Ohio State University is about to begin a new ecig study with the goal of determining if electronic cigarettes are safer than cigarettes. Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center at the Arthur G James Cancer Hospital and the Richard J Solove Research Institute are launching two clinical trials. The first trial will involve 60 smokers, vapers, and other tobacco product users to look at how vaping affects lung health vs smoking. Several hundred smokers are being sought for the second trial study to evaluate whether or not ecigs or other tobacco products expose people to toxins that are not in cigarette smoke.
These studies are being funded by the FDA and the National Cancer Institute, both tax payer funded bodies. Speaking on behalf of this ecig study Dr. Peter Shields said “There is minimal data available regarding the direct health effects of e-cig use or vaping, but these products have gained rapid popularity among existing smokers and non-smokers alike, including young adults. We are concerned that people assume these products have fewer negative health effects as compared with cigarettes and other tobacco products. The reality is that they are still a tobacco product, and people are still inhaling potentially harmful chemicals. They should not be considered a ‘safer’ option until science has the opportunity to catch up with the consumer market.”
I am not optimistic.
Will The Ohio State Ecig Stdy Be Unbiased?
Dr. Shields is talking about non-smokers and young people taking up vaping. While this is happening it is on a minimal scale. We do have data to verify this. Given the FDA’s hard line stance on vaping the fact that they are funding this study and will no doubt use the results to shape regulation, I feel that there is cause for concern for the vaping community. We absolutely want more study but we need unbiased study, not a researcher who is going into the study concerned about the general public perceiving vaping as safer. That makes it seem as though he has formed a pre-existing opinion.
I would invite you to read our previous report from Dr. Robert West who covered the issue of bias in vaping studies and the problems of relying on trial data to derive conclusions in health studies. As a community, I also feel that vapers need to offer to lend our knowledge to researchers. By that I mean it is very unlikely that the researchers have much knowledge of the differences in types of electronic cigarettes and e-liquids.
As an example, when they study whether or not there are toxins in vapor, what e-juice will they be using? Will they be using a reputable brand like Halo or VaporFi, or will they be using a vape shop boutique brand that may have been blended in someone’s garage. It makes a big difference! Or will they test with mods set to 10 volts which will burn the coil and vapor? Will they use a cheap, counterfeit device or a generic cigalike from a gas station? We just don’t know and this will make a huge difference in the end results.
I am hoping Dr. Shields at Ohio State will reach out to the vaping community for guidance. I asked that he look at the data on the rarity of non-smokers who take up vaping. And to consider the lowest smoking rates in memory. I also invited him to look at the reports released by Public Health England and the Royal College of Physicians both of which found that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking.
The exclusion of the input of the vaping community on these types of studies is counter productive. Not because vapers want to exert influence, but because we can help guide the study to the most accurate results possible. That should be the goal of everyone involved, including the tax payer funded agencies that are footing the bill on our behalf. Let’s get the real answers the public, and especially current smokers, deserve.