Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Due to Flawed Conclusions by UC Riverside Researchers, Misleading Information About Health Risks is Being Spread Worldwide

As a result of flawed conclusions made in a press release describing the findings of a new study out of UC Riverside on the safety of electronic cigarettes, misleading health information is now being spread worldwide. For example, an article in today's Independent warns that U.S. researchers have given electronic cigarettes the "red light."

According to that article: "Electronic cigarettes (or e-cigarettes) are marketed as a safer alternative to smoking, but US researchers recently evaluated the safety of five e-cigarette brands and gave them all the red light. ... Among some of the problems researchers cited were that the e-cigarettes packages lacked information on the product's content, usage, or warnings. Researchers noted that e-cigarette cartridges leaked, which could expose others, such as children and pets, to nicotine. Researchers recommend that officials consider removing e-cigarettes from the shelves until their safety is adequately evaluated."

It is widely being reported that electronic cigarettes are unsafe. For example, an article in The Perspective calls e-cigarettes "unsafe." The news is spreading rapidly that electronic cigarettes are unsafe.

The Rest of the Story

Had the study in question actually evaluated the safety of electronic cigarettes, by analyzing the constituents of the e-cigarette vapor or the health effects of the product on users, then it would be appropriate for the researchers to disseminate a conclusion about the safety or lack of safety of electronic cigarettes. But I think it is irresponsible to disseminate such a conclusion when the study provided no information on the safety of using the product.

Furthermore, by giving electronic cigarettes a "red light," this research is essentially giving smoking a "green light." By scaring ex-smokers who have quit smoking by using electronic cigarettes that the e-cigs are not safe, this research is going to result in many of these ex-smokers returning to cigarette smoking. And, by discouraging smokers who would potentially have quit using electronic cigarettes not to even try because e-cigs are harmful, the research is going to result in maintaining smoking among many current smokers.

Not to be overly utilitarian, but can someone tell me how this result is possibly a good thing for the public's health?

No comments: