”

 It doesn’t require extensive analysis to recognize this as nonsense.  Here’s what the authors actually determined:

Ever e-cigarette use, even one or two times, is associated with ever cigarette smoking, even one or two puffs, 12 months later, for teens who had no prior intention to smoke.

You read that correctly.  The press release and subsequent news articles magically transformed that into VAPING CAUSES SMOKING.

If you’re wondering how the authors defined “intention to smoke,” they used a definition that I discussed in a blog six years ago, which has renewed value today.


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