Journal tries to cover up bungled anti-vaping paper

Controversy erupted around a recent paper in the journal Pediatrics this week, after an attempt to gloss over errors slammed as “fatally flawed” by a leading tobacco control expert. The paper, authored by notorious California activist Stanton Glantz, claimed to have found evidence of a “gateway” effect from vaping to smoking. However, Glantz had neglected to carry out basic controls on his data – and when these controls were applied, the purported effect disappeared.

Shortly after the paper was published on 15 March, Professor Brad Rodu and economist Nantaporn Plurphanswat wrote a letter to the journal pointing out the problem and asking that, as this mistake completely invalidated the paper’s conclusion, it should be withdrawn. Instead of withdrawing the paper Pediatrics published a response by its authors, which not only failed to address the issues but also made personal attacks against Professor Rodu. When Rodu complained the journal published an updated comment by the authors, which still didn’t address the issues. There was also no indication that the original response had been removed following a complaint.

More complaints about the original paper have now been received by Pediatrics, including a highly critical review by former ASH chief Clive Bates. So far the journal is refusing to acknowledge its flaws, adding to the growing impression that most tobacco control research is junk science.

New FDA anti-vaping move targets packaging

The Food and Drug Administration has launched yet another volley against vaping, this time focusing on what it says is irresponsible marketing by some manufacturers. Specifically, they’re targeting packaging they say resembles food and drinks popular with children.

Working with the Federal Trade Commission, the FDA has sent warning letters to 13 manufacturers and retailers it says are selling products in misleading packaging. The companies have been given 15 working days to respond with details of the changes they’ve made.

Packaging that resembles candy, drinks and ice cream have been highlighted as an issue before, including by several vaping advocates in the UK and USA. With the recent court victory for Wrigley’s against an e-liquid company which was misusing its Skittles and Starburst brands, and now the FDA taking an interest, there will be increasing pressure on these renegade manufacturers to clean up their act.

Study finds vaping doesn’t impact gut bacteria

A new study comparing vaping and smoking has found that e-cigarette users don’t suffer the same damage to natural bacteria that smokers do. The research, carried out by a team from Newcastle University, looked at the impact of both activities on gut biome – the bacteria found in the digestive system, many of which play a major role in maintaining health. The results suggest vaping may reduce the risk of several diseases.

The study found that smokers have disrupted gut biomes. Among the changes they noticed were higher levels of a bacteria that can cause colitis and lung cancer, and reduced levels of one which may protect against obesity and Crohn’s Disease. However, vapers had similar bacteria to non-smokers. Although this is a preliminary study using a small sample size it’s yet more evidence that vaping is less harmful than smoking.


Park vaping ban hits West Virginia city

The city of Huntingdon, West Virginia has just introduced a smoking ban in all its parks – and it’s been written to cover vaping, too. The new law was voted through by the Board of Park Commissioners last Wednesday, and came into force this week.

Parks director Kevin Brady says the law is aimed at protecting park users from second-hand smoke, although there’s no evidence to suggest outdoor smoking creates any health risk. From now on, smoking and vaping will only be allowed in car parks.


NY school installs anti-vaping sensors

In the latest example of the USA’s growing moral panic over teen vaping, an US high school is installing sensors that can detect e-cigarette vapour. Plainedge High School on Long Island has decided e-cigs are such a threat that they need to use technology to track down users. The Fly Sense device – which its makers claim can also detect smoking and bullying – was designed to let schools monitor behaviour in areas where cameras aren’t allowed, such as changing rooms and toilets.

School district superintendent Edward Salina, announcing the Fly Sense trial to the media, repeated the discredited claim that vaping is a “gateway” to smoking. He also managed to squeeze in a reference to JUUL.