A Gateway to Tobacco Use?

Posted 8th August 2014 by Toby Kilroy
Dr. Michael Siegel compares and contrasts two studies looking into e-cigarette use and teenagers.

The first study he looks at covers the Medscape “research” and Dr. Stanton Glantz’s “research” into electronic cigarette use leading young people to tobacco:

Medscape is a wholly owned subsidiary of WebMD and in 2013 the Chicago Tribune reported that “WebMD, which operates medical websites providing health and disease related information, has struggled with a fall in advertising revenue with pharmaceutical companies slashing marketing budgets”.

Dr. Michael Siegel, professor of Health Sciences at Boston University, wrote an entry on tobaccoanalysis.blogspot.com where he accuses Medscape’s Thomas R. Frieden , a director for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and Stanton Glantz of warping genuine research data and outright lies in order to support their personal agendas.

Dr. Siegel says that open and honest debate regarding the efficacy of vaping is something to be welcomed but “I don't believe there is room for is tobacco control scientists and government agency leaders making up scientific evidence to support pre-determined positions.”

It could be argued that the respective positions taken by Medscape and Glantz are influenced by their reliance on funding from pharmaceutical companies. Peter Hajek, Professor of Clinical Psychology at Barts, believes that they are adopting a moral posture whereby the truth and well being of smokers is less important than a fight against tobacco companies in general.

Dr. Siegel goes on to point out that Frieden’s claim that many of the teenagers who began using vaping devices went on to become cigarette users is a lie, does not feature in the research and is unable to be drawn as a conclusion from it.


Glantz claims that e-cigarettes pose 20% of the risk of cigarettes; a statement Siegel says is entirely made-up and lacks any supporting evidence. Siegel continues that although the exact long-term effects of vaping remain unknown that is no justification for inventing figures and presenting them as fact.

The second paper by Dr. Siegel contrasts these invented statistics by comparing them to actual research carried out by Dr. Ted Wagener at the University of Oklahoma:

Wagener studied the smoking/vaping habits of 1,300 students attending the University on the back of findings that vaping had doubled within America’s school population over the proceeding 12 months, from 3.3% to 6.8% of students.

Out of the 1,300 students:

  • Only 43 said that they had used an ecig, which represents only 3.3% of the students
  • Of those 43 students only one person had progressed to using regular cigarettes – representing 0.08% of the student body or 2% of vapers

Wagener says that this evidence proves that gateway claims for vaping are wholly unsupportable by the statistics. In fact, the figures amply demonstrate that vaping is a gateway from smoking and to nothing.

Dr. Siegel refers back to Frieden claim that “many kids are starting out with e-cigarettes and then going on to smoke conventional cigarettes” to illustrate that the belief is without foundation and that opinions should never be communicated as if they were facts.


Siegel concludes that policy geared to vaping is being driven by the fact that Generation 1 cigalikes look like cigarettes and nothing more. He contends that laws are being put in place because of agendas and ignoring research, data and evidence.

For reference:

Top Photo credit: mason bryant via photopin cc

 Toby Kilroy
Article by Toby Kilroy
Toby set up Planet of the Vapes in 2012 after another major vaping site was taken down. With a history in web development and running websites for clients he was well placed to use his previous knowledge to build and run a site on the scale of POTV.