Nine people from the University of Southern California (USC) recently published a self-described “research study” allegedly indicating that teens who use e-cigs are six times more likely to smoke traditional tobacco cigarettes as an adult. However, upon further investigation, it has been determined that the USC document was clearly funded, at least in part, by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the very people behind the controversial FDA e-cig regulations. This is evident in the fine print at the very bottom of the document.
The USC report falls under further scrutiny for a variety of other reasons, too. Once the document is reviewed in detail, the findings lack substantive scientific evidence to support their claims. For example, the claim that teens who use e-cigs are six times more likely to smoke tobacco is based solely on a simple online questionnaire completed by approximately 300 California 17-year olds. Meanwhile, the teens were only asked if they had ever vaped in the past – not if they were regular, long-term vapers.
USC report not published on the USC website
Another point of contention is that the USC document was not published in a major scientific publication, such as the New England Journal of Medicine, for example. It was published on the rather obscure website Pediatrics. In fact, at the time of this writing, the document has yet to appear on the website for the University of Southern California.
To further illustrate the sloppy research tactics used by these nine individuals, these factors are also considered largely unprofessional:
- The sample group of only 300 teenagers is considered quite small for most truly scientific research studies.
- The 300 teenagers were all from a very specific age range (11th and 12th graders averaging 17.4 years old) and a very specific geographical location, which does not adhere to the basic scientific method of experimentation that everyone learns in junior high school.
- The writers of the document never asked the teenagers if they were vaping nicotine-enhanced or zero-nicotine e-liquids. And they never asked if they had only vaped a single time or if they had been vaping for several years.
- The “study” was completed by merely asking the 300 teenagers to complete an online questionnaire, both at the beginning and the end of a 16-months period.
- Only 70% of the 300 teenagers completed the survey.
- The very short timeframe of only 16-months is simply not enough time to accurately predict whether teenagers who use e-cigs are six times more likely to smoke traditional tobacco cigarettes as an adult. A group of truly dedicated scientists would follow the sample group for several years, rather than rush to judgment just to achieve some quick online fame.
E-cigs and vaping products are very new to the mainstream. Less than ten years ago, the majority of Americans had never even heard of these products. So how does a completely unprofessional report like the one written by nine individuals from the University of Southern California gain so much traction online and in the television news media? Perhaps the report’s financial backers, the FDA, had a little something to do with that.
No reputable scientist would ever accept money for a research grant from the very government agency that is out to abolish the very product that they are researching. And no reputable University would allow their students and employees to publish such an outlandish document compiled with such ridiculous research criteria.
Anti-vaping propaganda disguised as a “scientific report” is something that the vaping community has been battling for years. But maybe, just maybe, the President of USC, C. L. Max Nikias, will take decisive action and kick these nine people off campus permanently for tarnishing the educational reputation of an otherwise honorable institution.
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