Vape tricks study: paid participants used as pawns?

A private research organization in North Carolina is advertising for vapers to participate in a vape tricks study. What are they up to?


Want to make $100 to help researchers study vape tricks? If you live in the Raleigh-Durham, NC area, you may have seen flyers making that offer. If you’re a follower of the Reddit ECR forum, you may have seen promoted posts advertising it too.

The flyers link to a web page. The page belongs to the Research Triangle Institute (RTI), a wealthy private research organization that does studies on many topics. E-cigarettes, according to RTI’s website, are a major focus. They have a YouTube account too, and the vaping content isn’t very inspiring, to say the least.

“Thank you for your interest in participating in our research study,” says the web page. “We are looking for volunteers for a study of how people do vape tricks and receive $100 Cash. We need to ask you a few questions to determine if you are be eligible to participate in the study. If we determine you are eligible, we will then ask you to come to our lab.”

“This survey is being conducted by RTI International (, a nonprofit research organization that conducts studies on many types of health and social issues. If you have any questions about the study, you may contact the RTI Research Administrator….”

If you choose to continue, you’re asked a series of questions — your age, how often you use different kinds of vapor products, what tricks you have performed and how often, whether you use nicotine or not, and if you smoke cigarettes.

These are people who hate vaping and want it gone.

I filled out the questionnaire several times using different age and vaping/smoking profiles, and was only successful at being asked to continue the process once. That means they’re looking for something specific in who they want to study.

What are they trying to find out? It’s impossible to know, but based on their previous work, it probably isn’t anything that will be flattering to vapers, or helpful in the fight to make safer nicotine products widely available. These are people who hate vaping and want it gone.

I saw the photo of their vape shop flyer on Ben Stevens’ Facebook page (he gave Vaping360 permission to use it). Ben is an employee at Talon Vapor in Raleigh, and he had the good sense to suggest that shops probably shouldn’t encourage their customers to take part in or cooperate with RTI’s studies. It’s good advice.

Let’s hope no one needs $100 bad enough to help researchers conduct a “study” designed to make vaping look like a frivolous fad that lures innocent teenagers into a lifetime of nicotine addiction. Chances are that this is aimed at doing just that.

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.
  • carlvphillips

    Nice find, and you are undoubtedly right to be suspicious that It’s A Trap! Just to clarify, though, RTI probably does not give a rat’s ass about vaping, one way or another. They just care that FDA is paying them to produce results that support whatever FDA wants to do. That is probably worse.

    • Jim McDonald

      You may be right. But the result is the same for vapers, no matter the motive.

      Thanks for commenting, Carl!

  • Jeff Kendall

    I guess its obvious but did they pick the youngest one you filled out? Also perhaps the vape tricks part is more carrot on a stick to get a kid being stupid. Man this is fasinating to witness, like live tweeting the prohibiton

    • Jim McDonald

      Nope, not the youngest. The one that succeeded was 20, never smoked, used zero-nic.