Vaping News

Goniewicz Lies With Logs

Maciej Goniewicz was the main author on a research letter that sought to misrepresent the findings by using a misleading graph

Share on:
The anti-vape team from Buffalo’s Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Centre, favoured by the Food and Drug Administration when it comes to producing skewed studies, has produced a veiled hatchet job on another harm reduction product.

Although this Goniewicz study focuses on the heat-not-burn(HNB) IQOS, the data is misrepresented in order to elicit a response and support an ideological position that HNB products “emit substantial levels of carcinogenic” toxins.

Why this is important to vapers is that it clearly demonstrates a desire to obfuscate the truth in research – and this team are responsible for putting out a number of anti-vaping studies.

In their research letter titled ‘Tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNA) in heated tobacco product IQOS’, the team aimed to illustrate a comparison of the TSNAs produced by a MarkTen e-cigarette, an IQOS and in the smoke from a smoke from Marlboro Red.

They concluded: “Like combustible products, HTPs emit substantial levels of carcinogenic TSNA. Although HTP emits lower amounts of TSNA than combustible cigarettes, the amounts are significantly higher than from e-cigarettes.”

What is wrong with the graph?

Everybody unfamiliar with data analysis assumes graphs are like those we all remember from school. After drawing the X and Y axes (using a ruler and pencil please, class), a linear progression of numbers (1,2,3…5,10,15 etc.) were written going up the Y-axis. Then the rest of the class time was spent colouring in the bar chart.

A logarithmic scale is different in that the scale is not regular, each step is not one more or five more – it’s ten times more (in this case). What this means is that it cancels out large visual distances between the things being compared if one was a low value and the other a high one.

Misleading graphs may be created intentionally to hinder the proper interpretation of data. In this case (the black one on the left), it narrows the gap between the measurement of toxins released by the IQOS and cigarettes, making it appear as if HNB devices are almost as bad as smoking tobacco products.

Carl Phillips commented: “Gotta give credit to FDA's pet researchers in Buffalo. Putting the quantity of a (speculative) carcinogen on a log scale to hide how huge the differences are is a more sophisticated lie than most of FDA's minions are capable of.”

“Make no mistake: It is an obviously intentional attempt to mislead. There is no conceivable legitimate reason for reporting the quantity of a carcinogen in log terms. I cannot imagine any model of carcinogenicity that suggests this is a useful measure.”

The graph was reworked by @Jake2001 on Twitter (the red one on the right) and debunks the conclusion the research team would like people to believe from looking at their chart.

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
View Articles

Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

Join the discussion

Vaping News

Harm Reduction For The Rich

The United Kingdom risks becoming a harm reduction country only for the wealthy, according to Michael Landl of the World Vapers’ Alliance

Vaping News

CAPHRA Highlights Tobacco Control Flaws

The Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates highlights the flaws in tobacco control which has led to the rise of black market in Australia

Vaping News

A Missed Opportunity at COP10

The Smoke Free Sweden movement says that COP10 was a missed opportunity to save millions of lives

Vaping News

COP10: Promote Tobacco Harm Reduction

Experts with Smoke Free Sweden are emphasising the urgent need for a Tobacco Harm Reduction approach at COP10