The Latest Junk Science From E-Cig Hater Stanton Glantz
If you follow ecig news closely, you have undoubtedly encountered plenty of reports and “studies” from Dr. Stanton Glantz. He is a constant voice in the industry and one of the most vocal critics to ever challenge the vaping movement. So who is this outspoken man that obviously hates electronic cigarettes and anyone associated with them? He is the “Distinguished Professor of Tobacco Control” at the American Legacy Foundation according to his bio. Over the past few years, we have seen Dr. Glantz make some pretty outrageous claims in an effort to discredit electronic cigarettes. This week, he has stirred up the vaping world again with one of his most unbelievable allegations ever!
Before we get into his latest attempt at killing the ecig movement, let’s start by taking a look at his track record and his overall approach to research. After detailed study of Dr. Glantz’s work, it’s obvious that he is at least mildly illiterate when it comes to the scientific method that is taught in grade school. To properly execute a science experiment, you start with a question. Next, you make a hypothesis and then follow careful procedures to conduct your experiment. Then you analyze the data and form a conclusion.
This is the method used by researchers around the world, but Dr. Glantz prefers his own version of scientific process. He skips the question entirely and just makes his own hypothesis. For instance, “I think ecigs turn kids into smokers.” Then he does minimal research or just picks and chooses pre-existing studies that will back his claim, completely ignoring any contradictory evidence or studies that exist. Boom – he has proof! He is right again. Only… he’s completely wrong.
History of Bad Science
We saw his poor excuse for scientific research in 2008, when he published a study to back his claims that second hand smoke causes breast cancer. In reality, he didn’t actually do research on current links between smoking and breast cancer. He just pulled out a bunch of outdated research linking cigarette use to lung cancer and compared it to more recent data on breast cancer. He drew a few shaky correlations and claimed that he had concrete results.
Of course, the whole study was scientific garbage and was instantly debunked when the International Journal of Epidemiology published contradictory evidence in the Oxford University Press. Unlike Dr. Glantz’s work, this study actually included over 200,000 women and followed the scientific process. Participants were asked about their previous exposures to secondhand smoke and then were followed for three and a half years to watch for incidents of breast cancer. At the end, the researchers concluded, “The incidence of breast cancer is similar in women who did and did not report passive exposure to tobacco smoke”.
Earlier this year, Dr. Glantz published another bogus study in JAMA Pediatrics. This time, he claimed that adolescents that use ecigs are more likely to become smokers. For this particular study, he actually used survey data, but it wasn’t his own. Instead, he carefully selected the data he needed from the 2011 and 2012 National Youth Tobacco Survey.
In the early portion of his analysis, Dr. Glantz seemed to be on track. Based on his analysis of the data, he concluded that using ecigs was associated with higher odds of previous or current smoking. That makes sense considering that ecigs are primarily used by smokers. Next, he said that ecig users were more likely to try to quit smoking. Once again, this seems pretty true! But that’s where the good science ends and the big jump to illogical conclusions begins.
Next, Dr. Glantz concluded that using ecigs reduced the odds of smoking abstinence. That seems contradictory to his previous statement that ecigs increased attempts at quitting. Finally, he used some twisted logic to determine that ecigs do not discourage teen smoking, but actually act as a gateway to tobacco use. In reality, there is absolutely zero evidence in his data to support this conclusion. In order to back that kind of statement, you need long-term information on how smoking and vaping use evolved over time among the same set of survey participants.
New Outrageous Claims
With a history of bad science and plenty of outright lies, we’ve learned to basically dismiss anything published by Dr. Glantz. But this week, he made a claim that is so completely crazy that it deserves a moment in the spotlight. Are you currently using e-cigarettes? If so, Dr. Glantz said you are luring people into using tobacco. That’s right… if you choose tobacco-free electronic cigarettes, you are tempting people around you to start smoking. You are a walking cancer risk to everyone that sees you take a puff on that ecig.
So how did he reach this new conclusion? He based his conclusion on a study from the University of Chicago that examined how people reacted to various smoking cues. The study followed young adults that were daily smokers to learn which visual cues could potentially peak their urge to use a cigarette. It turns out that when a smoker sees someone use an ecig, they crave a cigarette. Of course there is no mention of other cues that evoked a similar response or which cues were most powerful.
As a former smoker myself, I can say with certainty that some other cues were probably more powerful than seeing an ecig. What about a cup of coffee, a heavy dinner, a drive in the car, the telephone, or even sexual intimacy? These cues are all associated with cigarettes for many smokers so it makes sense to think they would have been powerful driving cues. However, the study wasn’t interested in those cues because no one is trying to incriminate coffee cups or telephones. No matter how much the smell of Starbucks makes a smoker crave a cigarette, no one is going to shut down the mega coffee chain. But it’s a double standard because Dr. Glantz wants to use this evidence to incriminate ecigs and push for harsh regulations.
By using his logic, we are led to believe that each time we puff on our e-cigs, we are murdering a smoker by coercing them to light up. We’ve heard some outrageous claims before, but this one really tops them all.
Have you noticed your smoking friends lighting up whenever you puff on your ecig? Is this really a powerful cue or is this just more junk science?