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ECigIntelligence - Planned e-cig usage study provokes battle of words

ECigIntelligence - A row between public health academics and one of America’s biggest vaper organisations has highlighted divisions of opinion on how e-cigarette use should be studied.

Michael Siegel and colleagues at Boston University School of Public Health recently cancelled a planned crowd-funded study into the use of e-cigs, named the Behavioral Study of Cigarette and Tobacco Substitution (BSCiTS), just a week after its launch – despite having worked on the project for a year.

Among the reasons Siegel cited for abandoning the study were “great divisiveness within the e-cigarette community regarding the role of research”, “hostile” feedback directed toward his team, and – perhaps most serious of all – “the fact that we felt that pressure was being put on us to alter the methodology in order to produce more positive results”.

He singled out the advocacy group Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association (CASAA), which has robustly rebutted his charges.

Siegel told ECigIntelligence: “We received absolutely no criticism of the proposed study by any e-cigarette companies…The only opposition was from CASAA, undermined the campaign by not merely failing to support it, but by actively opposing it, urging its members not to contribute.

“They don’t want to see a clinical trial conducted on electronic cigarettes. Attempting to exert influence on independent researchers to produce more favorable results is deeply unethical and extremely problematic. Moreover, this is hypocritical given the e-cigarette community’s rejection of biased research studies produced by tobacco companies and public health professionals.”

CASAA’s president Julie Woessner, however, dismissed Siegel’s accusation, saying that CASAA’s concerns lay with the study design itself.

“We maintain our recommendation that randomized controlled trials cannot adequately evaluate the diversity and potential of vapor products.  Rather than seek ‘favorable’ outcomes from studies, we continue to advocate for accuracy,” she told ECigIntelligence. 

Barnaby Page ECigIntelligence staff

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