A blog post by the University of Southern California (USC) recently published in the online journal Pediatrics is causing a great deal of controversy, especially among the scientific community. While the nine authors classify the article as a “medical study,” the included scientific protocols and related findings are being blasted for being nothing more than an anti-vaping propaganda to benefit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the very agency that funded the project.
By reading the fine print, the entire process behind the report consisted of asking a group of California juniors and seniors in high school to complete a simple online questionnaire. To qualify as a participant in the sample group, candidates were first asked if they had ever vaped in the past. After a 16-month period, the same 300 teenagers were then asked if they had ever smoked a combustible tobacco product since the test began.
According to the published statistics, teens who had vaped prior to the test were six times more likely to smoke as adults. And this headline went viral rather quickly, as organizations like the CDC, the FDA, the American Cancer Society began sharing the blog post on social media. Unfortunately, doctors around the world are slamming USC for publishing misinformation regarding e-cigs. Doctors take issue with several points of the report, including:
- The sample group of only 300 California teenagers is too small, too geographically specific, and too limited in age range to provide valid scientific findings regarding.
- Only 70% of the original 300 participants actually completed the study after 16-months, making the initial sample group even smaller.
- 16-months is not enough time to adequately determine a relationship between teen e-cig use and adult addiction to smoking tobacco.
- The writers of the Pediatrics blog failed to ask their test subjects if they were regular, long-term vapers or if they had only vaped a single time.
- The USC study also forgets to mention the percentage of test subjects who were only vaping zero-nicotine e-liquid.
Because the report makes such dramatic claims about teens using e-cigs being six times more likely to smoke combustible tobacco products as adults, physicians and medical scientists around the world almost immediately debunked the study as a bogus misrepresentation of the facts. But now that even mainstream journalists are finally delving deeper in the FDA e-cig regulations and the surrounding controversy, the FDA is falling under further scrutiny for using taxpayer money to fund anti-vaping propaganda disguised as a “scientific report.”