Posted by Paul Larter on January 10, 2017
A recent study published by the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care has received negative publicity from the media. According to the media, e-cigarettes can double the chances of teenagers contracting bronchitis. On the other hand, the title of the official press statement released by the American Thoracic Society over e-cigarettes read: “E-cigarettes may harm teens’ lung health”. Additionally, the press statement also insinuates that chances of past users developing respiratory complications is 85 per cent higher than those who have never used e-cigarettes; and 170 percent for current users.
However, these statements are bent at igniting resentment towards e-cigarettes since they contradict the findings of the study. This study recruited adolescents within the age bracket of 16-18 years. Unfortunately, the study did not define the adolescents suffering from chronic bronchitis depending on the diagnosis of a physician or use of medications. During the study, the participants were simply asked whether they had experienced coughs daily for 3 consecutive months. Therefore, it is evident that this study was conducted in a shoddy manner since the findings were dependent on the responses given.
The articles published by the media dwelled on lung disease and bronchitis. Information released on bronchitis was also wrong since there are two forms of bronchitis that are known to attack adolescents. There is acute bronchitis which is very common in adolescents and chronic bronchitis which is rare.
The findings made during this study should be ignored since they lack proof of the tests conducted. The results of this cross-sectional study are derived from reported odd ratios instead of relative risk. Besides, no assessment of the previous exposure was conducted to ascertain that e-cigarettes pose such a great threat. More to that, the authors of this controversial study did not suggest whether adolescents should continue or quit using e-cigarettes.
As much as the study was carried out in a shoddy manner, the media is also to blame for publishing wrong facts. According to the media, chronic bronchitis was observed in the participants while in real sense, this is a rare condition. CDC data on Chronic Obstructive Lung disease (COPD) for the three year period 2007-2009 showed that the prevalence of COPD among adults in the US stood at 5.1%. The prevalence increased as one grew older with the highest prevalence rate being experienced by people aged 75-84 years.
It is rather unfortunate that a reputable body like the American Thoracic Society could release a non-factual statement backed by a controversial heading. It is evident that the media and health bodies alike are using baseless reports to misinform about electronic cigarettes in order to make the public hate vaping!