Posted: Nov 27, 2021 12:01 AM
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
Earlier this month, news outlets all over the world reported breathlessly on new research which claimed to find that e‑cigarette users were 15 percent more likely to have a stroke at young age than smokers. News sources as diverse as the Daily Mail in the UK, the South African Sunday Times, and all major U.S. TV stations picked up on it ensuring that a large portion of the global population were exposed to this bad news.The problem is that this “research” was at best, highly misleading and, at worst, plain wrong.First, this was not new published research as a casual reader might assume, but instead an unpublished conference presentation given a boost by the American Heart Association (AHA) which is explicitly opposed to reduced risk alternatives to smoking such as vaping.As Jonathan Swift once wrote, “falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it.” So while millions globally were being misled by the fear-peddling headlines, far fewer people would have read expert rebuttals which came soon after from the Science Media Centre.Professor Peter Hajek of Queen Mary University commented that, “It is likely that e‑cigarette users in this cohort were smokers who switched to vaping AFTER they suffered a stroke. Presenting this as if vaping caused these strokes is misleading and could put smokers off switching to vaping.” While Dr Leonie Brose of Kings College London added: “At least some of the strokes would therefore have occurred before e‑cigarette use. The strokes then could not have been caused or made more likely by e‑cigarette use. It may also be that people switched to e‑cigarettes after a stroke to reduce the stroke risk from smoking which would explain the association between a past stroke and current e‑cigarette use.”Professor Paul Aveyard also observed that “This press release could equally and accurately be headed as ‘E‑cigarette users six times less likely to have a stroke than traditional cigarette smokers’. As they point out, ‘Stroke was far more common among traditional cigarette smokers than e‑cigarette users or people who used both, 6.75% compared to 1.09% and 3.72% …