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Authors of Canadian anti-vaping study secretly connected to Big Pharma

For conspiracy theorists who believe that Big Pharma is secretly driving the anti-vaping movement, look no further than the recently released Canadian study published in Nicotine and Tobacco Research.  According to the study, 187 smokers were recruited from several Ontario clinics.  Some were dual users of e-cigs and vaping products while others were strictly smokers.  All participants were followed for six months to determine if vaping is a successful smoking cessation method.  As one might expect, this bogus study shows no direct connection between vaping and quitting smoking.

"This study confirms previous findings from observational studies regarding the negative association between e-cigarette use and smoking cessation, but in a large cohort of smokers enrolled in an evidence-based treatment program. The implications of these findings are that concurrent use of e-cigarettes during a quit attempt utilizing cost-free evidence-based treatment (nicotine replacement therapy plus behavioural counselling) does not confer any added benefit and may hamper successful quitting."

Dr. Michael Siegel’s evaluation

The study also has a very long, and absurd-sounding name: The evidence that e-cigarettes inhibit quitting smoking cigarettes just keeps piling up; strong longitudinal study from Canada.  The very title alone seems to demonstrate just how silly this “scientific study” truly is.  In fact, the famous Dr. Michael Siegel of Boston University, long-time vaping advocate, picked up on the discrepancies right away and posted the flaws in his regular blog.


“The major flaw in this study is that it is very likely that the smokers who were dual users became dual users because they were unable to quit smoking. Had they been successful in quitting smoking, they would not have become dual users (and thus their success would not have been observed in the study). This means that what the study is really comparing is smoking cessation rates among smokers who have failed to quit versus those who have not necessarily failed to quit. It would be shocking if the study did not find higher quit rates among the non-dual users.

While the study controlled for confidence in ability to quit using a crude measure, this is clearly not as sensitive a measure as whether the person had actually failed to quit smoking, which is of course going to be much more productive than any self-reported attitudinal measure.”

Siegel also suggests that the Canadian authors of the study failed to consider the previous numbers of unsuccessful attempts to quit smoking by each of the study’s 187 participants.  They were also never asked if they had previously tried other Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRT) in the past.  “Without either of these two variables, the study was unable to control for the sampling bias that is inherent in this study design,” Siegel states.

The Big Pharma Connection

As a dedicate medical profession, Dr. Siegel was understandably surprised by such shoddy research tactics from his Canadian counterparts.  So he took a little time to look into the backgrounds of each of the contributing authors.  What he discovered was that two of the lead authors had direct connections to Big Pharma companies.  In fact, senior author Peter Selby’s resume also has a very long list of previous jobs with Big Pharma Firms, including:

  • GlaxoSmithKline, Canada
  • Johnson and Johnson Consumer Health Care Canada
  • Pfizer Global
  • Pfizer Inc. Canada
  • Genpharm and Prepharm Canada
  • Sanofi-Synthelabo, Canada
  • NABI Pharmaceuticals: V-CC Systems Inc. & EHealth Bahaviour Change Software Company
  • Schering Canada

Now, there is no real law against a previous employee of Pfizer or any other pharmaceutical company from conducting a scientific research study.  However, when those studies are created with the expressed purpose of intentionally misleading the public, this is a huge problem.  No one can say whether the authors’ conflicts of interest led to such a bogus report, intentionally or otherwise, but one thing is clear.  The anti-vaping lobby found the report and ran with it!


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