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Poor Pod Paper

Anti-harm reduction researcher Andy Tan has his fingerprints on an attack on pod vaping with a selective review of research papers

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In what seems to be a growing trend within the American anti-tobacco harm reduction research community, a team has claimed its paper represents a ‘world first’. The group from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Seoul’s Konkuk University, and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute believe their systematic review of pod system papers emphasises a need for “stronger regulations on product design, social media, marketing channels, and youth access”.

The team began their time by identifying, “pod-based e-cigarette–associated articles from June 2015 (the time when JUUL [JUUL Labs] was introduced) to June 2019”.

Despite looking at a couple of reasonable studies and referencing genuine experts, they cite far too many from the Who’s Who list of biased, incompetent and stupid -such as Barrington-Trimis, the Truth Initiative, the World Health Organization, Pankow, Peyton, Rathmuri, Glantz, Leventhal, Gottlieb, and multiple papers by Andy Tan himself.

The authors claim that pods represent some kind of phenomenal advance in vape technology that allows nicotine to be delivered better than any other means.

Their fears over salt-based juices was evidenced by a study using a paltry 38 subjects. Their evidence about pods being more addictive than tank systems totally ignored the difference in nicotine strengths being vaped.

From all of the papers they looked at, they only managed to find one claiming that JUULs have a cytotoxic effect – and that was only able to be manufactured from an in vitro study using Petri dishes.

This review on pod-based e-cigarettes highlights the need for regulatory action to prevent youth from using these devices. Pod- based e-cigarettes deliver a high nicotine dose in a manner that is easy to consume and is marketed to reach and appeal to youth audiences,” they write in conclusion.

Vaughan Rees, interim director at Harvard’s Center for Global Tobacco Control, commented: “I’m concerned about a new generation embracing e-cigarettes and undermining the gains we’ve made in tobacco control.”

The team has ignored papers such as the one from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), which states that restricting access to vaping is a driving factor for increasing pregnant teen female smoking rates.

Andy Tan took the opportunity to make a plug for more money so he can find out what parents think about pod devices: “Learning parents’ perspectives and their information needs around pod-based e-cigarettes is important to address the vaping epidemic among young people. This is because we will then be able to empower parents with accurate information and tools to communicate with their children that pod-based e-cigarettes are extremely addictive, and to avoid using these products.”

It also failed to note any papers like that from researchers at the Centre for the Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement (DECIPHer), who found “there is scant evidence to support claims that vaping is ‘renormalising’ smoking among teens”.


  • Youth and Young Adult Use of Pod-Based Electronic Cigarettes From 2015 to 2019 A Systematic Review” by Lee, Rees, Yossefy, Emmons, and Tan – [link]
  • Restricting Vape Access Increases Teen Smoking”, POTV – [link]
  • No Teen Gateway From Growth In Vaping”, POTV – [link]

Photo Credit:

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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