As far as electronic cigarette research goes, it’s been a pretty busy few weeks. The continual back and forth between positive and negative studies has got me to thinking. I know thinking is pretty dangerous, but hear me out. I want to know what we really want out of electronic cigarette research.
I know like most of you I get really excited when I see positive studies like the Greek cardiology study. I also tend to get all knotted up when I see clearly slanted negative studies like the other Greek study.
Well, I think these are both natural reactions, I also take to heart what was recently posted in the anti-THR Lies blog. It pays to generally be cautious and not overstate the results of studies.
While it would be great if there were some piece of science that totally prove to what we all believe about e-cigarettes (that they are clealy less harmful than cigarettes), I think what would be even more important is to simply find the actual truth.
One of the reasons I think everybody gets excited about positive studies is that they exist in the face of so many studies engineered or manipulated to try to make electronic cigarettes look bad. Again, totally understandable.
But what gets lost in that back and forth is the truth. When we started smoking, we all knew how dangerous it was. That’s why many of us switched to e-cigarettes. Because we honestly believe it is less harmful than regular cigarettes. Just about anything short of drinking Drano has got to be safer than smoking tobacco cigarettes.
Because the entire tobacco prohibition establishment has gotten a hold of the science and is dedicated to prove in these things are dangerous or even as bad as cigarettes, that leaves us to fend for ourselves.
The simple truth is I wanna know if there is any kind of harm and what that harm is regarding e-cigarettes. I want to be able to make an informed decision about what I’m doing.
I can’t really get that picture. There’s a whole lot of signal to noise going on. The studies that seem to actually be interested in finding out which really going on with the cigarettes are highly specialized and look at one narrow area much like the cardiac study. This is the equivalent of getting a single piece of the jigsaw puzzle inside of a box full of sawdust.
It’s not that I reject every negative study that’s out there. I just want to know what’s really going on without having the slightest negative thing or uncertainty blown out of proportion to make it sound like the stuff going to kill my whole family.
I’m a big boy. I’d like to make big boy decisions all by myself. If there is a study that comes out and shows some sort of harm we did not anticipate, I want to know about it. I want to evaluate the risk, not having somebody scream about a ban or about the poor, poor children.
I mean, we know there are way less chemicals in e-cigarettes than are in traditional cigarettes. But, let’s face it, we’re also doing things to food flavorings that were never really imagined. Maybe something is up in the reaction that’s caused when you vaporize the stuff, but since most of the studies are working on demonizing nicotine or otherwise trying to support the misguided notion of a ban, there’s not a lot of focus on what’s actually happening there.
I guess what I’m trying to say is positive studies are fantastic, but sometimes it’s frustrating to not get the whole picture because prohibitionists have co-opted many of the available scientific resources.
I think if given the truth and if some sort of harm were found, we as vapers would then decide how to address these things. Whether it be through modifying the current things we use, or even making the move to making vaping a short-term thing.
It’s not like we labor under the illusion that e-cigarettes are 100% safe. Nothing is.
I think for now though we’re going to have to continue stumbling through the dark getting little bits and pieces as we go.
Enough about me, I’d love to hear your take on this in the comments. Is there a point if you found out there was some harm in vaping would you stop? How harmful would it have to be?
Michael Krelin(09/13/12 - 11:06 am)
Given the reason why I switched to the e-thing originally, I'd probably quit it, if it is found to produce strong lingering stench. But the vast amount of scientific evidence I've gathered this far by observing the correlation of smoking habits and ventilation patterns suggests that if a new research shows that I have to quit for the said reason, I'll make a mental note of the source as not quite credible.
Seriously, in the first place, I didn't smoke because it's healthy, but because I liked it. No amount of evidence that eggplant is healthier than sweet stuff will convince me to eat the former (yes, I hate it!).
Steve K(09/13/12 - 11:13 am)
I'm surprised there've been no howls about e-cigarette scents :)
Randall(09/13/12 - 11:27 am)
We are experiencing a new Gallilean revolution: knowledge, good and solid knowledege emerges out of internet, out of web 2.0, out of everyone’s experience.
A study with 10, 100 or even 1000 guinea pigs is no more solid than real life observations. Science and junk science as well, both funded by industries, is massively biaised.
Truth lies in our free speech forums : forums do not cheat.
Errol(09/13/12 - 4:00 pm)
Good writeup Steve. I am a little curious about how our lungs handle all the various liquids we are vaporizing too. All of them, VG, PG, and Food Flavoring are proven to be safe for food products but I'm not aware of studies that say they are safe for the lungs. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't quit vaping under any circumstance but I might reconsider some food flavorings and/or the mixture ratios.
Steve K(09/13/12 - 4:21 pm)
I'm pretty sure PG has been well-studied even for inhalation, but the others are more of a question mark. I pretty much agree with you.
Tom Pruen(09/17/12 - 10:34 am)
That's the nail hit right on the head. We need more studies that set out to find information, rather than confirming what is already known (or even worse, what the researcher wants to prove), and flavourings are what we understand least. There's one flavouring with a known inhalation risk, diacetyl, and we can conclude from that that other similar molecules (di-ketones) may have a risk associated with them.
The problem is – how do you test the long term effects of inhaling flavourings? Generally this is done retrospectively, using a study of the statistics (epidemiology) however, even looking at the statistics in another ten years won't be very helpful, since very few (if any) people maintain a regular pattern of use over the years. In the slightly more than 3 years I've vaped, I've lost track of how many times I've changed device, or flavour. From an epidemiology perspective, there is going to be something to be learned from current vapers, but it isn't going to be very meaningful, since too much changes too often. The bewildering array of possible devices isn't showing any signs of slowing down, either.
So the bottom line is that we can expect studies to show a lack of acute (developed over the short term) effects, since we already have 'proved' this anecdotally, and a continuing mystery over long term effects. Given that most flavourings have an easy route to be metabolised, I don't imagine there will be many (if any) nasty surprises though.
Steve K(09/17/12 - 11:06 am)
Very well put, sir :)