Glantz Thinks About Children

Posted 14th June 2018 by Dave Cross
Stanton Glantz appears to be losing all of his faculties, or has given up any pretence at appearing objective. In two outpourings this week, he has insulted the memory of the widely respected father of harm reduction and trotted out more nonsense regarding a gateway effect for English children.

“One of the arguments coming from Public Health England and the other e-cig cheerleaders there is that youth use is very low,” writes the leading opponent to vaping who receives his bread and butter from dwindling cigarette tax returns.

“A new study using data collected in the UK between June 2015 and April 2016 of schoolchildren (mean age 14.1, n=499) shows that, like everywhere else, a substantial number of kids using e-cigarettes have never smoked cigarettes. In fact, at 52.6%, this is the highest fraction of never smokers reported by adolescent e-cig users.”

He supports his perspective by linking to a study involving Peter Hajek. Unfortunately for him, Hajek’s study looked at progression from trying tobacco cigarettes to becoming full-time smokers – a totally different proposition.

Glantz also links to and misrepresents a paper involving Deborah Arnott and Ann McNeill, who found youths using ecigs were likely to be those who would be likely to try smoking too.

The selective analysis and interpretation extends to subject of his blog post, the paper by Fulton, Gokal, Griffiths and Wild: “This study found that just more than half of EC users had never smoked cigarettes or used other forms of tobacco, the highest proportion reported to date” – so, 16 children; sixteen young teenagers who may have gone on to smoke regardless.

This cited study relied upon some of Glantz’ previous fiction and that of a study by Cowap et al. What the latter stated, although conveniently ignored, was “A limitation concerns our main analyses, which were restricted to ever use of e-cigarettes, and we were unable to test whether more regular use of e-cigarettes was more strongly associated with initiating or escalating cigarette use.”

It also stated: “our analyses of impacts on escalation should be treated cautiously given the limited numbers escalating cigarette use during the period studied and the fact that our findings conflict with published work.”

Furthermore, “it is possible that any third variables could have been responsible for the observed relationships. Therefore, while acknowledging that a causal relationship may be plausible, we cannot confirm this based on our findings and the trends observed over the same time period in the UK; rates of e-cigarette use have increased, but the rates of cigarette use have continued to decline.”

Not quite the damning finding that Glantz would like to portray.

Fulton et al. finish: “In conclusion, the proportion of adolescent EC users who have not used other forms of tobacco appears to be increasing.”

“Hang on a minute,” readers might say, “but in conjunction with declining smoking rates in teens, surely this must mean they would have become smokers otherwise and vaping is acting as a disruptive technology?”

You might think that but Stanton couldn’t possibly comment.

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker