Call For Another Retraction

Posted 26th February 2020 by Dave Cross
Last week, Stanton Glantz received a massive slap in the face when one of his research papers was retracted by a journal. Now harm reduction expert Clive Bates is calling for a second Glantz study, this one claiming to have found a gateway effect from vaping to smoking, to be withdrawn.

In “Electronic Cigarette Use and Progression From Experimentation to Established Smoking”, Chaffee, Watkins and Glantz wrote: “In previous studies of youth who have never smoked cigarettes, those who tried electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) were more likely to initiate conventional cigarette smoking compared with e-cigarette never users. In cross-sectional studies, e-cigarette use is associated with established youth smoking.”

Ignoring the fact that there is no real-life evidence that supports a ‘Gateway Effect’, and studies showing that precisely the opposite is happening, the trio juggled PATH data (which Glantz and his colleagues are now banned from) to ‘prove, “among youth who had experimented with cigarettes but had not progressed to established smoking, additional use of e-cigarettes was positively associated with future onset of current established smoking.”

At the time, Brad Rodu commented: “The authors of this study omitted a profoundly important variable relevant to adolescent cigarette experimenters: lifetime cigarette consumption at Wave 1.”

“To demonstrate the importance of this variable, we reproduced Chaffee’s model and it’s unadjusted odds ratios (ORs), and then we added the consumption variable. The results reveal that all of the elevated ORs for smoking in Wave 2 are substantially reduced after inclusion of past smoking consumption. Our analysis demonstrates that Chaffee’s model is deficient, and the conclusion that e-cigarette use is ‘independently associated’ with progression to smoking is mistaken. Substantial revision or retraction of this study is warranted.”

Chaffee, Watkins and Glantz ignored the criticism and the journal Pediatrics refused to take any action.

Now Clive Bates is saying: “Pediatrics has essentially ignored the fatal criticism of this paper contained in the reanalysis by Rodu and Plurphanswat. Further, it will not release what it claims to be a statistical review of the paper. The fact remains that the use of a more sophisticated model to adjust for confounding by smoking history eliminates the association on which the false and misleading conclusions of the paper entirely rest.”

“After Rodu published his critique of this paper, two comments were published on the Pediatrics web site and were then later removed by the editors. The first, by the authors, was a response to criticisms raised by Rodu. This response contained ad hominem and defamatory content. The second was a reaction to the first from me, David Sweanor, David Abrams and Ray Niaura.”

Clive repeats the statement that Rodu and Plurphanswat highlighted a serious flaw in the treatment of confounding in the original paper.

“The authors’ response, alleging that a ‘statistical trick’ has been played, does not make any sense at all: Rodu and Plurphanswat have used a straightforward statistical procedure and a more rigorous approach than the authors. Rodu and Plurphanswat show that when the relationship is adjusted for the amount smoked by experimenters, the association between vaping and the onset of established smoking disappears. In other words, many of those vaping would have smoked whether or not they had vaped. This reanalysis is fatal to authors’ main findings and invalidates their controversial and politically-charged conclusion that ‘e-cigarettes do not divert from, and may encourage, cigarette smoking in this population’.”

“It is disappointing because the authors, apparently with the approval of the journal, have resorted to an ad hominem attack on Rodu and without showing any improper conduct or incomplete disclosure, or that their new analysis exhibits any sort of bias or weakness.”

“It is surprising because a neutral reader would expect a journal of the stature of Pediatrics to retract or insist on correction of such an obviously flawed paper when the flaws have been so clearly and dispassionately pointed out.”

Will Pediatrics act? If it does, can Glantz remain in his position with two flawed studies retracted?

Related:

  • “Electronic Cigarette Use and Progression From Experimentation to Established Smoking” by Chaffee, Watkins and Glantz – [link]

Image by pasja1000 from Pixabay


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