I'm sure you've seen this new study published by Georgia State University called, "Are electronic nicotine delivery systems helping cigarette smokers quit? Evidence from a prospective cohort study of U.S. adult smokers, 2015-2016." So, I was very skeptical going into this research article for three reasons: 1) this study has data from almost 3 years ago, 2) the article was funded by the FDA Center for Tobacco Products, and 3) it's goddamn 25 pages long! I'll address all three of these (maybe less of the last one) problems and more briefly.
This article is very wordy so I am going to paraphrase a lot and interchange words. This article talks about Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), I will not be calling them that. They are e cigs, electronic cigarettes, vapes, etc. For the sake of my sanity in going over this article in detail, I will be exchanging words ENDS for vapes or e cigs.
Also, We at chuckvape.com are not medical experts and DO NOT give out medical advice of any kind. We are in the profession of vaping, not medicine. We just report on it.
Overview of this vaping study
The long and short of it is put simply: These researchers want to find out if vapes actually help smokers quit smoking. So they broke up their 858 surveyors into 2 groups, smokers who didn't use e cigs after one year, and smokers who did us e cigs after one year. From there they broke down their sample size even smaller to the point where my head spins trying understand it all.
My key takeaways from this not-so-friendly vape article
Reading through this article I see the potential for good to come from it but they just don't apply their findings in a productive manner. They go way too in depth with their variables to the point where they state that 66.6% reported quitting cigarettes all at once, and 38.5% reported switching to vapes completely. That's a huge number! That's awesome to hear people are using vape mods to quit smoking. But they shoot themselves in the foot by stating afterwards, "however, as the sample size for this group is very small, caution is warranted." YOU HAD 66.6% OF SMOKERS SAY THEY QUIT SMOKING ENTIRELY FROM E CIGS! That is a staggering statistic. They broke down their sample size so much and pushed them into such small tiny metrics that once they came out on the other side, they believed their findings on this portion were inconclusive.
Don't worry, they had no problem stating that the people who didn't use vapes to quit smoking was conclusive enough to warrant their statement that e cigs don't help smokers quit.
This article spends a lot of time on proving that vape pens don't help smokers quit that they never touch on other aspects, like the fact that only 7.9% of smokers who never used vape products managed to quit using Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) product! You should've named the title, "Turns out, NRT products don't help smokers quit." That would be more suitable. Everyone is so quick to push NRT's like nicotine gum and patches on people assuming they help but don't. They just fail miserably and this study inadvertently showed that.
All of their numbers are very confusing
The data and tables to back up their findings are very difficult to decipher. They also don't provide explanation for certain variables. When they say smokers who used vapes quit after a year, they don't specify whether it was from the vape or from their ability to just cut smoking all together, cold turkey style. Leaving them room to never address what they are actually doing the study for.
They break everything down to a point where their information begins to eat itself. Their report shows that more people were able to quit smoking because of support of friends/family than from NRT products like nicotine gum and patches. That's pretty substantial considering NRT products were designed/proven to help smokers quit.
Anti-vaping rhetoric everywhere!
This article is very biased, I knew that going in, so I'm not going to lie to you and say I was shocked at how biased they were. I saw that they were funded by the Food and Drug Administration, Center for Tobacco Products (FDA CTP). So, I knew what I was getting into.
I've already touched a little bit on being funded by the FDA so I won't go too much into detail. The FDA is a mixed bag, sometimes they help and sometimes they are a hindrance. This time they are a hindrance.
This article pulled people from 2015 and surveyed them the following year, in Sept. 2016. For anyone who is well endowed in the vaping community knows that the technology available for vaping back then was pretty limited. They had some good mods, but I'm talking about ones to help people quit smoking. There was also extremely limited knowledge and information available back then regarding health risks involving vapor products.
So, you ask yourself, "If I'm in the smokers' shoes, who doesn't know e cigs are 95% less harmful than cigarettes, I might not see e cigs as a benefit. I might just try to quit cold turkey or keep smoking." That might not enter your mind but think about this, this study started the same month the big Public Health England study came out stating that vapes can be 95% less harmful than cigarettes. Wouldn't that information affect some of the users in this survey? We'll never know for sure but it definitely strikes me as odd that the numbers are so low.
Another thing I noticed while reading their findings, over 52% of smokers in this study took 2-5 tobacco-related surveys hosted by Gfk (national probability-based web-panel where they got their sample size). Almost 14% took 6+ survey by Gfk. So, over 66% of users in this survey took 2 or more surveys from them in the past. That's pretty significant, that's telling me they could have a group of people lean their way on things. I can't say for sure, but we can speculate. When you take multiple surveys from one organization, there's a certain way you lean, I'm just saying.
There's one more thing that just doesn't add up to me. They state that the average user in this survey smoked for almost 28 years, mean age 45, for people who never used vape products during the survey. But these smokers only smoked 11.4 cigarettes on average per day. That just doesn't add up. People who smoke for damn near 3 decades don't smoke half a pack of cigs, they smoke at least a pack. So, that leads me to believe the users lied on their survey or something went wrong.
What to take away from this vape research article when people try to discredit vaping as not helping smokers quit
The average smoker smoked for 28 years and only half a pack day, very suspicious. Two thirds of their sample size participated in their tobacco related surveys in the past. Almost 40% of the smokers who used vapes during the year completely switched to e cigs and quit smoking. More people quit using vapes than NRT product that are proven to be safe and marketed to help people quit smoking. And finally, their sample size is NOT 1284 smokers, it's 858 smokers and their sample size wasn't large enough to determine that their 40% who transitioned to vape from smoking as substantial and said, "caution is warranted" (in regards to the small sample size of the group who quit smoking via vapes.
Overall, it was a disappointment to read this article but it was not as obvious what they were doing as a lot of the articles that I've read. Which will make it harder to shake off.
Go forward and fight this! We will not take this sitting down.