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‘Biologically implausible’: Public health expert refutes study claiming vaping causes COPD

Because politicians and anti-vaping activists so often conflate smoking with vaping, many people suffering from respiratory illness can easily become confused when considering their choices of smoking cessation methods.  For several years now, reputable scientific researchers like those at the UK’s Public Health England have already determined that vaping is 95 percent less harmful than smoking.  Yet, lawmakers in states like California and New York continue to legislation banning flavored vapes while leaving the combustible tobacco completely unchecked. 

This legislative double standard is now resulting in a higher percentage of the general population mistakenly believing that vaping is worse than smoking. To muddy the political waters even further, pay-to-play scientists are all too readily available to publish scientifically disprovable “studies” claiming fictious dangers of vaping as a secretive effort to promote Big tobacco.  One such person is the notorious Stanton Glantz.

No, vaping does not cause COPD

In December of last year, Glantz published a paper in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (AJPM) entitled Association of E-Cigarette Use With Respiratory Disease Among Adults: A Longitudinal Analysis.   Glantz promoted the paper as a three-year longitudinal study on the respiratory effects of vaping, particularly in relation to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD. CNNUSA Today, and nearly every major news outlet immediately began reporting on the Glantz report, but they failed to validate whether the information was factually accurate before doing so.  The result was another disinformation campaign in which the mainstream media had now become complicit. 

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To qualify for the Glantz study, prospective candidates only needed to prove that they were active daily smokers.  They were not, however, required to report how long they have been actively smoking.  The clinical trial merely involved asking the selected respondents to agree to make a complete transition to vaping for a full three years. 

Throughout the ordeal, the Glantz team would supposedly monitor, analysis, and compare various respiratory, cardiovascular, and pulmonary biomarkers. Long story short, Glantz ultimately concluded that – based on his “evidence” – that vapers were more likely to develop COPD within three to five years than non-vapers or even current smokers.

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Dr. Michael Siegel, a tobacco control expert from the Boston University School of Public Health immediately refuted the Glantz report as “ridiculous” and “biologically implausible.” In an article posted in Tobacco Analysis, Siegel issued the following statements.

“There is absolutely no way one can conclude, or even speculate, based on the results of this cross-sectional study, that vaping is a cause of chronic obstructive lung disease…
  
However, the worst problem with these conclusions (and even with the speculation) is that it is biologically implausible that vaping for a few years can cause emphysema or chronic bronchitis….
  
“Even among heavy chain smokers, it takes several decades before they develop COPD. I'm not aware of more than a handful of smokers who were diagnosed with COPD (caused by smoking) before they reached the age of 40. Population-level data show that the observed increase in COPD incidence among smokers does not begin until about age 45…
  
“Not only is there no evidence to back up this claim, but it is patently ridiculous. You don't get kids addicted to Marlboro by marketing Juul. You get kids addicted to Juul by marketing Juul.”
  

For further clarification and information, Dr. Siegel recommends smokers and vapers with COPD or other respiratory illness refer to a more reputable scientific study published in February 2015 and co-authored by Dr. Riccardo Polosa of the University of Catania, Catania, Italy.  The study entitled Evidence for harm reduction in COPD smokers who switch to electronic cigarettes is readily available via medical journal Respiratory Research.

Related Article:  Study: Unlike e-cig vapor, cigarette smoke contains deadly carbon monoxide

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