The gold standard: Cochrane looks at vaping

The Cochrane Review weighs in on vaping vaping for smoking cessation, and assesses the current evidence on e-cigarette safety and risk

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Ready for yet another unassailable research authority recommending e-cigarettes to smokers? Sure you are — and you also probably already know it’ll be ignored by U.S. public health authorities like the FDA and CDC. They clearly aren’t interested in the health of smokers.

Still, this is very nice for our cause. Despite being ignored by a lot of American anti-tobacco ideologues, a positive Cochrane Review makes news anyway. It’s the kind of news that turns heads and makes friends. Yesterday there was lots of coverage no vaper could say was anything but positive.

And it helps to keep the good news piling up. Now when you talk to non-vapers, you can mention the Cochrane Review right along with the Royal College of Physicians’ report.

Cochrane Reviews are recognized as the gold standard in medical and health research around the world. Cochrane is a global network of medical and other health professionals. Their stated mission is, “to promote evidence-informed health decision-making by producing high-quality, relevant, accessible systematic reviews and other synthesized research evidence.”

The organization’s doesn’t accept funding from commercial interests like pharmaceutical companies, to avoid any appearance of conflict. The Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group (TAG), which wrote this Review, is headquartered at Oxford University in the U.K.

evidence

They concluded, “electronic cigarettes may help smokers stop their smoking, and the included studies did not find any serious side effects associated with their use for up to two years.” Their previous look at vaping as a cessation tool concluded the same way. Now they have additional evidence to bolster their opinions, although no new randomized clinical trials.

"Until we have the answer, narrow interpretations of the results of individual studies risk doing further harm"

“This updated Review now includes observational data from an additional 11 studies,” said a Cochrane press release. “Of the studies which measured side effects, none found any serious side effects of using electronic cigarettes for up to two years. The studies showed that throat and mouth irritation are the most commonly reported side effects in the short to medium term (up to two years).”

In a Guardian article accompanying the Review’s release, Cochrane TAG author Jamie Hartmann-Boyce said, “The more studies we have looking at a question, the more certain we can be about the answer. The irony is that until we have the answer, narrow interpretations of the results of individual studies risk doing further harm, undermining public confidence in science and possibly discouraging quit attempts.”

No vaping advocate could have said it better.

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Jim McDonald
I spend most of my time studying the regulatory, legislative and scientific challenges to vaping, advocating for our right to exist, and talking with others who do the same. Consider me a source for information, and feel free to agree or disagree with anything I say. I love good coffee and sweet Michigan cherries. My childhood hero was Gordie Howe.