Another day, another flawed smoking cessation research study.
The latest is published in the New England Journal of Medicine, and it starts off promisingly enough.
Every year, companies spend millions of dollars trying to help their employees give up cigarettes. The mission is not entirely altruistic – smoking employees cost companies several thousand dollars per year more than their non-smoking counterparts, both in increased health insurance rates and lost productivity to smoke breaks throughout the day.
Companies offer a wide-range of plans to help employees quit, but researchers wanted to determine what, if any, means were actually effective. So, this new study took several thousand employees and offered them either free smoking cessation tools (medications, e-cigs, information on quitting), or a financial incentive of $800. The research found that the financial-incentive programs tripled the rate of abstinence of the more conventional programs at the six-month mark.
Sounds promising, right? Well, we didn’t call this a flawed smoking cessation research study for no reason…
While financial incentives may indeed help people commit to giving up cigarettes, the study’s dismissal of e-cigarettes is founded on some seriously flawed data.
Perusing the study, we find that the researchers used an NJoy device – which is hardly comparable with more modern vape pens like the JUUL. In fact, NJoy filed for bankruptcy last year…
Even more troubling is the revelation that participants who were given the e-cigarette were limited to 15mg of nicotine – a relatively small number for serious smokers. For comparison, a JUUL offers 50mg of nicotine per pod – an amount much more likely to give a serious smoker a nicotine fix.
But wait, it gets worse…check out this quote from the article:
“We did not compare free access to e-cigarettes with free access to conventional cessation aids without any option for e-cigarettes. Nonetheless, the observation of greater e-cigarette use in the free e-cigarette group than in the free cessation aids group (Table S11 in the Supplementary Appendix), coupled with the absence of benefit of free e-cigarettes versus no intervention, supports the conclusion that offering free e-cigarettes does not promote smoking cessation.”
The issue here is the “conclusion that offering free e-cigarettes does not promote smoking cessation.” That’s a pretty big conclusion the researchers arrive at after using an outdated device and limiting the amount of nicotine to participants. Why not let them use a higher dosage and a better device before making that conclusion? Well, because once again it appears as though researchers don’t really understand vaping (or more likely don’t want to understand it, since almost every medical doctor included in the research study works at a university that receives HUGE donations from Pfizer and GSK, the creators of Chantix and Wellbutrin). None of those facts will stop the mainstream press from jumping all over this, though…
Spread the Truth About Vaping and make sure people learn the real facts behind this misleading research study.