Exposed: World Lung Foundation’s Bogus Claim E-Cigarettes Are Gateway To Tobacco

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Guy Bentley Research Associate, Reason Foundation
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A key study media outlets and the World Lung Foundation used to claim scientific proof that e-cigarettes are a gateway to smoking literally hinges on the “barely coherent” opinion of a single 17-year-old Scottish kid, a professor of public health has discovered.

Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor at the Department of Community Health Sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health, discovered the misreporting after the World Lung Foundation punched out this tweet Monday:

The basis of the tweet was an article in the Edinburgh Evening News that ran with the headling “E-Cigarettes ‘Lead Pupils to Smoking’.”

Published in the journal Perspectives in Public Health, both the Edinburgh Evening News and The Scottish Sun said the study showed e-cigarettes were a gateway for teenagers picking up smoking.

Siegel, who has 25 years of experience in the field of tobacco control, examined the study and found not only was it based on statements made by a small group of 16-17 year olds in one part of Scotland, but in no way did the study actually conclude that e-cigarettes are a gateway to smoking.

Siegel notes that “the only reference to e-cigarettes as a possible gateway is a barely coherent statement of one student who said: ‘ … ah [I] think that’s why most people go on tae [to] fae [from] e-cigarettes to actual [cigarettes], just to see what it’s like, the actual wans [ones], an’[and] then they get addicted tae [to] it.'”

Siegel reserves his harshest criticism for the World Lung Foundation. “The most embarrassing and irresponsible behavior in this story is that of the World Lung Foundation, which disseminated the conclusion that e-cigarettes are a gateway to smoking,” says Siegel

According to e-cigarette advocates, this kind of questionable misreporting and use of questionable studies by anti-ecigarette groups is all too common.

President of the American Vaping Association, Gregory Conley told the Daily Caller News Foundation, “this is yet another example of how anti-vaping activists are willing to say or do anything to further their ideological war against a far safer alternative to smoking.

“The well-paid executives at the World Lung Foundation know that the science on vaping clearly points to it being a gateway out of smoking rather than the opposite,” he continued. “Regrettably, these executives have insisted on prioritizing their own ideology and continued employment over the truth, so we can expect their misleading statements to only get worse.”

The CEO of VapeWorld Aaron LoCascio, told TheDCNF incidents such as these make life harder for consumers trying to make the best decisions for their health. E-cigarette consumers want the most honest information possible, so it’s very discouraging to see misinformation being disseminated,” said LoCascio.

“Reports like this have made it tremendously difficult for the consumer to make informed decisions – there is so much noise, and so much bias, it’s hard to know who or what to trust. The good news is, responsible people in the ecig and vaporizer industry have been calling for and conducting unbiased studies since the beginning, so I remain very confident that good information will find its way to the consumer.”

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