“We don't know everything that's going out. We don't know everything that's affecting our bodies,” said County Health Director Howard Gamble, in autumn. “To say that there's literature that says there's nothing wrong with it is very short sided, as well as individuals who say they're good for you.”
The only good message for Howard is a bad message, which is why he probably leapt with joy when The Blade put its spin on a survey conducted by Interact For Health, an organisation dripping with pharma cash. “Nearly half of young adults in Ohio report trying e-cigarettes,” they wrote after scanning the data for a nice negative slant.
“Opinions about the safety of e-cigarettes vary,” they say – so who better to ask for clarification than a bunch of people who don’t use them, haven’t seen the evidence and rely on media coverage. Interact preferred to focus in on the potential to misuse the findings to support an increase in taxation on vaping products.
“Most Ohio adults support regulating, taxing e-cigarettes,” they declared. Of course, this isn’t true – just 41.5% of the people surveyed agreed that the state should place a duty on ecigs equivalent to that currently levied on tobacco products; that’s just 334.5 people and not quite a majority of the 11,613,423 currently estimated to be living there. And the less said about the half a person believing in taxation the better.
The survey is deeply flawed as a piece of evidence. It was conducted by phone and cellphone interview and (by Interact’s own admission) “there are ... sources of variation inherent in public opinion studies, such as non-response, question wording, or context effects that can introduce error or bias.”
No category was created for current or former vapers, only current smokers. Of these 19% of those surveyed were smokers who had vaped and 28% were ex-smokers who had used an ecig. Unless other responders lived with a vaper or were interested in the subject it is highly unlikely they held an informed opinion. This is amplified by 42% thinking vaping was as dangerous as smoking and 12% laboring under the misbelief that it actually offers a greater risk!
So, it is unsurprising that 3/5s of those questioned thought the FDA should regulate a product they know nothing of other than the fear spread in newspapers and on television. Bizarrely, 28% of those who claimed they had used an e-cig believed they should have paid more for the privilege.
Just in case anybody saw through the misuse of statistics taking place, Interact’s Ann Barnum concluded: “The relationship between tobacco use and e-cigarette use remains unclear, as does whether one of those activities leads to the other.” And with the gateway myth being thrown into the mix Ohio vapers can discount almost everything this survey claims to stand for.