E-cigarettes and Junk Science

Clive Bates skewers a paper by a pair of UCSF researchers purporting to show that e-cigarettes lead to cigarette smoking, using purely correlational data. In polite company, you can’t infer from “People who have used e-cigarettes are more likely to have used tobacco cigarettes than people who haven’t” to “E-cigarette use is a gateway to smoking.” The editors of JAMA Pediatrics should be embarrassed by this; the methods in the piece don’t pass the giggle test.

The good news is that the tobacco control research and policy community is not united on this issue, with plently of dissent from the anti-e-cig party line. The bad news is that politicians in places such as Los Angeles have allowed themselves to be buffaloed by junk science into making junk policy.

[Cross-posted at The Reality-Based Community]

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Mark Kleiman

Mark Kleiman is a professor of public policy at the New York University Marron Institute.