A Bunch Of Stunts

Long-term vapers have witnessed a transition from something that was just about harm reduction then blossom into a product that is on-trend and fashionable. But, obviously, vapers can’t simply enjoy vaping without someone telling them why they ought to stop. This week it’s the turn of people who enjoy doing vape stunts and tricks.

Published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, researchers from RTI International are warning about “risk factors” associated with “vape trick behaviour”.

Lead author Jessica Pepper explained the rationale behind conducting the study: “Earlier studies have shown that some teens vape because they think it looks cool. Others want to try the fruit- and candy-flavoured e-liquids used to make vape clouds. Vape tricks may be another factor. I can see why teens might be interested. Some of the tricks are fascinating.”

The paper the team produced states: “Vape tricks are an emerging and understudied risk behaviour for adolescents. Given the potential association between vape trick behaviour, motivation to use [vape devices], and increased exposure to [vape] emissions due to using more advanced devices, it is important to understand what demographic, psychographic, or behavioural factors are associated with youth engagement in vape tricks.”

Unfortunately, the authors of the study are beginning from the premise that vaping poses a big danger and, secondly, that these teens wouldn’t have otherwise gone on to smoke.

Serious flaws exist in this study; teens were recruited online (using a $20 Amazon gift card inducement) and then completed questionnaires online. Such methodology places a huge question mark over the reliability of the data obtained – which carries on through to the dubious conclusions the team come to:

  • Research suggests that [ecig] use is not free of harm.
  • Ecig users are more likely to progress to smoking combustible cigarettes.
  • The nicotine in e-liquid can be harmful.
  • Even e-liquid without nicotine produces harmful chemical emissions.
  • Vape trick behaviour also could influence health. For example, vaping blogs suggest different configurations of batteries and different types of e-liquid to produce the biggest clouds or do the best tricks.”

The group failed to take any measurements and are therefore totally unable to quantify any perceived danger. They remain as ignorant as to the performance of a trick (duration of inhale, components of the vape, impact on lung tissue) as they were prior to the research program’s inception.

In fact, it’s a struggle to work out what the point of the work was given how it has failed, by any measure, to move understanding forward. It’s also amazing that the company can make the claim: “RTI is at the forefront of research on e-cigarettes. Because of our wide-ranging expertise, we are ideally positioned to provide insights on these products from a variety of scientific perspectives, including public health and policy, pharmacology and toxicology, aerosol technology, and health communications.”

The full research paper can be accessed here