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More Problems with Study on Mice

The recently published study out of Johns Hopkins University, on the effects of e-cig aerosols on mice, has stirred up more journalistic opposition to vaping products, but scientists analyzing the study are finding more and more defects. Cardiologist Konstantinos Farsalinos, probably the most authoritative specialist in nicotine studies from a harm-reductionist perspective, comments that the only useful take-away from the study is that electronic cigarettes are “orders of magnitude less dangerous” than combustible smokes.

Michael Siegel, in his tobacco analysis blog, says “All the study really demonstrated was something we already knew: that e-cigarette aerosol can cause respiratory irritation. We've known that for years. The question of whether that irritation could translate into clinically meaningful lung disease remains unanswered, and there certainly is no evidence at the current time to suggest that there are any clinically significant adverse lung effects, at least acutely.”

Siegel quotes from a study showing that aspirin administered to the same species, mice, reduces their ability to clear certain bacteria from their tissues. “Would researchers conclude that aspirin causes pneumonia in humans?” asks Siegel. Would this be reported in the press as the discovery of a dangerous link between aspirin and human disease?

Not without substantial support from scientists and journalists with an interest in public belief in such a connection. And just who might have such an interest in public fears of electronic cigarettes? The California chapter of the Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association (SFATA) has an answer. Everything points to Big Tobacco companies with the most to gain from public fears of vaping products. And the organization has recently collected $110,000 at a fund-raiser, for a campaign against “scientific” and journalistic smears against vaping.

Miniscule traces of toxicants in e-liquids are reported with alarmist headlines, while studies of vaping benefits in terms of smoking cessation find publication outlets only with difficulty. If one wishes to discover what well-heeled interests are behind the smear campaign, look for those who stand to lose if e-cigarette popularity continues to grow. Big Tobacco has a record of public disinformation, not just with their 20th century complicity in the great smoking death, but as recently as the European debate over the Tobacco Products Directive during the last few years, when Phillip Morris International spent millions on lobbying.

On the surface the vape bashing comes from groups like the heart associations and lung associations and campaigns to keep smokes away from kids, and from study centers like the University of California at San Francisco and the Centers for Disease Control. But where is the real money coming from? Indicators point to cigarette makers. How tragic that a great figure like Stanton Glantz from UCSF, whose research on second-hand smoke and Big Tobacco dishonesty led to the Master Settlement of 1998, is turned into a front man for the effort to keep people smoking!

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