In mid-June 2016, Vapes.com reported on a bogus “research study” published by the online journal Pediatrics claiming that teens who vape are six times more likely to smoke as adults. Even though the authors of the research claim to work for the University of Southern California (USC), the findings do not appear on the scholastic website. Furthermore, it was also discovered that the research was actually funded by the FDA, at least in part. Still, less than 30-days later, nearly every major news outlet in the country is spreading the story across social media like wildfire, including USA Today, Fortune Magazine, Fox News, CBS News, and even the New York Times.
One would expect a much higher level of journalistic integrity from such notable institutions as these. Clearly, the editors of these publications are not proofreading their material or conducting in-house research prior to publication because the study published by Pediatrics is filled with inconsistencies.
Questionable methods of USC
The study was conducted on 300 high school juniors and seniors in the state of California. The sample group was selected by simply asking teenagers if they had ever used e-cigs in the past, but the researchers failed to ask how often they vaped (only once or every day, for example) or if the e-juice was zero-nicotine or nicotine-enhanced.
The entire level of “research” conducted by the USC team amounted to the answering of a couple of online questionnaires spaced about 16-months apart. This doesn’t really qualify as “scientific research,” but more like an online marketing survey. Even more importantly, only about 70% of the sample group of 300 participants completed the second survey.
USC should be embarrassed of their employees’ ignorance of the use of proper scientific methods. And the news outlets need to proofread their stories before posting them online. Doesn’t the New York Times employ a fact checker? How about USA Today or Fox News? This sort of irresponsible journalism is what leads to such careless legislation as the FDA e-cig regulations. People read this stuff online, and they automatically assume that it is correct because some "journalist" calls it “scientific research.”
To be fair, most of these new organizations include an opposing viewpoint to the USC study deeper into the article, but most people only pay attention to the attention grabbing, anti-vaping headline. This is the same trouble that the Huffington Post got into earlier this year when HuffPo editors simply did the “copy and paste” thing to a Margaret Cuomo video on their website that was essentially filled with outright lies about the vaping industry. At least the Huffington Post issued an immediate retraction.
If the U.S. vaping industry wants to be successful in overturning the FDA e-cig regulations, we must be vigilant in policing the anti-vaping propaganda continuously being spread online, either intentionally or accidentally. And we can begin with the bogus USC e-cig study published by the online journal Pediatrics.
(Related Article: THE HUFFINGTON POST AND MARGARET CUOMO FALSIFY E-CIG DATA)
(Related Article: HUFF PO PRINTS RETRACTION FOR BOGUS MARGARET CUOMO VIDEO ON E-CIGS)
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