Last week, the front page of The Sun exclaimed that vaping was as bad as smoking. Vaping damages key blood vessels, the newspaper said. The fact that consuming caffeine has the same effect, didn't seem to matter. Watching your favourite team play sport also has the same effect, but of course no-one would say that drinking tea and coffee or getting excited at a football match is as bad for your health as lighting up a cigarette.
Today, The Sun is warning of the dangers of e-cigarette advertising. "A new study suggests the adverts make occasional tobacco smoking more appealing." Naturally, this has an expert worried. Cue Dr. Milica Vasiljevic from Cambridge University, who said:
“While we can be optimistic that the adverts don’t seem to make tobacco smoking more appealing to young people, they do appear to make occasional smoking seem less harmful.
“This is worrying, as we know that even occasional tobacco smoking is bad for your health, and young people who smoke occasionally believe they are somehow immune to its effects and do not feel the need to quit.”
So where does all of this come from? In research, funded by the Department of Health, a group of 11-16 years old who have never vaped were randomly allocated to one of three groups.
The article continues:
One group was shown 10 adverts that depicted e-cigarettes as glamorous, a second group was shown 10 adverts that portrayed them as healthy, and a third control group was shown no adverts.
The children were then asked a series of questions aimed at determining their attitudes towards smoking and vaping.
Children shown the adverts were no more or less likely than the control group to perceive tobacco smoking as appealing and all three groups understood that smoking more than 10 cigarettes a day was harmful.
However, both groups of children exposed to the e-cigarette adverts, both healthy and glamorous, were less likely to believe that smoking one or two tobacco cigarettes occasionally was harmful.
There is concern that the increasing exposure of children to e-cigarette adverts could be contributing to high rates of experimentation.
Can you spot the flaw? If children want to experiment, that's exactly what they will do. In this study, all the children understood that smoking more than ten cigarettes a day was harmful, although I would rather that they experimented with vaping than with combustible tobacco. But in a giant leap, the report concludes that because some of them believe that smoking one or two cigarettes isn't harmful (and that all depends on how high you raise the bar on your definition of harmful), e-cigarette advertising may be responsible to introducing more children to cigarettes because vaping is seen as glamorous.
If you are a British taxpayer, you paid for this rubbish. There was a time when science was seen as glamorous. Men and women across the world spent their lives proving and disproving theories using empirical evidence. In the 21st Century, though, too many scientists spend their lives chasing grants for bogus studies that are about as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike.
At least it keep The Sun in business.