The pair from the University of Southern California sought to answer a simple question: “Is the use of electronic cigarettes with higher nicotine concentrations prospectively associated with greater frequency and intensity of combustible cigarette smoking and vaping in adolescents?”
It does feel like they found the answer they were looking for – in line with all of the other studies coming out of the pharma-friendly University of Southern California.
They state: “Prospective data demonstrate that youths who vape are more likely to initiate”, which they took from this study. The authors of the cited study claimed that their results contributed “to the growing body of evidence supporting vaping as a one-way bridge to cigarette smoking among youth”.
One of the clearest things about the data on smoking is that the usage rates continue to plummet in both the USE and the UK. This, combined with the wealth of evidence decrying any supposed gateway effect, makes a mockery of the clearly corrupt American studies arguing that vaping leads to smoking.
As vapers who have managed to kick the nicotine habit continually say: ‘why would you move from something that is enjoyable and satisfying to a product that smell bad and tastes worse?’
While we are on the topic of things tasting bad, the results from this study are not as straightforward as the authors would like you to believe. The data does not demonstrate a clear progression from ecig use at high nicotine concentrations in Year 10 to smoking, six months later, in Year 11. The data is overdispersed: “Because the daily intensity outcome variables (ie, cigarettes per day, vaping episodes per day, and puffs per vaping episodes) were not normally distributed (i.e., overdispersed), negative binomial regression models were used.”
In other words, the results didn’t support the hypothesis so the outcome was fudged using statistical techniques. The team would argue that a negative binomial regression model is a perfectly acceptable method of data handling – but if nicotine concentration led directly to cigarette smoking then it would have been self-evident.
Further indication that this “study” is not all it’s cracked up to be is the presence of an old friend on the research team: Jessica Barrington-Trimis. She is linked to an error-strewn study where she invented a link between vaping a teen lung problems, described as “an example of scientific dishonesty and deception”.
Then, providing the ‘independent’ quote for the press release, the team use Thomas Wills, a researcher at the University of Hawaii. Wills is linked to his own flawed work where he claims to have evidenced a gateway effect in Hawaii. The guff is akin to the anti-drug propaganda films of the 1950s: “These studies show that if you start using e-cigarettes, even infrequently, you are stepping onto a slippery slope and it is hard to tell where you will end up.”
Of course, none of this matters to the likes of the Daily Mail – which published the puffery with all the sensationalism they could muster.