CoEHAR exposes for the first time that most e-cigarette research is flawed and in need of urgent critical reform

PR Newswire
Thursday, March 24, 2022 at 11:29am UTC

CoEHAR exposes for the first time that most e-cigarette research is flawed and in need of urgent critical reform

PR Newswire

CATANIA, Italy, March 24, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Errors are very common in e-cigarette research, resulting in misinformation and distortion of scientific truth. What are the most common flaws in e-cigarette research?

Under the leadership of CoEHAR, a team of international researchers, examined the 24 most frequently cited vaping studies published in medical journals. The findings are shocking: almost all of these studies were found to be methodologically flawed; they lacked a clear hypothesis, used inadequate methodology, failed to collect data relevant to the study objectives, and did not correct for obvious confounding factors.


Scientific research findings must be methodologically valid and sound in order for public health policies to be implemented. Current e-cigarette and heated tobacco product research is widely acknowledged to be poorly designed, conducted, and interpreted. As a result, it is impossible to generate balanced and accurate information for the adoption of more effective tobacco control policies and healthier lifestyles. The dissemination of inaccurate information about combustion-free alternatives in the news media contributes to public skepticism and uncertainty, particularly among smokers. Many smokers may be discouraged from switching to less harmful nicotine delivery products as a result of this.

A group of international experts collaborated with scientists from CoEHAR, the Center of Excellence for the Acceleration of Harm Reduction at the University of Catania, to publish an in-depth critical evaluation of the most widely quoted e-cigarette research studies. The research paper titled "Analysis of common methodological flaws in e-cigarette epidemiology research," published in Internal and Emergency Medicine today, exposes the most common errors researchers have made when looking into the health impact of combustion-free nicotine delivery products.

Under the guidance of Dr. Cother Hajat of the United Arab Emirates University and prof. Riccardo Polosa, founder of the CoEHAR, the study's researchers analyzed the 24 most popular vaping studies published in highly authoritative medical journals. The researchers noted a plethora of fatal flaws in these studies; they identified, categorized, and accurately analyzed each mistake.

The authors conclude that the most influential research on e-cigarette is of inadequate quality and insufficient to guide public health decision and they offer practical recommendation for improving research in this field.

"Most of the included studies utilized inappropriate study design and did not address the research question that they set out to answer. In our paper we offer practical recommendations that can massively improve the quality and rigor future research in the field of tobacco harm reduction." explains Dr. Hajat

According to Prof. Polosa: "Systematic reiteration of the same errors that result in uninformative science is the new pandemic! I'm astounded that such low-quality studies have made it through editorial review in prestigious scientific journals. The credibility of tobacco control scientists and their research is on the line."

This investigator initiated study was sponsored by ECLAT srl, a spin-off of the University of Catania, with the help of a grant from the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World Inc.

Center of Excellence for the acceleration of Harm Reduction

CoEHAR at University of Catania is the first multi-disciplinary academic center in the world to address harm reduction. CoEHAR mission is to accelerate efforts to study and reduce health impacts and deaths from smoking at global level through use of pharmacological approaches as well as innovative technologies.

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