Goniewicz, co-author of the e-cig secondhand nicotine study we discussed last month, is being highlighted by pro-ecig blogs for making the following positive statement in the Sun piece:
"The exposure to nicotine is lower when compared to exposure from tobacco smoke. And we also know that nicotine is relatively safer when compared to other dangerous toxicants in tobacco smoke."
The e-cig community also applauds Ms. Fairchild and is very happy to post the following quote from the Baltimore Sun piece:
"In locales considering extending smoking bans to e-cigarettes, I think that these data weaken the case for more sweeping bans ... and so this begins to answer the question about why e-cigarettes are considered better: they reduce risks to both the user and to the bystander when compared to tobacco cigarettes."
There are definitely a few things in the Sun article that the e-cig blogs are not reporting, though. While it is true that Amy Fairchild states in the article that the Goniewicz study "suggests e-cigarettes are far safer, both in terms of toxins and nicotine, than tobacco cigarettes when it comes to the health effects on bystanders," she does qualify that statement, adding, "more research is needed to know for sure."
Also in the article, Goniewicz states that although the nicotine content in exhaled vapor is lower with electronic cigarettes compared to tobacco cigarettes, "it is currently very hard to predict what would be the health impact of such exposure."
Worse, the study's co-author states, "There are potential harms, including promoting continued smoking of cigarettes and re-normalizing cigarette smoking behaviors," adding, "Regulatory agencies around the world will need to make a number of regulatory decisions about product safety that could have major effects on public health."
The Sun article is not without its flaws. It is obvious that the author of the Sun piece, took the lazy way out. She did not seek out research like the Drexel study, which would have refuted both Coniewicz's statement about it being hard to predict the health impact of exposure to e-cig vapor as well as Fairchild's assertion that more research is needed. Aren't 10,000 studies enough!?
One must also question the legitimacy of Amy Fairchild as a true "expert." Sociomedical Science is a pseudo-science, at best, after all.
And, of course, where are the thoughts from other e-cigarette research experts like Konstantinos Farsalinos, who told me that secondhand nicotine exposure has never been an issue of concern - even with tobacco cigarettes?
We're all guilty of selective bias, whether it's with e-cigarette issues, political opinions or arguments with our "significant others." We pick the things that support our opinions and selectively omit things that weaken our claims. It's human nature.
Unfortunately, when e-cigarette blogs parse an article and report only the positive things, they are as guilty of creating biased pieces as the reporters they often call out for not doing their due diligence.
As a community, we need to be very careful to report ALL of the facts, though. Otherwise, we run the risk of losing credibility. Once you lose that, it's nearly impossible to get it back!
E-Cig Express Quote of the Day: "I think it's a problem when journalists have the title of their article before they do the interview, because it biases the way they conduct it." - Michel Gondry