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Chapman Knocks Quit Claims

Simon Chapman is back to belittling vapers and claims of vaping working as a smoking quit method

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Simon Chapman is attacking vaping and vapers again. Nobody is sure why he does this, given his support for harm reduction in all other aspects of life. He derides vapers and their success stories and selectively quotes from work by Robert West.

“Any radio discussion of ecigarettes inevitably attracts evangelical callers wanting to tell their story of the miracle they have experienced,” writes Chapman. The dismissive analogy is in keeping with his superior atheist attitude, writing off callers as fantasists believing in something that doesn’t carry any evidence.

He cites two phone-in radio comments but (considering he is attacking evidence) fails to reference where they came from or how they could be verified:

  • As a fortunate survivor of extended tobacco addiction, 40 years of a pack a day, I have not smoked a single bit of tobacco since I started vaping 5 months ago. I was able to finally give up tobacco after failed attempts at cold turkey, patches, and gum as NRT
  • I know about 200 people in our small town of 3000 that vape, and only about 3 of those still smoke some cigarettes, and those that do have cut consumption by about 90%.

Chapman argues: “There are many reasons why such testimonial statements are considered the weakest form of evidence in answering questions about whether ecigs are serious new entrants in the population-wide game of helping smokers to quit.”

Knocking the second caller, Chapman cites a study by Beard, Brown, West and Michie. The problem for him here is that it looked at the impact of dual-fuelling on the rate of cigarette use in smokers – not the efficacy of vaping as a successful quit tool as born out by other studies by West et al. But then, as the image below demonstrates, Chapman is prone to selectively looking at evidence.

Using data obtained by Robert West and colleagues, Public Health England wrote: “the evidence suggests that EC have contributed tens of thousands of additional quitters in England annually (in 2015).”

Next, Chapman debunks stories of people who quit through vaping because, “some people who quit would have quit weeks or months later anyway”. He claims that quit figures are therefore artificially inflated and that relapse rates are similar to other methods of quitting – again demonstrating his lack of appreciation for the fact that it takes time to stumble across a set-up that works for the individual, because all vape devices and liquids are not the same.

Chapman isn’t happy with randomized control trials either: “If you volunteer to participate in a trial, you are likely to have a disposition to want to help science and so will probably be very positive…”

So what studies would Chapman accept? The ones that accord with his preconceptions, certainly not the voices of the 60,000 Planet of the Vapes news subscribers who’d still be smoking were it not for vaping – we are just evangelicals who’ve collectively experienced a miracle. If Chapman wishes to keep it biblical, we say just one thing: John 20:29.



Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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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.

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